Thursday, August 17, 2006

Marechera's Poetry.

Reading the Intellect (2).
In 1982-83, Marechera wrote a number of poems that he published in Mindblast (1984). Supposedly, these were poems written after his return from so- called exile: exile assumes that a person belonged, not something that should be assumed in Marechera’s case! One of the poems from Mindblast, “The Poems Semantics”, seems to offer itself as a programme poem. The “seems” would appear to be the point under attack.

The Poems Semantics=The title, grammatically, is not possible. Surely, an apostrophe is required? “The Poem’s Semantics”? This is quite a problem with Cemetery of Mind (his collected poetry) which is assembled from un-revised manuscripts.
(after Rainer Maria Rilke)= “after”=Sonnets (1922) ie. I, i and II, xii.
Not the tree but the space (within
The eye) which contains the tree
= “Da steig ein Baum. O reine Ubersteigung!/O Orpheus singt!” “A tree rose up! O pure over-reaching!/Now Orpheus sings!” Almost as a Black Orpheus, Marechera casts his eyes on the opening of Rilke’s sonnet sequence, but with one crucial difference: Rilke’s poetic tree is auditory; Marachera’s is visual. His concern is the psychology of vision and poetry—I A Richards took exactly this line in Principles of Literary Criticism. Marechera’s tree is the link between the objective and the subjective, the tree in the eye.
the retina’s
All-encircling trajectory
=the neural sphere (of the eye) which links to the optic nerve and brain. The noun “trajectory” implies the imagined movement of objects seen by the eye.
…when I see
Not the tree
But the poem of the tree
=Poundian Objectivism aimed to look into nature and reveal the mind through this point of entry. Marechera proposes that within the natural object there is the poem waiting to grow. Vision finds mind growing within nature. There are no religious overtones to this idea (as in Hopkins). Marechera suggested that poetry was “a reorganisation of the objects around you in a new pattern, like a kaleidoscope” (Discussion with Veit-Wild, 1984). Not a phantasmagoria! Rather a process, like the retina’s, operating through patterned stimulation.
I looked again and again
Each time more fiercely--
=”fiercely”=a savage and strenuous act.
Daddy!
Daddy!
= What does this acknowledge? That nature is the parent? That (given the innocent apostrophe) the link with nature, through creation, brings a child’s state of innocent savagery.
The hollow vibration cast a brilliant green
On the aura of all I touched--
=“hollow vibration”= emptiness+movement=a visual drum hollowed out of a tree? As if, by staring, the eye begins to beat until the whole world of perception is a living/green migraine like aura/emanation.
My arms had hardened, turned
Into branches, the fingers shoots and twigs,
My dreadlocks long windlisping leaves
= “Und die verwandelte Daphne”. For Rilke, the myth of Daphne is a symbol for transformation—wind—inspiration and life’s breath.. Pounds’s early poem “The Tree” used the Daphne myth to define poetic transformation also. Marechera employs the myth at the end of his poem to implicitly draw away from Apollonian art and explicitly become the tree, define himself erotically related to nature (rather than Apollo: like Daphne who fled from the God’s rapacious desire). His “windlisping”=speaking like a child learning the language of life’s breath. The poem reads as a personal revision of Modernism.

4 comments:

Unsane said...

In another one of his pices -- a drama -- he uses the refrain "daddy! Daddy!" to imply damaged innocence. This is the play which has the wall and the two beckett-like tramps who cannot remember fully who each other are, but have been nonetheless at war, as white and black, with consequently different interests. The war is portrayed symbolically, as selfish, the two sides attacking each other like dogs in heat. The victims from each side are the women -- hence the refrain, "daddy, daddy", as in "stop this war!"

eshuneutics said...

"Damaged innocence"-- this would make his outcry, in the poem, an impulse to reach innocence/nature once more?

Unsane said...

I don't yet understand the poem, but it seems to speak of the strangeness of an actual vital consciousness trapped within the mechanistic structures of social consciousness.

Unsane said...

I don't mean the last phrase in the sense of criticising industrialism -- I think Marechera had a certain Cartesian consciouness, which he fought.