‘The White Stones’

Published 1969.

As a whole, I have a sense that he, Prynne, wants to fall asleep and dream, to drift off, and see hope again, and to transform the energy of capitalist accumulation into a new community. So I have a sense of Prynne needing to return.

Via the line, his heart has gone out into the world, and he is trying to write it back in, but needs a new alternative to melopeia; the image is there, but he is dissolving it.

Instead, the poems seem most meaningfully composed of other people, especially a dichotomy of ‘loyalty’ and ‘hope’. But. while the writer is nomadic, no-one speaks (The nomad is perfect / but the pure motion which has no track is / utterly lost; even the Esquimaus look for sled / markings, though on meeting they may not speak): Prynne seems predominately to be writing about how “we / you / I” love. For me, the collection is oddly conversational (perhaps oddly, the last poem reminded me of Williams and ‘no ideas but in things’), and the line as a fragment constructs for each poem a unique chatty diction (e.g. ‘Lashed to the mast’ seems to me mock heroic). In turn, that worked out into a sense of gradually feeling closer to – but no more intimate with – someone, until this alienating dialogue meant I identified with an image. 

In that act of sympathetic identification, free of sensuality, I think there is a new sublime language (“The / mower works now, related to nothing but the hand and purpose…”) that shocks and dissolves the listener by asserting dynamic / destabalising change and reflects on the frustrated need to be at home and reconciled with nature outside human agency and domination.