Not A Safari

South Africa's World Cup, as seen from New York City

fleetness, furtherance

The schoolboy poet is involved in the games, but rarely is he ever the best schoolboy athlete or the focus of the activity. Even when he stands in the middle, he stands to one side, tracing arcs, noting the game’s intangibles. This is how it is in James Joyce, in Seamus Heaney, and in Orhan Pamuk: an involvement that focuses on everything but the writer’s own singularity. What’s evoked rather is a kind of collective soul. Take for instance this, from Heaney’s “Markings,” which is like a capsule world history of boyhoods:

Youngsters shouting their heads off in a field
As the light died and they kept on playing
Because by then they were playing in their heads
And the actual kicked ball came to them
Like a dream heaviness, and their own hard
Breathing in the dark and skids on grass
Sounded like effort in another world…
It was quick and constant, a game that never need
Be played out. Some limit had been passed,
There was fleetness, furtherance, untiredness
In time that was extra, unforeseen and free.



Filed under: magic, peroration

One Response

  1. elizabeth says:

    “…of the crowds of men smoking cigarettes after the national football matches which during my childhood never failed to end in abject defeat: I speak of them all.” -Istanbul

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