About poetry

About poetry with W S Merwin

Is it some profound connection to the natural world?


The connection is there—our blood is connected with the sea. It’s the recognition of that connection. It’s the sense that we are absolutely, intimately connected with every living thing. We don’t have to be sentimental and pious about it, but we can’t turn our backs on that fact and survive. When we destroy the so-called natural world around us we’re simply destroying ourselves. And I think it’s irreversible.


Do you see a connection between poetry and prayer?


I guess the simple answer is yes, if only because I think of poetry as an attempt to use language as completely as possible. And if you want to do that, obviously you’re not concerned with language as decoration, or language as amusement, although you certainly want language to be pleasurable. Pleasure is part of the completeness. I think of poetry as having to do with the completeness of life, and the completeness of relation with one’s experience, completing one’s experience, articulating it, making sense of it.


How about the influence of Zen in your work?


When you talk about prayer in Judeo-Christian terms, prayer is usually construed as a kind of dualistic act. You’re praying to somebody else for something. Prayer in the Western sense is usually construed as making a connection. I don’t think that connection has to be made; it’s already there. Poetry probably has to do with the recognizing of that connection, rather than trying to create something that isn’t there.

Where wild flowers  grow, where butterflies float on

by-the-lily-pond-in-a-wood-brighter (1)
Art by Katherine 2014

The path on Arnside Knott came to the shore
Where river and sea  meet at my heart’s core
Where wild flowers  grow, where butterflies float on
The views of Lakeland Hills ,so ravishing

My heart was  only half alive till then
The land surpassed imagination
I was used to mills and dirty air
Despite the heather moors and hilltops bare

Later death came near on Langdale Pike
My fingertips were hurting,feet agape
Then my toe was back on a foothold
The shadow of the mountain huge and cold

Beauty,love and death, the opera calls
Singing as we walk the danger walls

I’d sooner write a dirge for a sea shell.

If I wrote a villanelle  could readers tell?
We don’t need names to recognise   there’s form
I’ll write a  villanelle   and do it well

I’d sooner write a dirge for a sea shell.
The edges of the  sea shore   bring me calm
f I wrote a villanelle  could readers tell?

I’ll blow my trumpet and ring   a huge handbell.
My laughing eyes will bring to you much balm
I’ll write a  villanelle   and do it well

Please keep your counsel as in hermit’s cell
For false reports of doggerel  do  me harm
If I wrote a villanelle  would readers tell?

I’ve got as much appeal as little Nell!
What the  dickens happened to my charms?
I’ll write a  villanelle   and do it well

In a poem there’s  never need to yell.
No point in causing panic and alarm
If I wrote a villanelle  could readers tell?
I’ll write a  villanelle   and I’ll feel  swell






The face that was familiar is no more

The face that was familiar is no more.

The world we made  seems empty and remote.

I do not feel the love I felt before.

I’m homeless world-less, comfortless at core

Wandering like the Jews with death ripped coats.

The face that was familiar is no more

Why can this man’s life not be restored?

I cannot eat, a lump has blocked my throat

I do not feel the love I felt before.

In my nightmares, I look for a door.

Or I search the lake from my small boat

That face that was familiar is no more

I beg for grace like some abandoned whore.

That time itself evaporates is gross.

I do not feel the love I felt before

The well is empty,like my husband’s clothes.

When they are gone, what can I then propose?

The face that was familiar fades away

Who will love me now,, how shall I pay?

Mary and God

IMG_20181209_132751757Mary was in the hall  watering her rose scented geranium; she decided to move it into the kitchen as the hall might be a little too drafty.Mary was very anxious to make sure that this plant survived because it was a present from her cousin.
Suddenly the phone rang. perhaps it is Annie wanting to go out on some Christmas shopping expedition ,but no it was Mary’s cousin Bob who she knew had been very  ill and although he seems to be recovering she knew  he was quite anxious about dying

His voice was very faint and weak. Perhaps he is going to die, she   thought. he  does seemed to be frightened .

Do not be afraid.God is waiting for you and he knows everything
,He knows how  you looked after your sister when she had a breakdown and how you used to change the curtains and make the room  look beautiful to try to help her and yet she did not thank you .She was very unpleasant but you never gave up ; eventually when she died during her sleep it was both  a relief and a loss
God remembers everything and he is full of love for you . I do not know why God allows some people to suffer so much[ which is  a constant theme in human thinking since the book of Job was written.]
Now, I don’t say that you are Job ,but I do know  what you have endured. I have seen you being humbled  in cruel ways, I have seen you being ignored when you knew much more than the people who were talking

You cared your your cat  with utmost kindness until it recovered from its ill-treatment at those nasty neighbours of yours.
You have suffered  too through cancer and not  being able to eat foods that you liked but you have recovered.  You have worked in your garden   and grown beautiful flowers and vegetables Your fruit trees have been v productive and your whole garden is a testament to the fact that you love every living being, except your brother David, of course.,
There’s always trouble in that kind of set up when the mother prefers one child to another and  it has been a constant torment to you throughout your life. I have noticed  since you have both been older. y
ou seem to have a more productive life now and I know you make wine and jam and mend all you can
I know that you did win an award when you were in your 20s for your research although you never told anybody. I wonder why you were so shy about telling people. You never did like to boast and I think I am similar to you.

I let Stan have his mistress next door  because I know that not every man is interested in Wittgenstein especially when it’s his wife who wants to talk about him  when he wants to take her to bed and enjoy her charms, tickle her and laugh  merrily and I only wish that you had been able to meet someone yourself who would have   valued you as a human being and felt warmth and attraction as well.

I do think you  tried to make the most of your capabilities limited as we are by economic,health  and political factors alas

Bob said to Mary :you have made me very happy

2 Days Later  Mary heard that Bob was much better and the doctor says he will soon be home again

What a disappointment for God meowed Emile, Mary’s little cat.  God got everything ready

Well no doubt  God had some help,.  Mary cried., that’s what I need . need some help ;this house is in a terrible mess as if my fate is to constantly keep trying to tidy up and yet the next day I have to start all over again.

I don’t mind cried Emile I think it’s wonderful I like a mess it makes me feel like playing more and having fun but when it’s all tidy and clean I feel terribly inhibited

Good  grief Emile, you  sound as if you’ve been to Oxford.

I did  once to go on a day trip to Oxford, the the cat  confessed .Annie took me in her handbag on a coach

Well all I can say is ,she must have got a very big handbag

Don’t be so rude Emile told her, you have got some big handbags and  you’ve got about 50 handbags in the wardrobe even now when you are a widow

That is a woman’s privilege Mary told him like getting a new hat is Easter; a handbag is a very important thing because it enables men to make their wives carry all their wallets and keys  so that they could have fun when they went to the seaside

Yes I can remember mother struggling along from Blackpool  North station to the beach with a gigantic handbag and a shopping bag full of sandwiches while everybody else ran on in front of her

I don’t know what we saw in Blackpool except the sea; the beach was so crowded you could hardly see the sand.

I guess the airwas cleaner,  the cat informed her in a manly way

I think I need a cup of tea said Mary go and get  Annie.

She won’t make the tea

No but she can drink some with me while I tell her all my thoughts and my feelings and I couldn’t free associate while she showed off her new makeup and jewellery and  her strangely coloured Christmas outfits.She is off to Wigan to visit the make up factory next week.If only it were in Southport I’d go too.

Well I’m in love with  Annie. I wish I was a man so I could marry her  and make it home for her

I’m sure you would have made a very good husband said Mary but God wants you to be a cat although you are a rather extraordinary cat and it is my good luck to be your owner or shall I say your mistress?

Aand so ask all of us