NS Essay : JUXTAPOSITIONS John Montague “Silences.”

This New Series takes shape in short essays in poetics. A poem, a passage in metaxical philosophy, and a formalist comment by me. Juxtapositions.

The great freedom of lyric allows for formal experimentation that boggles the mind.

Desmond writes (2020, 76): The work stands there in its otherness, but this is its corresponding with superiority, and yet there is something intimate that speaks to us in its distance of truth. It speaks from a height, and even when it is cold, it is not cold, for it touches us deeply. Distance is needed to bring intimacy home to its own strangeness to itself. Distance is the Between in which something more universal communicates in and through the intimate sensuousness.”

Lyrics proceed by half truths. Three self-contained rather prim looking stanzas so arranged as to fascinate and wound the mindful reader. Equivocity rules: the unknown God of tradition, silent in its reserve, shines in the distance. Yet beyond the ‘grievance’ caused by its appearance in the firmament of language, it sings. Montague’s use of “muzzle” in the context of violence increases the tension and raises the pitch of the poem. The image in the second two lines of Part 2 transforms the mood from fear to reliance. Part 3 moves beyond the silence of companionship out into a figure of ultimate communication in the Between. The porosity of consciousness flows without check between creativities, mortal and eternal. But the scene of this transformation is the flesh. The silent message drawn from the tangible is the message of the Intimate Universal of poetry.

Author: Tom D'Evelyn

Tom D'Evelyn is a private editor and writing tutor in Cranston RI and, thanks to the web, across the US and in the UK. He can be reached at tom.develyn@comcast.net. D'Evelyn has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Before retiring he held positions at The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard University Press, Boston University and Brown University. He ran a literary agency for ten years, publishing books by Leonard Nathan and Arthur Quinn, among others. Before moving to Portland OR he was managing editor at Single Island Press, Portsmouth NH. He blogs at http://tdevelyn.com and other sites.

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