Saturday, 18 January 2014

A View of My Garden

I abandoned this poem in 1983, unable to work out how to finish it. Coming across the working papers for it in 2011/12 I thought it would be easy to use it as a basis for returning to writing poetry. How wrong I was. It cost me a further huge struggle to find the end of the poem and the 'join' is perhaps all too visible. Nevertheless, it reignited a fascination with the use of words in definite structures to express meaning and I haven't looked back since. Some might say I haven't looked forward...

The reference to Ireland and Iran reflects the prominence of the Irish 'Troubles' and the recent Iranian revolution at the time.


   A morning sadness fills the sky
   Gone grimly grey and full of rain;
   I write and rewrite as I try
   To drag old furies from my brain:
Running my thumb along the paper’s crease
I dream of Jason and the Golden Fleece.

   Outside, the automatic life
   Of plant and shrub is underway;              
   Already juicy for the knife
   Lettuce and plum attack the day.                     
A lively slug and golden-purposed bee 
Vibrate with much more energy than me.

   With hopeful look and loaded head
   I sought to write a classic line,                       
   To capture what the Muses said,
   To shape it and to call it mine;
But blunt intentions do not make an act,
The gods were present when old Troy was sacked.

   I looked out on the dampened earth              
   And thought of Ireland or Iran,
   How men must give their thinking birth
   Whilst under siege or on the run –
And instantly my Graeco-Roman whim
Was shrunk to nothing but a dream gone dim.

   For men are killed and leave undone
   The one thing that they had to do,
   To weep farewell beneath the sun
   And stare the wounds of darkness through:
The riddled corpses with their open eyes
Are unsolved puzzles in their frank surprise.

   But when the bodies have been burned,
   Or roughly bundled under stones,                          
   And when the earth is once more turned,
   Dispersing caches of the bones,                                 
Then wheat and vine will silently take hold,             
Their blood-fed harvest burgeoning three-fold.        

   Behind the warfare and alarms,                                 
   The plants about their busy life,                                 
   Behind the lies and snake-oil charms,            
   And internecine, pointless strife,                                
There stands a constant silence that might be                
An universal personality.                                              

   A silence that delights in quarks,
   And dances when the pulsars dance,
   That’s altered when a small dog barks
   Or when we caste an angry glance;                           
That is the context of our every act –                            
The unavoidable eternal fact.                                        
   That aches to feel the life of things
   Deflect so fiercely out of true,
   That knows the song that terror sings                         
   To captives in the hangman’s queue;                          
That is forever verging on the sad
But is forever tranquil and is glad.

   Despite the sullen, cloud-filled sky
   My garden spirals into bloom;
   The cosmic weaver silently
   Has flung off beauty from his loom,
Assuaging grief, defusing lust, that bliss 
Might blot out sorrow, pregnant as a kiss.        

© Abandoned 1983; completed January 2012

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