Poetic Prose
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Author:  des2 [ Mon Jun 18, 2007 7:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Poetic Prose

I hope you don't mind me setting up a new topic of 'poetic prose'. This shouldn't be any old prose but prose that is tantamount to poetry where somebody's forgotten to do the enjambement! :-)

"Today this surely was the wettest village in the world: the poor late lilac was sodden; its leaves ran like gutters. Rain fell over dark doorways; the plaster cottages were distraught with it; the brick cottages sullen. Smoke from the dinner fires hung heavy, clotting the trees, and where under dark eaves the old woman still did not die, geraniums stifled, pressing close to the panes. The International Stores, full of cocoa, stood over its red reflection. No one crossed the street or even came to a door: a quenched, drenched day, thought Janet. And in the village, something suspended, perhaps finally over: evening brightly dissolving the roofs, the hourless blank of sunshine, dark lamplight, the bucket swinging up bright from the cold well. There would be worse days here, some better; none, you had to believe, final. To be consoled it was better to live indoors, without spectacle."

From Part II (3) of 'Friends & Relations' (1931) by Elizabeth Bowen

[More Elizabeth Bowen quotes here: ... 2353575862 ]

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Mon Jun 18, 2007 10:28 pm ]
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Liked the smoke clotting the trees.
And what a sad line : 'none, you had to believe, final'
She really is a very evocative writer.

Author:  des2 [ Wed Jun 20, 2007 12:32 pm ]
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“Can you read my thoughts, Moon, so full you're about to spill your whiteness all over the sky like a clumsy child? Can you see into my heart with your big pearly eye? That's how I love to see you, Moon, doming out of the blackness. And what do you think of how I look when you become all round up there? Oh, you're shining very nicely down into my alley hideaway, garnished as it is with winter's frozen spume. See how my blemished flesh flowers into perfectly silver-white fur; see how my flat face pushes itself into an elegant snout; see my eyes get bright and keen; see my legs go lean! From tooth to tail: a wolf. Not simply a werewolf; I am more than a split personality. I am now whole, undivided - one solid piece of walking wolf. Not merely a wolf, not even the wolf. But just Wolf. We are - I am - Wolf.”

Thomas Ligotti - “The Real Wolf”

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Thu Jun 21, 2007 6:27 pm ]
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'doming out of the blackness'SHUDDER!
Bring back Elizabeth!

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Fri Aug 24, 2007 11:37 pm ]
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'Now he said, 'Ah! Trifle!'
There was a silence while they all looked at the trifle.

Elizabeth Jane Howard 'Something In Disguise'.

Now, this isn't an example of the kind of poetic prose you've been showing us, Des, but it's remarkable in that while it is startingly ordinary, in the context of the book it's both hilarious and nerve wracking. After a long build up to a dinner dominated by a faulltfinding, rather bullying man, whose disposition lies queasily somewhere between the comic and the horrid, that ordinarry little sentence sits there on the page like a hand grenade.

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Sat Aug 25, 2007 9:19 am ]
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Same book:

'One wished one could lose one's virginity without noticing.'

Not the best honeymoon ever then!

Author:  iansales [ Sat Aug 25, 2007 11:21 am ]
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One writer who prose I trreaure for its poetry is Lawrence Durrell. And yes, I'm aware he was known as a poet before he was known as a novelist or travel writer; and he continued to write all three up until his death :-) Anyway, here's a passage from The Dark Labyrinth (1947).

The sun was falling, dense with its own golden weight, towards the sea. He looked back once more at Cefalû and caught his breath. It was a fantastic locality; a huge cone of conglomerate rising a thousand feet into the blue Cretan air. On the one side it ran clear up from the sea as if it had been sheared out by some insane architect. The sides were weathered and lightly covered in holm-oak and myrtle. On the very crown rose a tuft of green cypresses and olives. Half-way up the cone stood the village of Cefalfi, its houses with their child's-paint-box colours glowing pristine and ingenuous in the waning sunlight. The mountain ran straight up from this little circle of cultivation, into the sky. He could see the avenue of small cypresses that led to the mouth of the labyrinth. Then, below the road, he could look down to the lovely house that Axelos had called Cefalû. It was built in a fault of the rock which gave it access to the sea. A white sailing boat lay like a breathing butterfly against the white mole.

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Sat Aug 25, 2007 5:29 pm ]
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The white sail like a breathing butterfly is very pretty.

Author:  iansales [ Sun Aug 26, 2007 10:06 am ]
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Yes, that's the image that struck me as well. There's also a line in Tunc that I find very striking (the narrator is at the Acropolis):

In that clear hard enamel air the human voice carried so far that it was possible to call and wave to her from the top while she walked the Plaka streets below.

"Enamel air" - it seems so... fitting.

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Sun Aug 26, 2007 9:27 pm ]
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Yes, that's another good 'un!
I also liked the vision of calling down below. In that air sound carries for miles!

