21 January 2009

Canto VII

I honestly didn't put this off yesterday deliberately, but this is a tough one. Partly, oddly, because of the lack of references, I feel cut adrift. I don't know what the setting or the period is here.

We start with references to Eleanor, Homer, Ovid and Dante so there's already a mix of eras. Then we get some quite simple language:
The old men's voices, beneath the columns of false marble,
The modish and darkish walls,
Discreeter gilding, and the panelled wood
Suggested, for the leasehold is
Touched with an imprecision ... about three squares;
The house too thick, the paintings
a shade too oiled.

Every single word is easy, but put together, it's so hard to see what's going on. For some reason I get a memory of the film The English Patient, the bit where they are camped out in an abandoned Italian villa, clearing it of mines and booby traps, and there are faded paintings on the walls. There are later references to stray items of furniture, and later even my feeling of being in an abandoned house doesn't seem to match the words. I could quote more simple-sounding passages but if anything this canto proves that there's more than one way to be difficult.

I've really no idea, and true to my method, I'm not going to phone a friend for help, but move on.

No comments: