Reading Prynne closely, a vindication

Approaching passion freak intact prime falter
for segment same-front glide to fill conduce
suffuse give or give. Plenteous flake arm folly
to love acre the same rivet the front broken

Prolusion, stay near ever dry. Few tap transfer
second charge you let off stop surrender for
disarm, oh grant that, leave the grain why ever
less now less green took life by the tongue lit

In low pale extradite. A day this one assign
yours grow up to main, leaf round and round lie
cost plus crush split stamina. Me such unarm
same peril fovea pass fire mantle and glib overt

Tie to air close to, to disclaim that for. More
flute ignite nul wants subsume trill earlier ban
wrist digit restive to same. Be all best profane
broken tenuous, each strand as fine torrid at

Leave to play stare to east, ease denied off
by rush fracture on dismounting the pelmet crab
out over the foreland, the annexe. Moulded
profile accepts on its lateral crystal mistaken

Fragment at level counterparty brushed, mend
up to shock, same till fallen till to breach
its promise mine for spent at duration, noted
way ever on transit long for this and similar.

I started reading this poem in part to test Keston Sutherland’s assertion that Prynne’s work demands readers rather than consumers of poetry, those who are prepared to work at the task of interpretation and so achieve a level of intimacy with the poem.  Since my last post on this poem from Streak, Willing, Entourage, Artesian I’ve given myself a bit of a rest (I’ve got my own stuff to write) but I have had a flash of inspiration which vindicates my original hunch that this work is ‘about’ the recent Troubles in Ulster.

This was one of those 2 am moments as I was trying to get to sleep. In the 5th stanza I’d worked out that there isn’t such a thing as a pelmet crab but there is a helmet crab, for some reason I extended this ‘sounds like’ principle to ‘foreland’ and came up with ‘four lands’ somewhere in my brain I knew that Ireland was historically divided into provinces but couldn’t remember how many these were. The next day Wikipedia informed me that there were once five provinces- Meath, Leinster, Munster, Connacht and Ulster. This was a revelation comparable only to the discovery that Cern cuold be described as ‘ultramont’ in ‘To Pollen’.

According to the OED, an obscure definition of ‘crab’ is to “go counter to, to cross, to put out of humour or temper, to irritate, anger, enrage provoke.” The Troubles were characterised by one side wanting Ulster (the ‘annexe’) reunited with the Irish state and the other side wishing to remain part of the United Kingdom.

With regard to dismounting from the pelmet and sustaining a fracture I can only take this to be meant literally and to refer to the contortions readers have to put themselves through to gain some understanding. If that’s the case then it isn’t very funny. ‘Rush’ may refer to a specific type of robbery common in the 17th and 18th century whereby a group of men would rush past the householder and steal all his goods- this is pure speculation for the moment.

I still haven’t much of a clue about the first and last stanzas, in particular I don’t know why ‘same-front’ is hyphenated and I’m troubled by ‘suffuse’. The last stanza is even more problematic ‘mend up to shock’ defies my small brain and I haven’t a clue what we’re supposed to be longing for.

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2 responses to “Reading Prynne closely, a vindication

  1. Hi Bebrowed. i know this is an old post but i couldn’t help getting caught up. i am a prynne enthusiast too (albeit not too well-informed).
    anyway, i jotted down some thoughts on S1. hope you won’t mind my copy pasting them here.
    L1: approaching a freak bout of passion/alternatively “freaked out” by the sudden approach of passion

    from wikipedia:
    In a sea-breeze front, cold air from the sea meets the warmer air from the land and creates a boundary between two masses of air like a shallow cold front. Glider pilots can gain altitude by flying along the intersection as if it were a ridge of land.

    ‘prime’ can refer to latitude/longitude in that case. or maybe the line talks about a faltering in faith? the Passion. the difficulty of responding to a calling “fill conduce/suffuse give or give”.

    …Plenteous flake arm folly
    to love acre the same rivet the front broken
    now i am not at all sure what the “front” is but the acre seems to pt back to the plain, the acre rivetd to the plain? property & the natural lie of the land. it is folly to “love acre” & even with the same rivet the front is broken. now the front seems to come from “to put up a front”. this seems to tie in with the “falter” that came in L1.
    “plenteous flake arm folly” i am reading this as plenteous flakes i.e. breaking away “arms” or encourages folly to love the acre instead of the land. the bindings, the rivet, the words instead of the thoughts behind them.

  2. Thanks for this, I’ve found it very helpful in straightening out some thoughts, the ‘folly to love acre the same’ is beginning to make sense with the context that you give it. ‘Plenteous flakes’ I’ll have to think about and wade through the OED on ‘flake’ one more time…

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