Friday, January 2, 2009

Walking ghosts

It is wonderful to see some work from Clive Faust in the latest number of The Merri Creek. Eleven short prose statements are collected.

Here is #8: "In age you are treated as a walking ghost well before you die. And you see the world like one too, with its distant affairs of not much interest to you." ... which has a classic grace to it, although I am a little troubled by "walking ghost" ... partly I suppose because walking is what ghosts typically do. Herrick in a poem spurred by the approach of death ...

Age calls me hence, and my gray hairs bid come,
And haste away to mine eternal home

gave Perilla a sequence of detailed instructions, the end of which was to prevent his ghost from walking ...

Then shall my ghost not walk about, but keep
Still in the cool and silent shades of sleep.

Another part of my trouble with "walking ghost" is the clear echo of John Todhunter's 'Maureen' ...

O, you plant the pain in my heart with your wistful eyes,
Girl of my choice, Maureen!
Will you drive me mad for the kisses your shy, sweet mouth denies,
Like a walking ghost I am, and no words to woo,
White rose of the West, Maureen.

That repeated one word refrain 'Maureen' reminds me of an ad for Arnott's Assorted Cream biscuits that used to be on the television; the inept ditty went something like this:

There are Monte Carlos and Shortbread Creams
There are Orange Slices and Delta Creams
And there are Melting Moments and Swiss Creams
In Arnotts Assorted Creams.

In the first of Faust's small statements he takes a retrospective view on youth & reflects on the conversations of young poets, solving the world's problems together "... Yes, I know that scene, and it's very attractive. Wouldn't particularly want to re-hear the conversations ..." The old man not wanting to interfere with the forward-looking enthusiasm of those remembered young men. "I don't like sniffing out hope --even past hope."

Dreamy youth and walking ghosts, its all in Yeats' 'Song of the Happy Shepherd' which ends ...

I must be gone: there is a grave
Where daffodil and lily wave,
And I would please the hapless faun,
Buried under the sleepy ground,
With mirthful songs before the dawn.
His shouting days with mirth were crowned;
And still I dream he treads the lawn,
Walking ghostly in the dew,
Pierced by my glad singing through,
My songs of old earth's dreamy youth:
But ah! she dreams not now; dream thou!
For fair are poppies on the brow:
Dream, dream, for this is also sooth.

1 comment:

collectedworks said...

Dear David, Good to read you on Clive Faust... And if I may, I'll take up your 'ghost' theme and apply it to the man himself, and it does apply wider, widely even... That is, so many poets outside of the mainstream, there to be read, who arent generally read (even as we all agree that mainstream poetry's audience is relatively small, at least in the English-speaking world, which in terms of numbers makes the term something of a joke), so Clive and many others are ghosts in the world, there but not there... The web is a great connector and to an extent can & does make visible what ordinarily would remain hidden, but Clive probably doesnt have a computer or if he does isnt connected! The benefit to him is nothing to distract from his own course; the negative is that he possibly isnt exposed to the on-going adventure even of his own type of poetry, though he does hear from his correspondents and he has read the massive online issues of Origin magazine which Bob Arnold has produced as a completion if not extension to Cid Corman's original project --something I havent yet done (I simply dont have the technology required to download such huge files)! But the Corman project itself is kind of ghostly if what I think of as the mainstream is the principal action. I know there's Jacket magazine, but where else would "Objectivists" & co be current? And I mean a particular kind of picking at language to get at a sense of the world that doesnt forsake material detail for the ideas, in fact weaves detail & idea or nominal particulars & abstractions in such a way as they're more or less reversible! And now I dont know what i mean, except that I want to praise your wide range of reading and of appreciation across styles that makes Clive Faust much less of a ghost than he might otherwise be!Cheers, Kris Hemensley