._ L _________ ____,;.,_.. A -
1 .. l NOW. No.2. SUMMER 1973. Editor: Stewart Brown. Address: Box 225. St .Anns Bay P.O. st. Ann. Jamaica. EDITORIAL By popular demand I am going to write much less editorial blurb from now on. Also as a result of popular demand I have included a list of brief notes on contributors and included ~ ~ couple more gr~p \ i,g9 t : l~hough ~ot QG c~ny I wo~ld li~c, these :i.r~ 0opeci a lly requt;stcd for future issues. NOW 1 seemed to be received fairly well, thanks to all the people who wrote with reactions and critiaism, both are alway s welcome. A lot of people recommended I heed my own warning not to take myself or the magazine too seriously, or solemnly, which is very ~air criticism. The tone of some of the edit orial and the reviews in that issue was rather pretentious I hope I've learned my l e sson. The scope of this issue is slightly ~ider, a long article on Rooert Lowell' s poetry ~aking a break from the poetry and revi e ~ s hopefully future issues will include mor e 1 pros e work. A word of explanation about the 3 British poets in this issue. They are included as a 1 group (although I'm sure they would object to the idea) to illustrate the way in which poetry is going in one part of the 'underground' in Britain. All 3 are widely published on the small magazine circuit in Britain and all are 20 cents Janaican/50 cents Eastern Caribbean 25 cents U.S./ 10P U .. K.. __ __ ..
lo involved in putting out magazines that are part of that 'scene'. Theirs is a different kind of poetry, I hope that you find the comparison interesting. In a future issue I hope to be able to use a similar set from young American poets. Hopefully the West Indian poetry doesn't need any words of explanation from me. Thanks again to Lois Langenfeld, Pete Virgadamo and Ed Wallace for their help with the production of the magazine. Thanks also to Mr Carr of St. Ann's Bay for allowing us to use his machines. Finally I print the 'little verse' by Esther Chapman below because she dared me to. I'm not sure if there's money in it! I'n In advance of my time. I've discovered rhyme I *********************** Contributions are always welcome;poetry, short stories, articles on any aspect of art or poetry, concrete, graphics,etc. Please enclose SAE or IRC with all contributions. Subscriptior rates are i 1 Jamaican.i1.25 U.S. i2.50 Eastern Caribbean and 50p U.K. for four issues, postage includedo The best wey to help the magazine grow is to try and sell some copies to your friends (or enemies), any number on a sale or return basis, and you make 20% on each sale. Any offers to do this will be much appreciated. 2 PUBLICATIONS RECEIVED AI1BIT: Martin Bax,17 Priory Gardens, Highgate, London N.6. BIM: The Editors, Woodville, Chelsea Road, St. Micheal, Barbados. BOGG: George Cairncross, 31 Belle Vue Street, Filey, East Yorkshire. CARDINAL: 'Wisconsin Poetry Issue', 821 University Avenue, Madison, Wis 53706. CARIBBEAN REVIEW: B Levine, P.O.Box C.R. San Juan, Porto Rico 00936. LUDDS MILL: Steve Sneyd, 4 Nowel Place, Almond bury, Huddersfield, UK. ORBIS: Robin Gregory, Hub Publications, Youl grave, Bakewell, Derbyshire. UK. PHOENIX: Harry Chambers, 12f Finney Drive, Charleton, Manchester M21 1ds UK. SAl1PHIRE: Kemble Williams, South Bank, Spring Road, Ipswich. UKo S.A V i~ cou: E dward Bra thwo.i te P.O. Box 170, Mona, Kingston 7. Jamaica. S~COND AEON: Peter Finch, 3 Maplewood court. Maplwood Ave, Cardiff, Wales U.K. STAR WEST: Leon Spiro, P.O. Box 731, Sausalito, CA 94965. Ui3A. ****************** ANTARKTI~ 62 b~a.Eail~hFf~g~&~~~~e~.)orum THE BOOK OF BEN by Opal Nations. (Marconi, Bandage and Lint Press, 35a Edgware Road, Marble Arch. London W2 2JE) ON THE DEATH OF ARCHDE.H.00N BROIX by Hartin Booth. (Second Aeon Publications, see above) ;
CONTENTS POETRY Wayne Brown Cat Poem A.L. Hendriks Maiden Spe e ch Patti Hinds One Culture Andrew Darlington Ballad of a Teenage Queen Steve Sn e yd Graffiti of Memory Jennifer Bell Poem Edward Brathwaite 'Jazz Portraits' Basie Billie Holiday Klook Miles Trane So long, Charlie Parker Bass The Critic Anthony McNiell First Dark George Cairncross Paynent Deffered 4 6 8 12 13 14 19 39 39 40 41 42 42 44 45 46 52 PROSE Miles Buxton. Themes in th e Poetry of Robert Lowell. 20 REVIEWS 'SCORE' by Victor D. Questal & Anso n Gon z alez 8 'FIASCO PUBLICATIONS' 17 'ON THE COAST' by Woyne Brown. 47 GRAPHICS Cover Drawing 'Birds' by Mary Crooks. Other graphics by Stewart Brown. Wayne Browns poem 'Cat Poem' is fron his book 'ON THE COAST' publish e d by Andr e Deutsh and is printed by permission of the Author. Copyright of all work published in NOW re m ains with the author. 5
\ \ \ CAT FOEM 1 In the Beginning The cat Watched for a while from the edge of the On t~e seventh day It moved in, world. like your dead neighbour's, casually. 2 Adam and cowering Eve Felt the eyes watching o.11d vainl y tri e d to cover their privates: but all th at night The cats streaI!led in through the garden gate. 3 Noah, while the others stood round in pairs, Reached forward to greet the bird with the But the cat killed it with on e slap. 4 branch. The wit e c a t's eyelids slide shut. The Alps ar e completely snowed under. 5 Antony dead, the woman deQd, Rome hush e d and waiting, emptily The cat stalked out of the palac e 6 0 dnughters of Africa, Your warriors are slain. The night is a black cat Witl y e llow eyes. 6 7 Arthur, cantering back to the castle After an exhausting peace, Noticed a cat trapped halfway Up a tree trunk. 8 Whether what woke you sounded like A dropped nailfile, Or a bottle, Or the night of the sailors, think: The cat's in your garbage, Woman. 9 Five hundred Vi e t Cong captured. Race riots erupt in Atlanta. Glancing sideways, hurriedly crossing the lit The cat lop e d off Down an alley. 10 street, Dying in his sleep, one step past death, Heard the love-scream of cats and made A terrible effort to s it up. 11 The morning after the bomb Was dropped, I woke early. Silence past stillness, the city in ruins My hands touch e d fur and the cat purred. W n yno Brown. ?
