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ON POETRY – Kenan Malik – http://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/19342451/


As one of the winners of the Ariadne’s Thread 2013 poetry competition, I am taking part in a poetry reading in West London on Tuesday. (Actually, I did not win but was commended – that’s poetic license for you.) The event is at The Old Ship, King Street, Richmond, TW9 1ND, at 7.30. Come along if you are in the area. I will publish my poem on Pandaemonium once it has been published in Ariadne’s Thread.

In the meantime, here are three poems about poetry (by proper poets). The Thought Fox is Ted Hughes’ elegant evocation of the process of writing poetry. Howard Nermerov’s wonderful, short gem explains itself in its title. What it reveals is the intensity of meaning that can be crushed into a single image. Most people do not look upon Jane Kenyon’s Briefly it Enters, Briefly Speaks as a poem about poetry; they see in it rather a work about God and about divine immanence. But I read it, just as I read Marilynne Robinson Gilead, as a celebration of something very human; not simply as a religious work, but as an exploration of the transcendent qualities of memory, sense, experience and the human spirit. I wrote of Robinson and of Pablo Neruda that both possess an ‘almost magical power… to release the poetic from unexplored nooks and crannies’. I know of few works that more powerfully express that sense of magical discovery than Briefly it Enters, Briefly Speaks.

Ted Hughes
The Thought Fox

I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock’s loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.

Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
Though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:

Cold, delicately as the dark snow
A fox’s nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now

Sets neat prints into the snow
Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come

Across clearings, an eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Brilliantly, concentratedly,
Coming about its own business

Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox
It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.

From New Selected Poems 1957- 1994 (Faber, 1995)


Howard Nemerov

Because You Asked about the Line

Between Prose and Poetry

Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle
That while you watched turned to pieces of snow
Riding a gradient invisible
From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.

There came a moment that you couldn’t tell.
And then they clearly flew instead of fell.

From Sentences  (University of Chicago Press, 1980)

Jane Kenyon

Briefly It Enters, Briefly Speaks

I am the blossom pressed in a book,
found again after two hundred years. . . .

I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper….

When the young girl who starves
sits down to a table
she will sit beside me. . . .

I am food on the prisoner’s plate. . . .

I am water rushing to the wellhead,
filling the pitcher until it spills. . . .

I am the patient gardener
of the dry and weedy garden. . . .

I am the stone step,
the latch, and the working hinge. . . .

I am the heart contracted by joy. . . .
the longest hair, white
before the rest. . . .

I am there in the basket of fruit
presented to the widow. . . .

I am the musk rose opening
unattended, the fern on the boggy summit. . . .

I am the one whose love
overcomes you, already with you
when you think to call my name. . . .

From Collected Poems (Gray Wolf Press, 2005)

The paintings are by Koorosh Shishegaran