[ilds] Tree of Idleness -- mimic your mother's lovely face

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Sun Jul 22 13:13:04 PDT 2007

On 7/22/2007 3:27 PM, william godshalk wrote:

>         I applaud Charlie's suggestion that we see "The Tree of
>         Idleness" in the context of The Tree of Idleness. Does this
>         particular  context help us better to understand the text, or
>         does it lead to further mystification? I suppose actually we
>         are widening the text, the thing we are concentrating on and
>         trying to read. 

I cannot foreclose upon additional enigma.  In life, as in art, enigma 
happens.  (Someone once wrote that they were both "open secrets.")

But for me some initial clarification and focus is created by reading 
"The Tree of Idleness" along with the poems published as /The Tree of 
Idleness and Other Poems/.  I have already mentioned how the original 
volume's specific references to Eve and to a child give us more 
biographical leverage.  So do the dates given at the heads of each 
section of 'Letters Written in Darkness" (another favorite Durrell 
poem).  And "Deus Loci" (the poem) perhaps offers us some insight into 
the power of /place /in "The Tree of Idleness"--i.e. Cyprus, Bellapaix, 
and the poet's old Turkish House. 

And once again, how might the volume's epigraph glance off of and 
refract "The Tree of Idleness"?

            *The notion of emptiness engenders compassion.

            MILA REPA*

Is there a "notion of emptiness" in "The Tree of Idleness"?  In its 
sense of evacuation and loss?  In the "imploring" and silence that 
occurs towards the end?  Compassion certainly seems to me an apt response.


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

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