[ilds] The Tree of Idleness

Michael Haag michaelhaag at btinternet.com
Sun Jul 22 04:17:32 PDT 2007

The last line of The Tree of Idleness reads:

'Silence of lips and minds which have not spoken.'

I wonder if that is not a summation of, or statement about, the poem 

Referring to the stanza beginning with 'No', Durrell (or the persona if 
you like) says what 'I shall' do.  I shall lie in bed, etc.  I shall 
recall nights, etc.  I shall tap out, etc.  He places the word 'or' 
between the second and the third, so that it could read I shall lie in 
bed, I shall recall nights, or I shall tap out, so that as an 
alternative to lying in bed, recalling nights, instead I shall tap out. 
  And what he taps out is a poem 'imploring silence of lips and minds 
which have not spoken'.  It may not be this poem, but it is a poem, one 
which is asking lips and minds to be silent -- to give nothing away.  
Lips of course could be the lips of one person, but minds clearly 
refers to more than one person.

By the way, notice that after 'all my debts unpaid' there is no 
punctuation mark.  This is the case in the collected poems and in the 
first edition and is intentional.  So this reads 'with all my debts 
unpaid I shall recall nights of squinting rain' etc.


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