Wednesday, October 26, 2022

JOHN WESLEY, HANNAH GREEN and Irish poets and their wives

          from the book:WHAT I AM DOING  (visiting the painter John Wesley)

    I did not see Jack this week and I will not see him next week.  

        Today, as I typed this line, I was remembering a line in a letter than came from Europe this morning:  Lack of knowledge about the future is a kind of freedom the ancients valued - they even claim it was Prometheus who took away from men the ability to foresee their end. And we are putting so much effort into the attempt to regain it!

        But it doesn’t matter which week I am referring to in the previous paragraph--- every word preceding that paragraph and every word coming after has been disappearing as can be said: Hannah now--- a long time ago--- turned away and Wesley is in the midst of a turning away that is beyond his control and while he recognizes me in the present moment he is actually looking at a memory of myself from many years before and he does not remember week to week my visits so it seems when I appear it is as if the past is walking into the room where he is sitting in his chair, in this room where he is located without knowing in the present moment how he came to be in this room and I walk in or out--- as if it were a room at 52 Barrow Street or into  the apartment at 52 Barrow Street--- and I always look into the front apartment as Jack might be watching television in the afternoon after having been to his studio… I would say hello and then go find Hannah in her back apartment where she sat with the remains of her Ohio life and where when Jack was watching television she received my visit always saying, Jack likes to watch television when he comes from the studio and  while the front apartment was Hannah’s it became their apartment after they met and married and the back apartment was rented to give Hannah a place to be by herself with at first her book about college days or the days at 52 Barrow Street and then after the first visit to Conques it became the place where she tried to find the words for those visits to that village…

But as one came into the rooms in either apartment at 52 Barrow Street there was no real evidence of Jack’s presence beyond the paintings on the wall and the portable television that moved about in the front room depending on the occasion.

This apartment in the front of the building was a floor through from the two large windows in the front room to a kitchen area to a space in which a large double bed was to a visitors’ left and finally at the back a bathroom and shower… I did always think: in that bed they lay--- these two tall people and whatever did they do… but I was aware of Desmond O’Grady---he of the broad pink tie— telling me of standing naked with Hannah in that tiny room… since he had followed her from Cambridge where she had almost been the cause of Thomas Kinsella leaving his wife--- but also John Montague had hinted that he had been part of some activity as when he said her name, Hannah, with a warmth betraying a conspiratorial closeness… or at least a temporary closeness and Hannah saying:  all these Irish poets and their wives…

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