Dear Olivia, kia ora, greetings and yias (from my Father’s Greek side).
Also, I appreciate the opportunity to comment on your very fine poem, which for me is un poème en prose. What I particularly appreciate is that it is a poem of discovery, and that you have the considerable language skills, a deftness in bringing the far more near. And for referencing Stevenson’s Treasure Island, which adds depth to your poem. The best and most accomplished poems are poems-of-discovery. If one as a poet, writer, artist tells too much to begin with, you deprive the reader of knowing too much. Not knowing is very useful. Keats bless him was onto this with his Negative Capability trope. Giving away too much too soon in effect undermines the reader (and the poem itself) in her and his opportunity for anticipation and expectation. You have orchestrated your poem from the very onset to create such anticipation. You know your stuff indeed.
And you understand as all poets are obliged to know and show how naturally words and phrase and image want to make of language in pursuit of relationships. It’s quite wonderful how one word can fly to another sometimes with astonishing ease, isn’t it? Otherwise, how we would ever arrive at making sentences and lines of poetry.
‘And where was I when you.’ At the very onset when you enter the poem, you set up a space and a spur to curiosity and what-is-going-to-happen here? Then, you raise the question of who is speaking to whom. We are always seeking the light of clarity is luminous in the dark of the moment . Memory is so charged with voices. I am talking about the eye and the ear of memory. You clearly know how to summon them to high alert. Very nice indeed. And I very much like the way you conclude the opening strophe (in the original Greek it means a turning) with ‘The Conditions of bare life’. I think this is brilliant in its concise declarative voice. Indeed, we do want to know something more about ‘The Conditions of bare life’.
What I am hearing at this point in your composition, your l’arrangement, is how you have arranged the images, the eye meeting the ear how intimate they are, as a musical score in what I take to be six movements. From the very beginning of dramatic presentations in Greece, this is precisely what the great Greek dramatists and poet-philosophers make happen. They sing as you do about humanity trying to make sense of how mysterious we are to ourselves and to the world at large. You are throughout your poem very much in Voice. I can see that you know how to listen what you hear when your words jostle up against each other looking for a place to settle down for the moment. In this case the all of it framed by your Treasure Island narrative, una verra narrativa, a ‘true narrative’, I prefer ‘story’.
‘They were telling me their city, when I fell; they sang in praise…’ I could go on citing your words and images–how alive and animating they are breathing life into the fell darkness of the fall. However, I shall fold down for the nonce. As readers and poets, we need to continually challenge ourselves. For example: at first I thought that your repetitive sounds of
disgrace disgrace disgrace disgrace disgrace grace disgrace disgrace disgrace disgrace disgrace is disgrace grace or grace disgrace
was a case of battering language syndrome. However after a number or re-readings, and listening more deeply to what was going on inside the alphabet, I realised voila! that this insistent hammering was in fact a triumph of appropriateness. A cri de coeur against the violation of a human life. And you are here keeping company with Melville when he said, ‘Say no with thunder’. And in this highly charged cadenza, you have said this with singing and thoughtful regard, that is deep in its understanding; when deep as Herakleitos said, deep equals true.
To conclude I want to say that the open ending in your poème en prose is wonderfully and poignantly alive in its dark detail. And the brilliant ‘What are we, if not what he is for? Thus for me all of your composition is a ‘philosophical investigation’. You and Wittgenstein are keeping each other in good company.