Thursday, 16 June 2016

The Anthropological Turn (Revised)

In April/May 2013 I wrote three poems on ‘the way things are’ – ‘A Biedermeir Age,’ ‘The Anthropological Turn’ and ‘The Republic of Yeah’ and posted them August-October 2014. I have come to think that the rhythms in all three were too rugged, even jagged, and have revised them for easier reading. The revised ‘A Biedermeir Age’ can be read here
   ‘The Anthropological Turn’ was posted on 14 September 2014. I have revised it in situ; the result can be read here
   The phrase “anthropological turn” was used by Catholic thinkers, in particular, to describe the revolution in thinking in the 1960s (at least in the West) which put man rather than God at the centre of all things.

Monday, 6 June 2016

A Fallen Bough

This is my first poem in syllabics for thirty years or more. The syllable count is 5 6 3 7 with no elisions; for good measure I introduced rhyme in the first and fourth lines of each stanza. I wrote quite a number of poems in syllabics when I was much younger; they are posted in the earlier pages of this blog. A couple of examples are 'Outside, a Blunt Wind Shatters...' here, a sonnet following the example of Elizabeth Daryush, a most interesting poet though largely forgotten now; and 'Hearing Thunder' here, using a model adapted from W.H. Auden who in turn used Alcaic and Asclepiadean models found in Hölderlin and in turn borrowed from their Greek originals. Poetic craft almost completely forgotten by today's younger poets! 


      In the dawning hours 
   A pounding weight of wind 
         Wrenched the house 
As if clambering powers 

      Burst Hades’ black walls.
   A morning’s drenching walk
         Through wrecked fields,
Wading ditches and leaf falls, 

      Found the wind-torn oak –
   A bough an arm’s-reach thick
         Ripped from its
Trunk by the brute gale, its cloak   

      Of leaves palling its
   Twisted corpse collapsed in  
         The mud-grass.
The October sun span glits  

      Of watery light
   On the brood of branches 
         Borne by the 
Thrown bough like Medusa’s fright

      Of hair. A wide third
   Of the oak’s crown had been 
         Dismembered –  
The bight broiled with the sky’s curd 

      Like the sea squirming
   Across a bay. A stark 
         Suede adit
On the trunk’s flank was firming

      Already into
   A lumpish thick-lipped scar,  
         Tannin-brown –  
A dank haven to accrue 

      Tree mould and birds’ bones.
   The bough stump, shattered to
         Fangs, gleamed white,
Sprinkled by the rain-wet groans 

      Of wind. Inspected,
   Its switchback limbs, dense with 
Elephant-bark, infected  

      By lichen pastes, grey
   And bilious, and caked 
         With soaked moss,  
Smelt mutedly of dunged hay –

      The raw exchanges 
   Of air and fatal life  
         Curtained from
Livers in heated granges.

      In seconds that bough,
   Gnarled grower of decades,
         Had staggered –
Felled by the wresting wind’s sough. 

      What hope for the finch,
   Then, bundled from a hedge
         By the blast,
Worn brittle by autumn’s pinch?

      Or us, tramping back 
   In cloud-smoke and rain-shot,
         One day to
Be sundered by our bones’ crack?

© November 2013