Friday, March 25, 2022

Scrapbook as memory in Denise Levertov's "An Arrival (North Wales, 1897)"

In Denise Levertov's poem "An Arrival (North Wales, 1897)", from "Candles in Babylon" (1982), her mother moves to North Wales to live with her uncle: "Nostrils flaring, / she sniffed odors of hay and stone, / absence of Glamorgan coaldust, / and pasted her observations quickly / into the huge album of her mind." I see the poem's figure of memory as a scrapbook from three perspectives: In the time of the poem's events (1897), when scrapbooks were popular, it was probably a not uncommon figure, while in the time when the poem was published (1982), it was already somewhat old-fashioned – though not as much as it is now, in 2022. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 25 March 2022)

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