Sunday, 11 September 2011


In a dream someone in some situation I've forgotten said, boringly, ‘A palpable hit!’

Whether still in the dream or just out of it, I thought ‘palpable’ doesn’t sound right for a hit -- the word should be sharp, hard, dental (like ‘hit’). Pulp -- something flabby about it. But this was a sword fight. Surprising Shakespeare didn’t feel that.

Palpable means touchable and it seems the wrong word -- wrong sound for that, too. But there it is, the Latins thought it was ok -- palpare. (Which even has a remote connection with palpitate -- which does at least have hit in it.)

Then, definitely by now out of the dream, I thought, ‘You fool, Medway! he did! Shakespeare did feel it! This was Shakespeare, after all -- our lad!’

Quite why he liked it, can’t say. The sharpness of the hit, contrast with the pappy palpable softness of the flesh?

The thing is, he picked up on the qualities of words. It struck him, as it belatedly struck me, what an interesting pairing of words, if nothing more.

This is the stuff they should be picking up on in teaching poetry in school. Not gender, post-colonialism, power, the Other, gothic-horror-vampires... or only secondarily. Poetry’s not about that stuff. Or not primarily.

In that case, what’s its point, poetry? doesn’t sound serious.

That’s right, it isn’t, because the serious stuff -- real life -- isn’t enough. The day after the revolution we’ll be bored out of our minds. What we want is more -- another realm beyond this one. There isn’t any such thing really -- no afterlife, for instance, no ‘other world’. But there are the human-made, art-made worlds like poetry. Sooner symbolic satisfactions(symbol-derived, semiotic, virtual) that never come with the same intensity.

After those thoughts, the following popped into my head: south day empties...

...and I approved it. Doesn’t mean anything or do anything but you can’t deny it’s good. Say slowly, dwell on each word in turn.

Time to get up. I reset my mobile from Silent and selected ‘General’. ‘Activate’, it replied, and I thought, ‘Oh my darling, oh my darling, activating for a mine.’

Am I getting poetic in my old age? is this a compensation for the loss of marbles? Perhaps its the other side of my late-onset dyslexia that has loosened the semantic anchoring and strengthened the sonic anchoring of my words -- but that’s another posting, maybe.

Sweet are the uses of senility.

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