rvrn.IDEN SPEECH Born today our daughter nakeo of influences, (neither your science nor my art blinding her with preconceptions) responded spontnneously to unknown stimuli, spoke substantially this: bright cold hard noise hurt my flesh i do not like these are no warm soft qui e t dark in and around me aJ ? whet i want tr.use rrake l e ss bright cold hard noise work is hurt hurt to my flesh but g e ts what i want work is yes until ccme back warm soft qui e t dark air i need always lets me relate to others rhythm i have sensed it all along beating a measuro doom-doo11, doom-doom doon-dooD1. A.L.Hendrik::;. 8 SCORE by Victor D. Questnl & Anson Gonzalez. Published by the authors from 1 Saphire Drive Diego Martin, Trinidad. W .Io N o Price stated. Some of Victor D. Questal's poems leave me with the impression of c.. man who is;'drunk on the rum mage that is languag e His poems are fast moving and gush images that slide from the exc e llent to the ~t rocious, we are always ma.de a.ware of 'the poet' standing between us and the poem. Some of the poems build up a good level of tension but then sag having nothing, really, to say. This nothingn e ss is apparent also in the more blatently philosoph ical poems; TOM: MUSE: W H EH : etc, where his lofty tirades fall flat, too often he s e 0 ms to be looking around noking; 'but who to sock it to now' ? However, when he com e s down closer to th e earth and starts, as Derrick Buttress would say, to show us rather than tell us we find some excellent poems that maii'age to criticis ~ and reflect upon the wrongs of his Trinid a d in a most effective manner. In 'PAN DRAMA' we see a justifi a bly angry young man who is:= 'sick of your blurred borguoise amile 9
pinging and ponging calypso tunes of chamber pot drama or racial melodrama for colourless mocking folk from far awa:y smog lands. r And in 'DOWN BEAT' we see the life of an average Trinidadian with no a~sets but his hands and his brains. Out of work, bored, dissatisfied and apparently powerless, he has to improvii -. e a living;' now an-th e n as Mighty Suck Eye, seranading some touristsand later, Hustling so me coins for a four tirty 'Pulling at meh weed Smokin~ out meh need Cursing dem all Forgetting it all Swa:ying down the kiss me arse streets to a rythm rehearsed in bed and the down beat in meh head.' 10 Anson Gonzalez's poems fall into two blocks, there are slight, pop inspired little poems that are often trite and meanigless and on the other hand there are some much heavier, powerful angry poems in the latter part of his set that speak with an original voice on important themes. In some of these inter poems he has retainea his 'pop' idiom but uses it as a tool of cutting irony;'Proclaiming with papal pomp a paternal encylical medieval rome rejects the idea of sex-is-fun Ban the pill and later, Ban the condom Ban abortion 'I meditated and saw the wisdom of the Holy Ones decision. (from'CONTROL') The population growth is absorbed in Viet Nam Biafra Latin America Pakistan' His best poems however give up this 'pop' style and o.re concerned with revolution, or at least the struggle for change. In these poems, 'TO ''HEY ALFIE' 'DECISION' 'CANE BALLAD' and 'CADENCE' we see a young man and the dilemma that he(along with oillions of others all over the world) is faced with when he has to decide where he stands in relation to the obvious evils that are being committed by governments and large business concern.a everywhere. To ignore or just to accept the 11
; I l i I f I situation as 'the way things are' is a tacit approval of the system ... but any sort of action means that you sacrifice what little you have h 'TO as e says in _ooo 'And we in the harsh burning sun blinded by the glare of D e reks corrugated sea must deteroine whether to languish or to make the ultimate futile sacrifice, for Fanon's and Carters long m a rch goes on. An interesting book, with enough good poems to make it well worth reading. ************************** ONE CULTURE Arrogant like hell, Coraining from a culture deep In blackness, pride an eloqu e nc e Caesar stomping words an stance, A glance denotes concern an fl a ttery; Agree I am a proud black man. Guyanese, age of conflict Big mouth like it is~ Man Cholmey does inspire love, His sense O'humour straight like razor He blazin West Indian flavour. Is so dis man get top-tree, He communicatin' for you an me. P eace brudderman when you work is done We will all be freeman! (of Hugh Cholmondely Caribbean Culture.) Patti Hinds. 12 BALLAD OF A TEENAGE 'QUEEN' FLASHING! FLASHING! flashing! The concrete above me, cut out of the darkness. The pulsating sky beyond Stoned-henge city sky line rippling with tides of a submerged energy. As I sit, head on knees in a hazy shop-doorway. Round the tower of crested crenellated concrete on silent wings the insane mind movies revolve. The regurgitated Jack Kerouac Upanishad embryos orbiting out of the cradle endlessly voyaging lost searchers for the pith of the myth of time but my wings are nailed with lead. The sphere of sound and globe of light collide in a frozen scream. As my vision chants 'POETS THE UNIVERSE IS YOURS FOR THE SEIZING AND YOU ALL ARE POETS' another mocks with 'Why heliograph rumours from vertical rooftops when all that you communicate is the total meaninglessness of communication when my love is your hate, when my hate is your fate, when my fate is your faith, when my faith is your fiction, when my fiction is your facts, when my facts are your acts'. Until it subsides leaving a concrete pavement beneath me, and the concrete wall against which I lean and concrete skylines which line my eyes seeming suddenly to be unreal, and I am lying around a metaphysical used car lot jumping wrecked Cadillacs chanting 'HASHISH TO AoHES MUST TO DUST'' ond feelings of disgust at the husks of rust at this shrine intense carbureter madness, and 'Have you heard its in the stars next September we collide with Mars' and the sky is so high and pulsating with such energy, beyond the concrete that only time will silt to become such strange forgetfulness. flashingl FLASHINGl FLASHING! 13 Andrew Darlington.
