This paper is concerned with ‘making sense’ in Peter Larkin’s ‘Leaves of Field’, a long poem that articulates a post-pastoral poetics based on ethical valency activated by attention. ‘Leaves of Field’ directs questions at us: How do we look at ‘natural’ objects? What is adequate poetic description? Can there be ethics without an apparent subject? How can we avoid instrumentalising nature poetically and ecologically after human intervention? What is the ‘value’ of human-and-non-human relations? Creating a lyricism not based on self-expression or explicitly only-human community, Larkin answers the challenges of writing innovatively with ethical consciousness by attending minutely to poetic texture and to ‘attention’ itself.
In 1966 Prynne emphasised the necessity for poetry to ‘emphatically reclaim the power of knowledge for each and any of us in our common answerability as the creatures of language.’[1. Keston Sutherland, “Hilarious Absolute Daybreak,” Glossator: Theory and Practice of the Commentary, 2 (2010): 115-148, 117.] The ekphrastic, proprioceptive and dedicatory analysis that Prynne demanded of his readers through Kitchen Poems and The White Stone reaches a point of crescendo with Brass in 1971.
I was out drunk with friends one night in Perth, Western Australia. My father had just died. We were walking home, so to speak, and our path took us past the Church of Christ. At that, I launched myself at the wall of the church, found a toehold and lunged up into the air. I grasped the ‘t’ decal and with all my weight managed to prise it from the wall. The Church of Chris looked down upon us all. I continued on my way home, or rather to here, but not without the occasional somewhat gratified memory of the incident. I cannot help thinking of the sudden appearance of the Church of Chris as a sort of revelation, with something to say about the truth of something. That is what reading Finnegans Wake is like.
The immediate target of the Malley hoax was Max Harris and those associated with Angry Penguins, but McAuley and Stewart also had ‘bigger fish’, as it were, in mind. Herbert Read in particular, the English poet and critic—whose writings were a significant influence on Max Harris’ own poetry and aesthetics—was very much in the hoaxers’ sights.