Sunday, 28 September 2008


What would it mean to drown in a poem? The weeds wrapped about our head and our lungs sodden and clogged with its sense. It might work upon us, and something rich and strange is all very well: but I've always read those lines and thought 'coral is too brittle and too irregularlu surfaced to make good bones, and swapping one's eyes for pearls sounds like a simile for complete ocular cataracts.' That's drowning, I suppose: blinding and weakening: as in the old story whenOdysseus asked the shades 'but what is it like being dead?' and they replied 'it is like being alive, only less so ...' It's a professional hazard of literature academics, I suppose: that we become so deeply immersed in our idiom that we lose sight of the clouds.

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