Sunday, 7 January 2007


Of all the components of our bodies, it's our own sinews that seem most alien to us. They’re plastic cables, they’re metal-braided, not like the other stuff out of which we are made. It’s they that make us cyborgs. You seem we are comfortable with the idea that we’re from blood and flesh and bone, and we can see (and so have become used to) hair and skin. But sinews don’t seem, somehow, to belong. We are soft, or bone-hard; but we are not these control wires stretched taut throughout our airframe.

I think an apperception something like this is present in my favourite Dylan Thomas poem, ‘And death shall have no dominion’
And death shall have no dominion
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way.
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break
Faith in their hands shall snap in two
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

Such gloriously, stubbornly tough writing. Thomas’s penetrating sense of bodies acquiring an unbodily toughness in death—those sinews snapping, like faith itself, a similarly durable strand; except in the poet’s beloved republic where this cracking, severing power no longer obtains.

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