GRAFFITI OF MEMORY terrace ho'uses shunted away like goods wagons into years and demolitionsoD sandbanks twisted dead belly up, fish who have temporarily mislaid their sea rocktongued island spitting foam like a lost mouse the starlight rwis before the claws of springing SWl seeking a hole to hideout in to clear a seacock preparatory to sabotage first clear your own mind as to why this must be done to sink the life you travel in see here upon the airport tarmac smart & clean in trouser suit here's Miss Brylcreem bomb up her qui m guerillas have asked her to bring in o the warm echoing comforting a choir behind the altar stand hands in pockets masturbating in ti m e to the hymn like a crowd of doves flapping their wings wiwilling to take off till all the bomber squad has gone that their prayers have called in & all the time the sun like a dirty old town hooter calling men to turn around & come & go & work & sleep splits night from day & me from you 14 Steve Sneyd. r --1 J '1 I I r ~ i l I c;) .~ _j i _~~ l\ J
) j ;i I t : \ \_, \ ... J -~ FIASCO PUBLICATIONS 'PO:EMS' by John Elseberg & George Cairn.cross. 'GRAPHICS' drawings by Joe Hirst. 'DEAF EYES' by Andrew Darlington. 'POEMS TO THE P ASSING' by Paul Berry. All free for postage from Fiasco Publications. 31 Belle Vue Street. Filey. East Yorkshire. U.K. George Cairncross is something of a legend. Painter, poet, editor and 'anarchist' he has for years be e n preaching that poetry can and should be'free'. These booklets are the fruit of that belief. Run off on a spirit duplicator, the format might offend the purist or the collectors who are more interested in building a'valuable'library than in poetry but when one considers how much important work has been published via machines like George's ( one thinks of the real 'underground' literature put out during the wars and of Samizdat in Russia today) their petty quibbles fade to vanishing point. Paul Berry's poems I find difficult to follow, often he seems to switch ideas in the middle of a poem and the punctuation, or lack of it, leaves my meagre brain stranded. However there are a few poems that follow a single train of reasoning and are quite eff~ctive 1 I partic ularly like 'WALLACE: RECIPE FOR A YuB', the final section of which runs;'Wallace is fifteen;(much haireir than before) Has raped a guide, slashed seats and has two minor offenses for drugs. He no longer sits on a shelf in a cupboard, (and they still don't understand) I've always liked Andrew Darlingtons poetry. 17
Hard, surreal, often near to prose, he seems to reflect the feelings of futility that being a 'no-body' in a complex industrial society gives one;'Can it be doubted that we are wondrously insane? Faced by the climax of Death with a life that has no m eaning.' (from'MONOLITH') 'Deaf Eyes'is a good set; Darlington's apparent preoccupation with painting has made his imagery powerful and exciting;' M id way through the act of love I realized that you had grown through the roof of my head.' Joe Hirst's book o f graphics is effective, funny and pretty well done. Resid e nt illustrator for Cairncross's magazine BOGG, his drawings ar e visual satires, more than cartoons, on asp e cts of Bri~ish culture and counter culture that are obviously ridiculous from his particu larly original viewpoint. I especially like his skit on the pop painters and 'BLOW YOUR MIND. S MOK E GUNPOWDER' The poems in the E lseberg/Cairncross booklet are simple and direct. Cairncross is closer to the working class roots of British S ociety than most of the patronjsing poets who claim to be 'telling it li k e it is' from their third storie office or classroom. His poems are couched in todays language and deal mainly with 'ordinary situations' looked at through his slightly cynical eyes. (See page 52) John Elseberg's poems are less topical, softer, with a gentle but effective irony that can't be illustrated by random quotes. Altogether an interesting series of booklets and obviously well worth the asking pricel 18 POEM heavy earth-mothers in sterile kitchens ponder and prepare for better or worse hard times so saltfish is back in business cheek by jowl with filet and who says no words of consequence were ever spoken on suburban patios? the aborted poet intones art is committment heads nod while the earth cries out (mine eyes have seen the glory) with jerks of spastic enthusiasim revolution! heads nod in gin-soaked approval this too shall pass. Jennifer Bell. 19
THEMES IN THE POETRY OF ROBERT LOWELL by Miles Buxton. 1 Lowell's poetry is based on three elements: nis own personality, religion and the corruption 0f man. The latter element is developed within the dimensions of historical significence, a New England background and, to a lesser extent, ~olitical ramifications. Lowell's personality 1s seen in relationship to his own poorly d e fined Qod-head, the conflicts of his mind and ~lso in rel a ti o nship to other people. ; Th e early poetry is violent due to Lowell's bitter disillusionment with man who appears to have lost his spiritual power to break the cycle of stimulus and response, each new response being simultaneously a new stimulus. Human fotivations are materialistic ones and,as such, ~re fundamentally inward looking. Man's direction, therefore, is regressive and must culminate in final destruction. The form of this destruction is se e n in e pic terms and the poet appears to take satisfaction in the retribution which awaits man. Lowell's 'lamb of God' is forsake~ in preference to the avenging Michael 'Flocks/ scavenge for El Dorado in the ; hemlocks. 0 Micha e l, hurry up and ring my bell' The major examples of this human corruption q.re Lowell's own ancestral roots, the Puritans o~ New England for whom the poet reserves all his most vicious attacks. Though the condemnation is basically a moral one, the intellectual en~re;y released by Lowell materializes in physical forms. 'Mr. Edwards And the Spider' is an attempt to illustrate in visual terms the nature of man's relationship to 20 his God and also the nature of the Hell which is his retribution. The 'spider' is an image which is repeated quite frequently by Lowell, the relative distance between man and the spider being the distance between man and God. Man shares with the spider the pursuit of physical comfort 'They purpose nothing but their ease' but also shares with his God some iraperfect form of the divine ins+ft 'To die and know it' and this is mans personal hell, the realization 0f infinite nothingness jjust prior to the point of annihilationo The altiernative of heaven is similarly described in : In Memory of Arthur Winslow', the point pridr to death provides the inspiration (similar to;other higher emotional experiences, such as love) for .infinite insight and the religions contentment of perfect calmness. The physical representation of abstraction is f;llso repeated 'wrestling with the crab' The careful presentation of metaphors is one example of Lowell's concern for form, this itself being an aspect of the poet's doepor concern for a position of authority, a view point which translates the apparently trivial into global implications. The violence which marks Lr. well' s early poetry is subjectively inspired 9 even though the poet attempts to put his opinions in lucid morality. Religion supplies the necessary 21
