The manufactory, factorium;
the industrial site of production.
Home of the functional consortium;
built environments under construction.
Masters of repetition: like-for-like;
duplicated sameness, line after line.
Fabricated forms; strike upon strike;
Engine-uity powered by design.
Natural systems, copied, reassembled;
untangled, delineated, processed,
deconstructed, contorted, stretched and pulled;
to give new form: and so shaped; and so pressed.
. This, a short-lived strategy – one assumes:
. built-in obsolescence – itself consumes.
To the reader: In the 1550s, a ‘factory’ describe an estate manager’s office. This descriptive noun borrowed from Middle French (factorie) with much earlier Late Latin roots to ‘factorium’. The common ‘factor’ refers to a doer or a maker. Having had its use describing humble farm mills and presses, the factory had its sights on bigger industrial enterprises of the 19th Century. A production house that included machinery manufactured goods in buildings known for a short period as manufactories; later shortened to ‘factory’ – so the circle is closed.
To the poet: Etymology sculpts a poet’s productive mind-set. The notion of a wordsmith forging meaning out of molten-sense is close to my reality. As I wrought-meaning into shape I often delve into the pedigree of words to release their poetic potential. The familiar sight and sound of words is suggestive. It’s often the case that coincidental relationships create the crux: at the heart of poetry forgery lies.
Ornamentalism: an assortment
of collectables, domesticated
bric-a-brac, imports from the orient;
samplings of stuff, made sophisticated:
the leather-bound folio, paper-backed
penguins, specimens in formaldehyde.
The trinket, the hand-crafted artefact;
exotic and familiar, side-by-side.
Foreign objects, ambassadors abroad,
international treaties exercised.
A continental-shelf, cross-bow and sword:
“en garde!” – the world has been homogenised!
. We explore the unfamiliar; enough
. to give it status; substance over stuff.
To the reader: I’d been sitting beneath a decorative array of ‘exotic’ ornaments that in a moment of attention had me intrigued. The eclectic display was purely ornamental with no hint of suggested expense or value. “Ornamentalism” I thought. As it happens, the term ‘ornamentalism’ was coined by David Cannadine who expanded on the concept to describe ‘How the British Saw their Empire (~1850 to ~1950).
To the poet: Through the appropriation of exotic customs (including artefacts) the modern Imperialists integrated non-British cultures into a homogenised new-world order. The strict interpretation of a sonnet is similarly transformed by the introduction of slightly foreign influences; and so the form adapts and retains its significance. In this way, a structure keeps its relevance and meaning. Through ‘ornamentalism’ we loosen the grip of conservative hierarchies; and so, become familiar with alternative possibilities.
Ornamentalism Acknowledgement: Title: Ornamentalism: How the British Saw their Empire Author: David Cannadine Publisher: Allen Lane (2001)
Today’s business awaits my attention.
A loose assemblage of things still to do.
An assortment that hangs in suspension;
At the precipice of ‘now’ … fallen due.
Unfinished jobs have no place on the shelf.
And so, to that list; that drop-box of chores:
bullet-pointed messages; notes to self;
reminders that only a fool ignores.
And so, to that list of missed appointments:
that stalled project; that interrupted task;
to all that, that is yet to commence.
To that pending pile: “be patient” I ask!
. All in good time, each matter’s attended.
. It’s at that point, the file is suspended.
To the reader: Two weeks after retiring, I started my next job. The plan was to down-size expectation and workload; get things back to a manageable perspective. To some extent that was the reality but the fundamentals of paper warfare move from job-to-job and desk-to-desk. Projects are the enemy of state. They form the territory upon which office activities spiral out of control in the name productivity. Projects – front-line battles that draw upon scarce resources and redirect energies towards hot-spots of disputed service.
To the poet: As a single-minded sonneteer, I manage my own poetry project – an anthology of sorts. As far as I know “One More Sonnet” has no project-plan; nothing to coordinate its resources and deliver its services. With hindsight, I could back-engineer a plausible plan that makes what I’ve done look organised; but in fact, the whole project grows like topsy. From one idea to the next I lunge and lurch … help wanted; must be good with pen and caper!
