Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Semantic Sonata completed

Semantic Sonata was originally Semantic Sonata No.2. Semantic Sonata No.1 was a poem in French incorporating logical or algebraic symbols written in the late 1940s but never published, although Anthony Froshaug considered publishing both and produced a prospectus for Semantic Sonata No.2.
However, the most commonly found versions of Semantic Sonata, in On Semantic Poetry  and reprinted in  the Collected Poems of Stefan Themerson  are not complete. The full version of the poem can only be found in the rare and expensive Gaberbocchus Black Series Factor T  of 1956. As a service to people who possess the Collected Poems, I print the omitted sections here. They come on 98 of the Collected Poems, at the end of the 1st movement, after:

                                                      where the business of the
                                                                    court is carried on,  
                                                           you have been formally proved
                                                       guilty of a crime
              on very free from obscurity
                               easy to be apprehended
                                                                 grasped by the intellect,
              sure testimony
                                                made on oath by a witness
                                                   concerning what he had seen
                                                                         or otherwise knows.
                             A book containing an alphabetical list of plain
                                                                                                 unadorned speech-signs
                                 lies before me
                             Relation between them
                             becomes the relation of points
                                                                    solids in the world of my muscles

                             In this place where now I am I am
                             Pretending to be receiving impressions of sound upon my auditory nerves-
                                                                              and refusing to listen;
                             pretending to be using my voice to produce musical sounds
                                                                                to render an air
                                                                   and only taking in and expelling
                                                                                 air from my lungs
                             pretending to entertain the feeling
                                                                      passion of benevolence
                                                                                        brotherliness borne by human
                                                                                                              beings towards
                                                                                                              others of mankind
                                                                       and a
                                                                             greyish substance
                                                                             which remains
                                                                             after burning

                                God gave me human shape and said: Pretend!
                                God always gives some shapes to his voids and says:  Pretend! And
                                the voids do pretend, and grow old, and  become
                                what they were not,
                                what they didn't want to be.

                                A void with a white rag to gag another void with
                                a white rag of logic I've got and am holding it in my hand
                                but he's so tall, o my god, and his mouth is so far from the ground
                                I climb up and climb and climb up and up
                                and have been climbing since the first day of Genesis

                              Here I am, pretending to be what I'm not
                              Pretending to hear, and- deaf,
                              pretending to sing, and- voiceless,
                              pretending to love and- ashes.


                           Simple words build gothic cathedrals
                                                           But he's so tall, o my god,
                           Simple syntax builds dodecahedrons
                                                           But his mouth is so far from the ground
                           Simple words upon my writing desk
                           Simple syntax- the functioning of my muscles
                                                          Yet the nail of his ogreish toe
                                                          still keeps high above my stretched fingers.

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