When I got home my sister was sitting in the living room, waiting for me. I said to her: "You know, Sis, it just occurred to me that some narrative poems move so quickly they cannot be kept up with, and their progress must be imagined. They are the most lifelike and least real."  
"Yes," said my sister, "but has it occurred to you that some narrative poems move so slowly we are constantly leaping ahead of them, imagining what they might be? And has it occurred to you that these are written most often in youth?"  
Later I remembered the summer in Rome when I became convinced that narratives in which memory plays a part are self-defeating. It was hot, and I realized that memory is a memorial to events that could not sustain themselves into the present, which is why memory is tinged with pity and its music is always a dirge.  
Then the phone rang. It was my mother calling to ask what I was doing. I told her I was working on a negative narrative, one that refuses to begin because beginning is meaningless in an infinite universe, and refuses to end for the same reason. It is all a suppressed middle, an unutterable and inexhaustible conjunction. "And, Mom," I said, "it is like the narrative that refuses to mask the essential and universal stillness, and so confines its remarks to what never happens."  
--from "Narrative Poetry"; Mark Strand

No comments: