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Photograph of poet John A. Scott by John Tranter. R38/10

Poet and novelist John A. Scott, 15 February 1982, by John Tranter. R38/10

Tess (& John)

There’s a loyalty between a poet and his poem ― if he feeds it, takes it for a walk occasionally, and cares for it just enough, it will come and sit at his feet, as it were, waiting to be noticed. Give and take, you might say.
     Snapshots are different: the black contraption jumps out and steals your soul and attaches it to the present moment like a decal stuck to a window, where it fades day after day as the sun sweeps across the sky, season after season. It steals for the most humane of reasons: its art is the rehearsal of nostalgia, its trick audible, its motivations mournfully explicit: love me, before I die.

To leave England behind, for the brutal weather of a distant colony... writers are always doing that. Love one another, Auden guessed, and die; having his cake and eating it too ― revising his sex-life from an armchair. Outside, windy New York. Forget the bombers carpeting the Channel with thunder. Yeats died ― what a sermon. Inky schoolboy, blot your book! England’s death-agony!
     But here, at the farthest reaches of the known world...
     The afternoon sun scatters its photons. The emulsion, in its contraption, waits for an ideal temporal cross-section.
     Here comes one now, almost invisible in the glare.