Friday, February 20, 2009

Marechera's Love Sonnets. (5)


Poem III in the Amelia Sonnets, is titled “Her hand my eyes closes”. The closing of the eyes is a familiar image of death, one of the final acts offered to the corpse. The irony here, however, is that the dead (Muse) seeks to close the eyes of the living (Poet). In this poem, Marechera addresses two aspects of love: how the memory of love is attached to objects and how the language of love is open to the demonic.

Sonnet III opens in a plain language. It is a language that fits the ordinariness of objects so close to Amelia.

All that’s left of Amelia is all this pottery,
Silent, soothing, yet eerily arranged around my memories.
All is clay. In kitchen bedroom, bathroom:
All is her nights and days moulded in clay.
(1-4).

The smooth syntax creates a sense of order. There is a sense in which the poet has become an archaeologist surrounded by artefacts.

Pottery provides the central imagery within this sonnet. Marechera is afraid to “dislodge” details, as if details were pots, because his own skull would then “crack”, like baked clay. Amelia is described as “well-kneaded”. Her “integrity” as a whole object was shaped by hands, like potter’s clay. Language also is a receptacle. “We are our own demons”, as Barthes writes in Fragments d'un discours amoreux (1977), “possessed by a demon of language” the lover is “swept away by a flood of thought, desire, rage, regret” (p.81). In the sestet, the order of the octet is broken. A smashed syntax represents the demon of language as it breaks up the poem’s order and mind’s order. Out of this possession, comes a screaming that “crushes down on Church and Parliament”, remembering “serene eyes” in “the hideous darkness” of unreality. Marechera turns Zimbabwe, a House of Stone, into a “glasshouse” smashed by his stone-words.

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