Wednesday, 27 May 2009
I was in a pub in Chiddingly recently where they were selling a poetry collection at the bar to raise funds for the local church. Didn't sound promising, but we had a look and liked it. The poet is called Michael Bridger and his collection "Wardo Mescro". Here's a poem of his about bluebells:
Hard blue bells whipping my legs
But I ran
Through a lake of azure flatness
Concealing rotten stumps shaded by mighty Beech.
This wood, unspoilt at that time, I truly loved.
I was sure its existence was known
Only to my family.
When hampers were packed on blistering Saturdays
Excitement would course through my veins
Spreading to my brothers like a welcomed virus.
The short car journey always lasted forever.
Released from that wheeled oven
We'd break out the arsenal of plastic guns
And chase the dog in pursuit of butterflies.
My eldest brother was the Captain;
His order of the day always clear and the same;
Build a log bridge across the stream
And not forgetting of course to fall in that stream
Along with the dog, spraying black mud.
One day we stopped going.
When my Father stopped loving my trusting Mother.
I returned here myself years later
Only to have my dreams smashed
And my heart broken.
The wood. Our wood, had been destroyed.
The great storm had spared nothing
And I knew in that instant that like the wood
My childhood had finished.
The first of many dreams to be killed
While my back was turned.
Thursday, 8 January 2009
They were introduced in a grave glade
And she frightened him because she was young
And thus too late. Crawly crawly
Went the twigs above their heads and beneath
The grass beneath their feet the larvae
Split themselves laughing. Crawly crawly
Went the cloud above the treetops reaching
For a sun that lacked the nerve to set
And he frightened her because he was old
And thus too early. Crawly crawly
Went the string quartet that was tuning up
In the back of the mind. You two should have met
Long since, he said, or else not now.
The string quartet in the back of the mind
Was all tuned up with nowhere to go.
They were introduced in a green grave.
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
a name to savour
like Currywurst or Sauerkraut
tangy in the mouth, salty
dark and sweet, you think of blackness
silk strong dark beer
it's blue-black on the Alex
dead drink in the sounds
the texture the shape the hard
squareness, the orange tiled
of a word a name
silver blue red
wrapped in grey wool you are a fragment
fluttering a curled
wisp of burning bright paper
slender and tiny
laughing grasping the kaleidoscope
this is where:
you lie down and the television tower
rears above you
east west east
blue like the sky
you are alone on the Alex
the S-Bahn is a smudge of white light
the Berlinohaus and Alexanderhaus fold back
like wings you climb on
to the fountain
Sunday, 8 June 2008
Adrienne Rich writes:
I found you by design or
was it your design
or: we were drawn, we drew
Midway in this delicate
negotiation telephone rings
(Don't stop!...they'll call again...)
Offstage the fabulous creature scrapes and shuffles
we breathe its heavy dander
I don't care how, if it dies this is not the myth
No ex/interior: compressed
between my throat
and yours, hilarious oxygen
And, for the record, each did sign
our true names on the register
at the mouth of this hotel
Saturday, 22 March 2008
The SPL is sanctuary
supplied in simple spells
which loop round longing people
where the sloping silence dwells.
The SPL has specialty,
pools happiness in space;
supple nights which offer briefest
lustful assonance embrace.
Our lips appeal to pierce the walls
we place around all pleasure -
the SPL's the glimpse inside
high thoughts we often censure.
The library lives in all who love
for I suppose we've found
a safe, persistent lodging
for the splash of psalm in sound.
Thursday, 21 February 2008
Wednesday, 14 November 2007
I know the bottom, she says.
I know it with my great tap root;
It is what you fear.
I do not fear it:
I have been there.
Is it the sea you hear in me,
Or the voice of nothing,
that was you madness?
Love is a shadow.
How you lie and cry after it
Listen: these are its hooves: it has gone off, like a horse.
All night I shall gallup thus, impetuously,
Till your head is a stone, your pillow a little turf,
Or shall I bring you the sound of poisons?
This is rain now, the big hush.
And this is the fruit of it: tin white, like arsenic.
I have suffered the atrocity of sunsets.
Scorched to the root
My red filaments burn and stand,a hand of wires.
