Clifton: Questions of Sequence

November 3, 2010

Designed by Tim Sainburg from Brambling Design
I’ve been looking at the Clifton sequences and the questions of sequencing and resequencing.  This goes back, I think to our discussions of the Plath resequencing and how it changed the tone of the volume.  Clifton’s “Blessing the Boats” feels like a volume that could easily lend itself to resequencing, without taking from the meanings.  In fact, I think that some rearranging might lead to a greater understanding. 

In it’s current form, poems are grouped according to surface topic, i.e.: dreams, leda, superman, fox, lucifer, etc, with each giving a different voice or treatment of the topic.  But I’ve noticed that there are recurring treatments of topics, voices and imagery that might be used as an alternative topic in sequences.  What, for instance, happens when we put: “quilting” (59), “eve thinking” (79), and “the message of thelma sayles” (50) together, and/or “a dream of foxes” (115) and “my dream about second coming” (45), in conversation with one another?  Do you think that this regrouping significantly changes meaning and understanding.  Does it take from or add to the meaning for you?

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