‘Duets Infer Duty’ (Prynne)

A long poem in ten parts, each titled Deck 1 to 10. Like ‘Of Better Scrap’ these sound like lyric instructions, which raises the question of what the lyric subject is actually doing (let alone what the symbolism is). The first word of the first poem is ‘Sycamore’, and by Deck 4 I was fairly sure he was pruning a tree:

coppice afforded flight manifest once only sent satiric offended child-light yours inclined: –

With that, each line can perhaps be unpacked. E.g. being unsure that the local birds aren’t as if mocked by the pruning. Though, even if this is reasonable, there are still asides:

principal aeon nothing ventured same to win, den skillful dwell ready parable agreed condition: –

Here, does the subject contemplate the age and its passivity?

We may wonder what tree is being cut back. The last line reads:

catch as can swim toil swung deputed carbine plum far drove limit eastern upswept on.

Which suggests, if not a sycamore maple (other plants or trees are mentioned, spurges, wattles), then perhaps – fitting with the poem and the sweetness of its diction as a whole – then Prunus mume, the Chinese plum tree, especially with its rich history in poetry (and it was someone else’s plum tree).