Tag Archives: field notes

Reading J H Prynne, an open letter to Neil Pattison

Dear Neil,

I’ve spent some time reading your remarkable response to John Stevens with regard to approaching ‘The Oval Window’ and I feel the need to respond here rather than in the thread, mainly because it is more likely to be read by innocent passers-by. When I’d overcome all the initial scepticisms and suspicions and had begun to pay attention to Prynne (as opposed to looking at the words) I wrote a short blog entitled ‘How to read Jeremy Prynne’ which was one of my glib lists which makes the mistake of glossing over the big stumbling block by encouraging interested parties to ‘think laterally’ which is probably the least helpful thing that I could have written. I’ve been thinking a lot about your landscape image/analogy and I want to take it a bit further but first of all I’d like to introduce you to ‘Rawhide Harangue of Aching Indices as Told by Light’ by Jessica Stockholder.

You now need to bear with me for a while. Stockholder is a Canadian artist who rearranges our fundamental ideas about space and what space does and can do. ‘Rearranges’ is a polite term for ‘dismantles’ and/or ‘destroys’ and this is achieved with incredibly banal and ordinary materials. The initial effect of a Stockholder installation is one of disorientation and bafflement because of the assault on our many taken-for-granted notions about three dimensional space and about aesthetic judgement/value.

It would be utterly crass to suggest that reading Prynne is like confronting a Stockholder installation but I would like to suggest is that Prynne’s work has this same ‘dimensional’ aspect in that we are encouraged to allow the poems to take us into areas where we need to consider length, breadth and depth at once and take into account the different materials from which these things are made.

As with Stockholder, it is also important to think about isolated aspects quite hard but also to try and relate these to the work as a whole. This is a wider shot from the same installation-

In the first image, I would suggest, our focus is on the neon tubes on the floor primarily because they shouldn’t be there, in the second image our attention shifts to how a range of different elements might relate to each other and the light tubes seem less important (but still part of the piece).

When I’m reading Prynne, I’m conscious that I’m persuading my brain to do things that it doesn’t normally do. This is where it gets difficult for me to make general statements about reading this stuff because I only have my own subjective experience to rely on but the first thing that my brain needs to do is to grab and retain as much as possible of the poem, as in ‘As mouth blindness’, or the sequence as in ‘Unanswering Rational Shore’ and then to think about potential ‘connections’ across this rugged terrain. Going a bit further with your ‘lights’ analogy, I’d want to add that some of these connections produce only an intermittent light, others produce a flickering but constant light and very few produce a steady beam and that the ‘important’ element may be in the means by which these connections are made and unmade rather than in the lights that are produced.

I think I’d also like to add that my brain really enjoys these different tasks and perspectives and there have been times when I’ve become a bit addicted and have had to wean myself off from the Prynne Habit because there are other things in life that I need to attend to. If managed correctly, engaging with Prynne is immensely pleasurable and amusing, there are many things about the work that make me smile and the experience informs my reading of other material which is always a good thing.

The other aspect that I’d like to emphasise is that I do get the feeling that I’m in the presence of serious poetry when I’m looking at this stuff. By ‘serious’ I think I mean work that doesn’t compromise and is completely focused on what it does. There’s a degree of absolute concentration that I only experience / am aware of with Prynne and Celan. This extreme refusal to make concessions and to focus exclusively on the making of poetry (which is common to both) is, for me, the marker of lasting value / worth. Reading the poems chronologically, it’s reasonably clear to me that Prynne’s encounter with poetry has become increasingly focused and intense and one of the interesting aspects of the later sequences has been the insistence on the use of traditional verse forms so that the poems look like they belong within the scope of poetry although they operate at its very edge. All of this is a Very Good Thing.

I think I’d also like to say a bit more about the ‘understanding’ issue which was certainly enough to deter me for a number of years. I think that it’s really important to recognise that it is eminently feasible to take serious pleasure from a poem even if we ‘understand’ very little of it. There’s also the vexed question of what it is that we’re trying to understand, is it the ‘message’ of the poem or the poet’s intention in writing it? So, I think I still maintain that it’s okay to be baffled and that working with bafflement is one of the many pleasures of doing Prynne.

You are absolutely correct in placing emphasis on thinking about the relationship between work that we are drawn to and that which repels us, I think this applies to most stuff and not just Prynne. I’m also conscious that there is some of Prynne’s stuff that (at the moment) I can’t be bothered with because it would take too long for me to work out whether I ‘liked’ it.

