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Sunday, 11 March 2012

1956 and 1999

For Poetics 1999 byRosemary Mint at dVerse Poets.


1956 and teacher training college. I
am here to study art,
but voices of the friends I've made
are quoting poetry,
I'm hearing snatches, lines like: The
apparition of these faces in a crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.1


Or, even more remarkably:
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table. 2  
Or:The corpse you planted last year in your garden,
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year? 3  


And then I'm blown away by this and others like it:
After the funeral, mule praises, brays,
Windshake of sailshaped ears, muffle-toed tap
Tap happily of one peg in the thick
Grave's foot, blinds down the lids, the teeth in black.
4  

These are a gale of fresh air blowing
through those august corridors to someone
weened at school on works such as
Robert Browning's Pied Piper of Hamelin.


The voices that I'm hearing speak of Eliot and Pound,
of Dylan Thomas, Marvell and John Donne.
The very names are incantations and the poems spells.
There are images to die for and concepts still to fathom.


They have the power to replace thought
and so I do not realise for now
how much of these great works I do not understand.
Later I will understand it does not matter: it
is possible to lose yourself in poetry, enjoy 
it for itself and understand it later if need be.


I write some poems in a first enthusiasm. One or two.
The college magazine: that sort of thing. Then nothing.
Four decades. Life is happening around me, to me,
everywhere I look. But then:


in 1999 I am retired and taking up the pen again
before technology and blogging gets its hold.
.............................................................................
 1  Ezra Pound:Ina Station of the Metro
 2  The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock : T.S.Eliot
 3  The Waste Land : T.lS.Eliot
 4  After the Funeral :  Dylan Thomas  

21 comments:

hedgewitch said...

Dave this is excellent--I really have felt that same fever, drunk on words, as it were, and not knowing half of what they meant--now I go back and read some of the things that I loved purely for sound--Eliot and Thomas are prime examples--and see how much more there is where I had no clue. But life happens, doesn't it? It's good to be writing again, however long it had to wait.Enjoyed this much.

jabblog said...

Think of all the experiences and insights that have been waiting to be expressed in the intervening years. No wonder you're so prolific:-)

Mary said...

I had quite a long break from poetry too. I wrote a lot in university and early teaching years, then put writing a side (except for an occasional write) for a number of years. I enjoy MODERN poets. I could not be convinced to read those 'famous poets' you mentioned again....as I do like to be able to understand what I read.

I am sending you to this poem for dVerse, rather than testing fate...as I am about to post another one which is NOT of the same caliber. So if you visit today, please visit here:

http://inthecornerofmyeye.blogspot.com/2012/03/innocent-year.html

Brian Miller said...

that is really cool dave...i never started until just 2 years ago writing poetry....and then it was on a dare from a commentor...everything has purpose you know and it all works out in the end....thanks for sharing a bit of your journey

Claudia said...

so cool..you had me with the pied piper...i was visiting hameln last year with a group and read the poem you mention after visiting... sometimes i also think that there's always some poetry we only can understand after having made certain experiences, but i also think it's not really necessary to understand but to feel a poem.. i started writing poetry in june 2010...so way to go...thanks for sharing your journey with us dave..

Grace said...

I am very new to writing, and even more to poetry. Thanks for sharing those wonderful lines ...I sometimes don't understand them, but I can get lost in them. Until now, some works escapes me but I am thankful for writers like you who write down to earth and meaningful posts.

Happy day ~

Daydreamertoo said...

This is another fabulous write Dave. I too didn't understand a lot of the old poets and, steered clear of reading them, but, now I'm so much older could probably understand what they were trying to say more too.
This is so exquisite in it's imagery and depth of thought.
Lovely writing.

Manicddaily said...

Dave--and a good thing too! Eliot and Pound and Marvell among my favorites. They are very good to try to memorize--

Heartfelt and lovely. K.

Tabor said...

Each of these phrases is so rich that I sometimes wonder if indeed they learned the same language that I did.

Charles Miller said...

Dave, I was there as well, though 20 years later. Your experience is me and I am it in a bit of a startling way, though High School was my milieu. I really enjoyed the lines about immersing oneself in poetry such that it consumes you whether you "understand" it or nor. The line about thinking is one of those lines to be pondered a while.

Mystic_Mom said...

Wonderfully done, love how you wove the poetic references and lines into the work. Now I'm going to search them out to savor them anew!

Anonymous said...

