We recently found a copy of Plutzik’s Aspects of Proteus (Atheneum Press, 1949) which, we were intrigued to discover, was not only signed and inscribed to Plutzik’s friend and fellow U of R Professor Bernard Schilling—the book also included, folded up inside the back flyleaf, three pages of Plutzik’s poems typed on crinkly onionskin paper. Probably a gift to Schilling sometime between 1949 and the publication of Apples from Shinar by Wesleyan UP ten years later, the typescripts include seven poems:
A perusal of the index to the Collected Poems (BOA Editions, 1987) shows that five of these poems would be included in Apples from Shinar (and one of those five would be re-titled “The Mythos of Samuel Huntsman”). One poem, “Report Prepared…”, would be included in the “Uncollected and Unpublished” section of the Collected Poems. It’s possible that the last little poem, composed of two rhymed couplets, does not exist anywhere else.
|Above: Detail, with “Mr. Eddington’s Dream” highlighted;
Below: entire typescript page, including “Samuel Huntsman”
Although it is light in both tone and quantity, “Mr. Eddington’s Dream” is a synthesis of Plutzik’s eternal themes, of which the other poems in the typescript are also representative. Here are deific figures; Time, apart, at ease, “rocking,” looks on as characters—who are Lords and, at the same time, dogs—struggle for mere sustenance, uncertain of success, unable to tell “who won.” Presented as a dream, the poem could be at once a reflection of the real on the one hand (the daytime musings of this Mr. Eddington, perhaps, given play on the dreamtime stage), and a pure whimsy in light rhyme, on the other. The name “Eddington,” like “Pollington” or “Ingleshot,” affects caricature, as if it were to distance the poet from his world-weighty material, similar to the way John Berryman imports loopy syntax and wry baby-talk in his negotiation with human suffering in The Dream Songs.
It’s a small addition to a well-established body of work. But if it sends the reader back to look over that work with slightly recalibrated sensibilities, then it’s worth the world.
Phillip A. Witte