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Memorials

133

strangelyfamiliar, struckmeassoonasIreadhiswork. Atthe timeI hadcometoliveinLondon, andGermanwas freshin myearas, forthefirsttime, countryboythatIwas, Ibeganto explore the bigcity. It was the year whenthe house-high sycamore, ‘longagowrenched’ fromthegardenof thebombdamaged, dilapidated and finally demolished house in St John’s Wood Park where Michael grewup, had been rediscovered – alive thanks to a dimension that defies the ‘mind’smastery’ –in anelegiacpassageofMichael’slongpoem InSuffolk: ‘Sycamore: here andthere still / Inits owntime, straight, / Withwidebranches, it rises / Andtheshedleaves feed/Richorpoorsoil, unpoisoned. . .’ Thereisjustahintof the German-Greekdistichinthe last three of these lines, at leastif youmakeahexameterof linesthreeandfour, possibly suggestedtoo by the dactylic ‘sycamore’, althoughit is the unexpectedword‘and’, following‘rises’, that reminds me of Höölderlin. This sentence –inwhichthe sycamore’s growth andrenewal incorporates tenure in‘natural time’, outside the ‘money-time’ man supposedly masters – arises, spreads its branches andfoliates throughsixteenlines, its ramifications reclaiming its own space line by line, clause by clause, in poetry’sbetween-time. I remember Michael takingatinyfrogfrommyeight-year olddaughter’s handandreturningit tothemarsh–for left whereitwasitwouldsoonhavedriedupanddied. Andinhis lastletter, whicharrivedseveral daysafter his death, heagain warnedmenot tooverwork. Hewhohadworkedtoohardin hisyoungerdaysandknewitcoulddesiccatethesoul –andso easilyspoil morethanoneperson’shappinessandhealth. The ramificationsof that, too, lieunutteredbetweenthelines.

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