‘Of Better Scrap’

I have not read much Shakespeare. The title page quotes from Loves Labours Lost “They have been at a great feast of Language, and stolen the scraps”.

I am at a loss with most of the poems, but they may be focused on photography – my edition has a photo of lightning glued to the cover – and the first poem ends emphatically “final perfect storm”, with its etymological overtones of an assault or attack. The pull out poem mentions a pair of lapwings, and the unusual diction throughout, shrill but short, reminds me of its song. I’ll quote the – uncharacteristic – last poem in full (LAND FLOWN SO FEW).

Not known nor new, one mend or mind attune

how so for more to do, where land and saw

by law in sound, to fend or done where found,

to send in pair and bond, low or snow-bound,

land flown so few, as near in kind or there

and bind, appear by care in fund. Or end.

Independent of its heavy tone, which is unusual, there is strong emphasis on the line end, from the first line, which – in turn – seems to emphasize the end rhymes at the middle.

Could a “pair” of lapwings be not just an opportunity to rhyme (lapwing is related to the Old English for wink, as well as lap – fold – and wing) but also symbolic for language sounds, the “fund” of language. One imagines that an interest in rhyme, especially end rhymes, is quite defensive in contemporary poetry.

I am left groping for meaning and structure in most of the poems. But there is consistency to something here, not just prolixity. A lot of the phrases seem like lyric instructions, probably due to the absence of pronouns, ones that seem – rather than sound – horrified.