independent point of assessment . upon man' s action, but it is Lowell who provides the vehemence. It is only by struggling that life ~s imbued with any meaning, the acceptance of an all forgiving God of peace is a soporific product of man himself. The energy which inspires this violent struggle can also obscure poetic meanings as well as fill in argumentative gaps. There is a lack of flexibility which, ironically seems to typify Lowell's rejected Puritan back ground. All sins are worthy of apocalyptical condemnation, there being no adjustoents in the moral viewpoint which Lowell adopted. The violence is also there because the poet is not unaware that he is hiJ:J.self a D e m ber of. humanity and the condemnation is therefore all the more bitterly felt. Lowell's indictment of man is a form of personal judgment in order to regain a justifiable poetic identity. It is impossible to hold an opinion fro m the 'Black Mud' which binds hllilanity. The tension is unrelieved by by Lowell's God, for, just as there is no comnunication between man and the spider, so God's guardianship of m an is i n aginary 'What are we in the hands of the great God?' Lo~ell's complete disenchantment with man is not only prevented by his sympathetic links with the race, but also by the realisation that man still possesses the power to resur rect himself and that the freedom to choose wrongly is also a divine gift. However, points of optimism in the pervading pessimism are rarely and artificially wrought. The destruct ion of Germany by the allies in the poem 22 'The Exile's Return' is only marginally 'relieved by 'but alr e ady lily-strands Burgeon the men Rhineland, and a rough Cathedral lifts its eye' Lowell retains the idea of man as a fallen angel, still capable of spiritual insight from highly-emoted inspiration, but ignoring it in pursuance of temporary wealth. But Lowell is sensitive enough to be aware that the higher emotions, to which the poet hi@self aspires, are also indicative of a kind of blindness in this case to life in actuality 'These are the undefiled by wonen their Sorrow is not the sorrow of this world' A form of philosophical polarisation is necessary if the integrity of the character is to be maintained. Inevitably this implies sacrifice 'If they die, As Jesus, in the harness, who will nourn? 1 The pessimism in the poem is reinforced by the juxtaposition of religious past and technolo gical present 'Listen, the hay-bells tinkle as the cart Wavers on rubber tires along the tar And undered ice' Juxtaposition of contrasts is a tecnique which is regularly used by Lowell for dramatic effect. 23
The reasons for wbich Lowell forsook his emphasis on form and a complex religious standpoint were a mixture of artistic and moral inad0quacies. The persistent criticism of man, if continued, would have ultimately been self destructive without some relief for constructive appreciation of the world. Also there was Lowell's reconciliation to the fact that, though humanity may be corrupted, there was really no practical alternative. All men are caught up in their own cycle of events (the spiders web), Lowell included. Religion had failed to provide a realistic code of values and so Lowell moved closer to man and also to a form of personal mysticism. 'The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket' continues to pursue the themes of New England materialism but the Quaker God in this poem is merely a cypher. There are a series of subtle ironies which develop the idea of man's short-sighted predicament. Inanimate things are seen in animate terms, the sailor only achieves the appearance of life after his death I I He grappled at the net With the coiled, hurdling muscles of his thighs' rhose still alive are depersonalised by a lack of any detailed attention, they merely become impotent victims of the forces around them. In contrast, these forces fill the vacant characterisations 'night/ Had steamed into our North Atlantic Fleet 24 .. If God still oaintains an instrumetal presence in the poem, it is not in the forra which the Quakers would recognise. Their attempts to rationalize God's indifference are childishly pathetic (resting on the notion that their postponed death is God's mercy). Lowell's last two stanzaa show the insignif icance of man's attempts to control his Biblical inheritance in relation to the dimensions of Time and space which God controls. The mythical nature of the poem 'where mariners had fabled news Of IS, the whited monster' shows that rationalizations are not the aim of the poet, rather the inarticulate communication of a religious experienee. Again there is the artificial inclusion of some hopeful gli!Ill!ler for mankind 'Hide/ Our ste~l, Jonas Messias, in the side' This reference to the crucifixion illuminates a more sympathetic deity in whose image all human inadequacies may be absolved. This conscious softening of the divine image is unconvincincing due partly to Lowell's own Puritan inheritance. The Catholic image of Mary appears just as ouch a stranger to Lowell as she is inscrutable to man. Her tranquility is the feature which Lowell wishes to com.Lluni cate but tranquility comes perilously close to indifference in the reading of the poem. It is possible to believe that Lowell himself instinctively requires a stronger vision of his God. 25
