A Reward for My Perseverance

Believe it or not, night before last, I bit the proverbial bullet and just pushed through to the end of Paradiso. It became increasingly incomprehensible until finally resuming some sort of cohesive narrativity at the very end, a resolution that didn’t leave me feeling any better about the project in general. It seems that poor Lezama Lima was aiming for the creation of a Cuban Ulysses, but fell short along the way.

What I did realize, while wading through the characters’ frequent and flowery disquisitions, was that my disappointed adolescent yearning for a group of friends who would spout poetry and get into hefty literary discussions was probably best left unfulfilled. Imagine the mess of an adult that would ensue, were you to hang around all through college with chums who only fed each other’s needless verbosity, letting each other’s near-pedantic word flow run rampant. Well– you’d probably get a bunch of people churning out stuff like Paradiso.

But I finished, almost prompting me to declare that miracles still happen. Instead of going that far, though, I will say that I felt as if I’d earned some sort of boon when I opened up Louis MacNeice’s Autumn Journal last night. I didn’t get as far as I would have liked, thanks to a bothersome need for sleep, but it sure was great passing out to the tune of stuff such as this excerpt from “i”:

                                            I loved my love with a platform ticket,
                                               A jazz song,
                                            A handbag, a pair of stockings of Paris Sand – 
                                               I loved her long.
                                            I loved her between the lines and against the clock,
                                               Not until death
                                            But till life did us part I loved her with paper money
                                               And with whisky on the breath.*
Sometimes, the universe (and/or its poetic representatives) really delivers.
* Louis MacNeice, “i,” in Autumn Journal (London: Faber & Faber, 1939), 5.                                    


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