Recent Arrivals: Poets, Essays, Letters

Carcanet is one of my favourite publishers, with the recent wonderful Carcanet Classics series, and these recent additions to my library.

With a taste for H.D.’s work sharpened by the first twenty pages of Bid Me to Live, her lightly fictional autobiography, these three books will form part of an immersive reading, probably in the early part of next year. H.D.’s engagement with mythology and Hellenic literature is extra compelling.

C.H. Sisson wrote a brilliant essay in the 4th edition of what was Poetry Nation (1975) magazine (now PN Review) on H.D.’s work. I am interested to read more of his literary essays.

W.S. Graham’s collection of letters was irresistibly reviewed on the Carcanet blog recently.

Ceridwen Dovey writing about one of my favourite writers, J.M. Coetzee, was equally compelling, despite having to have it shipped from Australia.

Idées Fixes of the Week

Edward Burtynsky: Dryland Farming #7,
Monegros County, Aragon, Spain (2010)

Edward Burtynsky
Burtynsky: OIL – Photographers’ Gallery: 19 May – 1 July 2012

*****

Slimescapes | World War One Centenary
Santanu Das

The acute memory of visceral trauma exceeds the material, literal referent – liquid, porridge, quicksand – and can, like the octopus simile in the opening letter, only resort to the imaginative. The ritual repetition of the word bears witness not only to the viscosity of the trench mud but to the terrors of experiencing a malign world through the skin.

*****

Edvard Munch
Peter Watkin’s 1974 biopic

Famously described by the late Ingmar Bergman as “a work of genius”, Peter Watkins’ multi-faceted masterwork is more than just a biopic of the iconic Norwegian Expressionist painter, it is one of the best films ever made about the artistic process. Focusing initially on Munch’s formative years in late 19th century Kristiania (now Oslo), Watkins uses his trademark style to create a vivid picture of the emotional, political, and social upheavals that would have such an effect on his art.

*****

Hermes of the Ways
By H. D.

I

The hard sand breaks,
And the grains of it
Are clear as wine.

Far off over the leagues of it,
The wind,
Playing on the wide shore,
Piles little ridges,
And the great waves
Break over it.

But more than the many-foamed ways
Of the sea,
I know him
Of the triple path-ways,
Hermes,
Who awaiteth.

Dubious,
Facing three ways,
Welcoming wayfarers,
He whom the sea-orchard
Shelters from the west,
From the east
Weathers sea-wind;
Fronts the great dunes.

Wind rushes
Over the dunes,
And the coarse, salt-crusted grass
Answers.

Heu,
It whips round my ankles!

II

Small is
This white stream,
Flowing below ground
From the poplar-shaded hill,
But the water is sweet.

Apples on the small trees
Are hard,
Too small,
Too late ripened
By a desperate sun
That struggles through sea-mist.

The boughs of the trees
Are twisted
By many bafflings;
Twisted are
The small-leafed boughs.
But the shadow of them
Is not the shadow of the mast head
Nor of the torn sails.

Hermes, Hermes,
The great sea foamed,
Gnashed its teeth about me;
But you have waited,
Where sea-grass tangles with
Shore-grass.