JUXTAPOSITIONS Sharon Dolan “Let Me Thrum (6 a.m.)”

William Desmond, The Intimate Universal (2016), p. 424. Glossary, Porosity of Being.

“Porosity suggests a field in passage — itself a passing field, since it is not fixed or determinate. What if A and B are themselves marked by porosity. You would then have things and events, themselves porous, in a field or sea, itself a porosity. What passes would not pass as fixed in itself but as itself passing: passing in passage as such. Here we might connect the porosity with creation: the passage is creative in a porosity that passes between nothing and (finite) being and between being and nothing again—and this passing is renewed again and again. Arising in being and setting, coming into being and passing out of being, creation brings to be the porosity within whose intermedium all things live and move and have their being.”

Lyrics are made out of words and concepts. The intertwining of words and concepts can be subtle, the flow from line to line is both expressive and recessed in meaning. Doland’s prayer-like “Let Me Thrum” is densely woven of the extended associations of names. The warp and woof of the texting is between the inward plea of prayer and the aspectual facts of the given world of the poem, which gradually transforms into a wakened world.

Desmond’s analysis of the porosity of being reveals the structure of blur, of change, of mutability. Porosity has direction. While it is a model of relativity, as a whole the porosity is an open whole. It is not an ideal unity that ultimately expresses the self of the poet. The self opens to the greater reality beyond the porous betweens of the poem.

The address of the verb “Let” has no concrete objectivity. It is reflexive and appropriate to the equivocal language of poetry and prayer. To address a poem to God is to reach outside the known knowns to the mystery of creative being.

Yet the poem’s world, its between, is luminous. Between loose strife and Lilly flows the between of the mixed qualities of the invasive plant that strangles the diversity of a wetland habitat AND offers support for bees and butterflies AND the idealized religious symbol of purity.

The “Let” includes everything between A and B, which, in the resonance of lyric, are themselves porous. The second stanza explores that pluralism of difference. Between prayer plant and mallow there’s the symbolism of the plant’s reaching into the onset of evening AND the mallow’s companionship of medicinal and culinary values. The diction of “all things” recalls Hopkins’s religious vision.

The address of this complex lyric is metaxological. Meta means both across and beyond, and this phenomenological doubleness renews religious feeling without hard edges, indeed with the open flow of porosity.

In the third stanza the lyric follows the narrative we so often see: it moves from examples to an appreciation of what they share in the porosity, the energies of communication, a symphony of “shirr. “ Where “Thrum” named a continuous undersong, “rub and buzz” suggest erotic touching, a calling out from the distance of love, a transformation towards otherness in the Between. The “call” to “You” comes from the depths of creative being.

Dolan signifies this turn by breaking the quatrain and letting in the nuanced light transcending the Between. The figure is almost comical. Picking up associations of “shirr” in textiles and cooking, the sun’s “rising yolk-red grin” blesses the act of “the new day.”

By exploring the porosity of the Between Dolan makes new the loving and dynamic “lay” of the early hour of day.

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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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