These paper boats of mine are meant to dance on the ripples of hours, and not reach any destination... Rabindranath Tagore

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past...F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby

We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.
On the way to the river are the old dormitories, used for something else now, with their fairy-tale turrets, painted white and gold and blue. When we think of the past it's the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.
--from Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale

Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul.
- Joyce Carol Oates

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Hamilton Case

Pater loved parties 
Champagne and horses 
A giver to those who craved 
 While Mater was a smasher 
A beauty 
The giving of 
 Flying crystal 

 What Sam remembered most about his parents in 
This monsoon 
 Colonial world of 
 Befuddled Ceylon was 

His parents 
Weren't there 

 A whirlwind of faces and spaces 
Greed and need 
Spin by 

 The Hamilton Case 
Embroiling white and dark tensions 
Test Sam's legal powers 
But his insights are coloured 
Not clear 

And Sam was not married

 Beyond the Hamilton question 
Life bumbles on 
Cramped with jungle fever and 
Tangled insanities 
Maud his mother 
Ekes out her time in 
The refuse of tattered glamour and
The ghosts of  her son Leo

(The one who plods) 
Emerges from Sam's old "Neddy" school world 
Like some quasi-spiritual seer
 Some mysteries for Sam's son 

 So many 
Rich glimpses of 
A colonial 
Monsoon world where a 
Social fabric is 

Not there 

 The Hamilton Case (2003) ~ Michelle de Kretser

The Hamilton Case by Michelle de Kretser
If you are seeking an intriguing crime mystery, (implied by the title) warped with a few red herrings along a linear narrative of progress, "The Hamilton Case" does not deliver. Instead, the novel explores colonial worlds of old Ceylon - embedded with character detail, past and present lives, driven by 1st and 3rd person speakers and all in a pendulum motion defying time sequence. A glorious tropical world becomes matted with fevered images, irritatingly vague but always intriguing. Finally the novel unveils the last version of Maud, strung with out of date glamour. Then the multitude of previous detours tumble in, tying up threads, like a cascade of relief. And the Hamilton Case, not mentioned till one third of the way through the novel, (then left swinging), returns, like a re-incarnation, with some answers and new questions. The Hamilton Case becomes a symbol for so many other crimes lurking insidiously beneath the social masks. Ultimately, the novel is a paradox, offering bizarre glimpses of a dysfunctional, colonial society in a sweltering conglomeration of personalities.
I still don't know if I love this novel.
And yet, I still don't know if I don't.
 My rating: 3 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

Linking to:
Poets United ~ Poetry Pantry #105


KB said...

I love this idea of writing a poem about a book.

Poet Laundry said...

So many
Rich glimpses of
A colonial
Monsoon world where a
Social fabric is

Not there

...really like that...thanks for the book suggestion, even if it is just so-so, you did make me want to check it out...

Mary said...

A captivating poem. I thought that I was reading that it was probably based on a true story; but after I read your explanation I realized it wasn't. It is not easy, I would imagine, to write such a complex plot into a poem.

Anonymous said...

Love your idea of writing based on a book. Clever!

HansHB said...

Great poem, - it makes me curious and I do want to check out the book!
Have a nice Mellow Yellow Monday!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Interesting, these poems about books!

Laura said...

" A whirlwind of faces and spaces
Greed and need
Spin by " oooh love this Gemma!

hyperCRYPTICal said...

A clever poetic review!

Anna :o]

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