Wednesday 17 February 2016

Plainwater by Anne Carson (Cape, 1995)

I didn't include any selections from the first section here as they work as brilliant versions of the original Mimnermus fragments. Perhaps I should reconsider. Anyway, here are my favourite passages elsewhere in the manuscript.

From Part II, Short Talks:

You can never know enough, never work enough, never use the infinitives and participles oddly enough, never impede the movement harshly enough, never leave the mind quickly enough.

the end of "Introduction"

Rembrandt wakens you just in time to see matter stumble out of its forms.

the end of "On the End"

From Part III, Canicula di Anna:

The fact that Anna is somewhere 
having coffee or a dream
is an assault on me.
I hate these moments of poverty.


that shines up as a laugh
and smells like blood
is another troublesome,

From Part V, The Anthropology of Water:

...the only rule of travel is, Don't come back the way you went.


It would be an almost perfect love affair, wouldn't it? that between the pilgrim and the road. No mistake, it is a beautiful thing, the camino. It stretches away from you. It leads to real gold. Look at the way it shines. And it asks only one thing. Which happens to be the thing you long to give. You step forward. You shiver in the light. Nothing is left in you but the desire for perfect economy of action, using up the whole heart, no residue, no mistake: camino. 

* drop through a freedom so clear it is simply pain.


Shapes of life change as we look at them, change us for looking.


What are we made of but hunger and rage? 


How surprised I am to be entangled in the knowledge of some other animal.


An entrance is important to a pilgrim: there can be only one.


No photographs--you know what fireworks are like. Tawdry, staggering, irresistible, like human love.


If we strain thought clear of impulse slowly, slowly the day scream subsides to ordered lust.


...a sun-drilled enormity of meadow....


I try to maintain a remote demeanour amid stunning self-accusations.


...little cats go clicking over the snow.

You can order Plainwater from Abe Books here.

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