Monday, 25 January 2010

New Canzone on front page

The Small of the Back

Written for C's birthday today. I have a feeling this one flies. Over the years I have written many poems to occasion, proper occasions being the focal points of much that has gathered up on the subject: thoughts, feelings, glimpsed thoughts and feelings, certain images long locked in the cupboard that now find a way out.

Some of the poems were light, and written to be light, with more or less laughter; some, on the political side, have been serious. They don't all fly of course, though a surprising number have. And in the canzone it's like pulling a piece of string to see how long it is and what is attached to it. So you keep pulling and pulling, until the end. At best it is like following a capillary through to a vein, through a network of veins, the living blood moving surging and stuttering through.

And what did I actually buy in the end? A mixture of the unusual-pretty and the well-advised (advised by daughter who is altogether better informed in the area of advisement - she more or less phone-guided me to the right counter in the right shop). Four small gifts. Nothing on the scale of the soil-testing samples, alas - but that's a rare find. Tonight a meal provided by daughter and husband!


I have not posted much on politics recently - that is partly because the things I have posted on in the past continue to be the things I'd post on again now, but I have little more to say on those subjects. But I will return to such subjects as and when.


Anonymous said...
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Poet in Residence said...

Far be it from me to venture forth with my opinion but as it's Burns' Night and the wee kilted sporan flayers are abroad I've taken refuge in celebratory a wee dram. Armed with this McVariant of Dutch courage I shall sally forth:
George, I feel that the first two verses and the last verse are the best. I especially enjoyed the first verse. But what pulled me up sharply in my reading of the poem was the seemingly incongruous phrase "the hill rolled away" which I felt did it a diservice. I then couldn't really get back into it.
George, please forgive me and enjoy the rest of your haggis,

George S said...

My hunch is that you're wrong on that, Gwilym. But each to his own, and time will tell.

Poet in Residence said...

As you say, time will tell.

But I'm really interested in how much respected and knowledgable poets like yourself decide which words they will use.

Wouldn't, in your poem, "Below us the 'world' rolled away" be more to the sense of it? Kind of 'out of body' mysticism, dreamy and universal.

Or does it have to be 'hill'? If hill it has to be then 'rolled away', for a single 'hill' is to me incongruous, as is generally used more in the sense of the many rolling hills (pl) usually in the far distance, you know in the sense of meaning 'undulating or gentle' hills I feel.

Interesting choice you made anyway.

Poet in Residence said...

Try as I might I can't imagine your hill heaving itself up from its earthy roots and then rolling away. Perhaps the earthquake is too much with me. Maybe that's it.

George S said...

Can you imagine rolling down a hill, Gwilym? I used to do it as a child. When you are rolling it seems the earth is rolling with you.

And when you - and people generally - talk of rolling hills, do they think the hills are actually rolling? No, their eyes are rolling along them.

As we look down the hill towards the road it feels as though the hill were rolling down towards them.

When people talk about a rolling road, do they really think the road is "heaving itself up from its earthy roots and then rolling away"? That seems rather too literal to me. Figurative language can be body language. Always has been.

I really don't see the problem. That may be my problem, of course, but in that case I have always had that problem.

Nor is there anything really mystical about the poem. The poem posits a god of the imagination, a figure that has a greater consciousness than we have. Someone who has numbered our bones because our bones matter - every one of them, as does the precise number of our hairs. But we know the figure is imagined.

Poet in Residence said...

Did I desire 'your' poem to be mystical? Maybe I did and maybe I am guilty of tending towards the Lewis Carroll school of thought: 'take care of the sounds and the poems will take care of themselves'. Or is that too simplistic?
It's of course more; something of a romantic Anglo-Welsh ideal in me and in one respect it is perpetuated or better demonised into me by Dylan Thomas with his 'Heron priested shores' etc.
As to Lewis Carroll (an interesting choice of nomme de plume) the family were of the priesthood and came from Daresbury (on road to Chester, Wrexham, Offa's Dyke, Shrewsbury etc) so the romantic-mystical, the neo- Celtic, would be influencing there too.

Anonymous said...

thankyou for writing this poem George. It is utterly beautiful and I can find no fault with it. I love every bit of it and like it's title, it sings.