Thursday, 9 June 2011

Thoughts on ‘Eternal Story' by Hollace M. Metzger.

Buy here.  £8.69 (ebook £6.39).  212 Pages.

If it form the one landscape that we, the inconstant ones,

Are constantly homesick for, this is chiefly

Because it dissolves in water. [1]

Everything to do with Hollace M. Metzger is art, every word she utters transmogrifies itself into poetry so that one cannot help but come back to the work again and again.  Like history, it is cyclical.  And with this new book; daylight has broken.  Her voice and her poems can never tire one.  Her paintings are an endless kaleidoscope of labyrinthine meanings and emotions, they are stubbornly direct in conveying their message, in making themselves felt.  We are bravely offered, raw and throbbing, the timely truths that can sometimes be problematic, painful, disorderly and ugly and we are shown how all can turn to beauty and joy at a slight change of perspective.  They are like the sun which rises and sinks diurnally yet every rising heralds a new dawn. 

 

Can one but help be immersed in Metzger's work and not be dazzled?  I read everything cyclically.  In dreams of showing an essay I've written of just over a page in red ink.  Of mention of my photo-phobia and her asking a class of students to draw the curtains:

I know what you do

when he makes love to you,

how he doesn’t like

when you wear your hair up,

But, you shouldn’t worry

because he will never turn away,

leave you or lean my way.

We may touch, but only kiss

in our fantasies while we

share a coffee in silence.

Never, in

his wildest dreams,

would he think

of committing himself to me.

It’s too easy.

       ('To the Jealous Girlfriend'). [2]

For me those moments spent in such regal company are of strange and secret whisperings:

The surroundings were muted
Just for the moment
The necks of the winds had been severed from their bodies
The heartbeat of the stars had momentarily paused
As if the pulse of their very existence had ceased!
And the receding moments were stilled into fright

The Iranian poet Ziba Karbassi says that 'The poem is the result of a state of restlessness in the poet's soul which is usually marked by heavy breathings and severe panting before and after the birth of a poem. It is in the poetry of gasp, that we counter eroticism in language.' Breath is life-giving. Sound is created on the out-breath (except in certain African languages which begin some words with an implosion of in-breathed sound):

The sounds that we make depend on where the breath stops on its passage from the lungs to the lips. [3]

The Universe is the visible articulation of the Divine 'exhalation' of the All-Compassionate God, blown from a state of latency into outward forms whose love englobes like the breath underlying all sounds: Words are from letters, letters from air, air from the Breath of the Compassionate. Through the names effects appear in the created worlds, and they are the goal of the knowledge of Jesus. Through these words man requires the Presence of the Compassionate to give of Its very Self that which will give life to what was asked for by these words. Thus the order becomes eternally circular. [4]

I could write (not talk) endlessly on what a great friend, collaborator, Muse I have in the Beauty and Grace that is Hollace Metzger. One of the chosen few who have made me less unsure without the so-thought necessity of their physical presence whether anyone ever understood my oracles of 'Mule-bray, pig-grunt and bawdy cackles' [5] and suchlike.

 

Re 'Stalkings' there is no girl (let me tell you) down my street but that doesn't mean I do not dream though they do not do but to say this is to be cyclical as all things ultimately are. That is the essential lesson of life, of flux within its continuum. [6] I can hear the most sublime music and a beautiful love poem in 'Violin Heart' - "Tomorrow will be okay." 

 

I have some comments on 'Fame' on a love that dares not name me now that had promised to remember me but now rejects, jilts, reviles even as fame accompanies that one (now passed around like a wineglass) from place to place, person to person, heart to heart:

Forgotten

in their present state,

my possessions

have been diminished

to people as memories

and this pen

corroding that which

was left unspoken.

This is literally so in my case at present.  Soon, soon I shall corrode what 'was left unspoken' into blogs that are left like dream-letters on doorsteps albeit: 

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

  Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

       He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

       All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. [7]

The 'Prithee' in '© Facebook' reminds me of some lines I translated once into my poem 'Catullus in London' via some lines of Keats. [8] They are:

'Yours the rhyme in every line, my Muse

Sweetheart, be my Valentine, my Muse

Show how your dimpling kisses warm the waders

Lesbia irenic, earnest, tell the riaders

Tomorrow’s autumns of delations and

Noyades the unrepentant thieves command

Cadaverous faces in the cancerous gloom

Our thousand thousand more and more will bloom’ [9]

My thoughts on 'AND/RE' make me think of the second song from Tagore's Nobel prize winning Gitanjali:

When thou commandest me to sing it seems that my heart would break with pride; and I look to thy face, and tears come to my eyes.

       All that is harsh and dissonant in my life melts into one sweet harmony - and my adoration spreads wings like a glad bird on its flight across the sea.

           I know thou takest pleasure in my singing.  I know that only as a singer I come before thy presence.

         I touch by the edge of the far spreading wing of my song thy feet which I could never aspire to reach.

