[ilds] RG 1.6 -- the narrator meets Justine

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Sun Apr 29 20:23:13 PDT 2007

On a last note of self-deprecation, I send LD's own commentary about 
textual critics.  He penned the poem some years before publishing 
/Justine/.  "The Man with a Message" is only 57.96% ironic here 
according to my analysis. 

Durrell, Lawrence:  THE CRITICS [from Collected Poems: 1931-1974 (1985), 
Faber and Faber]

They never credit us
With being bad enough
The boys that come to edit us:
Of simply not caring when a prize,
Something for nothing, comes our way,
A wife, a mistress, or a holiday
 From People living neckfast in their lies.

No: Shakespear's household bills
Could never be responsible, they say,
For all the heartbreak and the 1,000 ills
His work is heir to, poem, sonnet, play ...
Emended readings give the real reason:
The times were out of joint, the loves, the season.

Man With A Message---how could you forget
To read your proofs, the heartache and the fret?
The copier or the printer
Must take the blame for it in all
The variants they will publish by the winter.

'By elision we quarter suffering.' Too true.
'From images and scansion can be learned.' ...
Yet under it perhaps may be discerned
A something else afoot---a Thing
Lacking both precedent and name and gender:
An uncreated Weight which left its clue,
Making him run up bills,
Making him violent or distrait or tender:
Leaving for Stratford might have heard It say:
'Tell them I won't be back on Saturday.
My wife will understand I'm on a bender.'

And to himself muttering, muttering: 'Words
Added to words multiply the space
Between this feeling and my expressing It.
The wires get far too hot. Time smoulders
Like a burning rug. I will be free.' ...

And all the time from the donkey's head
The lover is whispering: 'This is not
What I imagined as Reality.
If truth were needles surely eyes would see?'


Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
Wake Forest University
slighcl at wfu.edu

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