Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Decision

Dark morning, frost heavy,
She woke, heart beating hard and fast,
having dreamt of death,
Yet not her own, but that of a child, not yet born,
Its spirit soft and loved, now returned to a breath,
Breathed in, and not yet breathed out.

Cold breath, scarf warming her
she found ice scratched purposefully
from the windscreen of her car,
Scraped away by a benevolent friend unknown, afar?
The sense of the soft shavings of snow
relieved the heavy weight
of her redundant files and still unmade decision,
And powdery confetti blew away on the subtle breeze.

The photos of her that night never came out,
The black dress a hole in the scene,
a shadow in the wings of the stage.
And all morning cars and people took her place in line,
One gone, one replaced, her role substituted.

And as she drove back,
the crack she had been peering through eagerly
widened and strengthened its grip on her reality,
A fatality of a dream dreamt too long, and too deeply.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Poetry of Thomas Hardy

Today i thought i'd share some other people's poetry. I drove through Dorchester at the weekend in my home county of Dorset, and thought of Hardy, a local writer of the 19th century born there. Although he is well known for his novels such as Tess, Jude the Obscure, Far From the Madding Crowd and others, he was primarily, and by inclination, a poet. It was poetry who first drew him towards the idea of being a writer, and for years Hardy didn't read anything but poetry. He described himself as an agnostic, and his work is concerned with suffering, and in particular with the human sense of impotence in the face of ruthless destiny. There is a tragic stoicism about his work, a blind will to go on living in despite of the malignancy of fate. and also from a considerable curiosity about human nature. It slips in and out of autobigraphy, and many of the themes you find in his poems can also be found in his prose. Today i thought i'd share one of my favourite of his poems.

Neutral Tones

We stood by a pond that winter day,
And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,
And a few leaves lay on the starving sod;
-They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.

Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove
Over tedious riddles of years ago;
And some words played between us to and fro
On which the lost the more by our love.

The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing
Alive enough to have strength to die;
And a grin of bitterness swept thereby
Like an ominous bird a-wing.

Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,
And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me
Your face, and the God-curst sun, and a tree,
And a pond edged with grayish leaves.

Hardy considered himself to be an agnostic, but to many he was seen more as an atheist. What i love about reading his poetry is that it never fails to transform me into a believer. His poetry is beautifully written, yet in many ways dark, hopeless, grey, and for this reason it always serves to reconfirm the fact that i do have so much faith in life, that for me fate is not ruthless or malign, even if at times it would seem to be. I understand why Hardy had a venomous dislike of Him (God) for not existing, and yet cannot share it. To me, God is everywhere all the time, spirit is unquestionably within me and around me, without doubt guiding me and revealing itself to me daily. I could analyse this poem easily, elicit the powerful symbolism and its effect on the poem as a whole, discuss how each stanza weaves themes together, etcetera, but then this would be an essay and not my blog. Instead it is suffice to say that reading Hardy's poetry reminds me of several facts: that all ideas, no matter how far removed we think they are from our own, can lead us to a greater awareness of ourselves: Secondly that poetry is an art form which can weave beautiful patterns of words when written well. And thirdly, that i must read more poetry...