The other thing that I think might be helpful is to look at the Shakespeare/Wordsworth/Herbert commentaries because they give a reasonably clear account of how Prynne responds to and thinks about poetry. It’s also worthwhile to look at ‘Mental Ears’, ‘Poetic Thought’ and the essay on translating difficult poetry because they do give a fairly clear context for Prynne’s practice. I read and paid attention to some of the poems first however and this gave me more of a starting point.

The last thing I want to say here is that these poems deal with grown-up subject matter and that issues are addressed in a way that gives an account of the complexities involved. Even in the most outraged polemic (Refuse Collection) there is, as well as condemnation, an attempt to depict the various perspectives and contradictions involved.

This is an extended way of thanking you for you insightful and provocative contribution which has brought me back to the work with a fresh pair of eyes. These are currently being applied to ‘To Pollen’ with surprising results…..



(Sorry, couldn't resist)


J H Prynne and ardency in Streak~~Willing~~Entourage~~Artesian

In the past I’ve taken the ‘forensic’ route with the above sequence, reproducing one of the poems and then trying to identify those phrases that might make some kind of sense. I find this process to be both absorbing and addictive so this is an attempt to wean myself off ‘close’ reading and give some consideration to the sequence as a whole.

I’m still making the assumption that the poems in ‘Streak’ are linked in ways other than the fact that each consists of six quatrains and that one of these linkages relates to the recent civil war in Ulster with a specific focus on the hunger strikes of 1980 and 1981. Having re-read the sequence a couple of times I think I’ve identified a number of places where things become more than a little intense.

Before identifying these, I’d like to give some consideration to what Prynne says in ‘Field Notes’ about Wordsworth’s use of ‘O’ in ‘The Solitary Reaper’. I don’t want to precis the finer points of his analysis, which is both complicated and wonderful, but I do want to point out that for him the use of ‘O’ in poetry is an expression of strong emotion and/or feeling. I also want to think about this:

The motive for ardency is in part supplied by the scarcely bridgeable rift between the possibly actual and the intensely desired (the two senses of listen even in deep memory this separation must remain a disruption to unified human consciousness, which may in this era locate one of the primal tasks of the poet of this kind to make danger or desire upon the surface of the universal earth.

The ‘point’ of this is that ‘oh’ does occur in the ‘Streak’ sequence and there appear to be other statements of intense feeling as well. With regard to Ulster, is it reasonable to characterise British involvement in the recent ‘Troubles’ as attempting in part to resolve the gulf between what was possible and what was desired by the various factions. This, of course, could be yet another example of me running away with myself but it does seem worth bearing in mind at this stage.

Now we come to timing and the fact that ‘Streak’ was the first work to be published after ‘Field Notes’ and the observation that ‘To Pollen’ doesn’t contain a single ‘Oh’. The only other relevant observation is that the above seems to be a quite ardent/fervent expression of what poetry (of this kind) might be about at a quite deep level.

‘Streak’ almost begins with an ‘oh’, this is the first stanza and a bit of the first poem-

Inside the tight closed box off it was it was out
a same summer box oh then at must closed on all
or maybe often maybe open to one side glaze be
in part to spill affirm partial along a rim ballast

Ready known,…………….

Beginning to think about ‘oh then at must’ I think I see what Robert Potts meant when he described this sequence in one word – “impenetrable” but there are do appear to be a number of ways in. The first is to ask what difference would there be if the ‘oh’ wasn’t present. When I say ‘oh then’ this tends to indicate that I have just realised something and am extrapolating from it. For example, if I’m told that it is raining I may respond with ‘oh, then I won’t go for a walk until later’ because walking in the rain isn’t much fun.

I’m struggling to see how ‘at must’ relates in any way to ardency especially when placed with this flurry of repetition. There is a very, very slight possibility that ‘must’ is actually the Middle English variant of ‘most’ and a slightly greater chance that it is used as an expression of ” a command, obligation, or necessity; (hence) an obligation, a duty; a compulsion” (OED). I’m currently inclined towards ” Expressing a fixed or certain futurity: am (is, are) fated or certain to, shall certainly or inevitably” because it seems to fit best with the certainty of ‘it was it was’ and contrasts with the maybes in the following line.