Firstly, I read the desiderata:
“Go placidly amidst the noise and haste.”
Gave myself approval (imprimatur)
to make my list of lists. To cut and paste
my chart of wisdoms; distilled of strife,
refined, reduced to an essence of truth:
– Experience is the practice of life.
– One must have the grace to surrender youth.
So on, the list progressed … dot after dot:
– To enjoy time’s passage, go with the flow.
– To know who you are, don’t be who you’re not.
– The more you think you know, the less you know.
. Wisdom is suggestive, best known by gist.
. Wisdom is illusive, shy to enlist.
To the reader: The reduction of wisdom, to a list of truisms, is an attractive contemplation that leads to a refined sample of ‘best of’ behaviours. The first few, often confirm acts of social responsibility; sealing the contract between oneself and others. These ‘responsibilities’ are soon followed by the ‘accountabilities’ that establish (as good) generous reciprocity. And so it seems, the wise respond to needs, they take account of wants; and most of all, they share the benefits – in the interest of common wealth.
To the poet: Around this period of writing, I was also retiring from thirty-years of career building. Not surprisingly, events were associated with a strong-tinge of reflection on change over time; and lessons learnt. The economical nature of phrasing a line of poetry is similar to the construction of a truism… the verb and its subject make obvious associations with a familiar object – in the interest of common sense.
Nothing more than a glimpse of slivered light;
delivered right of stage, left of centre.
Just a hint, a glint, of something bright;
so she came, just as light had sent her.
She was not drawn from darkness, not from pitch;
far more rich, she glowed with lumination.
She posed no question, she required no switch;
far from this, she shone with explanation.
Not a candle, not a bulb, not a torch;
too warm to scorch the scene with burning flames.
She cast no shadow, nothing to debauch
the instant truth that light so brightly claims.
. With a light stroke, her presence was revealed.
. She came complete, with nothing more to yield.
To the reader: Light’s revelation can slowly dawn to uncover what darkness hides. Vast horizons emerge as night becomes day. Light can also cast an instant beam of illumination. Delighting the eye with small surprises. In just a slivered glimpse, the eye captures a passing moment… a flash of brilliance. Within that slivered aperture is the essence of art’s sensuality… form is given shape.
To the poet: Art is responsive. It can be reactionary in a spontaneous fashion; impromptu and unrehearsed. It can also be reflective in a mulled-over sense; practiced and refined. Mercurial-art is more likely to be associated with an artist’s unique character… a flash of brilliance. Lingering-art has time to contemplate and wonder; time to lose its originality … as form is given shape.
Communicates with influence; he does,
he states it as it is – impressively.
He situates a phrase; gives emphasis,
he waits – delivers it expressively.
He orchestrates his audience; at ease,
he waits for sense and sensibility.
He situates a pause; an awkward tease,
he baits the line with sensitivity.
He modulates his tone; to rise and fall,
creates an uplifting draft – wafterly.
He contemplates what might be possible;
skates the surface, and nurtures novelty.
. He agitates his company; he stirs,
. he celebrates the mix – as it occurs.
To the reader: Tangles can be fun to unravel. I remember, as a child, finding balls of discarded fishing line on the beach. A mess of sand and tackle, endlessly wrapped in coils of knotted nylon thread. The business of unravelling had little purpose to it. I was learning that through frustration you could find satisfaction. Within most things we do, there’s an opportunity to play with ideas; to craft creative solutions – for pleasure’s sake alone.
To the poet: It wasn’t until late in the editing process that I stumbled on why this sonnet was proving a stubborn beast to massage into shape. I’d forgotten that the “Oh, so clever poet!” had decided to apply an extra set of rhymes to the beginning of each line. Something he thought might have been fun to do but later regretted. Upon reflection the extra-effort has probably detracted from the final outcome; and so it is.