Lowell's view of time, a recorring poetic element, is a complex one and explains thG strnnge contemporary nature of his historical allegories. The theory is l~rgely derived from Jung. Firstly, history contains ceratin character types v,rhich ca..n be seen to reoccur. Secondly, men cnn escape this submergence into' archetypes by ~ysticism, by a return to Christs divinity or by insanityo The confining, destr uctive nature of time leads Lowell to equate time with d2ath 'Or hourglass-blazoned spider, it is said, Can kill a tiger' Muns f~ilure to act immediately in the preser' vation of his soul allows the int e rve n tion of spiritual tempt~tion. The hist o rical poems show an i n for mc. l, low key overspill of the past into th e present. Caesar o...~tl Mussolini fuse into on e fi g ure so that the focus is thrown on to th e issues 1 involv e d rath e r then th8 chcracturs. Th e issues ; in this c a se 2-rc nan's historic f a ilure to reconcile lif .:. crid religion, thc..t n~ n hi m self I is a synbol of disorder who E aiilt ~ ins the flaws of his own s e lf-destruction. nan is unwilling to m~ o t the significance of nature's deterior ating superiority: 'Reading how even the Swiss hc..d thrown th e spon g e in once o.gain end Zverest was still unclimbed' and allows th e incipi 0 nt convenienc e of t e ch nology to pcrv u d0 our lives 26 r I .,,, I I 'His el e ctric razor purred' whilst simultaneously proclaiming inadequate tokens of dogma to st e m the spiritual decline' l; Jhen th () Vatican m e d a Mary's Assm1ption dogna' By historical r e f0renc G Lowell calls into question raan's move m ent towards physico.l truths which inevitably c c use the destruction of spiritu~l supports such as legend, nythology and religion. 3ci e ntific analyisi is &7. inward qu?st, unconcerned with th e lnrger -i:..1.plic :: .ti n::; of survi~o.1 in a philosophic sense. Technology is the tangential force which disrupts potential harr:1ony and Low e ll attacks the former wi tl1. typic c. l irony 'There were no tickets for thnt n ltitude onc -3 held by H e lla.s, when the god d ess stood, princ~, pope, phil o so,hcr and goldGn bough, pure mind and murder o f th o scything prow Th a attack gains force because Lowell h i n self hns dop n rt0d fro fil a r e li g ious viewpoint and us 0 s his own personality wit h no external n rbitars for moral r0fer c nee. The sense of History included in the poem 'Beyond The Alps' (from which the quot ~ ti o ns above h R ve be e n to.k -:; n) s h ovs the infor::.1~1 way in which L 0 well tr e ~ts hls~ory. Examples c.ro not chosen in any apparently structur e d wey but support the main nrguement alillost in a rundo1 ~ 1:10.rm cr. This tends to !.ncroo..s e th e cpntempornry rel u vs.nce of the iteos chosoa, tog & ther with all their connotations 27
of a more ordered existanoe. In 'Falling Asleep Over The Aeneid' Lowell emphasizes the sense of informality by recreating images of Ancient Rome in a drowsy day-dream.The dramatic immediacy is built up gradually, so avoiding any loss of personal contact and personal relevance for the reader. Similarly, the day-dream is broken gradually by a recollect ion of ancestral involvement in m.ore recent . history (American War of Independance) so that present and past are never entirely disassociated from each other. Disorder within man himself is a consis tent b a sis of Lowell's declaration of man. The spiritual self must accept the decline of man the physical self as the necessary sacrifice for its own survival. Just as one approaches the other, so thesplit becomes as infinite as the gap between man and his God. Metaphors upon this theme are drawn in a detailed and complex manner, an indication of Lowell's early requirement of form. Chief a.D ongst these metaphors is the relationship of man to nature, .as in the poem 'Water'. Man in harmony with his world takes on the aspects of that world: 'white fram e houses stuck like oyster shells on a hill of rock' iand time, the destroyer by ruined opportunity, converts life forms into images of death 'From this distance in time, it seems the colour of iris, rotting ~d turning purpler' Mans lack of unity is similar to that of a man 28 and a woman, one corporal and the cerebral ~he_potential for unity is a shiftin~ oppor tunity ('the usual gray rock') deteriorating with time and the elements and finally return ing to God and the sea, a re-birth in death (also a Christian image of baptism). However, the finAl sacrifice of relinquishing physical sanctuary is not made and, once confirmed in this physical allegiance, spiritual reclamation is impossible 'We wished our two souls might return like gulls to the rock' A similar idea, the unification of man by the destruction of his physical world, is used in colloquy In Black Rock' but the opposing elements here are heart and soul. God ('The Kingfisher 1 ) can only act after this physical sacrifice in the violence of whose decomposition Lowell takes epic satisfaction. This poem is more ambiguous than the later one and probably too concentrated with images to allow the separate elements to achieve their dramatic interaction. The senses of irony and drama are probably the two most characteristic qualities of Lowell's poetry. They become increasingly noticeable as the poetry develops awa:y from religious and oystical themes and becomes more closely associated with life. The collection of poems 'Life Studies bases its irony mainly on the contradiction between apparent aspirations and actual achievements. The poems consist of a personal examination of the lives of various members of his family, so personal that the poet almost 29
I 11 completely identifies with his subjects and they become examples of subjective retrospect, their faults and virtues being assimilated by th0 poet himself. : The intensely religious early phase of 1Lowell's poetry reflected the uncertainties of i the poet himself. Meanings are communicated in vague moods or feelings rather than any didactic transmission of decision and definition. Though Life Studies retains much of thissubjectivity, there are now other character sources of tension and revelationo This slight retreat on the part of the poet allows the characters to maintain an individual dramatic participation of their own. The intensity of the personal conflict in the early poetry also tended to detract from the settings which became increasingly unfamiliar and occassionally verging on the cosmic rather than a worldly backdrop. With the inclusion of familiar personalities, Lowell includes settings which are relatively parochial but have the advantage of a more comfortable affinity with the reader. This affinity, however, can be used to increase dramatic power as in the reversal of accepted roles. One of the most frequent examples of this disturbing principle in ~he allocation of subversive personalities to apparantly innocuous convenient aids, rarely present for the increased comfort of man 'where even the man scavenging filth in the back alley trash cans, has two children, a beach wagon, a help mate' 30 Later this principle is developed even more i successfully by giving animal qualities t to machinery, thus increasing their ominous '. potential for obliterating man 'a savag e servility slides by on grease In a way 'drama' is the wrong label to apply to these poems