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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Peter Rose

Peter Rose is someone I’ve always enjoyed for his urbanity, his another-emblem-there-style Italianate carnival, his catspawing social satire, and his cheeky under-the-radar way of being easily one of the best Australian poets around. His books are The House of Vitriol (1990), The Catullan Rag (1993), Donatello in Wangaratta (1998) and a New and Selected from Salt, Rattus Rattus (2005), which I’ve been belatedly catching up with.

Mozart, nearing death, told Constanze
that what he savoured in the stalls
was the approving silence, not applause. (‘The Prize’)

The signature tailing, trailing away of a string of adjectives, like a Renaissance cardinal pouring away a perfectly good glass of burgundy all over a marble floor:

Either you were
too tactful to remark on my faux pas
or failed to notice, but I knew,
lowering a foreign abject unavailing hand. (‘Homage’)

Or the verbal equivalent:

The facing island, a mortal blue,
beckons, intensifies, vanishes. (‘
Balnarring Beach’)

The words ‘wavous’, ‘tortive’ and ‘solity’, their careful addition to the catalogue raisonné of poetic hapax legomena, if there can be a plural of that phrase, and surely there can’t.

The saline tang of imminently silver era Latin disillusioned wit, ‘recognizably unrecognizable’, and due some kind of jump to the top of the queue of Australian imports over more than a couple of more familiar poetic bushrangers. Peter Rose, ever beckoning, intensifying, but not to be allowed to languish vanishing down the rabbit hole of amazon Australia. Let me end this brief salute (sorry, brain still off backpacking) with the end of ‘The Prize’:

In my rusticated dream all that wafts
towards us is a relic of tourism,
an assiduous cuckoo loyal to its vineyard.
They were serving this Müller-Thurgau
long before
Meissen or art nouvea.
Imagine crossing the slicked historical river
and conquering other interiors of the self,
ones long boarded up and forgotten,
oblivious to blandishments of the sun,
the silvered city’s vitiating notes.



Come on then, it might as well be a United vs Liverpool final, hadn't it?

puthwuth said...

You know, I rarely read a good Australian poet without thinking that.


I rarely read a good Australian poet.