Эссе: Brief and Bald, in The Times Literary Supplement


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Английский язык
Тип работы:
Эссе
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3

... The book feels a little like a huckster showing his wares. In "Equals", an uneasy intimacy is recorded. "It's evening. I lack courage" the poem begins, ending in the belief that "We are, at least in hope, unequal equals, / If not in deed". The second stanza is:        I sit down. I am tired.          To speak my mind's beyond my power to do.          I have no warranty against the vision          I have of you.  The implausible "warranty" may be taken as a contrast to an implicit insured bureaucratic order, though it sounds a register touched nowhere else, but the second line is a disaster: the redundant "to do" is clearly there only for the rhyme's sake, and a poem of sixteen lines does not easily forgive such padding. Seth writes, with reference to Mozart, that        He never like the great Beethoven thunders,          'My stomach's aching and my heart is breaking          And you will hear me,' yet to hear him is          To suffer all heartbreak, to assume all sorrow          And to survive. "Adagio" celebrates music, but these lines must call Seth's ear in question. The first is very hard to read and a metrical nightmare created by the poem's preceding four lines, which have settled uneasily to a pentametric norm. The internal rhyme booms out jauntily in the second line to contradict the monotonous egotism described, while the closing lines say more than they can, however stumblingly, show. "All sorrow"? One had thought this Christ's prerogative. We can see what Seth means, but cannot be made to feel it by the bald assertion. Such local misgivings arise from most pages of this collection. A wider worry has to do with sensibility. The best poems are slight in form, as with "Heart", which ends        Above all, to my heart I'm true.          It does not tell me what to do.          It beats, I live, it beats again.          For what? I wish I knew it knew. Hypochondriac insomnia is delightfully conveyed by this sense of the body's otherness. However, Seth's "Quatrains" too often fall flat because of their commonplaceness. In "Malefic Things",        Imagining the flowerpot attacked it,          The kitten flung the violets near and far.          And yet, who knows? This morning, as I backed it,          My car was set upon by a parked car.  ...