Will try another Read-Along today. With Rest Note. & will try to keep it brief. Am skipping over poem # 10 : it's the centerpiece, twice as long as the others, sort of projected onto a different "plane" of the poem's structure. (That's the plan, anyway.) So I will leave that for another time. Here are some over-the-cliff notes on Poem # 11 :

11.1 : "only a single line..." etc. - life as a race driven by competitive desires.

11.2 : "a bugle" - TR's military trumpet. (cf. the distorted trumpets in # 1.1.) The horses also faintly akin to pegasi (poets as horses).

11.3 : "A Hawkwood..." etc. here's a nice obscurity I can happily explain. If you've been following along with these read-alongs, you'll know that the figure of Shakespeare's King Richard 2nd hovers in the background, as a sort of amalgam of wrecked poet/monarch. Hawkwood was a fearsome English mercenary and warlord, famed & hated in Tuscany & Lombardy for his contract wars, devastations & plundering. But he was so successful at it that he gained wealth & legitimate social standing among his employers. Richard II welcomed him to stay at his royal estate. (see Barbara Tuchman's wonderful history, A Distant Mirror. A good read.)

11.4 : "The forest..." etc. Rainforest, according to different sources I've read, can show an oppressive side of bleak sameness. The stanza is one of repeated oppositions (in this poem) between human doings and a kind of natural fatality. "A cataract..." etc. we are back into inside/outside imagery - the jungle cataract (or disease of the eyes) ends in the "blind whorl" of fingertips - lost identity, individuality. The palm-tree - and the palm with the fingertips - marks a grave.

11.5 : "tangled knolls" - bad pun (noli me tangere). Another Lazarus in garden/jungle image. "Shrouded cloudbank... etc." - the "incarnate" word is blurred, absent (gardener long gone); the image of the word as hovering between (and uniting) earth and heaven - constant element of this poem, reflected in various strands of imagery (esp. the "swingset") - here appears in a doubtful, uncertain mood. "Magdalen" (who met Jesus-the-gardener at the sepulchre) is "lightheaded".

11.6 : this stanza sort of outlines poet's role, while mocking it. He or she stands in between "prudent and prodigal" - "hunting" for something beyond both (mere) worldly wisdom and the diseased passions represented by the race-horses & mercenaries.

11.7 : "sortilege" - a word for fortunetelling or prophecy with negative connotations (magic, witchcraft, flummery). "Yet the lantern..." etc. despite the scepticism, these final two lines affirm some kind of kinship between art & nature, poetry & truth.

No comments: