Monday, 11 January 2010

and instructions for dancing.

It's Monday again! Further to last week's post, I wanted to put up some Larkin today; it seemed fitting, because Patten was influenced by him, and also this is my own damn blog and I'll talk about my favourite poets if I want to. Part of me was reluctant to immediately go for it with More Poetry, to be honest, and felt that I should look out something else, but I only really got into it as a form within the last few years and I suppose it's something that I feel I can - as me, now, the way I have become - really...hum. I've tried several times to phrase what I mean and can't seem to manage it. What I'm trying to say is that I think more subjective inferences can come from poetry than most other forms, that I think you put a little of yourself into them just by reading them, and that-- That doesn't really explain it either. I don't know.

Anyway, it's all a moot point because I've left my copy of The Whitsun Weddings in Liverpool: I only own Whitsun and High Windows, and prefer the former (so if anyone has any books of his they want to donate to the cause of Me, do get in touch). Anyway, I didn't want to locate a poem through a combination of my own memory (poor) and The Internets (giant), & thought it better left until I'm back at uni.

I got my predilection for Larkin - and, in fact, the book itself; an eighteenth birthday present - from an ex of mine. We used to talk about literature a lot, although he was far more widely-read and a lot better educated on the subject than I was; I'm embarrassed to think how boring & stupid I must've sounded, looking back. But thinking about him and those conversations, and what I was going to blog about today, made me consider the other very literature-y relationship I have had in my life - although this one isn't a Relationship-with-a-capital-'R', but a friendship.

My friend Celia is one of the cleverest and most interesting people I have ever been priveleged enough to somehow, inexplicably, be liked by and friends with. We've known each other for a little over a year now but only really got close around May 2009, and would send each other these long, rambling messages and emails (to complement our long, rambling, every-Sunday-like-clockwork telephone conversations), full of poems, quotes, bits and pieces of ephemera we thought the other might take a fancy to. Life's gotten in the way a bit of those every-Sunday-like-clockwork telephone calls, though we miss them and still make an effort to stay in touch, but the good thing about emails and messages and letters is that you can kind of - hang on to them.

So! I thought today I would find & post a poem that was sent to me by my good friend Celia. I could have picked any of several, but this one struck a chord with me today; she didn't know the title, so I don't either, but let's imagine it's something pithy. It's by Charles Simic:

"Incurable romantic marrying eternal grumblers.
Life haunted by its more beautiful sister life--
Always, always... We had nothing
But words. Someone rising to eloquence

After a funeral, or in the naked arms of a woman
Who has her head averted because she's crying,
And doesn't know why. A hairline fracture of the soul
Because of the way the light falls on these bare trees and bushes.

Sea-blackened rocks inscrutable as chess players...
One spoke to them of words failing...
Of great works and little faith, of blues in each bite of bread.
Above the clouds the firm No went on pacing.

The woman had a tiny smile and an open umbrella,
Since now it had started to rain in a whisper,
The kind of rain that must've whispered in some other life
Of which we know nothing anymore except

That someone kept watching it come down softly"


after several attempts and a bunch of failing, I just managed to locate the poem somewhere other than in an email from my friend. And would you look at it! It has a title (Promises of Leniency and Forgiveness) and stands a whole stanza and three quarters longer than it is replicated here. I thought for a long while about whether or not to edit in the additional parts, but in the end I decided to leave it as it is, as I first read it and have always read it. You see, as so much of this post is about subjectivity and ownership and defining my relationships to people by writing that isn't mine, it would seem oddly, I don't know...hypocritical, or something, to sacrifice the truth of my interaction with the poem for the truth of the poem itself. That's right, Charles Simic, I went there. Suck it.

(no don't)

Anyway, but I've linked it here as a concession, and I must say that I adore the last few lines. "Serious children at play" - that's Nietzsche, I suppose? A reference to Nietzsche, I mean. "A person's maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child, at play," and all that sort of business. What a nice idea.


  1. You know when you just come across people and realise their mind could easily run rings around yours? You've probably not because you're the one running rings. You're a ring runner...but not in a rude sense.
    You're amazing.
    Talking about (at least I think you were) taking a little something from that and making it your own, my favourite part of that poem is

    "The kind of rain that must've whispered in some other life
    Of which we know nothing anymore except

    That someone kept watching it come down softly"

    I don't know, it's just something to relate to. You're either watching the rain or walking through it. Something that links us all. There's something I like about the rain.

    My blog's suffering with lack of direction. In contrast, yours is blossoming. Good on you.


  2. So, I said I was going to go reply to this, but I am not really sure how to! I think it is one of the nicest things that I've ever had said (well, typed) to me, so um er yes. I don't want to be a gigantic girl about it, but basically: thank you. augh. really.

    I think you're selling yourself short in a big way, mind you. If you aren't following anything ("at least I think you were"), it's because this blog is about 80% incoherence and me struggling/failing to explain myself. not any shortcomings on your part.

    Anyway, leaving my Utter Huge Girlness aside, I am so so glad that you enjoyed the poem! I like that line a lot too, I think it's my second favourite bit, after "A hairline fracture of the soul". I absolutely was talking about relating to things, yes. It's sort of an extension of that idea in the last post - about seeing something written down that you don't quite have the means to articulate yourself.

    As for your blog - hmm. Personally, I think you've got a charming writing style & would be happy to read more of the same from you; I don't think you need an angle or a "direction" per se. It's perfectly acceptable, I think, to use a blog as a kind of public diary. Good, even. But I'd be happy to talk to you about all this properly And In Person when I'm back in Liverpool, if that interests you at all. x


  3. Long and rambly is just how we like it! Just like our conversations :D
    In person I mean, because this reply isn't long and rambly. Well a little rambly. Rambly scrambly eggs on toast.
    I will enjoy your company once you are once again in the pool, and exams are nothing but a shadow of a memory.
    Urgh, it's morning. Another day, another relentless cramming session.
    Toodles for now! x