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Eidolon by Sandeep Parmar (Shearsman Books)

Eidolon by Sandeep Parmar (Shearsman Books)

Pound’s Canto 93 from Section: Rock-Drill is infused with light. From ‘Risplende / From the sea-caves / degli occhi’ to ‘lux in diafana’ and ‘light there almost solid’ there is a quality of ‘Manifest and not abstract’. Also we read ‘in sea-caves / un lume pien’ di spiriti / and of memories’ before encountering the Poundian line that is used by Hugh Kenner as his conclusion to The Pound Era:

‘Shall two know the same in their knowing?’

In Sandeep Parmar’s essay, ‘Under Helen’s Breath’, which acts as the conclusion to this splendidly vivid collection of poems she refers to Virginia Woolf essay ‘On Not Knowing Greek’:

‘Woolf’s point is that we essentially cannot know the Greeks because we are so culturally different and their age was not one of aesthetic ‘schools’ or developmental phases but one that was somehow locked crystalline into a monolithic antiquity.’

Parmar goes on to refer to a culture and context ‘lost like the shade and fibre, the milk and memory of a self-effacing tree’ and quotes from Woolf’s essay:

‘With the sound of the sea in their ears, vines, meadows, rivulets about them, [the Greeks] are even more aware than we are of a ruthless fate. There is a sadness at the back of life which they do not attempt to mitigate.

Sandeep Parmar’s poetry possesses some of that monumental light, that merging of the transient with the unchanging:

‘The wind lays down a road
across the waves
hiding us in a mooring of fog
flanks of earth lighten
like fantasy like Leda’s body
to make way for our white ship
of a hundred tiers
and some thousand men’

Some eighty years ago Llewelyn Powys wrote to a young poet, who had sent him a manuscript, ‘Try to leave Fantasy and get down to the reality of pots and pans, out of such inauspicious matter poetry will leap new born’. For me Sandeep Parmar’s poetry does this and with her pen she stirs to life a world that disappeared over two thousand years ago:

Cybele
under the mountain

Helen falls between two limits
is without documents

She takes a cab—black as a Homburg in winter—
and peels the notes carefully
from her purse the hinges rusting shut
she rolls quiet as water
down a cool glass
as a crow at dusk
walking backwards
stealing spoons
from the verandah

The TV already on (it’s never off)
greets her with a brief message
from our sponsors

Ian Brinton February 1st 2015

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