         Drunk with the joy of singing I forget myself and call thee friend who art my lord. [10]

And of my lines from 'Love is Better Than Wine'

I learn to live with what I've got and just then

Teeming tears of grief, flaccid pain

Tell me what I never had and where and when  

       My eyes can't contain

Light enough to know our days won't return

And it feels like I am close to passing out

Now the wings of tiny little angels burn

         What's love all about?

Grace me with your Chardonnay kisses tonight

Scintillating stature in fur coat soused in

Bathed luminosities and glinting light

            Let our life begin [11]

So that I fear that I shall greet her in silence with tears:

If ever again we do see eye to eye

Some other path will branch out from that point on

And hand in hand we will begin the journey

In the shadows of your tresses to the movement of your arms

    The other thing is also sorcery for the heart knows

There is no turning no desert no spell

Veiled in which my months can pass

If the path of life runs with your thoughts - All is well

If you do not turn round to look it doesn't matter [12]

'First Valentine' is one of the many many amazing poems of Metzger that arouse, cajole, enviegle (rather like the dragon of Communism in Revelations which has been chained up for a millennium and would be unleashed upon the world in the Latter Days before the Apocalypse) into taking notes as I read the wonder words, hear them, re-read them repeatedly.  The vivid description of the food, the scene reminiscent of Catullus, one or other of his poems where he describes food with similar relish. [13] As I read of future partners whose pleasures lie not in love but in fulfilling bloody-minded, narcissistic, nihilistic expectations, in proving things - I think of the first few lines of Donne's 'The Good Morrow':

I wonder by my troth, what thou, and I

Did, till we loved? were we not wean'd till then,

But suck'd on country pleasures, childishly?

Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers' den?

'Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.

If ever any beauty I did see,

Which I desired, and got, 'twas but a dream of thee. [14]

Very few writers these days write with such clear beauty, grace, such lucidity, such purity, none that I can think of, so physically and with such "sexiness" and I do not read little. It is about all I have done in these last few decades that may be called my life. The comfort and ease with which her pen seems to flow and the command and grasp that Metzger has over subject, meter, rhythm and prosody is of the kind that has been recognised in Muses (markedly by Ted Hughes in Birthday Letters). That is to say it is not of the usual kind poets utilise but of the rare kind of Hardyesque Hawk's Eye envisionings.  Not the marginalia or remains that shock the pious usurper. Compare for example, this:

I don't, I DON'T want to take a girl out and spend CIRCA £5 when I can toss off in five minutes, free, and have the rest of the evening to myself. [15]

And you'll see what I'm getting at.  I do make love outside of my bedroom: I cannot know exactly what I mean when I say this or what it is to say this, I abandoned Life and Love half-way somewhere to be recollected/picked up (if I can rediscover the place I left them) when/if I ever have somewhere to get to and sail calmly on:

Birds claim their territories, talking to one another, and I've accepted that I do not and possibly will never understand them.

       (‘Sojournal: Diary of a Fisherwoman in France – Part II’ p 119).

You know Hardy's 'The Darkling Thrush'.  He felt the same.  Ted Hughes wrote that the whole lure of fishing for him was like the creative act.  He would say:

Catching a fish is like writing a poem, a kind of metaphor for the creative act.  'Pike' is very much about that.  This idea of pulling something out of the darkness, into the light of consciousness. [16]

Metzger has firmly placed her eternal Parisian hand upon the infernal London hearts of many a poet.  'The Hand' falls into a handsome tradition of poets such as Auden who spoke of hands in some of his poems.  There are 2 poems by Ted Hughes on hands (in Moortown Diary and in Birthday Letters).  There is 'The hand that signed the paper felled a city;' [17] of Dylan Thomas' poem but that is the Achilles' Heel of hands which permits the lies the robberies the wars the murders.   I last held hands a lifetime ago but Betjeman's lines evoke the holding of my hand of one whose prayers stand by my side though he himself could not, when once he held them and gently pressed them as if night would no longer follow us after that evening:

Holding hands our two hearts beating in the bedroom silence round us,

Holding hands and hardly hearing sudden footstep, thud and shriek. [18]


Then there is, of course Keats' living hand 'warm and capable' held yet towards Fanny, the hand in which Coleridge felt death at their extra-dimensional and rather bizarre encounter upon Milfield LaneThe 'Sojournal' entries are the most unfeigned and lucid prose pieces I have read in a very long time, that the world needs for such things as are noticed, recorded, transformed, healed.


*

A (digressive) word to the critics and denigrators: I am thinking of Pope's 'The Dunciad: iv' and these lines:

Roman and Greek Grammarians! know your better:

Author of something yet more great than Letter;

While tow'ring o'er your Alphabet, like Saul,

Stands our Digamma, and o'ertops them all.

