Friday 25 August 2017

Contextual Notes to 'India'


* 'To return to love'.  As often the poem is “intricately patterned”,[1] mapped out and peppered with dense allusions - The returning at the beginning of the poem is partly a backward glance at T. S. Eliot's:

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn 
                (‘Ash Wednesday’, 1930).
Partly at the film poem 'Return To You', (Hollace M. Metzger).  Also referencing Eliot’s eternally true lines the author is always quoting because they need to be:

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.

The end is where we start from.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. 
         (‘Four Quartets: Little Gidding’, 1942).

* 'Ach, du.'  Sylvia Plath.  ‘Daddy’, 12th October 1962.  Collected Poems.  Edited by Ted Hughes.  (Faber & Faber, 1981).

* 'dark dark dark'.  Eliot, ‘Four Quartets: East Coker’, (1940).  The Poems of T. S. Eliot: Collected & Uncollected Poems.  Edited Christopher Ricks & Jim McCue.  (2 vols, Faber & Faber, 2015).

* 'Secretamente, entre la sombre y el alma.'  Pablo Neruda.  Cien sonetos de amor, (Editorial Universitaria, 1959).

* 'You might know her too, she is oft-returning ...' One of God's Divine attributes in the Quran is al-Tawwab (the Oft-returning).  It is contrasted here with 'She comes corrected, comes alive in colours:' with a nod to Ted Hughes' 'Crow's Undersong' whereas the She is the She Who Must Be Obeyed (of John Mortimer's Rumpoles).

* 'hastío forcejea con los lentos crepúsculos.'  Neruda, Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada. (Santiago, Editorial Nascimento, 1924).

* 'Than a craving in the weather of her love'.  'A process in the weather of the heart', (Dylan Thomas).

* "I push you away                                              
Because you’ll go anyway”.  

Quotation from the character Lauren Branning in the British soap opera Eastenders.  The author is himself an Eastender, born and bred in the East End of London.

* 'Warning of those ...' The verse offers answers to (and reasons for) the great questions in the style of Hughes' 'Fate Playing':
Because the message somehow met a goblin,
Because precedents tripped your expectations,

Because your London was still a kaleidoscope

Of names and places any jolt could scramble,

You waited mistaken.
'Why.' by Metzger is another poem along these lines from Transcriptions of Time. (MiDEA, 2009). 154, 155 as is 'Why?' by John Siddique in Full Blood.  (Salt, 2011).  81.

* 'Is She? Will There?' 'Do you? Is she?' (Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited.  1945, 1959).

* 'The third beside'.  Third Man Syndrome - Thus Eliot:

Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together

But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
— But who is that on the other side of you? 
                     (‘The Waste Land’, 1922).
Who is this walking eternity’s highway
Towards the moment of fusion? She who winds her watch
With childhood’s logic of subtractions and reductions?
She for whom the dawn is not heralded
With rooster’s crow, but by breakfast’s aroma?
She who wears love’s crown
And is withering in the folds of her wedding dress? 
                  (Forough Farrokhzad, ‘Let Us Believe in the Beginning of a Cold Season’).

* 'a chameleon soul.  No moral compass pointing due north, no fixed personality.'  Lana Del Rey.  ‘Ride’.  Born to Die: The Paradise Edition, (2012).

* 'The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant,' Eliot, 'East Coker'.

* 'She was born to be somebody else’s girlfriend'.  With Damage in mind by Josephine Hart, (1991, 2011) and its 1992 film adaptation:
Eros is a god.  We have seen him tear down empires.  We have seen him tear down families.  The idea that erotic life is funny is, I think one of the great tragedies of our time.  It has not been regarded as a joke before to quite the same degree and it is an area of life in which we must tread carefully because we imagine we're in control of it, we imagine we can solve this, we imagine we can dominate this but very rarely do we ... 
     (Josephine Hart.  Interview, 1998).
Usually it dominates us.  Nobody can possess another person except in death; we do this by rewriting their stories.   In the symbolism of Tantric Yoga, Kali stands with her feet on the chest of the phallic god Siva, in an emblem of reversed sexual intercourse, which nevertheless produces an erection in Siva (as portrayed in numerous Indian temple carvings and medallions).  The serpent Vasuki is found in Hindu and Buddhist mythology, its sister Manasa is to be found in Chinese and Japanese mythology. The god Shiva in Hinduism is believed to be garlanded with 5 serpents that represent wisdom and eternity. Greta Garbo performs an exquisite Divine dance around the idol of Shiva in the 1931 film Mata Hari. Hughes' discussion of serpent imagery can be found in 'The Snake in the Oak'.[2] 

* 'When their eyes were dazzled'. فَإِذَا بَرِق الْبَصَرُ  ['When the eye is dazzled'] (The Holy Quran. Al Qiyamah [The Resurrection]: 8).

© Rehan Qayoom, 2017.

[1] F. Scott Fitzgerald to Max Perkins.  The Correspondence of F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Edited Matthew J. Bruccoli & Margaret Duggan, (Random House, 1980).  113.
[2] Ted Hughes.  Winter Pollen.  (Faber & Faber, 1994).  458 - 464.