as there is no developnent of either plot or character. Though time ost : ensiably mov e s on, the players remain inert, incapable of freeing themselves from the net of events and circumstances. Also, physical :details are given prominence out of proportion : to their significance 'Like ey Grandfather, the decor was manly, comfortable, overbearing, disproportioned' The observations in Life Studies super ficially appear cooly detached, but Lowell is really training the nature of the snare which has trapped him within the compass of life. The cumulative effect of his ancestry and environment has fixed him within the restriction of a physical world and the very technology he himself condemns. The basic dilemma for Lowell is that it is wrong to progress as we are but there is no real wa:y to digress con structively. Also, the deterioration of spiritual values may not be entirely the fault of man, possibly he may have an intrinsic value outside of his actions. This latter factor is supported by Lowell's more sympathetic 31
:, I t and gentler observ a tion of people 'My Grandfather found his grandchild's fogbound solitudes swe e ter than human society' In this quotation can be seen the point that Lowell is trying to make about the value of man. It is o n ly his increased perception in maturity which offers him the materialistic alternative to the unmotivated innocence of childhood. i Lowell's depression is never far away. 'Skunk Hour is simultaneously a token for a worldly existance and a realisation that his attempts to perceive truths have only been a form of self-torture. H e ha s created hfs own small hell and resolved nothing 'I nyself am hell, no-body's here' There is no attempt at lucidity, the poem being a raw appeal from the brink of insanity. His own personality and its worthiness is called into question because all he can see is corruption, and all this corruption is recorded with the same di m ensionl e ss level of conviction 'I watched for love cars/ / My mind's not right' The syrabol of life appears i n the last two stanzas, a stubborn refusal to acknowledge that existence is without purpose. But this symbol has no nobility, the skunk forages in ninimum. for survival. This is typical of 32 Lowell's poetry in that, though the totality of nihilism may be fractionally avoided, no solutions are offered. i ; A deliberate intention to avoid these intense ut fruitless ideas can be seen in Lowell's ater poems which appear to meet life on life's terms; that is to say, the recognition of the inevitability of compromise and the inherent screening of some of lifes more ominous impli eations1 or lack of implication . The concept 6f the internal conflict reflected in the man woman relationship is repeated in *The Old Flame' 'fhis poem is of a simple construction and there is little of the ambiguity which marked out the arlier religious poetry. Taken as a whole, the ioem is a plea for anti-intelectualism. Marriage, the wopldly archetype for harmony, is split by the combined intelectual intensity of two minds seeking perception but barred from communication *simmering like wasps in our tent of booksl leneath this suffocating intellectual atmosphere fowell is aware of the potential for harmony, but this can only be purchased a~ t h e cost of perceptive oblivion 'we heard the plow groaning up hill' So Lowell does not resent the end of this phase, }1e welcomes the presence of new values 'pewter and plunder shone in each room' 33
r } I but the reader cannot help but notice that this welcome, like the tokens to optimism, are conscious efforts. Lowell's attempts to find a position of authority are not confined to his religious ideas. The poet is also aware of finding a meaningful role in relation to society and government. This role dependD. upon the pre valence of social conditions; in an ordered situation the poet becomes a force of disorder, in flux-like conditions (as Lowell finds himself in) the poet becomes a ntnbilizor. So Lowell supports order, but he is faced witp a dichotomy akin to his spiritual situation. Moral order is inter-related with civil orde~, but civil order is preserved by government which in Lowell's time and opinion, is destruc tive. Lowell,therefore, postpones a direct confrontation with the state by attacking those forces which bolster the state. Here he is on familiar ground, as in the poem 'For the Union Dead' with its attack upon unbridled capitalism and hypocritical morality shows. The order that society is in the process of acquiring now is of a malign nature, an artificial container for social corruption whilst outside is a desert of moral purpose 'The old South Boston Aquarium stands in a Sahara of snow now' The statue of Colonel Shaw remains as a symbol of order based on moral awareness 'Its Colonel is as lean as a compass needle 34 still serving as a focal point and reminder of historic spiritual dignity. The only sym bols to modern wars are the graves which await their casualties 'frayed flags/guilt the graveyards of the Grand Army or/ the Republic' because these wars do not enoble man with the 'peculiar power to choose life and die' but embroil their combatants in the same machine. like drudgery which their weaponry and society reveres. A more direct involvement in contemparary problems is shown in Lowell's latest collection of poems, Notebook. This sense of involvement extends to personalities and institutions specifically rather than the ambiguous forces behind them. Though the political studies in this book are still rather static, they are more objective in that their relevance to Lowell is theoretical empathy rather than a blood relationship. But Lowell is still imprisoned by dichotomy,as in the poem 'For Eugene McCarthy'. McCarthy's failure to enter the power structure is because the E stablishment selects its own successors 'the state lifts us, we cannot change the state' The disillusionment at man's impotence inspires a bitter violence, similar to that or the epic poems, which is only slightly misted by Lowell's human sadness I 'coldly willing/ to smash the ball past those who bought the park' 35
