The Land That is Not

September 6, 2017

I long for the land that is not,
for I am weary of desiring all things that are.
The moon tells me in silver runes
about the land that is not.
The land where all our wishes are wondrously fulfilled,
the land where all our chains fall away,
the land where we cool our gashed foreheads
in the moon’s dew.
My life was a hot delusion.
But I have found one thing and one thing I have truly gained –
the path to the land that is not.
In the land that is not
my beloved walks with sparkling crown.
Who is my beloved? The night is dark
and the stars tremble in answer.
Who is my beloved? What is his name?
The heavens arch higher and higher,
and a human child drowns in endless mists
and knows no answer.
But a human child is nothing other than certainty.
And it stretches out its arms higher than all heavens.
And there comes an answer: I am the one you love and always shall love.

Edith Södergran

You must be taught how to read; then you must be taught how to read and write verse. It is not difficult. A knack, that practice and analysis can raise to a skill. The integrity of the musical side of verse – its movement, its sound – is as important as its sense. The sound / sense distinction is false. They are complementary elements. A poem performs in your head. Poor readers will give themselves poor performances.…in 1965 there came the extraordinary Albert Hall reading that popularised – perhaps that is too strong a word – the idea…

The weakness is that poetry readings are not critical events. Amateurish. Unreviewed…A series of short poems interspersed with autobiographical comments is not likely to produce concentration. To tell you the truth, many poets let their work down through poor reading. It is a modest skill, but quite important. It might be worthwhile to study the audiences at these readings. What are their expectations? Can they judge well through their ears? Whether silent or spoken, verse performs. In the performance lies what we call “voice”.

Christopher Logue
Paris Review Interview summer 1993.

He ate wasp nests and frogs

September 6, 2017

Tommy Brock was a short bristly fat waddling person with a grin; he grinned all over his face. He was not nice in his habits. He ate wasp nests and frogs and worms; and he waddled about by moonlight, digging things up. His clothes were very dirty; and as he slept in the day-time, he always went to bed in his boots.

Beatrix Potter
Tale of Mr Tod

6th September

Oh, if only I were a magician of the written word, conjuring little gems from the air around me. Instead I am more a Kafka of the taxi cab. An eroticist of disappointment who sees a crack in everything. I am a half-open door onto a room shuttered and dark. I exist in a world where we can’t afford to feed the poor, but will always find money for another war –

What a horrible child I was, too! Aged twelve or thirteen at school our classroom was in a makeshift building called “The Annex”. The room had a lot of windows with views of the playground. We could watch the girls in their short skirts and navy-blue knickers playing netball on Tuesday afternoons. An invigorating experience for recently pubescent young males.

The teacher’s desk at the head of the class was lacking a front board. The female teacher’s who came to take our class had no idea. In summer they tended to sit, legs yawning, most unladylike. From where I sat beside my deskmate Alex we had a totally unrestricted view up their skirts. Consequently, we both became connoisseurs of the silken gusset, and discovered poetry and masturbation together.

Oh, what beastly creatures we were –

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The moor rinsed by a fitful sun on occasion. Rain has fallen for days and days. It has washed away the spiders webs outside the windows, and drowned the tentative flowers beside the footpaths. So much rain. If only it could wash away our sins…?

Down by the standing stones in a miserable drizzle. I hear in my head the sea’s mighty BOOM resounding in that massive blowhole on the headland at Trevone –

If we move away I am going to miss this place. Its ghosts and its echoes.