Sunday, 17 May 2009

Hard marbly baas

My son's football season has come to an end and so there was no match today. At least he ended it on a high point last week, with not only a goal but a fantastic run down the wing in which he simply outran the opposition defense and drew gasps of admiration. It was poetry in motion.

And speaking of poetry (did you see what I did there?). . .

I have been enjoying the BBC4 programme, A Poet's Guide to Britain, in which Owen Sheers looks at various poems in relation to their setting, analysing the poem and talking about how it came to be written. He does this incredibly well and schools could do a lot worse than showing the programmes to their students in their entirety.

Last week he looked at a poem I must confess I did not know at all: Sylvia Plath's Wuthering Heights.

The horizons ring me like faggots,
Tilted and disparate, and always unstable.
Touched by a match, they might warm me,
And their fine lines singe
The air to orange
Before the distances they pin evaporate,
Weighting the pale sky with a soldier color.
But they only dissolve and dissolve
Like a series of promises, as I step forward.

There is no life higher than the grasstops
Or the hearts of sheep, and the wind
Pours by like destiny, bending
Everything in one direction.
I can feel it trying
To funnel my heat away.
If I pay the roots of the heather
Too close attention, they will invite me
To whiten my bones among them.

The sheep know where they are,
Browsing in their dirty wool-clouds,
Gray as the weather.
The black slots of their pupils take me in.
It is like being mailed into space,
A thin, silly message.
They stand about in grandmotherly disguise,
All wig curls and yellow teeth
And hard, marbly baas.

I come to wheel ruts, and water
Limpid as the solitudes
That flee through my fingers.
Hollow doorsteps go from grass to grass;
Lintel and sill have unhinged themselves.
Of people and the air only
Remembers a few odd syllables.
It rehearses them moaningly:
Black stone, black stone.

The sky leans on me, me, the one upright
Among all horizontals.
The grass is beating its head distractedly.
It is too delicate
For a life in such company;
Darkness terrifies it.
Now, in valleys narrow
And black as purses, the house lights
Gleam like small change.

No comments:

Post a Comment