[ilds] DG Bitter Lemons -- A WATER-COLOUR OF VENICE

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Fri Jul 6 16:06:56 PDT 2007


A good reminder.  Think I'll read a couple this evening before going to sleep.  A note on "Lesbos" and the Pleiades, which Durrell probably based on or was inspired by Sappho's Fragment 168B:  "Moon has set / and Pleiades:  middle / night, the hour goes by, / alone I lie" (If Not Winter:  Fragments of Sappho, Anne Carson, trans., 2002).  Well, that poem, which was very tentatively attributed to Sappho, is now considered hers.  Wilamowitz's, the great German classicist, denied its authenticity, his argument being that the poem was too personal to be Sappho's.  Well, that claim has been overturned with the discovery of a new poem of Sappho's, which is indeed highly personal, fragment 58.  As the world turns, and so much for dogmatic claims of scholarship.

Bruce

-----Original Message-----
>From: Pamela Francis <albigensian at hotmail.com>
>Sent: Jul 6, 2007 3:06 PM
>To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>Subject: Re: [ilds] DG Bitter Lemons -- A WATER-COLOUR OF VENICE
>
>I will be willing to back Charles' claim--and I hope others will take the 
>time to explore LD's poetry in more detail.  I also hope that we have a few 
>sessions--ok, at least one, on the poetry at the next OMG.  My personal fav 
>from this era is Sarajevo, and my as yet unwritten book on English writers 
>in the Balkans will be title "a peace harmless with nightingales."  I just 
>love that image.  I'm also fond of "Episode", apparently originally titled 
>"Nicosia".
>
>But I always wonder, why doesn't anyone read/teach his poetry anymore?  Is 
>it overshadowed by LD's fame as a novelist?  Or is it a reflection of a 
>general lack of interest in English poetry in mid-century (other 
>poet/novelists have suffered the same fate: Robert Graves, Graham 
>Greene--yes, Greene wrote poetry--, etc.)  The Norton's entries for the era 
>are all decidedly poets--Auden, Dylan Thomas, Philip Larkin.  Do we 
>necessarily think of a writer as one or the other (poet or novelist) but 
>never both?  Is this sort of ambidexterity seen as sign of inferior talent, 
>or maybe wishy-washiness?  In any case, it's a shame, b/c I find LD's poetry 
>much more visual than even the Quartet.  In the novels, the characters are 
>the thing--in the poetry, the word's the thing.  From "Lesbos":
>
>The Pleiades are sinking calm as paint
>And earth's huge camber follows out
>Turning in sleep, the oceanic curve,
>
>Defined in concave like a human eye
>Or cheek pressed warm on the dark's cheek,
>Like dancers to a music they deserve...
>
>I hope that everyone will pick up their Collected Poems and spend an 
>afternoon with it. If you've never done this before, it will be like the 
>first time you read the first few pages of Justine; if you're familiar with 
>the poetry, it will be like the visit of an old friend, celebrated with a 
>bottle of the local vintage...
>



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