12 Pages

Hugh Selwyn Mauberley

Variants in the direction of syntactic minimalism pose a different kind of problem for the reader. The non-realization of one or more elements in the basic unit results in an elliptical sentence that requires some kind of verbal reconstitution. For example, the final poem begins: 'Luini in porcelain!' (ibid., p. 204). Outside of any cultural reference, this isolated unit's meaning is syntactically challenged: possible verbal realizations that might resolve its meaning remain indeterminate, depend contextually on the whole poem. That context allows us to arrive at something like: this woman singing at the piano looks like/is reminiscent of Luini in porcelain. Without any further culturally determined knowledge, that is enough for us to appreciate the decorative ceramic quality of her looks and relate them to the poem's title, 'Medallion'. The element of cryptography in such phrases is at least sensitive to syntactic and contextual resolution. !\.1ore extreme minimalization leads to examples like the syntactically detached 'Capaneus' in the first poem of the sequence (ibid., p. 187). Syntactically the status of this word is entirely indeterminate. Its meaning is insensitive to contextual resolution. If we do not know who Capaneus is, we can treat the

'I was And I no more exist; Here drifted An hedonist.'