The increasing humanity of Lowell's poetry may appear to be only superficial, extending mainly to subject matter rather than treatment. 'R.F.K.' is a figure well suited to lowell's concept of historical drama, a man condemned not by action but by the cuoulative inheritance of disaster which surrounds him 'Doom was woven in your nerves, your shirt, woven in the great class' At first Lowell appears a man of fluctuating ideals but in actual fact he is remarkably consistant. Alterations in the dogma~ic acceptance of religion only reveal religion as a symptom of something more deeply felt by Lowell, a 'loyalty to the unreal.' The historic context of contemporary thought and action is also still a distinguishing feature of the poet and his period of intense personal conflict has only served to unify his personality so that he know has some measure of that author itative position which he originally required. The sense of history, like religion, is used .by Lowell as a literary implement to provide allegorical dimensions to spontaneous, evoca tive subjects. In this manner he is very much in command of the art form in which he is involved and this command allows full scope for the confident energy which keeps his poetry from a meanigless disintergration. Mil e s Buxton. 36 + .. : ~ / .... J "' j 1 \~ ,\we;.~~~-~ J I
j I I 1 1 BASIE Hunched, hump-backed, gigantic, the pianist presides above the rumpus. his fingers clutch the chords, dissonance and discord vie and vamp across the keyboard; his big feet beat the beat until the whole joint rocks. it is not romantic; but a subtle fingering exudes a sweet exotic fragrance, now and then; you'll recognise the odour if you listen well. This flower blooms and blossoms 'till brash boogie-woogie hordes come bourgeoning up from hell, blind and gigantic. 2 BILLIE HOLIDAY She's dark and her voice sings of the dark river@ her eyes hold the soft fire that only the warm night knows. her skin is musky and soft. she travels far back, explores ruins, touches on old imme m orial legends everyone but herself had forgotten. she becomes warrior and queen and keeper of the tribe. 3 9
/. I there is no fear where she walks, although drums speak to announce the imminent death of a tyrant. and although her song is sad, there is no sorrow where she sings. she walks in a world where the river whispers of certainties that only she can acknowledge. the trees touch confident and unassuming. she hopes that light will break in the clearing before her song ends 3 KLOOK The drummer is thin o.nd h & s been a failure at every trade but this but here he is the king of the cats: it is he who kills them. sick, sad and subtle, from his throne of skin ahd symbol he controls the jumping rumble using simple shock and cymbal. his quick sticks clip and tap, tattoo a trick or two that leaves you prancing. all hail to the king of the cats. 40 4 MILES He grows dizzy w;i.th altitude. the sun blares. he hears only the brass of his own mood. if he could fly he would be an eagle. he would see how the land lies softly in contours how the fields lie striped, how the houses fit into the valleys. he would see clouds lying on water, moving like the hulls of great ships over the land. but he is only a cock. he sees nothing cares nothing. he reaches to the sky with his eyes closed his neck bulging. he topples through the sunlight like a shining stone. 41
5 TRANE Propped against the crowded bar he pours into the curved and silver horn his old unhappy longing for a home. the dancers twist and turn he leans and wishes he could burn his memories to ashes like some old notorious emperor of rome. but no stars blazed across the sky when he was born no wise men found his hovel: this crowded bar where dancers twist and turn, holds all the fame and recognition he will ever earn on earth or heaveno He leans against the bar and pours his old unhappy longing in the saxophon e 6 SO LONG, CHARLIE PARKER The night before he died the bird walked on and played his heart out: notes fell like figure-forming pebbles in a pond. he was angry; and we knew he wept to lmow his time had come so soon. so little had been done so little time to do it in he wished to hold the night from burning all time long. but time 42 is short and life is short and breath is short. And so hes slowed and slurred and stopped. his fingers fixed upon a minor key; then sliped. his bright eyes blazed and bulged against the death in him then knocking at the door. he watched: as one will watch a great clock striking time from a great booming midnight bell: the silence slowly throbbing in behind the dying bell. the night before he died the bird walked on through fear, through faith, through frenzy that he tried to hide: but could not stop that bell. 43
7 BAS.S BusEey the bassist lovEs his lady hugs hor to him likE a baby plucks her chucks her makEs her boom boon. waltz or tango bop or shango watch them walk or ~o the 1 dango: basfey and his lovely lady. bnssey and his lovely lady like the light und not the sh~dy; bit by boom they build this bouuty; bassey and his lovely lady. 44 THE CRITIC Squat with his hot check shirt, the listener fits on his new wide-angl e d e ars. now he can really h e ar. Like b e ar with honey is he with sound. melodies were ne'er so sweet, nor harmonies compleat, as now he sits with his new fangled electronic kit to listen. it is a pity that his theori es dictate his joys, because he hears not heavenly melodies, empryean and dim, but highly refined dissonance and noise. Edward Brathwaite. 45
I FIRST DARK Linp, I pillow on stone. Father I feek your face in the desert. My want cries up to that crater \.Jhich carries your image und hurt. Contained in this innocent grass Rank origins clog up my pores. No constellation is guiltless. Am ~ zed the sky breaks out in stars. And I run man proud, watching this moon Th e se stars funnel up to reflect Me, shining back from lost-heaven, Sustaining some t e rribl e past Universe I lived in before She seeded forbidden and reaped The sorrow-fill e d cre a tures we are. Lore, your li gh t shone down uncensored Until we ate darkness and were. Anthony McNiell. 46 N' THE COAST by WAYNE BROWN o Published by i~IDRE DEUTSH. 105 Great Russell Street. London WC1. England. $ 3.50. 'I would write poems like main-sails drawn up the bent masts of motor-schooners floundering in the remu's flow: held clear of that c' : ~ 1 ;:; but quivering holding the strain below.' (from RJtlli) And he does. Almost all of Wcyne Brown's poems are intricate metaphors and use a subtle irony to 'make their points'. They work, often beautifully, on the superficial surface but the real meanings are hidden, you have to dig for them. This almost metaphysical tone is set in the opening poem, 'THE APPRO A CH' What is ap :roaching or being approached is not specified, but one gets the feeling, as in many of the other poems, of a concern with death, with a God, with the unknown;'Something's underground alive. And thats all you need to know For now: how you come down Is your business.' This image of a subteraneah power is repeated in 'BALLAD OF THE ELECTRIC EEL':'Now he is king of the mineral dark, Earths kicking time bomb, ins ~ t like a diamond' 4?
