Saturday, 4 October 2008

The sideways step of poetkind

Poets use other poets' poems as stepping-stones. But stepping-stones, like Tarr Steps in Devon, only go in two directions; backwards, where the poet doesn't want to go or forwards to the far bank; the place where the poet thinks he ought to go. And that's fine as far as it goes.
But what's far more interesting, and worth taking forward, is an idea that came to Poet-in-Residence through George Szirtes' stimulating blog. The idea, if Poet-in-Residence is developing it correctly, that poets move sideways, through invisible space, making almost quantum leaps, to find jumping-off points; not to high places to commit poetical suicide although that is certainly not written out, but to high places where the poets can launch themelves on their bardic broomsticks into some hitherto unknown and unexplored realm. Each poet then is a potential poetical Harry Potter or Columbus. The bardic world is not flat. There is no limiting horizon. We cannot fall over the edge. Poet-in-Residence says Let's go for it!
The poetry of Wallace Stevens, one who may have been there (wherever there is) before us, is Poet-in-Residence's selected place to make a start. We join him for tea.

Tea at the Palaz of Hoon

Not less because in purple I descended
The western day through what you called
The lonliest air, not less was I myself.

What was the ointment sprinkled on my beard?
What were the hymns that buzzed inside my ears?
What was the sea whose tide swept through me there?

Out of my mind the golden ointment rained,
And my ears made the blowing hymns they heard.
I was myself the compass of that sea:

I was the world in which I walked, and what I saw
Or heard or felt came not but from myself;
And there I found myself more truly and more strange.


Ok, there's the start line. Now, dear reader, throw your double-six.

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