Welcome to The Valve
Login
Register


Valve Links

The Front Page
Statement of Purpose

John Holbo - Editor
Scott Eric Kaufman - Editor
Aaron Bady
Adam Roberts
Amardeep Singh
Andrew Seal
Bill Benzon
Daniel Green
Jonathan Goodwin
Joseph Kugelmass
Lawrence LaRiviere White
Marc Bousquet
Matt Greenfield
Miriam Burstein
Ray Davis
Rohan Maitzen
Sean McCann
Guest Authors

Laura Carroll
Mark Bauerlein
Miriam Jones

Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

Event Archive

cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

Event Archive

cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

Event Archive

cover of the book How Novels Think

Event Archive

cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

Event Archive

cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

Event Archive

cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

Event Archive

The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Advanced Search

Articles
RSS 1.0 | RSS 2.0 | Atom

Comments
RSS 1.0 | RSS 2.0 | Atom

XHTML | CSS

Powered by Expression Engine
Logo by John Holbo

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

 


Blogroll

2blowhards
About Last Night
Academic Splat
Acephalous
Amardeep Singh
Beatrice
Bemsha Swing
Bitch. Ph.D.
Blogenspiel
Blogging the Renaissance
Bookslut
Booksquare
Butterflies & Wheels
Cahiers de Corey
Category D
Charlotte Street
Cheeky Prof
Chekhov’s Mistress
Chrononautic Log
Cliopatria
Cogito, ergo Zoom
Collected Miscellany
Completely Futile
Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind
Conversational Reading
Critical Mass
Crooked Timber
Culture Cat
Culture Industry
CultureSpace
Early Modern Notes
Easily Distracted
fait accompi
Fernham
Ferule & Fescue
Ftrain
GalleyCat
Ghost in the Wire
Giornale Nuovo
God of the Machine
Golden Rule Jones
Grumpy Old Bookman
Ideas of Imperfection
Idiocentrism
Idiotprogrammer
if:book
In Favor of Thinking
In Medias Res
Inside Higher Ed
jane dark’s sugarhigh!
John & Belle Have A Blog
John Crowley
Jonathan Goodwin
Kathryn Cramer
Kitabkhana
Languagehat
Languor Management
Light Reading
Like Anna Karina’s Sweater
Lime Tree
Limited Inc.
Long Pauses
Long Story, Short Pier
Long Sunday
MadInkBeard
Making Light
Maud Newton
Michael Berube
Moo2
MoorishGirl
Motime Like the Present
Narrow Shore
Neil Gaiman
Old Hag
Open University
Pas au-delà
Philobiblion
Planned Obsolescence
Printculture
Pseudopodium
Quick Study
Rake’s Progress
Reader of depressing books
Reading Room
ReadySteadyBlog
Reassigned Time
Reeling and Writhing
Return of the Reluctant
S1ngularity::criticism
Say Something Wonderful
Scribblingwoman
Seventypes
Shaken & Stirred
Silliman’s Blog
Slaves of Academe
Sorrow at Sills Bend
Sounds & Fury
Splinters
Spurious
Stochastic Bookmark
Tenured Radical
the Diaries of Franz Kafka
The Elegant Variation
The Home and the World
The Intersection
The Litblog Co-Op
The Literary Saloon
The Literary Thug
The Little Professor
The Midnight Bell
The Mumpsimus
The Pinocchio Theory
The Reading Experience
The Salt-Box
The Weblog
This Public Address
This Space: The Fire’s Blog
Thoughts, Arguments & Rants
Tingle Alley
Uncomplicatedly
Unfogged
University Diaries
Unqualified Offerings
Waggish
What Now?
William Gibson
Wordherders

Friday, May 22, 2009

‘The Ugly’ by John Glenday

Posted by Adam Roberts on 05/22/09 at 06:15 AM

I love you as I love the Hatchetfish,
the Allmouth, the Angler,
the Sawbelly and Wolf-eel,
the Stoplight Loosejaw, the Fangtooth;

all our sweet bathypelagic ones,
and especially those too terrible or sly
even for Latin names; who saddle
their menfolk to the vagina’s hide

like scorched purses, stiff with seed;
whom God built to trawl
endless cathedrals of darkness,
their bland eyes gaping like wounds;

who would choke down hunger itself,
had it pith and gristle enough;
who carry on their foreheads
the trembling light of the world.

The poem was first published here, which is where I read it.  It’s collected in this book, which you may want to buy.

I like this a great deal; for although there is something awkward in its shift from the slightly lumpish, grotesque humour of the first two-and-a-half stanzas (the weird names, the ‘too sly for Latin’ gag, the male-sewn-onto-the-vagina’ bizarrenesses) to the deepsunk sense-of-wonder of the ‘cathedrals of darkness’ and the final beautiful image … which is to say, although there is an uncertainty of emphasis as to whether the opening three words refer to erotic or spiritual love … nevertheless that disjunction suits the poem.  It’s ugly enough, formally, for the ugliness that is its topic to work aesthetically.  That beastie from Finding Nemo as ICHTHUS: nice.

Not perfectly realised, mind.  Stanza one is a little too much: ‘hey, look at these cool fish names I found!’, and stanza two gets a little tangled up, I’d say, somewhere between the ‘hide’ pun (the sly, the evasive, the hidden) and the more striking being on display angle—the male ‘saddled’ outside the female, ‘scorched; and ‘stiff.’ But the final seven lines are pretty much flawless.

I particularly like the way working down through the poem plays with the sense of sinking down through the levels of the sea.  I like the way the surf-like sibilance is all in the top three stanzas (the sh and the s: Hatchetfish; Sawbelly; Stoplight Loose; sweet; especially; sly; saddle; scorched; stiff; seed) leaving the fourth stanza tonally as cool and free of hissing (the sole exception, buried in the middle of ‘gristle’, is part of a description of what’s not there) as the silent deep.  The beasts ‘who carry on their foreheads/the trembling light of the world’ moving through a poetic space purged of sibilance’s white noise.  A space of black noise, perhaps.

There are some more Glenday poems here.  He deserves to be better known, I think.

[This post is part of an occasional series on The Valve: Excellent Short Poetry About Fish.  For more ESPAF, see here].


Comments

A poem with just about everything within its little frame, ugliness, sex, religion, dreadful hunger, spirituality and fish.  The final line doesn’t lose its impact but grows more powerful with every reading. A work of art.

By on 08/21/09 at 04:51 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Add a comment:

Name:
Email:
Location:
URL:

 

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below: