Thursday, May 28, 2015

stocktaking 6

a spread from Ross Brighton's lovely elegy for David Mitchell, Lullaby, issued in 26 copies in 2014 - printed on the Pratt-Albion handpress in Dante & Gill Sans Light on Magnani handmade paper, with Cave handmade paper covers in a box - the colored figures are done with brass rules - there are three copies still available - the poem should be read aloud, and very slow, to catch both the rich resonances that can be heard in the language - on page one, the first word is "Isle" and three lines later is "Circle", and the isle of Circe in Homer, the ashes strewn on seawater, picks up on the death of Odysseus's comrades, and the loss in "o ash // o body of", when the body is both no more and present to us - and the double 'o', zero plus zero, that no amount of adding to that store can add a thing to the abyssal absence of a felt death - a beautiful counterfactual line, worthy of Simonides in his inscriptions for the dead nearly as old as Homer - and the sound the words make, sonorous as the sea itself, from "seen wave" to "bear break", what A N Whitehead would call an 'exemplification' of his notion of 'our single datum' which is 'the whole world, including oneself' - I love this poem, and not least as it is a lament from a poet of a later generation than Mitchell's in a culture in which a prior worker in the field can be forgotten with extraordinary speed and completeness - Brighton knows that Mitchell & Homer are now the same distance from the living - no further away than the reach of an arm to a shelf of books - of course, these are not the only lines in the poem, and the others refer to an elsewhere, or a series of elsewheres, where each short fragment has its own depth & spatial breath - and even this old experienced typesetter can fumble a bit when setting such short lines in the unmeasurable space of a single death which is all our deaths -