Thursday, 21 January 2010

Avant-Stevens (1)

Today's post and several posts to follow, will owe something to George Szirtes, to whom I am so often indebted. Thank you again, George!

George Szirtes, with one of his recent Briefs, grabbed my attention and as a result I now renew my love of the work of the Bollingen Yale Poetry Prize, National Book Award in Poetry Prize (twíce) and Pulitzer Prize in Poetry winner Wallace Stevens.

Here and now there is regained a sort of path (for we've been in this land before) to the Poet-in-Residence school of the avant-Stevens. The map is Stevens' Collected but I'm well off the page.

To the eyes & the ears of the owls

The words of the bards are illusions
where trees in the moonlight grow tall
and are black as winters in snow.

The words are a scrabble of branches
and the words are the same to the ears
of the owl which hoots like the train.

Some pass in the moonlight. The windows
are gold and the shadows are bold. The
rattle and rumble and clack on the track.

The frown on the brow and the scratch
of the quill. The blinks of the eyes. The dips
of the points. The points of the prey.

image: Stevens by Hockney


  1. What a great rhythm to this poem. And I like the images, particularly the 'scrabble of branches' for words.

  2. I really want this bit to say

    The windows are gold and the shadows are bold;
    they rattle and rumble and clack on the track.

    as I'd enjoy the idea of noisey shadows... Fascinating rhythms all through the whole piece, stopping and starting like a train...

  3. oops - sorry about the noisey noisy

  4. I love the rhythm, the clever internal rhymes - the whole sense of movement - brilliant.

  5. Thanks Jinksy, Weaver and Gordon. So pleased you all like it!

    It would be an incredible experience to have the eyes and ears and the sensations of being an owl in a tree for just one night.


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