How creative to weave poetry throughout poetry! I love this, Dave. And the first Eliot line you quoted is one of my favorites of his; etherised indeed.

This gave me chills: "The very names are incantations and the poems spells."

Chills again here: "in 1999 I am retired and taking up the pen again
before technology and blogging gets its hold." I'm so glad you're back! This piece is excellent; I'm always thrilled with your work.

~Shawna
rosemarymint.wordpress.com

Mama Zen said...

I'm just really glad that you picked up that pen again. Marvelous write!

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

A great section of possible memoir in lines...

the two last lines are sparkling in their simple revelation and rhythm.

Carl said...

Really enjoyed this one. I have gone thru a similar thing with photography on my life.

Beachanny said...

Fell completely into your words; they so much echo the way I feel myself. I am so happy you are here sharing your insight and self songs with us at dversepoets. Wonderful.

Dulcina said...

I felt so identified with you while I was reading your poem, Dave, yes: as a pupil I didn't understand many poems - I do now -, but I could feel their beauty in sounds and rhythm; afterwards, as a full-time teacher, I had almost no time for writing in 30 years; anyway, I won some small competitions and got some recognition among my circle of teachers, family and friends: now, I can dedicate my spare time to reading poetry and writing as well.
The musical voices of those poets I read in my childhood have always accompanied me.
Thanks for sharing your memories in such a sincere and lyric way.
:)

The Elephant's Child said...

I have always loved Eliot and Thomas, and each rereading gives me more depth and a new perspective. Bliss.
Thanks for the reminder.

Elisabeth said...

A wonderful collage her, Dave, of words rendered famous over time, but wondrous in their own right and your words, thoughts about art and life and beauty. All set in time.

Dave King said...

hedgewitch
Yes, but I suppose I can't wholly blame life. For a large part of the time I had thought art was my real focus.

jabblog
Yes, I guess that must (should) be so, but it is only since I started to work to deadlines that I have been anything you could call prolific. It used to be a poem once in a blue moon, and I wa sure that was all I could manage.

Mary
Thanks for the interesting insight. I do understand the reluctance to read poetry which is difficult to comprehend. I went through the same phase, which lasted some years. Eliot, of course, deliberately made the Waste Land, for example, difficult to prod its readers into new habits of reading and thus get away from what had become a sterile tradition. I recall feeling that I had to chase up everyonme of his allusions before I would fully understand it. Not so!

Brian
Yes, I believe that too - that everything has a purpose and works out in the end. Thanks for saying.

Claudia
Much thanks for this. You know, after I'd posted, I rather thought that the pied piper was not a really good example. What I was trying to get to was that I spent 6+ years at Grammar school without ever hearing names like Eliot, Pound, even Marvell and Donne mentioned, yet the Waste Land was published 11 years before I was born! I do think there are other roads to understanding, that the intellect is not the only route.

Grace
Of course much of the best poetry is layered, you can read and understand it at your present level and dig deeper later. Thank you for your comment.

Daydreamertoo
Thanks for saying this. I think we have probably all sheered away from what we thought we didn't understand.

Manicddaily
Indeed they are! Thanks forthe response.

Tabor
Yes, I do know what you mean. Going slightly off the subject, I do smetimes envy the celtic bards their double word pool!

Charles
Much thanks for these kind and very interesting words. If only I had realised back then that what I was experiencing was something of a universal experience - at least for all who come up against the shock of the so-called new.

Mystic Mom
Thanks a lot for these kind words - and happy savoring!

Anonymous
Thank you so much for a most generous comment. Such responses do mean a great deal.

Mama Zen
Thank you very much. Most grateful for this.

Tommaso
Many thanks. Your comments always most encouraging.

Carl
Interesting. I think it well may be something that is common to all the arts and most who take them up.

Beachanny
Thank you for a most gracious comment. Much appreciated.

Dulcina
Thank you for this , it is fascinating to compare such insights with one's own, I think. There is much to be learned from doing so. One of my impulses for writing was the feeling that doing so would help me more fully appreciate the achievements of the greats. And it has proved so.

The Elephant's Child
Much thanks for this. great to receive such feedback.

Elizabeth
Thank you so much for these kind remarks. They are much valued.

ds said...

It took me a long while to come to that realization, too (that it was possible to lose yourself in poetry--get drunk on the words--and then understand it). I am so so glad that you picked up your pen and found the words to express all that you experienced--and continue to experience!