A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads

Poems are imaginary gardens with real toads in them. MARIANNE MOORE.

I've always loved poetry - as this blog bears witness - and when young used to write a lot of it. And a lot of it was, I suppose, pretty mediocre. I'll never forget the opening 2 lines of a poem I wrote in early adolescence which embarrassingly began like this: Harpsichord rain resonant rattled/In the purple moment... Definitely a 1960s, denims, long hair and loon pants kind of poem. I'm sure it was inspired by a quip my school music teacher told about the sound of the harpsichord being like 2 skeletons copulating on a tin roof (or was he quoting a Sir Thomas Beecham anecdote?) Lately I've been trying to write seriously again, though I'm afraid perspiration is a more constant companion than inspiration.

I was quite pleased with this poem about my dentist which I wrote after a tooth extraction last August; and this I wrote on my last Camino (probably under the influence of a manic high induced by French wine or altitude sickness). But it's all too often easier (for me at any rate) to descend gratefully into the safer comfort zone of Light Verse as I did here, here and here.

To write on 'spiritual' (for want of a better word - see how shy we are about this term, how we hedge it with qualifications) subjects, to describe a world beyond phenomenology, is difficult these days, though I did try here, here and here.

Anyway, what brought on this purely self-indulgent poetry post was yesterday's golden sunlight and springtime promise reminding me of my poem Aeolian, which is partly about the melting of the snow and the flowering of the crocus.

Finally, recent talk about birds, herons and suchlike brought to mind my short heron poem Yang And Yin, and another 2 haiku which I don't think I've published on this blog before:

all night long two owls
shivered their cries
in and out my dreams

heron at dawn
stalking the slow stream -
hungry ascetic

And, still on the birding theme, for something shockingly different, twisted and cynical, you could always try this... ;)


Rachel Fox said...

The last link goes to a blank page for me. Very experimental.

I am not at all an expert but I think I can kind of hear you looking for your own style in a lot of these (you seem a little self-conscious sometimes...but that might partly be the introductions). That doesn't mean 'light' or heavy as a style (as you know I write both) but it does mean writing what (and how) seems right to you...relaxing into it, reading them aloud to yourself and seeing if YOU like them (would you buy a book with them in? If the answer is ever 'no' then bin it and start again. Seems harsh I know...).

I think I like 'Dawning' best so far but I will come and read again in a different mood. I think you have a lot to say (half the battle...I can't stand poets with sod all to say...but don't tell anyone...). Work, work, work..that's the only way. Take a notebook everywhere (if you don't already)...all that kind of thing.

But what do I know..? Not exactly faber and faber's most wanted myself...


The Solitary Walker said...

The link should be OK now..! Tell me if it's not.

I really do appreciate your reading these and commenting on them so constructively. I'm inclined to agree with you, on the whole: it is in fact confirmation of what I feel myself. When you read the poems one after the other, there's definitely a strong feeling of searching for a style, a voice, a language - call it what you will. And I do think also that a certain self-consciousness, an over-carefulness, is in danger of blocking any creative source that may be there.

I am pleased you like 'Dawning' - which I do think is one of the better ones - in which perhaps a certain artful artlessness may come through. My problem is, as I've hinted, I really haven't put in enough consistent time and effort throughout my life - and you don't get 'owt for nowt' as they would say up in Weaver Of Grass country.

Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment on these :)

Rachel Fox said...

Look forward to reading your future poems too. And you're right...it is about showing care (a lot of care...I care about my poems more than anything or anyone else in the world sometimes...it can get annoying!) but at the same time not being too careful. A tricky balance!

Rachel Fox said...

Plus interesting toad link we have today!

Jay said...

I must admit, I'm not really a lover of poetry. I tend to like doggerel and comic verse, and stuff with a strong meter.

But I did like the dentist poem. I could almost smell that darned room!

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I enjoyed reading all these poems, SW. I like the owl haiku and the dentist poem best - this is purely a personal reaction, as I don't really know much about poetry!
I'm now thinking, why do I like these particular two? They resonate with the experiences I have of those subjects, which will now be enriched after reading the poems. The way you have written them, words, rhythm etc delights my inner words, if that makes sense!

The Weaver of Grass said...

I intend to try Dave King's method of Eyes tight shut - don't know whether it will work but it should aid my stream of consciousness!
Like your poems Robert.

Bella said...

A very enjoyable read! The dentist poem was great, I think because it captured the experience together with the fluidity of thought (gee, I'm not even sure what I mean by that).

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

First off, great post title!

I'm reading through your links and find several poems I like a lot, first your Camino poem and the other the dentist one. I haven't finished them all, however, so don't think these were my only choices.

As you've doubtless noted, I too take a stab at poetry from time to time—though in truth, I've been writing it for years. I have perspiration and inspiration, what I'm probably shaky on is talent. But sometimes something pleases me, and I think, given sufficient time and drafts (written, not brewed) I might be able to turn out a small handful of pieces which wouldn't be as embarrassing as a three-legged stepchild. Then again, this could all be self delusion.

But poetry is, at least partly, personal, perhaps even for your own eyes only. You do need to find your "voice" in there, and have something to say. And if no one listens? No matter—you've at least better shaped your own world, found something inside and drawn it out…and it will always be yours.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for all these comments.

I think you've hit it there, Grizzled. There's personal poetry out of personal need and for personal satisfaction - then there's proper, published poetry at the other end of the scale.

Posting up poems on one's blog hovers somewhere between the two. Speaking for myself, my motives for blogging (if I ever try and analyze them) are obscure and mysterious - I can't really formulate them (perhaps a good idea for a post one day?) - but my love of poetry, and my attempts to write it occasionally, are all part of me, and naturally and inevitably come out in the blog. It's inescapable.

I have a feeling and belief that most people's blogs are quite genuine and honest in this way - it's much harder to fake than to be truthful - and how we write, what we say, can be truly representative of us, within certain confinements (eg I suppose we tend to show our 'best side', some deeply personal and intimate things we may not write about, and so on).

I think I've gone way off the subject in question..! But that's blogging for you.