PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
M. Wynn ThomasThe Other Side of the Hedge
(PN Review 239)
Next Issue Beverley Bie Brahic, after Leopardi's 'Broom' Michael Freeman Benefytes and Consolacyons Miles Burrows At Madame Zaza’s and other poems Victoria Kenefick Hunger Strike Hilary Davies Haunted by Christ
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
PN Review Blog

This article is taken from PN Review 39, Volume 11 Number 1, July - August 1984.

Honest as the Night Alan Young

'In Insula Avalonia' is a puzzling and compelling poem. Some of the puzzles are caused by a dearth of punctuation, which is a characteristic of nearly all Sisson's poetry reprinted in In the Trojan Ditch (1974). 'The proof of the poem - any poem-', said Sisson in his foreword to that collection, 'is in its rhythm'. But 'rhythm' has complex meaning for Sisson; no single reading aloud of the first section of 'In Insula Avalonia' (even one by Sisson himself) can completely dispel the reader's sense of missing connections:


Huge bodies driven on the shore by sleep
The mountain-woman rocks might fall upon
And in the cavity the heaped-up man.

Sleep on the island like a witty zone
Seas break about it, frolicking like youth
But in the mists are eyes, not dancers, found.

Hurt is the shepherd on the inland hill
He has a cot, a staff and certain sheep
Stones are his bed, his tables and his bread.

This is not where the sirens were, I think
But somewhere, over there, the next approach
Behind that other island in the mist.

That was the song, beyond the linnet-call
At the cliff's edge, below the plunging gull
The fish it found, the enemy or Christ.


In the first 'sentence' or stanza does 'mountain-woman' tell us about the shape and size of the ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image