oracne - Victoria Janssen (oracne) wrote,
oracne - Victoria Janssen
oracne

Jones, "In Parenthesis" excerpt

On addressing commissioned officers--it was his
favorite theme. John Ball stood patiently, waiting for the
eloquence to spread itself. The tedious flow continued, then
broke off very suddenly. He looked straight at Sergeant Snell
enquiringly--whose eyes changed quietly, who ducked in
under the low entry. John Ball would have followed, but
stood fixed and alone in the little yard--his senses highly
alert, his body incapable of movement or response. The
exact disposition of small things--the precise shapes of
trees, the tilt of a bucket, the movement of a straw, the
disappearing right foot of Sergeant Snell--all minute
noises, separate and distinct, in a stillness charged through
with some approaching violence--registered not by the ear
nor any single faculty--an on-rushing pervasion, saturating
all existence; with exactitude, logarithmic, dial-timed,
millesimal--of calculated velocity, some mean chemist's
contrivance, a stinking physicist's destroying toy.

He stood alone on the stones, his mess-tin spilled at his
feet. Out of the vortex, rifling the air it came--bright,
brass-shod, Pandoran; with all-filling screaming the howling
crescendo's up-piling snapt. The universal world,
breath held, one half-second, a bludgeoned stillness. Then
the pent violence released a consummation of all burstings
out; all sudden up-rendings and rivings-through--all
takings-out of vents--all barrier-breaking--all unmaking.
Pernitric begetting--the dissolving and splitting of solid
things. In which unearthing aftermath, John Ball picked up
his mess-tin and hurried within; ashen, huddled, waited in
the dismal straw. Behind "E" Battery, fifty yards down the
road, a great many mangolds, uprooted, pulped, congealed
with chemical earth, spattered and made slippery the rigid
boards leading to the emplacement. The sap of vegetables
slobbered the spotless breech-block of No. 3 gun.

--David Jones, from "In Parenthesis" (IP II, 24)
Tags: poetry, wwi
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