Wednesday, 7 July 2010
Audio: Six Early Love Poems
This seemed appropriate as we are about to celebrate our fortieth anniversary. After this, at opportune moments, I will record a group of Middle Love Poems, and then, Late Love Poems. Here is the set:
Six Early Love Poems
The earliest of these goes back to about 1970 or so when I am just twenty-one. They are all short and surprisingly enough - I had forgotten this - three of them are in terza rima. They are:
Sleeping written about 1974 or so. In terza rima, as a companion piece to three others in the same form and of the same length (12 lines each), of which it was the third and the next poem, Bones - the second poem here - the fourth.
The third poem in the recording, Snow, is the one written about 1970, the year we got married. It was printed as a postcard poem by either Roger Burford Mason's Dodman Press, or Peter Scupham's Mandeville Press, I'm not sure which. I must have it somewhere. All these three poems were in my first book, The Slant Door (Secker, 1979 / New and Collected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2008). The book was awarded the Faber Prize, sharing it with Hugo Williams's Love-Life.
The fourth, fifth and sixth of the poems come from the second book, November and May (Secker, 1981 / New and Collected Poems, Bloodaxe 2008). The Object of Desire is a return to the pattern of Sleeping and Bones. I'm not sure why I returned to it - maybe because it seemed part of the same extended experience.
Nightsong was written for Shakespeare's birthday. There used to be a small annual chapbook anthology edited by a different poet each year, in which poets were invited to write something in honour of WS. The one in which this appeared was edited by Anne Stevenson. The epigraph is from Romeo and Juliet.
May Wind, the last of the six, refers to Chambers' lovely Book of Days (I recommend this, I so recommend this, and the linked version is online!) that I would leaf through now and then. The girls in the flower-niche are taken from the book. They are the 'poor Mayers'.
Of course one cannot but observe, as a judicious critic might remark, that they are all set in bed. I cannot say I have quite forgotten the reason that they should have been set there. The sun, that busy old fool, as Donne had it, was either setting or rising. It hasn't stopped doing that.
And there is generally a danger of some sort gently purring in the background of these poems. Love without fear is too pure for lovers. Love without fear does not exist for them, only for saints.