Author:  Paul Raven [ Mon Aug 27, 2007 11:14 am ]
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"Lunatics are soldiers of the moon, alongside poets, artists, sorcerers, all warring on the stars, which are but distant suns ..." Alan Moore, From Hell

I don't know if it's cheating to use text from a graphic novel ... but that book's full of high Blakeian prose from one of the central characters, and indeed Blake himself makes a cameo appearance.

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:24 pm ]
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I rather like 'soldiers of the moon.'

Author:  des2 [ Sat Sep 01, 2007 8:02 am ]
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Quotes from fiction (55)
The latest quotes from Elizabeth Bowen fiction here: ... =147731320

She stared first at a row of backviews of eaters perched, packed elbow-to-elbow, along a counter. A zip fastener all the way down one back made one woman seem to have a tin spine. A dye-green lettuce leaf had fallen on to the mottled rubber floor...[...]

Not a person did not betray, by one or another glaring peculiarity, the fact of being human: her intimidating sensation of being crowded must have been due to this, for there were not so very many people here. The phenomenon was the lighting, more powerful even than could be accounted for by the bald white globes screwed aching to the low white ceiling – there survived in here not one shadow: every one had been ferreted out and killed. [...]

Also, this could have been the moment to establish exactly what was queer, wrong, off, out of the straight in the cast of Harrison's eyes. But she failed to do so: from so close up she only saw the structure of the expression of urgency – the pupils' microcosms, black little condensations of a world too internal to know what expression was, each mapped round with red-brown lines on a green-brown iris run to rust at the rim. Veins feathered the whitish whites. Fatigue, perhaps, reddened the insides of the eyelids; and it was in examining the start and growth of the lashes – irregular, neither short nor long – that she experienced a kind of pathetic shock.

From Chapter 12 of 'The Heat of the Day' 1949

The effect of this person? . . . Invisible powder, mutiny, shock, loss; sparkle-clip on black and clean rigid line of shoulders; terror somewhere knocking about inside her like a loose piece of ice; a not-young face of no other age; eyes, under bloom-bloomed lids, turning on you an intent emptied look, youth somewhere away at the back of it like a shadow; lips shaped, but shaping what they ought not; hat of small type nothing if not put on right, put on right, exposingly; agony ironed out of the forehead; the start, where the hair ran back, of one white lock.

From Chapter 13 of 'The Heat of the Day' 1949

The many twists of the passages had always made it impossible to see down them; some other member of the family, slightly hastening the step as one's own was heard, had always got round the next corner just in time. A pause just inside, to make sure that the coast was clear, had preceded the opening of any door, the emergence of anyone from a room. The unwillingness of the Kelways to embarrass themselves or each other by inadvertent meetings had always been marked. Their private hours, it could be taken, were spent in nerving themselves for inevitable family confrontations such as meal-times, and in working on to their faces the required expression of having nothing to hide. [...]

Robert's hand reposed where he remembered seeing his father's – on the polished knob terminating the banisters. Nothing but a whiff of carbolic soap from the children's bathroom came down to him: upstairs life, since the war, had up there condensed itself into very few rooms – swastika-arms of passage leading to nothing, stripped of carpet, bulbs gone from the light-sockets, were flanked by doors with their keys turned. Extinct, at this night hour Stygian as an abandoned mine-working, those reaches of passage would show in daylight ghost-pale faded patches no shadow crossed, and, from end to end, an even conquest of dust.

From Chapter 14 of 'The Heat of the Day' 1949

Author:  des2 [ Mon Nov 12, 2007 2:12 pm ]
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Elizabeth Bowen's description of Cambridge (the home of TTA Press):

On their way to the station, she sat locked in an anguish nobody could explain - across her, the other two played cat's-cradle with the cord off a cake box. She could not endure this day's being over. Fixedly looking ahead, past the driver's ears, she cast no backward glances; she could not bear to. Nor did she need to; the beautiful agonizing mirage of the university was inescapable from. This was a forever she had no part in. The eternity was the more real to her for consisting of fiery particles of transience - bridges the punt slid under, raindrops spattering the Cam with vanishing circles, shivered reflections, echoes evaporating, shadows metamorphosiz­ing, distances shifting, glorification coming and going on buildings at a whim of the sun, grass flashing through arches, gasps of primitive breath coming from stone, dusk ebbing from waxen woodwork when doors opened. Holy pillars flowed upward and fountained out, round them there being a ceaselesss confluence of fanatical colours burningly staining glass.

From the Elizabeth Bowen blog here: ... =147731320

Author:  Bob Lock [ Mon Nov 12, 2007 4:23 pm ]
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I've always had a soft spot for this verse by Springsteen:

Beyond the Palace, hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard
The girls comb their hair in rearview mirrors
And the boys try to look so hard
The amusement park rises bold, stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in the mist
I wanna die with you Wendy on the streets tonight
In an everlasting kiss

From 'Born to Run' (his live acoustic version is my favourite)

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