Snakes

August 14, 2018

Must have been so many brute
snakes the King slurped up —
but what tender servant wouldn’t
be smitten with concealed strings,
enlarged worms? We have all
indulged in a little tight snake
from time to time, and I have heard
the animals howl only in the night.

So the servant nibbled, found his ring-like hole
after hours
and left the castle with a stallion
who, amazingly, rode mute and sour.
Yet the ants, the fish, the birds — all callous —
chattered unconditionally their love in dour spurts,
the dead horse clinging to his own bones and thick skin.

Then the contest raged, roared like a salty sea
and the prince tested himself for gravity, trying
to remain of this world by being told his prize.
Those lies demand a fortune of the soul, the withering
of those animals curled around the snake, made curses
uncompromising and sure. But always the fruit
grows in the womb and makes the princess come
to lost senses.

Cheryl Chambers

out of the shadows

My favourite Burgess is A Clockwork Orange , which he was very dismissive of. It’s fuelled by rage and fear. If Burgess has a fault, it’s that his intellect sometimes over-controls the work. In his best books, he has clearly lost control of the material, and his unconscious is joy-riding the narrative bus. A Clockwork Orange has the deep ambiguity of great art. I suspect Burgess dismissed it because he was scared of it. It’s beyond morality. It’s primal, very human. It says things the author’s conscious mind would never agree with.

Julian Gough
Quoted in: Anthony Burgess: a mind like clockwork and a fearless pen by Darragh MacManus