sexta-feira, 12 de outubro de 2012


“Ayamonte/Vila Real”

by Charles Boyle; introduced by Kate Miller

A ferry crossing a river, TLS
Charles Boyle writes in telling detail about place, most recently fitting photographs to tales of Shepherd’s Bush in Days and Nights in W12 (published last year, under the pseudonym Jack Robinson). He won a Cholmondeley award in 1981 and published his second collection House of Cards the following year; it was praised by Michael Hulse for “some splendid rhythms, an inventive and potentially metaphysical angle to his reality, and a very satisfying way of open-ending his poems in several directions at once”.Here Boyle conjures two locations, the slash between them connoting the border that separates Ayamonte in Spain and Vila Real in Portugal. This places an emphasis on the process of crossing; the slash stands not only for the river Guadiana, and the ferry plying it, but also for an oscillation between two points, like “the stranger / pacing the deck between stern and bows / and back again, and back again”. The poem enacts an uneasy departure, a “goodbye without ever / really meaning it: between bouts of love”.Somewhere between a love poem and a travel poem, then, Boyle’s meditation on in-betweenness, on giving oneself “time enough / to learn what you do”, has a self-correcting impulse. Intrigued by the workings of a “mind continually on the qui vive”, Nicholas Lezard admires Boyle’s voice as “unpretentious yet . . . lyrical; linguistically precise and emotionally evasive, often at the same time”. He describes Boyle’s poems as “collisions between the quotidian and the unhinged that could themselves serve as the opening scenes of extraordinary films”. In “Ayamonte/Vila Real”, Boyle pans across the river scene, building apprehension rather than comprehension, with his soundtrack of “the final, untranslatable syllables / of the taxi-driver cursing”, shoppers comparing purchases they could not afford “on their own side”, and “daunting gulls” circling overhead. Here, one finds the time to “properly [take] account” of where one has been and where one is headed.

Ayamonte/Vila Real

Who has not seen the colours 
on the last evening strangely intensified 
and heard the final, untranslatable syllables 
of the taxi-driver cursing the cyclist?
Then light a cigarette: there’ll be time enough 
to learn what you do, without ever learning 
enough to do right; nor can you return 
through the labyrinth – what child’s play it seems now! – 
regathering the thread to the point 
at which it simply might never have been needed.

But sometimes you say goodbye without ever 

really meaning it: between bouts of love, even in the gap 
between two words that are themselves harmless 
as wooden fence posts driven in 
on either side of an invisible dotted line.

Here, at least there is a river 

to be crossed in a ferry whose tickets may be paid for 
in either currency. Women 
gather in the saloon, comparing their purchases 
of butter, say, or a roll of imported cloth 
that on their own side is heavily taxed;
the captain fingers his worry-beads, and the stranger 
pacing the deck between stern and bows 
and back again, and back again, at last 
looks up to the daunting gulls and wishes only 
he had bread to scatter . . .

Better this 

than waking in trains to find you have already left 
without having properly taken account 
of the last village, village street and weathercock 
that, even as you watch, begins to turn.

Published: 2 October 2012, in  TLS-The Times Literary Supplement

1 comentário:

  1. Ayamonte e Vila Real!... Embora, Ayamonte já tenha pertencido à Coroa Portuguesa, em recuados tempos..., e independentemente das relações dos dois países ibéricos, as duas cidades sempre estiveram de certo modo unidas, uma alimentando a outra, mutuamente, num cumprimento que tende a eternizar-se! E ainda bem, que assim é!... Existem os que já nascem irmãos, vivendo uma amizade natural e coesa, mesmo sem serem filhos do mesmo pai e da mesma mãe...