Now I break up in pieces that fly about like clubs.
A wind of such violence
Will tolerate no bystanding: I must shriek.
The moon, also, is merciless: she would drag me
Cruelly, being barren.
Her radiance scathes me.
Or perhaps I have caught her.
I let her go. I let her go
Diminished and flat, as after radical surgery.
How your bad dreams possess and endow me.
I am inhabited by a cry.
Nightly it flaps out
Looking, with its hooks, for something to love.
I am terrified by this dark thing
That sleeps in me;
All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity.
Clouds pass and disperse.
Are those the faces of love, those pale irretrievables?
Is it for such I agitate my heart?
I am incapable of more knowledge.
What is this, this face
So murderous in its strangle of branches?--
Its snaky acids kiss.
It petrifies the will. These are the isolate, slow faults
That kill, that kill, that kill.
Saturday, 20 October 2007
(Ariel to Caliban, Echo by the Prompter)
Weep no more but pity me,
Fleet persistent shadow cast
By your lameness,
caught at last,
Helplessly in love with you,
Elegance, art, fascination,
Spare me a humiliation,
To your faults be true:
I can sing as you reply
Wish for nothing lest you mar
The perfection in these eyes
Whose entire devotion lies
At the mercy of your will;
Tempt not your sworn comrade, - only
As I am can I love you as you are -
or my company be lonely
For my health be ill:
I will sing if you will cry
Never hope to say farewell,
For our lethargy is such
Heaven's kindness cannot touch
Nor earth's frankly brutal drum;
This was long ago decided,
Both of us know why,
Can, alas, foretell,
When our falsehoods are divided,
What we shall become,
One evaporating sigh
- W.H. Auden
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Please feel free to tell me to cut the homework - but, as you can see, I am becoming increasingly hooked on skelf. I love having a poem to play with, ticking round in my brain through a busy week.
So here is another assignment - to interpret a fragment by Sappho. There is a direct translation of her poem from the Greek below- followed by various beautiful interpretations by other poets (my favourite is the one by John Hollander). Then, if you feel inspired, write your own.
That man seems to me to be like a god, to
Sit so close to you and to hear your sweet voice
And your charming laughter - and all this, truly,
Makes my heart tremble;
For I only, briefly, need to glance at you to
Find my voice has gone and my tongue is broken,
And a flame has stolen beneath my skin, my
Eyes can no longer
See, my ears are ringing, while drops of sweat run
Down my trembling body, and I've turned paler
Than a wisp of straw and it seems to be I'm
Not far off dying.
(Translation by Robert Chandler)
Peer of the Gods
Peer of the gods is that man, who
face to face, sits listening
to your sweet speech and lovely
It is this that rouses a tumult
in my breast. At mere sight of you
my voice falters, my tongue
Straightway, a delicate fire runs in
my limbs; my eyes
are blinded and my ears
Sweat pours out: a trembling hunts
me down. I grow paler
than dry grass and lack little
WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS
After an Old Text
His head is in the heavens, who across the
Narrow canyon of pillow from yours harkens
With gazing hand and hearing knees through darkness,
Looking and listening
To the sweet quietude of terminating
Conversation, the gentle brief wake for the
Long-dead day, the keening of his shortened
Breath on your shoulder:
This revision of you sucks out the sound of
Words from my mouth, my tongue collapses, my legs
Flag, my ears roar, my eyes are blind with flame; my
Head is in hell then.
Maik O the Gods He Seems to Me
Maik o the gods he seems to me,
thon man that sits in front o ye,
and hears your talkan couthilie near,
sae saftlie and clear,
your luvelie lauchan. My hert stounds
rowsan i ma breist when your lauch sounds
and gif I glent at ye sittan there
I canna speak mair.
Ma tung freezes i ma mou, a nesh
lowe rins chitteran throu ma flesh;
nae sicht i ma een; wi thier nain thunner
ma lugs dunner.
Swyte reems doun me; frae heid to fuit
a trummlan grups me, sae's I sit
greener nor gress, in sic a dwalm
I kenna wha I am.
glent=if I glance
dunnner=my ears resound
swyte reems=sweat pours