[ilds] BITTER LEMONS the poem

Ken Gammage Ken.Gammage at directed.com
Tue Feb 15 22:53:52 PST 2011

Apparently I don’t have “Loeb’s Horace” in my Dutton paperback The Poetry of Lawrence Durrell (1962). However, I do have “BITTER LEMONS,” – and yes, I agree that this poem is about hiding or suppressing feelings: pain, sadness, memories, emotions. “Better leave the rest unsaid," - he wants to be understated, and yes he is bitter. "Keep its calms like tears unshed.” He doesn’t want to cause any more trouble. But still – even understated, even hiding something: the poem leaves a powerful impression. I don’t know more about it at the moment: when it was written in relation to the book. But knowing what we know about the subject matter, it is terribly sad.

-- Ken

From: ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca [ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca] On Behalf Of Bruce Redwine [bredwine1968 at earthlink.net]
Sent: Thursday, February 10, 2011 11:40 AM
To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
Cc: Bruce Redwine
Subject: [ilds] CPC and LGD


The way you "inhaled" Cavafy on a rainy night was the way I first read Durrell in 1958.  The two are very different poets, however.  Cavafy is better at infusing his feelings into everyday objects, as in "The Afternoon Sun" and "In the Evening."  In contrast, I think Durrell uses his poetry to hide his emotions, "Bitter Lemons," for example, or "Loeb's Horace."  A poem I like, H. R. Stoneback's "Meditation on an Old Photograph IX:  Larry and Sparrow in the Dark Garden at Sommières — June 1986," in the current issue of Deus Loci, owes more to Cavafy than to Durrell, I think.  That I find ironic, given the publication, the title, and the appearance of Durrell himself.


On Feb 9, 2011, at 8:51 PM, Ken Gammage wrote:

I don’t think we need be overly concerned about whether Durrell is popular at the moment. Ephemera is popular. Whole genres of human endeavor in the arts go out of popular favor - like Jazz, which was last truly popular music (in the U.S. at least) in the 1940s, before bebop became too challenging for many listeners. For Jazz fans, as well as LD fans, this should be irrelevant. There are many other topics to address on the list. What about the 1987 BBC-TV series My Family and Other Animals, with Anthony Calf portraying Larry Durrell? I would like to see this again – I may have seen some of it on VHS at the time. What of C.P. Cavafy? There is much more to be said about his role as muse to the Quartet. I picked up the Rae Dalven translation on a rainy night in Berkeley a few years ago – and inhaled it! I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and read a whole book by a single poet before, rapt. But I still like Durrell’s translation of “The Afternoon Sun” in Clea the best.

-- Ken

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