And in the final poem,'THE WITNESS', for me one of the most powerful! in the book, we see a creature who rises out of the horizen;' Always when the warring tides ebb at sunset, someone comes. At first you can hardly see hie: a black nut in the surf' this figure personifies the race memory of the reader, its universal but particularly African :'Man he is your memory, that each sunset moves a.cong the jetsam of the tribe, the years widowed past grief, yet lingering, Many things are left to your imagination in this set, the poems often leave you hanging i in mid-air, one step beyond the edge of the precipice. I kept finding myself re-reading u poem to see if I'd 'got it'. Often I had to accept a poem on the one 'apparent' level but this i n itself is enough. The poems are beautifully written, his images are superb;'Fat butterfly, fleshed in sin; fat Nazi' (from DEVIL FISH) 'Eel lay at the botto c of the ocean like a shambles of coils in an empty car-park (from Ballad of the Eel) His talent for description is also best illustrated by quotation:48 'The woman is barren. And the blackbirds have had a hard time this year with the drought and fallen like moths to the field's floor' (from DROUGHT) 'The light founders. Rain puckers the ocean. I see a small town, found, then forgotten, where liners no longer come.' (from 'ON THE COAST') 'The sun drifts off, an abandoned balloon gone high up and cold as a dawn-breaking moon.' (from TRAFALGER SQUARE) The most concrete aspect of his poetry is found where he reflects on his race, his colour, his society but these are not the usual 'hard done by black man' poemsm he is a much better poet than that. Rather he looks behind the facade to see why tension exists, why people change or aspire to positions th~t have no value, no honesty. In 'SNOW' we see the poet looking across from his house to his neighbours and seeing the daughter undress. This happens regularly and she knows it happens;'She won't turn her back, her silhouete knows, the ripper was black, was black. I am a rock, climbing to midnight. There' s a white night between ~house and yours, sister, we were never meant for each each other.' and in 'RED HILLS'he X-rays the plush, middle class area of Kingston. 4?
hill scar, red nigger preserve, our roses bloom whitely here' and in 'THE WITNESS'hc perhaps sees himself;'on the well lit train to a colonial future narrow as rails This isn't an easy book to read, not if you want to 'understand' what the man is say ing. His concern for death and time force him to work in abstract terms 1 he is skeptical of men and their blind certainties, their frailty:'Men will have their truths, their tidy legends, their ends.' (from Mackeral) It is however definitely worth making the effort to read this book, worth enjoying just for the finely crafted language and precise precise descriptionsooworth spending the time to dig into it, testing to see where you come up, or if you do. 50 NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS JENNIFER BELL is a young Jrunaican currently studying at the School of Education, UWI. EDWARD BRATHWAITE is a professor of History at UWI, Mona, editor of 'SAVACOU' and co editor of'BIM'o His poetry publications include the trilogy 'RIGHTS OF PASSAGZ' 'MASKS' and 'ISLANDS' (Oxford University Press, WAYNE BROWN is a journalist and critic from Trinidad, currently living in Kingston. His first book 'ON THE COAST' was a Poetry Book Society recomendation. MILES BUXTON has contributed stories and articles to various magazines, he is currently working on his Ph.D. in Philosophy at Nottingham University. GEORGE CAIRNCROSS is editor of 'BOGG' and 'Fiasco Publications' and has two booklets out from them. MARY CROOKS is a young Jamaican artist from St. Anns Bay, she is currently refusing to be taught anything by anyone ANDREW DARLINGTON lives in Yorkshire, has contributed poetry, prose and graphics to many magazines and has a booklet 'DEAF EYES' published by Fiasco Publications. A.Lo HENDRIKS is a widely published West Indian poet at present living in England. His publications include 'THESE GiEEN ISLANDS' (BOLIVAR PRESS) &'ON THIS MOUNTAIN'(Andre Deutsh 51
PATTI HINDS hails from Grenada. ANTHONY McNIELL has been wid e ly published in the Caribbean, he is currently working on his PhD in English at the University of Massach usetts. Publications include 'REEL FROM "THE LIFE MOVIE" (SAVACOU PUBLICATIO NS ) STEVE SNEYD is editor of Ludds Mill a poetry magazine cum street paper in Huddersfield, :England. Publications include 'ICARUS LANDING' (Hilltop Press) and a new set,'WALKING DOWN JERUSALEM' (Marconi, Bandage & LintPre s s) **** ** ** ** ****** * ** P AYMENT DEFERRED I received a bill this morning informing m e that my body was still not fully paid for, I still owe a payment for my legs. I havent the money and I've 14 days to pay in if I don't they'l reposses them. I'v e grown attached to my le g s. Where can I get the mon e y 7 Perhaps if I run away, they might forget about it, or would a debt collector want second hand legs 7 George Cairncross : NOW 2. St. Anns Bay. July 197 3 52. j ' 4 ... t \