Friday, 6 November 2015

poetic: five poems that are on my mind right now





I've been getting interested in poetry lately. 

Now that I spend more of my time writing, I'm more impressed by well chosen words, and by imagery that speaks so much louder than it might be expected to. Here are some of the poems which keep coming back to me at the moment.

1. You are at the Bottom of My Mind by Iain Crichton Smith is a fabulous poem, which you'll find in full if you follow the link. It's also a poem which has inspired me to write one of my favourite poems by me to date, which I'd share with you if you were paying to view this stuff, but unfortunately, I am forced to keep to myself... for now.

2. Snow by Louis MacNeice is a really interesting poem. At first glance it is flowery (literally) nonsense, but it grows on you. It keeps coming back to me. I first came across this poem on googling a line from it that someone had quoted: "World is suddener than we fancy it."


Here's the poem in full. Read it out loud. Let me know what you think. Those capitals would now be frowned upon. And I'm not sure about the tangerine.


     Snow by Louis MacNeice


The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes -
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one's hands -
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.


3. I'm sure you'll have come across this one. I certainly had before. It's one of those poems that you might even have heard so many times as to have stopped listening, but it's worth focusing on it a while. 


I love its petulant drama, and the way it captures the emotion, and hints at the horror of the fact that life goes on.


I'm told that WH Auden, when he came out of this particularly oppressive period of grieving was embarrassed at the petulance of this poem, but I love the way it expresses it, and think it is really valuable for that.

Stop all the clocks by WH Auden


Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come. 

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves. 

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.


4. Another dose of petulance here from Thomas Hardy. I'm not sure that I like it, and I certainly don't like the entitled attitude of the narrator, but I do like the way that a poem which is ostensibly about a woman tells you so much about the attitude of the man (and even though she's being admonished, we do not blame her).


A Broken Appointment by Thomas Hardy


You did not come, 
And marching Time drew on, and wore me numb. 
Yet less for loss of your dear presence there 
Than that I thus found lacking in your make 
That high compassion which can overbear 
Reluctance for pure lovingkindness' sake 
Grieved I, when, as the hope-hour stroked its sum, 
You did not come. 

You love not me, 
And love alone can lend you loyalty; 
-I know and knew it. But, unto the store 
Of human deeds divine in all but name, 
Was it not worth a little hour or more 
To add yet this: Once you, a woman, came 
To soothe a time-torn man; even though it be 
You love not me.

5. And finally, an intriguing poem from the Scottish poet, Miroslav Holub. The Door. I love the darkness of the end of this. This is a fairly recent poem, and I don't have permission to reproduce it, but you'll find it here, and here's my favourite bit...