Monday, 13 September 2010

Scribbled Form

   Received the new edition of PN Review over the weekend with my review of James Byrne's excellent volume Blood/Sugar within its pages.  It still feels an honour to see one's own writing within such a prestigious publication - and furthermore the contributor's cheque enclosed brought my literary earnings for the year to the princely total of £20!
   Michael Schmidt in his editorial makes a comparable point about US culture - the blatant erosion of religious tolerance and pluralism - as I did in the previous post although in a far more considered and eloquent way.
   Finishing King John the other morning - one of the most under-appreciated of Shakespeare's history plays - I came across this astonishing image:

             I am a scribbled form, drawn with a pen
             Upon a parchment, and against this fire
             Do I shrink up.  (V, 7, 32 ff)

Is there a more resonant metaphor for death in all poetry, especially for the writer who at the end of the day might have hoped to embody his or her life in their writings - how imperfect this always is (only "scribbled") and how perishable is the medium of paper we have written on (especially when books - whether the Koran or a Salman Rushdie novel - can be deliberately burned).

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