Tag: loss

the gifts of loss

This week—today, in fact, if you read this on a Friday—I’m having to do a big bit of letting go. The house where my Mum and Dad lived is now sold, and I’m up in Scotland, emptying the last bits of furniture, locking the door and walking away for the last time. Like much that has happened in my life (let alone in the wider world) over the last couple of years, this feels too big and disturbing to understand at once. I feel as though I can’t think and feel all the “necessary” things, and get in a sort of panic. Just the right time, then, to read a poem about letting go and feel it find me in the way that poetry (like music) can. Here is ‘Moving Forward‘ by Rilke.

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the trees are down

For a few years now, my local council seems to have been on a mission gratuitously to cut down trees. I get that sometimes this is necessary; but the info-about-works relating to one copse up on the fell near my house gave, as the reason for felling, “felling”. Hmm. Another glorious maple on the green was cut down because it was a Canadian maple, and therefore non-native, and therefore… well, what?? So sad. I don’t know if it’s consoling (as in we read to know we are not alone) or even more depressing to find this poem, ‘The Trees are Down‘ by Charlotte Mew, in which the poet laments exactly the same thing. (There’s a rather good reading of it here.) It was written almost exactly a hundred years ago. Plus ca change.

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not making lemonade, but…

I took down the “events” page from this site in about May last year. Reading and other engagements were cancelled, of course, and though I’ve taken part in some online launches and Youtube events, it’s not the same as meeting in person. Sharing a room and a poem with others has a real magic in it, and forgoing that has been one of the many losses of The Current Situation; tiny, perhaps, but real. As Cilla might have said, there’s a lorra lorra lemons about at the moment.

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the unbroken

A couple of years ago the 42 group began a December tradition of making a poetry advent calendar. We choose a topic and each contribute a few of our favourite poems which, with a great deal of sherry and swearing, I grapple into a vaguely consistent format, allotting a poem to each day of advent and emailing out the resulting document. This year our topic has been healing/reassurance/comfort, that sort of thing. The Christmas Eve poem a group member contributed was new to me—so beautiful and so apt for these strange times that, with apologies to group members who are seeing the same poem twice in one day, I share it here too. Delight in ‘The Unbroken‘ by Rashani.

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I do not approve

Someone confided in me, earlier this week, their feelings in re: all the pain, confusion and madness in the world at the moment: “I don’t like it”. It was offered as if I was being let into an important secret, and there was something very disarming about it—so honest and un-clever and childlike. Not to mention unarguable. It put me in mind of the wonderful ‘Dirge Without Music‘ by Edna St Vincent Millay. There’s what I think is a very good reading of it there at the Poetry Website (click the red arrow by the title), and a different one here; or you could enjoy this fragment which, I think, catches the same mood as the PF reading. Have a listen. See what you think.

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something to hold on to

Waking at 5.25 this morning I got straight out of bed and went to the wood behind my house where I walked slowly round, revelling in the full glory of the dawn chorus. I was still in my pyjamas so I’m glad I was there before the first dogwalkers and runners (in these days of lockdown they are infesting the times and places that—did they but know it—are actually MINE. I know; sorry.) But even though I didn’t get caught I was aware that this wasn’t exactly Normal Behaviour. I mean, sure, I walk pretty much every morning. But I usually get dressed first. It just didn’t seem worth it today.

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‘poetry is what makes the invisible appear’

Well, yes. It does. That’s one of the things that’s brilliant about it.
Think, for instance, of Jack Gilbert’s ‘Failing and Flying’, with its casual, almost conversational, opening line: ‘Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew’. In just those six words an entire culture is conjured, one where only winners matter and product always trumps process.

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