Monday, 14 November 2016

Watch (November)

‘The Watch’ tick-tocks in its foreign language, a poem of impervious vocabulary many a translator abandons. “Face-save arm’s-length wrist-slash hand-twist” (line 29) it goes, but this is to be naïvely literal. Natives who know the poem by heart smile ruefully during recitations, punctuating its chorus of alarm bells with laughter. The poem’s manic skeltonic entendres prophesy the timepiece’s evolution, since someone has squashed the universe into there: “digest-touch personal-recall climate-dropdown nation-menu” (line 37). Whatever happened to time, everything is “retrieve-instant november-now” (line 7), regulated empiricism crowning the “pulse-irregular” (line 53). ‘The Watch’ is much anthologised; it’s the President’s favourite poem.

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