Sunday, September 19, 2010

Brassai By Night


BRASSAI BY NIGHT

In the darkness between lamps
the gutters babble in secret slang
he stops to record a curve
a pair of eyes widened by laughter

in the fluctuations of bar light
he sets up a flair across the floor
"kiss naturally, act nonchelance"
no nuance lost, artificial shadows

of smile and stance traced
from corner to elbow Sun
sunk down notes of a drunken music
a will to embrace Between the lamps

a man a moving shadow a lens
fluctuates between misty and sharp
what comes from the mist is sharp
fades suddenly The Paris mist

is moving fast under the streets
seeps into downstairs bars
- strangely lit the white tunnels
curve steeply away from Paris

5 comments:

Plutarch said...

Gutters babbling between the lights evokes rainy days in in almost any northern city, and makes me think of Eliot's Rhapsody on a Windy Night.

Dave King said...

This is definitely a poem which gives more to successive readings. The (almost) lack of punctuation works very well for it I think. The layering is well done.

Lucas said...

Eliot's Rhapsody on a Winter Night was worth checking out. There seems to ne a real sympathy between that poem and the mood evoked by Brassai in his night photographs.
Thanks Dave for picking up on the layers. It is interesting how punctuation - normally so important - can have a substitute of sorts in poems.

Lucy said...

I am ashamed to admit I didn't know Brassai, though some of his photos were familiar without my knowing whose they were. Anyway this led me to an enjoyable session of research, which illuminated (!) some of your references here:

'he stops to record a curve...what comes from the mist is sharp'

You certainly capture the atmosphere of the photos, and the elusive, slightly voyeuristic aspect of some of the work.

Some of it is a little like Doisneau with a dark edge, perhaps, including the 'act nonchalant' element of set-up and artifice .

Sorry to have been so long away; it may be that we'll meet later in the month?

Lucas said...

Hi Lucy
Many thanks for your comment. I agree he is like a Doisneau with a darker side. I think that both Brassai and Doisneau on certain occasions got their friends to act "spontaneous" moments of affection, such as Dosneau's famous one of the lovers kissing. Most of their photographs did not require actors yet the artificial use of actors to create what looks like a brillian street photograph is I think very smart.
I do hope we will meet soon as planned.