Just squeezing in my last November poem before December is upon us, I’m starting from a paraphrase of the opening sentences of Edward Said’s On Late Style, which I’m reading for the Book Group. Here’s how Said’s posthumously finished book begins:
The relationship between bodily condition and aesthetic style seems at first to be a subject so irrelevant and perhaps even trivial by comparison with the momentousness of life, morality, medical science, and health, as to be quickly dismissed.
That gives you a taste. The New York Times website gives the whole first chapter, here, if you’re interested to read on. My little verse deals only with the first paragraph, and isn’t exactly a paraphrase of that.
November verse 14: Why the relationship between
bodily condition and aesthetic style is not a
You say: 'So trivial a subject,
the body and aesthetic style's
relationship! Why not reflect
on what's important in your files,
like life, and health, and science and morals
or medicine or the death of corals?'
I say: Of all of us it's true
because we're conscious, me and you,
we're constantly involved in making
something of our little lives,
and this self-making builds archives,
a base of the great undertaking,
history, which sages tell,
at heart is made by human toil.
I don’t know yet where Said’s argument goes from there, and I apologise in advance for not trying to produce a verse version of the whole book.