Saturday 15 May 2021
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theguardian - 26 days ago

Poem of the week: To Vladimir Nabokov … by Anthony Burgess

Part showy display of literary style, part grumpy personal letter, this is a rich celebration of the power of writing
To Vladimir Nabokov on His 70th BirthdayThat nymphet’s beauty lay less on her bones
Than in her name’s proclaimed two allophones,
A boned veracity slow to be found
In all the chanting of recorded sound.
Extrude an orange pip upon the track,
And it will be a pip played front or back,
But only in the kingdom of the shade
Can diaper run back and be repaid.
Such speculations salt my exile too,
One that I bear less stoically than you.
I look in sourly on my lemon trees
Spiked by the Qs and Xes of Maltese
And wonder: Is this home or where is home?
(Melita’s caves, Calypso’s honeycomb).
I see a cue or clue. Just opposite,
The grocer has a cat that loves to sit
Upon the scales. Respecting his repose,
One day he weighed him: just two rotolos.
In this palazzo wood decays and
Buses knock stucco from the outer walls,
Slam shut the shutters. Coughing as they lurch
They yet enclose the silence of a church,
Rock in baroque: Teresan spados stab
The Sacred Heart upon the driver’s cab,
Whereupon, in circus colours, one can read
That verbum caro factum est. Indeed.
I think the word is all the flesh I need –
The taste, and not the vitamins of sense
Whatever sense may be. I like the fence
Of black and white that keeps those bullocks in –
Crossboard or chesswood. Eurish gift of Finn –
The crossmess parzel. If words are no more
Than pyoshki, preordained to look before,
Save for their taking chassé, they alone
And not the upper house, can claim a throne
(Exploded first the secular magazines
And puff of bishops). All aswarm with queens,
Potentially, that board. Well, there it is:
You help me counter the liquidities
With counters that are counties, countries. Best
To read it: Caro Verbum Facta Est. Continue reading...


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