The second use of ‘oh’ occurs in the fifth stanza of the same poem-

Recital to side, same with to side livid in part
newly profuse did civic offer on a dial, sweep
flight oh disposal profligate buck more in and
ready. Tantric cube up tight seam, signal limit

The previous stanza ends with a full stop so this extract does contain the full sentence. Things may be a bit clearer in this instance. The notorious use of internment (imprisonment without trial) by the British government between 1971 and 1975 resulted in a rise in the membership of paramilitary groups. So ‘sweep flight’ may refer to the initial arrests and ‘profligate disposal’ to the fact that many (over 1900) were incarcerated whilst ‘buck more in and ready’ may refer to internment causing more individuals to go against ‘normal’ law-abiding practices and to join the IRA and other groups and to be ready to participate in violent acts. If this is the case then ‘oh’ here is likely to represent an ardent (as in keenly felt) lament or disappointment at the brutality and crass stupidity that characterised so much of British policy throughout the seventies.

The third ‘oh’ takes me back into bafflement territory although there are a few more footholds-

let lid flicker, stand up. Said what choice spoken

Quickly at a brag do they when not or if profound
same brows matching oh weigh out lamp for show fly
forward, must do. Weed wet they say would you de-
lay hard trimming fast the sluice unclued eye into.

I have spent ten minutes in the company of rules 88 and 89 of the Hong Kong Jockey Club and can now confirm that a jockey ‘weighs out’ before a race and weighs in after it and that the rules about this are quite complex. This, of course, does not help with either the bafflement or the ardency. The eagle-eyed amongst you will note the proximity of ‘must’ and some may recall that ‘lamp’ as a verb can mean to strike or to thrash, especially in northern dialect. So somebody may be being beaten up in order to either deter or intimidate others. ‘Brag’ as a verb can mean both arrogant and boastful language and a ” Show, pomp, display; pompous demeanour or carriage” which brings to my mind the deeply weird Orange marches that continue to be such a source of conflict.

If this particular ‘oh’ does not indicate ardency then might it indicate a kind of bored resignation because all parties during the Troubles continued to make the same mistakes and adopt the same nonsensical ‘positions’. There’s also the slim possibility that the verification involved in weighing out a jockey might nod towards the actions of the independent group set up to monitor if the IRA was actually disarming.

The fourth ‘oh’ (from the eighth poem) doesn’t offer any obvious footholds-

at the boundary. Draw back torted, for fraction unlit
decept inner bark what frame oh how not even upright

Is the surface entire all for them compose him runnel
delegate incision, enjoy the permit gates, be tint likely
pitch acid hob. Loop for fray unpick over flint skies.

I’m not going to even attempt the ‘torted’. ‘decept’, ‘runnel’ route because that is likely to take me into forensic fretting over signification and what I’m trying to do here is to examine the nature of the ‘oh’. It can of course be argued that in order to grasp the oh then I need to understand the context. I accept this but also point out that this particular ‘oh’ seems to be another expression of either dismay, exasperation or disappointment and doesn’t seem to contain very much ardency- although we can be ardently exasperated, can’t we?

The final ‘oh’ (from the penultimate poem) is a bit more promising-

folder wasted in a cratch, into that. Did they wear better
busy neck-piece jesting harmonious interlock bundle tag
agreement oh same training striker defect. All same lock

‘Same’ is repeated throughout the sequence and one day I will try and make sense of the various ways in which it is deployed. Is this particular same involved in some kind of coaching or education? Does ‘striker’ refer to hunger striker and what might this defect be? The strike was in part an extension of the blanket protest against the withdrawal of political status for IRA prisoners and the requirement that such prisoners should wear ‘ordinary’ prison uniform. I’d like to think that this ‘oh’ is an expression of fervent regret but that might be more about my feelings about the hunger strike than Prynne’s.

None of this is terribly helpful in terms of ‘joining up the dots’ and doesn’t bode well for trying to do the same with other recurring features but it does lead me to think much more about the sequence as a whole which is a Good Thing. Incidentally, there are references to keenly felt emotions that are completely ‘oh’ free…

Stealing from Samuel Becket

Being in the middle of what the nice man from the NHS is calling ‘a severe depressive episode’, I shouldn’t be reading Beckett because of his ability to really “rub your nose in the shit” (Pinter). But here I am reading Beckett out loud, to myself and finding the whole thing oddly moving.

