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This review is taken from PN Review 254, Volume 46 Number 6, July - August 2020.

Cover of Parkland
Anthony BarnettPrynne’s Parkland
Parkland, J.H. Prynne (Critical Documents) £15
Parkland is a sixty-page prose pamphlet in two parts, the first has eight sections, the second nine. The first section closes with Conrad Gessner’s 1669 woodcut of a hoopoe. What or where is Parkland? I don’t think it is Parkland Memorial Hospital where an already dead Kennedy was rushed in a futile attempt at resuscitation. But then, among quite a few botanical references, ‘Jack’ is no longer ‘-by-the-hedge’ but ‘in’ it. I don’t think it is Parkland, Florida, infamous site of a school mass shooting. And yet, the second of three epigraphs has Bellini’s Norma pleading with her father for her children: ‘Oh, do not let them be victims…’ So, I don’t know, and if anyone knows better I’d like to know.

What I can say is that Parkland is ‘about’ The Queen of Sheba, who might or might not have existed, and two half-siblings Peter and Tom. Who are they? Her sons, brothers, admirers, attendants? One might ask, why not Pete and Thomas? The first epigraph is the account drawn from the 1560 Geneva Bible of the quene of Sheba’s visit to Saloman. The third epigraph is Christopher Smart’s apocryphal ‘Let the Queen of Sheba rejoice with the Artichoke’ – probably not the Jerusalem one.

Whatever else Parkland is ‘about’, it is ‘about’ music and song. A dense, often, but not always, intractable text sings with musical references: ‘Honour this song for her refurbish guisement of melody’, ‘sing again chorus’, ‘And yet these two admirers will sing again despited’, ‘turn for breath take up implements corrected ...

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