It turns out Joyce published a poetry collection Pomes Penyeach circa 1927 which consolidates a mere dozen or so short poems written over a twenty year period. How I’d not come upon this bag of pearls earlier, one can only speculate.
Though fairly scarce the collection, the nature and quality gives a distinct impression that Joyce, perhaps not strictly innate as a poet, refined each lyric to not necessarily some intractably attainable degree of perfection, but at least a remarkable state of linguistic craftsmanship.
Pomes Penyeach likewise incorporates two of the poems I divulged in my previous sampling, Tilly and She weeps over rahoon, unbeknownst to me at the time. If captivated by the material below, do also be sure to glance at those, or better yet, at the complete collection you can surely dig up elsewhere online.
Appended beneath two of Ivan Turgenev’s early poems. The western audience likely knows him for the novel Отцы и дети. But Turgenev also published verse poetry, prose poetry (that I’ve never yet taken a liking to), short stories and plays. I’ve not read most of this material.
But how do these two poems factor in? The disparate language families aside (which raises a huge issue whenever I attempt to juxtapose the two languages in general), Turgenev’s verse feels a few notches more sentimental, the vocabulary, warmer. Nothing odd considering the 80-year span separating the two traditions. The two don’t compliment each other as I might argue for Byron and Pushkin, or Gumilev and Yeats.
And yet I detected some commonality, or at least welcomed the brain teasing exercise. For one, the alternating line form of Луна плывет approximates the rhythm of no less than several of Joyce’s lyrics in Pomes Penyeach, ie this or Rahoon.
Both feature that crafty word repetition and inversion techniques I see Joyce often appeal to. Nothing singular, and I’ve been reading much Russian poetry in general for which one could make similarly ethereal arguments. But it were precisely the Turgenev lines which immediately evoked Joyce.
- Watching the needleboats at san sabba (1912)
- A flower given to my daughter (1913)
- Flood (1915)
- Nightpiece (1915)
- A memory of the players in a mirror at midnight (1917)
- Иван Тургенев — Луна плывет высоко над землею (1840)
- Иван Тургенев — Весенний вечер (1843)
Watching the needleboats at san sabba (1912)
[VP: Note the repetition, the inversions, the handful of neologisms.]
A flower given to my daughter (1913)
[VP: Exquisite lexicon, repetition and alliteration. Joyce didn’t discharge lyric like the cataract that was Pushkin, or Byron, or Swinburne - these altogether of a different tradition anyway. But where else would you encounter ‘rosefrail’ and ‘blueveined’?]
[VP: More curated adjective usage, granting an otherwise primitive motive an elevated character.]
[VP: One of my favourites of the lot. Neologisms (sindark, voidward), mastery of construction, wicked imagery, challenging syntax: the sensation heightened all the further by the sheer parsing effort demanded.]
A memory of the players in a mirror at midnight (1917)
[VP: Even after a dozen iterations, have yet to adequately parse the challenging syntax. But the lyric does emit a jarring sort of aftertaste, a bit violent, the endings largely masculine, yet the effect all the more evocative.]
Иван Тургенев — Луна плывет высоко над землею (1840)
Иван Тургенев — Весенний вечер (1843)
Questions, comments? Connect.