[ilds] What would you have me write?

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Wed May 7 11:07:16 PDT 2008

On 5/7/2008 1:26 PM, william godshalk wrote:
> At 06:53 PM 5/6/2008, you wrote:
>>           Lost, you may not smile upon me now:
>> 2          You, nor that grey-eyed counterpart of you
>> 3          Inhabiting the sunlight in still places:
>> 4          Substant always in the netted moonshine.
I had also been asking myself about the speaker and the addressed in 
this old poem written by a poet when he was very young.

I imagine these different sections as farewell notes after the affair.  
In that case, I suppose that we could read either party as "lost."

In addition, every second-person pronoun potentially yokes the reader 
into the role of the addressed.  It is certainly tempting to role-play.

The repeated appearances of the moon and moonshine bring out a "pale 
fire" theme in the poem.  Like the light of the moon stolen from the 
sun, the poet's memory and this poem of memory are both reflections of 
the desired one and never the desired one herself, never the lost moment 

Such a poem might then very well stand as "netted moonshine"--figurative 
somethings trying to catch what cannot be caught--as the speaker says 
later, "such nothings."

Cf. the following section for more of this inadequacy:
>  	   What would you have me write?
> 2          Scraps, an attentive phrase or two
> 3          To soothe your vanity's delight?
> 4          *Pay down a fee of words to you,
> 5          That lesser you, who dwindle, shrink
> 6          When formal sentences of fine desire
> 7          Fix your minute reflection in a shining ink?*
> 8          Would you have all of this:
> 9          A macaroni payment for a wink?
> 10        A pastiche for a kiss?
I especially fancy the shining mirror mirror of ink on the page.  That 
makes me think of the famous scrying of the the "ink-pool" by the little 
boy in chapter 12 of Lane's /Modern Egyptians/, a story that fascinated 

>         In reply to my inquiry respecting the
>         description of persons who could see in the magic mirror of
>         ink, the magician said that they were a boy not arrived at
>         puberty, a virgin, a black female slave, and a pregnant
>         woman. The chafing-dish was placed before him and the
>         boy ; and the latter was placed on a seat. The magician
>         now desired my servant to put some frankincense and
>         coriander-seed into the chafing-dish ; then taking hold of the
>         boy's right hand, he drew, in the palm of it, a magic square,
>         of which a copy is here given. The figures which it contains
>         are Arabic numerals. In the centre, he poured a little ink,
>         and desired the boy to look into it, and tell him if he could
>         see his face reflected in it : the boy replied that he saw his
>         face clearly. The magician, holding the boy's hand all the
>         while, told him to continue looking intently into the ink ;
>         and not to raise his head. 
>         He then asked him if he saw anything in the ink ; and
>         was answered, " No :" but about a minute after, the boy,
>         trembling, and seeming much frightened, said, "I see a man
>         sweeping the ground."


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

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