Sarah's secret garden
THE INVISIBLE MENDER by Sarah Maguire, Cape pounds 7
Sunday 10 August 1997
The best moments come in the last of four sections, with a tender, elegiac evocation of the birth mother she hardly knew, in the title poem; and in "The Hearing Cure", which starts as a meditation on the subject of ear-wax - "My left ear / solid, as though / half the world / is moored in perspex" - but turns into a gravely magical lament for, and celebration of, "that precious music, / the pitch of flesh / on flesh". At one point the "call and echo" of bats wheeling in the dusk is described as "making feeling from / reflection", and that Wordsworthian notion isn't a bad description of what's going on in these poems, though the settings are largely urban, and the natural piety is earned.
"Stigmata", "suturing", "glaucous", "maculate" make several appearances, suggesting that the urge to make large gestures has not been repressed altogether. The translations of Tsvetaeva's love poems to Pasternak in Section Two don't convince; without the engines of metre and rhyme this most passionate of poets goes nowhere. "My hot veins boil / against this chain of poesy, these throttling rhymes" - "poesy" surely departed the English language, if not the Russian, with Shelley.
The third section, "Nursery Practices", commemorates Maguire's skill as a professional gardener - a good Marvellian subject - and is full of sappy details about things "cloistered in glass", "phototropic with desire", and the gardener-poet as "postulant to the blooms". It's all very sexy, the language stripped-down yet pumped-up, oscillating between submissive wonder and breathy identification with Mother Nature's "hairy and maculate" blooms. There's more explicit sex in "Dust", with the poet holding a just- used condom up to the light to watch "the still-warm cells seething and dividing"; but as in the earlier "Spilt Milk" the apparently sensational subject-matter is treated with respectful interest rather than with a leer. Golden girls and lads all must, as sperm and buddleia, come to dust.
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars
TVNetflix gets cryptic
TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth
Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 2 Tower Bridge glass walkway 'smashed' by night-time visitor dropping bottle of beer
- 3 Anti-gay hate preacher accidentally tweets 4,000 followers cartoon clip of him 'confessing' to be a 'homosexual sodomite'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services