'Tis true, on Words is still our whole debate,

Disputes of Me or Te , of aut or at,

To sound or sink in CANO, O or A,

Or give up Cicero to C or K. [19]

And with that, another of my obscure (read crazy) linkages with his 'An Epistle To The Right Honourable Richard Earl of Burlington' on the subject of architecture. It was occasioned by Burlington's publication, in the previous year (1730), of 'Palladio's Designs of the Baths, Arches, Theatres etc. of Ancient Rome'.

 

I know that the frigid stoners, the pick-a-pockets, my detractors (being ilk of such as those that criticise Metzger/her work/her art) might well quote me the following in answer as if I Did Not [20] know it:

He has appointed a succession of angels before him and behind him guarding by the Command of Allah. Surely Allah changes not the condition of a people until they change their own attitude. But when Allah wishes to punish a people there is no repelling it nor have they any protector beside Him. [21]

At the very least they should concede the audacity to brave the admission that I am everywhere with my sources and digress like a lunatic: whilst reading something in Why the WilloW I thought of how academic study/education can be a barrier to the innocence and beauty of childhood (short of leaving one cold, poor and sober).  This is something Betjeman explores in 'Norfolk' his poem of childhood when he says:

How did the Devil come? When first attack?

The church is just the same, though now I know

Fowler of Louth restored it. Time, bring back

The rapturous ignorance of long ago,

The peace, before the dreadful daylight starts,

Of unkept promises and broken hearts. [22]

There are few, too few pure souls as Metzger in whose case this is untrue. Who can carry that purity, that innocence throughout their lives blending in harmony with the knowledge, the acumen with expertise of subject. 


© Rehan Qayoom, 2011.


Related Links: Facsimile of 'For Hollace' (The Delinquent, Visions) from About Time in guitar instrumental by Teresa Gabriel to 'Echoes of Thoughts Cascading' from Why the Willow by Hollace M. Metzger.  
                       'A Retrospective Appraisal of 3VOΓVE'.
                       MiDEA Spotlight.


[1] Auden, W. H. ‘In Praise of Limestone.’ Collected Poems. Edited by Edward Mendelson.  (Faber &; Faber 1976, 1991).
[2] Metzger, Hollace M. 'To the Jealous Girlfriend'.  Transcriptions of Time. (2009). 195.
[3] Hirtenstein, Stephen. The Unlimited Mercifier. (Anqa Publishing, 1999). 225.
[4] ibn al-‘Arabi, Shaykh Muhiyudeen. Futûhât al-Makkiya [The Meccan Revelations]. 2 Vols.  Edited by Michel 
     Chodkiewicz. (Pir Press, 2002, 2004).
[5] Plath, Sylvia. Collected Poems. Edited by Ted Hughes. (Faber & Faber, 1981).  129. 
[6] I tend to the neorealist view of history being cyclical. The roulette wheel can only bring up the same numbers 
      again and again: a continual movement, as Anaxagoras observed ‘Nothing is born nor perishes, but things already 
      existing combine and then separate again.’ Transformed much later by Antoine Lavoisier into the phrase ‘Rien ne se 
      perd rien ne se crée, tout se transforme.’
[7] The Holy Bible. John 16: 12 - 16. Authorised King James Version.
[8] Ah me ! whither shall I flee? 
      Thou hast metamorphosed me. 
      Do not let me sigh and pine, 
      Prythee be my valentine.
[9] Qayoom, Rehan. About Time. (2011). 14, 15.
[10] Tagore, Rabindranath. Gitanjali: Song Offerings. (Macmillan, 1913).
[11] Qayoom, Rehan. About Time. (2011). 8.
[12] Qayoom, Rehan. About Time. (2011). 54.
[13] XXXII.
[14] Donne, John. The Complete English Poems. Edited by A. J. Smith. (Penguin, 1971,  corrected reprint 1976, revised 
        1996).  60.
[15] Larkin, Philip. To Kingsley Amis. In Andrew Motion Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life. Faber  & Faber, 1993).
[16] Cornwell, Tim. ‘Fishing for inspiration – Ted Hughes’ journals.’ The Scotsman. (15  October 2008).  Also:
When I am fishing alone, as I come out of it, if I have to speak to somebody, I find I can't speak properly. I can't form words. The words sort of come out backwards, tumbled. It takes time to readjust, as if I'd been into some part of myself that predates language.
(Ted Hughes interviewed by Thomas R. Pero. 'So Quickly It's Over' Wild Steelhead & Salmon. Winter, 1999. 50).
[17] Thomas, Dylan. The Poems of Dylan Thomas. Edited by Daniel Jones. (New Directions,  1971, revised 2003). 75.
[18] Betjeman, Sir John. Collected Poems. John Murray. (2006). 125.
[19] Pope, Alexander. The Poems of Alexander Pope. Edited by John Butt. (Routledge, 1965,  corrected 1968). 778.
[20] Moore, Thomas.  'Did Not'The Poetical Works of Thomas Moore.  (Oxford University Press, 1929). 
[21] The Holy Quran. Al Raad [The Thunder]. 12.
[22] Betjeman, Sir John. Collected Poems. John Murray. (2006). 168.