I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Friday, 27 December 2013

The Room Was Suddenly Rich

The world's beauty and wonder, its mystery and diversity . . . Let's not forget.

Snow

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 your hands –
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses. 

LOUIS MACNEICE

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.

GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS

8 comments:

dritanje said...

Ah, I heard these today on the radio and enjoyed hearing them. I wonder if that was what prompted you to post them? No snow here, I could almost say sadly but no doubt it will come maybe late, like last year, March snows. Thanks for posting them, I find I often prefer reading poems to hearing them.

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, I heard these on 'With Great Pleasure' (R4) — along with that wonderful poem by Eliot, 'Journey of the Magi'.

It's interesting about what you say about reading v. hearing poems, Dritanje. It seems to be more or less taken as read (so to speak!) these days that poems should be read out loud, performed in front of an audience, best appreciated when recited.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've been to some quite illuminating poetry readings. But I've also been to some dire ones. And practiced, actorish, 'professional' readers can sometimes ruin poems by reading them in too forced and heightened a way on the radio.

I prefer on the whole to see the poem on the page and read it there, taking in all the subtleties of caesura, line break, structure, the complete appearance of the thing — my own subjective take rather than another's purely auditory interpretation. After a while a reader's voice, lovely and evocative as it may be, can become annoying — just for the reason it's always narrowly and inevitably specific to that person, whereas one's own one-to-one interaction with the page, one's own mental/imaginative/visual/auditory experience is so much wider, more immersive and all-encompassing.

What I'm really trying to say is that a poem reveals itself and reverberates the most when it's happening in my own head rather than by being 'filtered' by another voice.

Danish dog said...

I recently answered a questionnaire Helen Mort sent out in connection with a thesis she is writing. I couldn't answer the first question, which was: "Do you write for the page or for the stage?" If the question had been "Do you write mostly for the page or for the stage?" I would have replied "mostly for the page".

Ruth said...

I love that you posted these after hearing them on the radio. But first, I read them before reading comments, and felt pure pleasure in the words themselves as they are lined up together .. indeed "a bubbling sound for world."

The Weaver of Grass said...

Didn't know the McNiece, did know the Hopkins - both equally lovely. Re reading poetry or hearing it read - I too prefer to read it myself. One reason is that you can go back and read a line again if it is particularly resonant.

dritanje said...

Ah yes, as you say, solitary walker, it very much depends on who is reading the poem. I actually heard them read out loud on the radio before reading them on your page, and I felt annoyed by the reader of Eliot's Journey of the Magi because I would have read it quite differently, in a way that I thought would be much better! To some extent, I felt the same with the MacNiece poem though I wasn't familiar with it in the way I am with 'Magi', and felt I didn't get the chance to really hear it. How enjoyable then, to be able to read it at my own pace, on your page!

Hildred said...

Both beautiful, but oh, the Hopkins - 'for rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;'!!

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for your comment, Hildred.