I am quicksilver, the fox in the night, emotional about the poetry, love & desire in scent, read me.
Thursday, 4 July 2013
Poetry & Perfume IX- ‘Vita Nova’ by Louise Gluck & ‘The Smell of Weather Turning’ by Gorilla Perfume
saved me, you should remember me.
spring of the year; young men buying tickets for the
because the air is full of apple blossoms.
woke up, I realized I was capable of the same
remember sounds like that from my childhood,
for no cause, simply because the world is
Tables under the apple trees.
raising and lowering the colored flags.
the lake’s edge, a young man throws his hat into
his sweetheart has accepted him.
or gestures like
laid down before the larger themes
then unused, buried.
in the distance. My mother
out a plate of little cakes—
as I remember, changed
detail, the moment
intact, having never been
to light, so that I woke elated, at my age
for life, utterly confident—
tables, patches of new grass, the pale green
into the dark existing ground.
spring has been returned to me, this time
a lover but a messenger of death, yet
still spring, it is still meant tenderly.
It is the
final verse of this poem that haunts me.
Vita Nova, (new life) was published in 1999. The
eponymous poem, Vita Nova for me,
looks at loss and memory. A lover gone. Childhood recollections surfacing as
gestures and minutiae unfurl scenes and elemental images in the poet’s fertile,
wandering mind. It is a poem that seems fragranced; sun, apple blossom, cakes,
grass, tables and the promise of spring, the hint perhaps of rebirth, shift and
You saved me, you should remember me.
I find intense
melancholia and uncertainty in Gluck’s airy depiction of a European childhood. Echoes
of things vanished. It is a painterly scent, depicted in poetic small strokes
laid down over a larger more resonant canvas. A little like Impressionism, the
details shift, merge and finally coalesce into sharper focus if you step back
and allow distance to settle between you and the language.
The Smell of Weather Turning is still the best piece of
scented work from Gorilla in my opinion. I know Breath of God is highly regarded and quite rightly so, but The Smell of Weather Turning marked the
beginning I think of a beautifully mined set of perfumed beliefs in English
pagan and folkloric past. This obsession of Mark and Simon Constantine’s became
apparent in the last set of new releases from Gorilla, or Volume 2 as Gorilla
like to refer to them. With influences and inspirations as diverse as
smugglers, Kerouac, Sikkim, English folklore, jazz, electronic surveillance and
ancient barrows, Gorilla produced a startling and highly original selection of
deeply wrought formulae. New packaging and a marked difference in olfactory
style really set these new releases apart. They have depth and resonance beyond
the bottle, that is rare in perfumery. Each scent is wrapped up in an olfactory
mythology of its own. They are singular and divisive as all truly interesting
things should be.
blogged on The Smell of Weather Turning,
it was a scent that really caught me unawares, causing huge emotions and
memories to well up and overwhelm me. The scent is made form ingredients only available
5000 years ago: oakwood, beeswax, roman chamomile, English peppermint, nettle,
mint and hay. This weird astringent smeared blend transported me back to my
African childhood, standing in a dusty yard, watching a column of ants as the
sky tilted and the air ran dry. The storm that followed was both utterly
terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. Debris everywhere, and the most
extraordinary smells. Loamy odours of smashed earth and shattered marigolds,
drowned acidic insects and steaming soil.
fragrance has druidic origins and is supposed to represent the scent of a
landscape after a thunderstorm, the sudden scudding of clouds across the sky,
rain fleeing. The sun appears and everything is warm again, safe.
reading has always been deeply personal, influenced as we all are by our
upbringings and olfactive influences as we grow, love and experience life. In
my blog piece I mentioned Hardy’s Tess (one of my favourite novels) and the
appallingly calm moment they come for her at Stonehenge in the early morning.
This scene would reek of The Smell of
Weather Turning hanging in the damp Wessex air as the police and Angel wait
for Tess to wake, to take her away to face her terrible inevitable fate.
strange poignancy is why I thought of it for Vita Nova. At once, green and medicinal, a sharp and inclusive
promise of things to come and yet pervasive, forcing memories to rise and fall.
A suggestion of spring, but a reminder too that things die and the heart stays forever
broken in places. A scent that conjures landscape and elemental forces for a
poem about emotions lost amid the delicacy of shattered memory. Both concern
the emergence into light from darkness.
A new life. Can we truly ever really do that? Memories
haunt and follow us. It is in their nature to do so. But we should embrace
this. The Smell of Weather Turning is
a profoundly elemental scent, tied to landscape and memory, notes that have
purpose and resonance, possess reason. At first glance poem and scent seem
worlds apart, but the almost claustrophobic blend of notes, cast across ancient
skies and Gluck’s litany of rose-tinted obsessive recollections echo and blur
across each other meeting finally in the final skin-shaking lines.