In my search for things to read during this period of enforced rest, I’ve looked at Prynne’s ‘Field Notes’ purely on the grounds of density and the opportunity it presents to lose yourself in the arguments that are presented. I started out with good intentions but then found myself getting irritated by some of the more tenuous lines of thought. By chance, I then looked at the epigraphs and was reasonably astonished by this (the third):

Another trait its repetitiousness. Repeatedly with only minor variants the same bygone. As if willing him by this dint to make it his. To confess, Yes I remember. Perhaps even to have a voice. To murmur, Yes I remember. What an addition to company that would be! A voice in the first person singular. Murmuring now and then, Yes I remember.

I’ll worry about that capitalised ‘Y’ later but there are a couple of things that immediately spring to mind. The first is that ‘Field Notes’ was published in 2007, two years before ‘Streak~Willing~Entourage~Artesian which contains as its epigram a 15th century French lyric which piles up variations on ‘fume’ and that the first poem in the sequence (as I’ve said) really plays around with the repetition theme. So, there’s some kind of link between the two and I would normally dive back into the commentary to see what else is said about repetition.
On this occasion I decided to look at ‘Company’ because one of Vance Maverick’s comments to a previous post had made me think about Beckett and repetition but I hadn’t gone any further than re-reading ‘Lessness’.
For my sins, I haven’t paid serious attention to Beckett for a long while and re-reading ‘Company’ is a reminder of the strength and rigour of the work. It has been said that ‘Company’ can be read as a kind of distillation of all of Beckett’s output. I don’t think this is the case but I do recognise some of the recurring themes, especially in the later work.
Apart from the above-quoted paragraph and one or two phrases, the level of repetition is not high but it is the way in which the phrases are deployed and then commented on that is particularly effective.
By ‘effective’ I think I mean the way that Beckett manages to drag the reader in so that we become participants rather than observers. I’d forgotten how compelling this involvement becomes.
Repetition comes more to the fore with ‘Worstward Ho’ which is more abstract and contains the immortal ‘fail better’ line and appears to take repetitiousness to excess:

Say for now still seen. Dimly seen. Dim white. Two white dim empty hands. In the dim void.

So leastward on. So long as dim still. Dim undimmed. Or dimmed to dimmer still. To dimmost dim. Leastmost in dimmost dim. Utmost dim. Leastmost in utmost dim. Unworsenable worst.

When I started thinking about repetition I certainly didn’t have this level of concentration in mind but this and other examples from the later work do provide4 fertile ground to think this thing through further. One of the things that I wanted to avoid was that repetition or slight variation should make things too ‘busy’ or complicated and it seems (and this is provisional) that Beckett avoids this by the length of the piece which allows him to ‘extend’ phrases in ways that are quite startling but always fairly plain- especially when read aloud…..

