I’ve neglected you, my reader friends, immersed in writing the sequel to ‘Course of Mirrors’ and a few interludes. Like, my writing fixation was pleasantly disrupted last week through meeting my son at Covent Garden, and later attending the launch of ‘The Inflatable Buddha’ by András Kepes at the Hungarian Cultural Centre in London.
It is the newest project of my to-be publisher http://www.armadillocentral.com/ András’s novel offers a more subtle perspective than officially recorded history, showing the fictional lives and wits of three ordinary, idiosyncratic Hungarians during the twentieth century. The sample readings enticed me, and I’m now looking forward to reading the book. The well-attended, grand launch event also gave me a taste of what is to come – being exposed to questions about my own epic .
Then came a traumatic interlude to my writing …
During the last two days, to the grinding noise of chainsaws and a shredder, I mourned the loss of a beautiful poplar/aspen tree in my neighbourhood, which has grown too high for its owner. The now mutilated tree (the image shows a third of its size) will be gone completely next week. I’ll miss the shimmer and the watery music of its leaves, produced by the slightest breeze, and the golden hearts trailing into my garden come autumn. I picked a few early leaves to treasure, pressed to dry in my dictionary.
Today a most pleasant surprise … a poetry book arrived unexpectedly in the post, sent by a Scottish friend/poet, who is at this moment working with a visual artist on a project about Tin-mining in St Ives. Due to blank spots in my education I rely on stumbling upon poets less publicised, and was delighted to receive this gift of an expertly edited ‘New Collected Poems’ by W S Graham. So I thought I’ll share excerpts from his poems – on themes that will chime with fellow writers .
W. S. Graham (1918-1986) grew up in Clydeside, Scotland, and initially followed the footsteps of his father, who was a structural engineer in the ship-building trade. However, a year studying philosophy and literature at an adult education centre outside Edinburgh set him on the path of writing poetry for the rest of his life, irrespective of meagre financial rewards. He travelled to London and New York City, but later lived with his wife in Cornwall.
I was delving into the book this morning. Here some facets, unconnected lines, the first from THE NIGHTFISHING (1955) – a melodic composition, speaking to the seen and unseen, from a night in a herring boat out on the North Sea.
… Gently the quay bell
Strikes the held air …
Strikes the held air like
Opening a door
So that all the dead
Brought to harmony
Speak out on silence …
I am befriended by
This sea which utters me …
… Far out calls
The continual sea.
Now within the dead
Of night and the dead
Of all my life I go.
I’m one ahead of them
Turned in below
I’m borne in their eyes
Through the staring world.
The present opens its arms …
… Each word is but a longing
Set out to break from a difficult home. Yet in
It’s meaning I am …
… The bow wakes hardly a spark at the black hull.
The night and day both change their flesh about
In merging levels …
The iron sea engraved to our faintest breath
The spray fretted and fixed at a high temper,
A script of light …
… The streaming morning in its tensile light
Leans to us and looks over on the sea.
It’s time to haul. The air stirs its faint pressures
A slat of wind …
… The white net flashing under the watched water,
The near net dragging back with the full belly
Of a good take certain …
Some of the last lines of – THE NIGHT CITY – a turning point … I found Eliot and he said yes … T S Eliot was then with Faber and Faber. He became Graham’s publisher.
… Midnight. I hear the moon
Light chiming on St Paul’s
The City is empty. Night
Watchmen are drinking their tea …
Between the big buildings
I sat like a flea crouched
In the stopped works of a watch.
From IMPLEMENTS IN THEIR PLACES (1977) I picked a refrain from WHAT IS LANGUAGE USING US FOR ?
… What is the language using us for?
It uses us all and in its dark
Of dark actions selections differ …
And last – AIMED AT NOBODY – Poems from Notebooks (1993)
It does not matter who you are,
It does not matter who I am.
This book has not been purposely
made for any reason.
It has made itself by circumstances
It is aimed at nobody at all.
It is now left just as an object by me
to be encountered by somebody else.
* * *
This may well be how it feels for most writers who simply can’t help sculpting experiences into words. What do you think?