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

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Poetic Connections

My poem from a couple of days ago — with its lines I skipped away, a nobody with nothing, / And felt as light as dust and free as air — brought to mind the Beatles' song, Nowhere Man:

He's a real nowhere man,
Sitting in his Nowhere Land,
Making all his nowhere plans
For nobody.

Which made me recall this piece by Emily Dickinson:

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us! — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog  
To tell your name the livelong day  
To an admiring bog!

Which caused me to think of my favourite Emily Dickinson poem: 

We introduce ourselves
To Planets and to Flowers
But with ourselves
Have etiquettes
And awes

Which at once conjured up Wordsworth's daffodils: 

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

Which connected inevitably with other Lake District poets, including the great but underappreciated Norman Nicholson:

And what need therefore
To stretch for the straining kite? — for kite and flower
Bloom in my room for ever; the light that lifts them
Shines in my own eyes, and my body’s warmth
Hatches their red in my veins. It is the Gulf Stream
That rains down the chimney, making the soot spit; it is the Trade Wind
That blows in the draught under the bedroom door.
My ways are circumscribed, confined as a limpet
To one small radius of rock; yet
I eat the equator, breathe the sky, and carry
The great white sun in the dirt of my finger nails.

Which returned me to the wonderful Emily Dickinson, who ate the equator and breathed the sky despite being confined to Amherst, Massachusetts:

The wind tapped like a tired man,
And like a host, “Come in,”
I boldly answered; entered then
My residence within
A rapid, footless guest,         
To offer whom a chair
Were as impossible as hand
A sofa to the air.
No bone had he to bind him,
His speech was like the push         
Of numerous humming-birds at once
From a superior bush.
His countenance a billow,
His fingers, if he pass,
Let go a music, as of tunes
Blown tremulous in glass.         
He visited, still flitting;
Then, like a timid man,
Again he tapped —’t was flurriedly —
And I became alone.

I could go on like this all day, for poetic connections are so infinitely rich . . .


John Pendrey said...


Friko said...

It is one of the advantages of being retired into a comfortable life- chair, bookcase near at hand, one book after the other pulled out and opened at random until you come to the poem you needed to refresh yourself just then, and then another and another . . .

What else is there to do when grey skies weigh heavily and mud holds you by the ankles, making any other kind of movement but flight of fancy impossible?

Ruth Mowry said...

I envy your familiarity with so many. Thank you for the introduction to Norman Nicholson, and what a wonderful poem to be introduced!

George said...

So many poetic connections reveal an incontrovertible truth, don't they? I've always loved the Emily Dickinson quatrain about telling one's name the lifelong day to an admiring bog. Never heard of Norman Nicholson, but the selection you provided makes me want to explore his work. Thanks — reading such a fine collection of wisdom is a good way to start the day.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks all — for your thanks, John; for your beautifully-written description of winter's literary consolations, Friko; and for your appreciation of Norman Nicholson, Ruth. My sister-in-law now lives in Millom, home of NN (he died in 1987). He's an extraordinary but little-known poet. That poem, 'The Pot Geranium', from which my extract comes, is very fine.

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, Norman Nicholson is a quite amazing but little-explored writer, George, even in the UK. Well worth delving further.

The Solitary Walker said...

Link to Norman Nicholson's 'The Pot Geranium': http://www.passonapoem.com/poem.php?id=651

am said...

Thank you for your poem of a few days ago. O Freedom!

And for these poetic connections. Thanks especially for the link to the complete "The Pot Geranium."

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, I think that poem is truly wonderful, Am. It's great to spread the word about this kind of relatively-unknown poem.

Freedom, O freedom!