Thursday, March 02, 2006

Saturday was my magic day. I went into Bookhouse in Dinkytown which honestly is the GREATEST USED BOOKSTORE IN THE WHOLE WORLD and I found two of the best books of poetry I have bought it maybe six years (and I buy a hell of a lot of poetry.) And I am not just saying this b/c one is French and out of print but b/c honestly, the books are beautiful. Tomorrow if I can pull myself away I will post something from Drouet but for now I leave you with Adam by Lawrence Durrell.

I have nibbled the mystical fruit. Cover me.
Lest the prophetic fish follow and swallow me.
I dare not treat among the lilies
Though lambswool cover my footfall,
Though the adder call, the Word walk,
In the orchard voice follow, hands hallow me.

Thy will be done as it was in Eden.
We were a long time—I am afaird—
Naked among the silver fish and shadows,
A long time and in silence naked. Only
the foundations falling, the hornet’s drum
Calling, sunny and drunk with dew.

I am Adam, of singular manufacture,
A little clay, water, and prophetic breath;
On the waters of chaos a lamp of red clay.
The Word owns me. I have no armament
Only my fear of the walking Thing.

The rib follows me everywhere: and everywhere
A shadow follows the rib. Eve,
I am afaird. The Host walks and talks
In the baobab shade: the unknowable Thing
Is crossing the paths: the breath, woman,
Is on us: a white light: O cover me
From the unthinkable razor of thought
Whose whisper hangs over me.

Eve, we are in this thing to the very end,
You, your shadow, and shadowless Adam, I.
O rib and morsel of anguish, bone of contention,
After the thing has shone and gone,
After it enters the terrible wood,
We will win through, perhaps: cover us deep
Beyond clue with the leaves of the wood:
Be silent until in passes: and kiss me, kiss me.
Ah! but the apple, the apple was good!


Anne said...

WOW. That makes me want to read it out loud. In fact, as soon as I'm finished eating my tortellini (because it's not nice to read aloud with your mouth full of tortellini), I think I shall do exactly that.

Emily Lloyd said...

I love this--and agree with Anne, it begs to be read aloud. Thanks for posting.

Lyle Daggett said...

I also read the poem out loud -- I tried pronouncing the vowels a little shorter, the consonants a little more clearly and lightly, than I normally would, -- just subtly so --, on the assumption that Durrell, who was British, would pronounce (and hear) the sounds a little differently than my average midwestern mumble. I found that pronouncing the sounds a little differently helped, added to the poem.

I also love the Bookhouse in Dinkytown. One of my favorite places on earth. I've spent untold hours there searching for (and sometimes finding) wonders.

I also make a point of checking out Biermeier's once in a while (a few blocks away on 4th street, on the other side of the freeway). Their poetry section is tiny, but well-chosen -- every once in a while, I've found impossibly out-of-print books of poems there for a pittance.

(I've always wanted to say "pittance," at least once in my life.)

early hours of sky said...

Anne, I opened the book to this poem and read it out loud about six times right there in the bookstore---it does beg for it.

Lyle, damn a new book store. I need to cross the highway. Thanks.

And Lloyd, the poem is yours—use it well.

Sam of the ten thousand things said...

Durrell is absolutely like a wonderful wine. His fiction is outsanding. "I have nibbled the mystical fruit"-- and the world grows from there.