Day 9

5.03: Last night I was looking at a book of poems by the Italian writer Cesare Pavese. I bought it a while ago, being a fan of his novels about decadent life in the 1930s and 40s, but hadn’t ever got round to dipping into it.

Anyway, I found a poem called “Discipline,” which is all about the transition between nighttime and morning, sleeping and waking, dreaming and working.

(In translation), it goes:

each of us walks through a waking dream,
knowing that dawn will force our eyes open.
When morning does come, it finds us dazed
in the face of work that has now begun.

These are the best bits (of the morning, I mean, not the poem). I recalled hearing Andrew Motion saying something similar about how he writes poetry very early in the morning, because, after that, the chores of daily life make it impossible to think circuitously or metaphorically. I also once heard a less theorised (and so more convincing) version of the same argument from Kevin Rowland.

“I love it,” said Rowland staring vaguely out of the window as if some invisible attacker had chloroformed him into a waking dream.

So I’d better not waste too many of these precious intermediate minutes, and crack on with some dreaming-waking work of my own. Problems to solve, lovers to tear asunder, all that jazz.

6.52: The sleepy-wakey seesaw was perhaps overloaded on the drowsy side this morning. Serves me right for getting pompous ideas about Italian novelists and Dexys Midnight Runners. You can’t mine the subliminal creative seam if every five minutes your head lolls forward and you catch yourself dribbling into your spacebar. A cautionary tale, if ever there was one.

~ by David Thorley on November 5, 2009.

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