Adorno, Prynne and Lyric Poetry

This is going to require a preamble, I’ve said before that I have no problem with poets who write with a political objective nor would I denigrate a poem just because I don’t hold with it’s political stance. My two favourite contemporary English poets, Prynne and Hill, write from opposite ends of the political spectrum and I’m comfortable with that because I don’t read poetry to be politically persuaded. I’ve also said before that I think it’s a mistake to endow poetry with powers that it doesn’t actually have. By this I don’t in any way wish to deny the power of poetry to enable us to radically challenge the way that we think about things. I also recognise that poetry is immensely influential in shaping the culture of any society but let’s not forget that it is one of many forms of creative expression and each of these has its own strengths.
Now for the confession, I’ve been on this planet for 54 years without reading any Adorno. Unforgivable, I know, but I’ve never felt the need to get to the bottom of Critical Theory even though the Frankfurt School has a reputation for intellectual rigour and ‘sound’ Marxian thought.
Being aware of this lacuna in my reading, I’ve been psyching myself up to start working out the finer points of negative dialectics. The other reason for tackling Adorno is that I’m various types of dialectical analysis since reading Benjamin’s ‘Arcades Project’ last year. I’ve re-read David Harvey’s description and examples, I’ve also read Stalin’s explanation and examples. I have to say that I’m not convinced by any of these, Benjamin seems to miss the point whilst Stalin is incredibly facile. David Harvey (who is a personal hero) tends to over complicate things and throws in elements that shouldn’t really be there. Adorno therefore is my last hope in getting to the bottom of dialectics but then I came across an essay entitled ‘On lyric poetry and society’ which seemed to offer a useful short-cut.
I got through the first few pages without finding any thing too disconcerting then; “My thesis is that the lyric work is always the expression of a social antagonism. But since the objective world that produces the lyric is an inherently antagonistic world, the concept of the lyric is not that of a subjectivity to which language grants objectivity.” Adorno goes on to point out Romanticism’s link with the folk song, Prynne makes the same point in Field Notes and John Wilkinson has pointed out the importance of work songs and sea shanties in Prynne’s poetry. I don’t however accept that lyric work is always the product of social antagonism, nor do I accept Adorno’s view that some lyric poets are privileged because they are capable of grasping the universal through ‘immersion in the self’ or ‘to develop as autonomous subjects capable of freely expressing themselves”. This seems more than a little far-fetched, I’d need to know precisely what is meant by ‘immersion in the self’ and isn’t ‘autonomous subject’ an oxymoron? Nevertheless it is clear to me that Prynne’s view of the Romantics is very close to that of Adorno.
The essay continues with the introduction of two poems which Adorno says he will treat as philosophical sundials telling the time of history. The first poem is “On a walking tour” by Edward Morike which is ostensibly about a visit to a small town and the poet’s experience of happiness. Adorno commends it as it skilfully blends the classical elevated style with the romantic private miniature and is particularly impressed with the tact by which this is achieved.
At the end of this discussion Adorno writes: “In industrial society the lyric idea of a self-restoring immediacy becomes- where it does not impotently evoke a romantic past – more and more something that flashes out abruptly, something in which what is possible transcends its own impossibility”. Normally I would groan at this point and despair of ideologues ever getting rid of tautology but I have to ask whether this transcending the impossible business is at the heart of the Prynne project. We know that he has an antagonistic relationship with the ‘witty circus’ of discourse which he sees as corrupted and I now have to consider whether the poems are actually striving for the impossible by means of a ‘self-restoring immediacy’. It does appear to explain the very enthusiastic and detailed analysis contained in ‘Field Notes’ as well as some of the more lyrical (if truncated) passages in the later poems.
Adorno then introduces a poem by Stefan George which is a kind of pared-down love song and remarks that it is written in a kind of German that could be a foreign language to German speakers. He refers to the use of the word ‘gar’ in the poem and concedes that critics have said that it serves no purpose in the lyric. Adorno counters this by remarking that “great works of art succeed precisely where they are most problematic”. Adorno concludes by saying of George “this very lyric speech becomes the voice of human beings between whom the barriers have fallen”.
Is this what Prynne is after? His work is recognised as problematic and his project would seem to be about creating a discourse that is less corrupt.
I have to say that most of this essay is far removed from my own views on the place of poetry, I also have to say that I still don’t understand the Romantics but it does enable me to understand a bit more about Prynne’s motivation in writing the way that he does. The essay is available for download on the incomparable AAAARG.org site.

