Saturday, May 24, 2008

Nylon Smiles: Lawrence Durrell

Here is Lawrence Durrell, from a 1966 episode of Midday Dialogue:
"Let me take just one simple word, for example, an ordinary word, say 'nylon'. Supposing a poet wanted to write a poem about, say, a married couple that hated each other, and he said something like "Their satiric wicked nylon smiles". The use of the word incorporated in a poem would give a rather an interesting resonance because one always knows that gangsters wear those nyon things over their heads to rob banks - i.e. rob women - good Freud - and also anybody who's had a girl or is married to a girl knows how often the nylon goes wrong and there are ladders down it, so you get a wonderful series of reference off it."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Rain and Pearls: Simon Turner

You Are Here, Simon Turner's first collection, is published by Heaventree Press (Coventry) and has a baffling cover without a single word on the front, no title, no author's name; the spine and back cover are normal enough. There are plenty of sequences here, including three 'Storm Journal' poems scattered through the first section. Turner shows a fluency of description, and an emphasis on images, some fresh (lightning making sound of 'tearing fabric' or thunder 'punching down behind the houses opposite') and some familiar ...

clatter of shovel-blade scraping on concrete.
Rain-pearls on the window-glass getting the light.

The rain-pearls echo Wilde in nature-poet vein:

In vain the sad narcissus, wan and white
At its own beauty, hung across the stream,
The purple dragon-fly had no delight
With its gold-dust to make his wings a-gleam,
Ah! no delight the jasmine-bloom to kiss,
Or brush the rain-pearls from the eucharis.

Frost also uses the image "the rain is pearls so early, Before it changes to diamonds in the sun". This is a descendant of the similar dew/pearl image, which Dryden used a few times:

'Twas on a joyless and a gloomy morn,
Wet was the grass, and hung with pearls the thorn;

As well as the image of drops of water looking like pearls, there is also the image of pearls or beads falling like rain. Browning has 'Break the rosary in a pearly rain' and Tennyson also, somewhat circularly describes the water of a fountain in terms of raining pearls:

The fountain of the moment, playing, now
A twisted snake, and now a rain of pearls