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Monday, 25 July 2011

The Language Train



A single tree
poetic buffer.
Here the locomotive "Language" 
stops
puffs for all it's worth
(even modern trains mean steam to me),
yet still the words can no more
get their hands around the tree
than mine encircle it
with thumbs and fingers touching.

A roughness to the bark I find
deep furrows and high ribs
and regular    a curvature
variety and subtlety,
but all the attributes combined
do not convey the tree.

A gust of wind
a flock of leaves
like birds takes off.
It seems irrelevant to treeness,

to a tree engulfed by steam
and viscerally explored
gut-felt        amorphously
approximated
trunk    branches    leaves    and ivy cladding
space turned inside-out
the steam cloud's negative.
Displacement of the steam.

The words blow loosely round the tree
clutch at it
define an absence in their midst.
They mention functions
processes
a monolithic stature
whilst all the while their centre
hides a hollowness
an ambiguity
which is a tree reduced to words.

10 comments:

Jinksy said...

Looks more like and Ent, to me...

Jim Murdoch said...

I’m not sure you need the train here to make your point – if feels a bit intrusive – but your point is well made, especially in the final stanza. And yet we continue struggling with these words when we know just how inadequate they are. The thing is, if we didn’t have words we’d have nothing and something trumps nothing any day of the week.

The Weaver of Grass said...

That is one magnificent tree Dave.

Hannah Stephenson said...

"(even modern trains mean steam to me)"--

I know what Jim means, above (clearly he is a sensitive reader so I don't mean to derail--HAHA--his point--sorry for that pun)...but for me, the train is about meaning/connotation...am I right?

Windsmoke. said...

Very enjoyable, i especially like the line "a flock of leaves" as apposed to "a flock of birds" very different indeed :-).

Lolamouse said...

I loved the phrase "flock of leaves" as well. It gives the reader a nice little jolt-not what you expect but perfectly descriptive. Very enjoyable read. I felt it conveyed the struggle to convey in words the wholeness, the meaningfulness of the tree (or really of anything the poet is striving to write about.)

Jingle said...

stunning nature imagery, well done.

Dave King said...

Jinksy
Thanks Jinksy - I think!

Jim
The train gave me the steam, which I thought essential to the poem. I fully agree that without the words we have nothing and that more than justifies them, but I also think we need to continually remind ourselves of their ultimate inadequacy - though actually, I find them a bit inadequate for that!

Weaver of Grass
It is indeed.

Hannah
I set out to write a poem about that particular tree. Simple as that. And felt I had hit a brick wall - or a buffer. That's where the train came from originally. As the poem developed I found that it's real use was as a provider of steam. I did hope to trade on the connotations, but they were secondary in that they came later.

Windsmoke
Good to have that comment. I did wonder about it - really, about whether it was relevant.

Lolamouse
Many thanks for such an appreciative response. It's good to know how folk react to what is written.

Jingle
Appreciate the generous comment.

Mary said...

This is a beautiful poem inspired by a magnificent tree!

Dave King said...

Mary
Thank you so much. Your comment is really appreciated.