Saturday, March 06, 2010


Recently asked: Am I fond of Sitwell? (Viz. Dame not Sacheverell or the strikingly more useless Osbert). Can't imagine taking her any more or less than Cunard or Loy; at all times a resounding yes—Façade sheer sonic force (Allen Fisher's Entanglement the weirdly delayed aftershock of Sitwell's Façade). I get the sense the critical attention Façade should have received was somewhat displaced by Eliot's Wasteland, both published in '22. Sitwell published by Favil not Faber—when Wal-Mart moves to town and displaces-without-closing the local mom-n-pop (even the local hardware store not Lowe's is bourgeois in character). But so much of Façade sits so well against Fisher's Entanglement. Take "The Bat":

Castellated, tall,
From battlements fall
Shades on heroic
Lonely grass,
Where the moonlight's echoes die and pass.
Near the rustic boorish,
Fustian Moorish
Castle wall of the ultimate Shade,
With his cloak castellated as that wall, afraid,
The mountebank doctor,
The old stage quack,
Where decoy-duck dust
Began to clack,
Watched Heliogabalusene the Bat
In his furred cloak hand head down from the flat
Wall, cling to what is convenient,

Eat the rich (down all dames & sirs) but this is wonderful. It's Sitwell's careful articulation of the rhythms of the dancing body with lineation (while insisting on the distance between the work of poetry and that of music) that calls Fisher's Entanglement to mind. Fisher too given to dance, at least in this selection of poems: Ring Shout, Roach, Volespin, Shimmy, Shango, Itch, Jerk, Mashed Potato. And his sense of that peculiar relation of the dance to the poem is congruent with Sitwell's. His "Jersey Bounce":

Rare mute this tallest shard
Magnified geometric progression surpasses difference
A perspective without singular horizon
Rapacious articles stare drossy cup
Clown thick rears this feat
Fixed articles share nothing doper
Soaps stamp heads middle stings
Rut skittle bends us canticle
Shouts and roars in accordance
With ratio's irrationality infinite openings

There's a semantic continuity that cuts across Sitwell's "Bat" and Fisher's "Bounce"—ratio (decidendi and the no. of fractal bits in the bigger thing), Faustian fustian (bombast of bombardier), the doctor always an old stage old world quack. Engtanglement came out through Nate Dorward's Gig a few years back (2004), but the call to Sitwell brought it to mind again. The music jumps.