Sunday, October 17, 2004

reading at The Lost Notebooks by Henry Gould while walking the dog. (uh Allen, the leash is stuck on this tree, whoa look! a squirrel!!! mmm the water in this puddle is delicious). that is to say, just now. on his blog, Henry's been giving context to some his writings (keep it up!), much of which, it appears, is inter-connected. in this 1st reading (I've scanned thru all the books Henry gave me, just to get a vague sense of the territory, and catch a few phrases), I can't say I get all the allusions and references. not that I expect to. as with Olson, Pound and lots of other writers, there exist public allusions and references, and private ones. the private ones are the toughies, being perhaps what the author him/herself might not be clear about either. the reader needs to find a way thru. if you've ever accompanied a labrador on a walk, you'll walk a fairly straight line while the lab makes butterfly trails (reference Yeats) all over the place. the reader is that lab, following the author in a way, but exploring all around. so I'm reading TLN without a lot of context. it's not that it is so dense, but that I'm only just getting the picture. and picture is a good term, because Henry's descriptive powers are quite precise. John Clare sticks out among the Romantics for being such a keen naturalist withal. a rural fellow, he intimately knew the flora and fauna he describes. no doubt Keats had seen nightingales, but his was such an imagination that he wouldn't just see a nightingale, or urn, or... the beauty of Keats' art, when it is beautiful, is when he connects that way. HD was similar in that imaginative force. HD and Keats transport themselves. Clare and Gould stick with the 'facts'. these are imaginative facts, I don't mean to paint them as unimaginative or prosaic. Henry deals with natural facts, and historical ones, his poetry rises from there. Keats and HD deal with mythic facts. I'm not setting up boundaries here, just attempting to describe. Henry doesn't overweight his pictures with, well, Egotistical Sumblime. Wordsworth has charms but I stumble when I notice the Anglican old fart that he became. that intruder. his descriptive power sags under the weight of his neat unexasperated thinking. Wordsworth refused to go even slightly crazy. that plangent sanity is pretty unique among the Romantics. you look at Dorothy's journals and see some of the scenes that became Williams's poems. her precise interest gets cluttered by Williams's sensible punchline. I think Henry is crazy enough, tho I guess I use the wrong term. he's focused, to be tactful, even somewhat obsessed. I really like the historical context here, early New England. I grew up in this area and know that the history here began, after a nod to Columbus, with the Pilgrims, jumped to the Revolution (hardly a man is now alive), jumped again to the Civil War, and that's about it. 17th century New England saw the seeds sown of the US that we now have. root causes and all that. rich imaginative territory, as Olson as well knew. you might want to check out Henry's other blog, whereat he makes his work available.
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