Hugh MacDiarmid is one of my oldest poetic lodestones; he was one of the first poets I quoted at LH, back in 2002, and I did so again a couple of years ago, but those were both examples of his early short poems in Scots, the poems almost...
Hugh MacDiarmid is one of my oldest poetic lodestones; he was one of the first poets I quoted at LH, back in 2002, and I did so again a couple of years ago, but those were both examples of his early short poems in Scots, the poems almost everyone prefers ("We enjoy your films! Particularly the early, funny ones"). Today I feel moved to quote from a couple of his later, longer, less immediately lovable poems in standard English mixed with quotes from all over. I'll begin with his "In Memoriam James Joyce, from A Vision of World Language," a very long poem with a difficult publishing history (he wrote to Eliot in 1941 "You will remember the huge poem of mine you read a year or thereby ago. It was to have been published by the Obelisk Press, Place Vendôme, Paris; but the Fall of France quashed that project"; Eliot loved it but said "in this time when we are really being starved for paper it is works like this which must suffer," later calling it "a magnificent tribute to language"). It begins with a roll-call of those who have practiced epeolatry (OED: "The worship of words"):We who are concerned with 'the living whole
Of all the poetry that has ever been written,'
And the sodaliciis adstricti consortiis
Of all the authors who have been, are, or will be,
We remember Jacint Verdaguer whose Atlàntida and Canigó
Did for Catalonia what Mistral's Mirèio did for Provence,
And the Italian, Marco Girolamo Vida,
Who duly figured in Chalmers' collection of British Poets
(Trust the English to appropriate all they can !)
Rolfe with his tyrianthine style, diaphotick verse,
Orchidaceous vocabulary, and his archellenisms,
Argute, deaurate, investite, lucktifick, excandescence,
Galbanate, effrenate, dicaculous, pavonine, torose,
Hybristick, gingilism — Rolfe whose mantelpiece held
A card inscribed Verro precipitevolissimevolmente,
Hardy with words like lewth, leazes, dumble-dores,
Spuds, cit, wanzing [...]Continue reading "EPEOLATORS ALL."