Tag: hope

bandaged moments

I’m sure I’d read more Emily Dickinson if my Complete wasn’t roughly the size and shape of a large housebrick; tricky to read in the bath, y’know… Anyway, someone brought some ED to an online poetry share the other day, and it inspired me to strap on the wrist supports and spend some time with the housebrick. So many poems I could have brought, but today I choose number 360, which you can read here. (There’s an interesting article about Dickinson here at the Poetry Foundation, too.)

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feeding the cats

For once I don’t need to send you off somewhere else on the interweb to read this week’s poem. It’s given in full here on the site, by kind permission of its author, R[osie] V Bailey (I’m trying to sound casual about that but really I’m rather proud and thrilled). I’ve been wanting to write about ‘Feeding the Cats’ for a while but it seems particularly right for right now. Here it is:

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postmen, like doctors

Larkin’s magnificent, monumental poem ‘Aubade‘ speaks with a terrible, alchemical beauty about death and the fear of death. It closes with the line ‘Postmen like doctors go from house to house’ which, in context, says something very Larkin-y and shiversome about death’s inevitability; we’ll all get those visits from doctors, sooner or later. Would Larkin be horrified, though, if he knew how that line popped into my head with a totally different feel to it, about half an hour ago, when the postman delivered two unexpected letters and, with them, great joy?

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a blessing

I’ve heard and read in many places these last few weeks a lot of stuff about how “we’re all in a heightened emotional state at the moment”: operating at a higher pitch; a bit more thin-skinned than usual. It’s not surprising. So I don’t know if it’s what’s going on in the macrocosm or in my own microcosm which makes me so susceptible to this poem, ‘A Blessing‘ by James Wright (have it read to you here). But susceptible I am. It moves me greatly. See what you think.

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listening to our breathing

There is good stuff in amongst all the strangeness at the moment, as a lot of people are noting. Some are doing so with a vim and perkiness which I find quite annoying—I rarely find Uplift uplifting—but it’s good to hear the quieter, less trumpety tales. And to notice things, too. Driving up to Scotland last week I was moved to see an oystercatcher walking across the M6 in front of me. I’m kinda glad the world is getting a rest from us.

The Horses‘ by Edwin Muir is one of the poems which has been echoing round my mind these last few weeks. Though it offers a post-apocalyptic vision it’s not an unmitigatedly doomy one, and I don’t offer it with a gloomy sense of prophecy. Rather, it’s because I’ve been aware of how strange and lovely I am finding the current silence, or relative silence, on my (rare and legitimate, guv’nor) sorties into the outside world. And silence is what Muir’s poem opens with. (Here are a couple of readings of it, too, one much more fruity and declamatory than the other. See what you think.)

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a prodigal thing

Given the state of the world at the moment, it’s perhaps not surprising that there’s a plethora of books about with titles like The Happiness Project, The Happy Life Formula and Happiness: a Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill. Hmmmm. Sounds like it might be a lot of work, even if you do buy into the idea that we can make ourselves feel any given way.

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westward, look…

I left you last week with the promise of handrails and lifelines. Ta-daa! Here they are: ‘Say not the struggle nought availeth’, another poem straight out of the C19th’s death-throes-of-faith anguish which has, however, long performed the handrail/lifeline functions for me. You can read the poem here and or last week’s reader can read it for you here. Alternatively, Derek Jacobi reads it here; I much prefer his reading but could do without the music. The poem is there to create the mood all by its little self, after all. However… See what you think.

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handrails and lifelines and emergency lanterns

In an article in The Times in 2016 Libby Purves wrote of how ‘[p]eople have been through everything before us and some, by great grace, have recorded it with undying power. English-speakers are particularly lucky,’ she continued, ‘since some of the very best have done this in our fabulously hybrid, magpie language… [Poets] have crafted handrails and lifelines and emergency lanterns. They reassure us that others walked this hard trail and lived to express it’.

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