John Wilkinson’s partial gloss on Word Order

I’m very grateful to Neil for alerting me to the latest edition of ‘Glossator’ which is exclusively devoted to Prynne. I haven’t read all of it yet but the first piece that caught my eye was ‘Heigh Ho: a partial gloss of Word Order ‘ by John Wilkinson.
Wilkinson is a fairly rare beast in that he’s spent most of his life working in the health sector and has nevertheless produced an impressive body of engaged political verse. He’s also a perceptive writer on the works of both Prynne and Sutherland- even if his fan letter to Sutherland re ‘Stress Position’ was a little disappointing. It just so happens that ‘Word Order’ is on of the first poems that I encountered on my way up Mount Prynne so I started ‘Heigh Ho’ with more than a little excitement.
Having now read the piece on several occasions I have to say the Wilkinson’s ‘Word Order’ isn’t the same as the one I have in my head so I’ve had to reconsider my initial reaction, which isn’t a bad thing.
Before I proceed with any further consideration of the dilemma I’m currently in, I’d like to insert a few words on the complex business of glossing poetry. First of all there’s the obvious- the verb to gloss is not a million miles from ‘gloze’ so glossing, or producing a glossary, may not be exclusively about producing an impartial guide but may indeed be about putting a specific ‘spin’ on something in order to present it in a certain light. Is this what Wilkinson means by ‘partial’ in his title?
The glossing of poetry can be very useful in helping us readers gain a little more context, Fowler’s gloss on ‘Paradise Lost’ is probably the best example of providing just the right amount of additional information without detracting from the reader’s enjoyment of the poem. It is also eminently possible to under-gloss, Carey’s work on Milton’s shorter poems and the various editions of Spenser’s shorter stuff are guilty of this. There’s also the problem of over-glossing, Bert Hamilton’s notes to the ‘Faerie Queen’ annoy me to death with his tendency to provide definitions of words and terms that are already familiar to those with a reasonable vocabulary whilst omitting explanations/context on the bits that I need a hand with. Then there’s the ‘completist’ gloss- Nigel Smith on Marvell comes to mind as providing more information on 17th century politics than my small mind can take but he is better than most others in demonstrating the ways in which ideology and verse went hand in hand.
I’ve looked through my copies of the above tomes and realised that I’ve spent more time making comments about the gloss than I have about the poems so perhaps that’s an indication that we readers like to keep tight hold of what the poems say to us rather than what eminent critics have to say.
Wilkinson builds a convincing connection between ‘Word Order’ and ‘Field Notes’ (Prynne’s work on ‘The Solitary Reaper’), pointing out that both highlight the close relationship between work songs and poetry. He also provides some useful clarification of a few of the more oblique references. He traces “rap her to bank” to a miners’s song from the Durham coalfields and postulates that this is a reference to the “defeat of historical traditions by financial ‘disciplines’ in the eighties. As someone who was involved in that particular coalfield during the strike, I remain of the view that we shouldn’t get in any way nostalgic for the British coal industry and that this ‘defeat’ was about forty years overdue. This is not the place to indulge in that particular debate but is to point out that there’s always more than one gloss.
Wilkinson also provides the source for “wer soll das bezahlen” (who is going to pay) which is another line of the fourth poem in ‘Word Order’ – he traces this to a German drinking song and makes a connection with stock market ‘adjustments’, pointing out that the poem was written in 89 when the various monetarist gurus had gained the ascendancy.
So far, so good. It can be recognised throughout Prynne’s work that he pushes a broad left position that most readers of the Guardian would be reasonably comfortable with. Some of us would argue (with more than a degree of passion) that it is precisely this attitude that was/is the problem rather than Friedman/Thatcher/Nozenck and the colllapse of state socialism. Anyway, whilst I enjoy the poetry because of what it does with language, I’m not at all sympathetic to this brand of sentimentalised politics.
This now brings me to my own reading of ‘Word Order’. The first thoughts related (somewhat foolishly) to a marriage that is torn asunder by one partner’s adultery. The first poem could be read as a wedding ceremony and the last good refer to the divorce papers going through with lots of bad things happening in the middle. As Wilkinson says “the themes of betrayal and ingratitude run sotto voce throughout Word Order”. They didn’t seem all that sotto voce to me at the time.
The other thing that struck me was the presence of Paul Celan, in particular the repeated references to the breathing processes being hurt or damaged. The other Celan conceit is the recurring ‘you’ as an anonymous (but usually female) other which Prynne also deploys in varying tones.
Wilkinson sees social Darwinian logic underpinning the “brief and robotically formulaic” shortish poems that crop up in ‘Word Order’, I’m afraid he’s going to have to spell this one out for me in greater detail because I identified a technique of verbal improvisation that we poetry jazz types have been using for years whereby you state the line and then break it down in a number of different ways until you return to the main theme. I’m not sure if I knew of the Peter Riley / Derek Bailey connection when I first read this but on reflection it makes even more ‘sense’ to me.
Wilkinson reprints the procedure for the administration of CPR and then tells us he has no idea whether Prynne has actually had personal experience of this but nevertheless asserts that this could be wrapped up in the use of the word ‘spike’ in the final poem. He also leaps from ‘the ethereal vapour’ to Zyklon B and from ‘wash house’ to the shower rooms where victims were taken prior to being gassed. Wilkinson describes these leaps as ‘unavoidable’. I’m not convinced, there may be a one-to-one relationship between the first poem and the Holocaust, as there may be with the last, it’s just that I don’t think Prynne works like that and that there’s too much going on which may point in other ways at the same time.
‘Heigh Ho’ is an important addition to the ‘Prynne-crit’ canon. I’m particularly grateful to Wilkinson for writing about difficult stuff with great clarity and for presenting me with the image of Prynne as the Albert Ayler of the recorder. Shouldn’t that be Evan Parker? Wilkinson has also added a new literary term to my vocabulary: ‘glosso-hectic’. Excellent, sounds like a band from Toronto…..