Saturday, July 29, 2006

On This Island





On This Island

Look, stranger, on this island now
The leaping light for your delight discovers,
Stand stable here
And silent be,
That through the channels of the ear
May wander like a river
The swaying sound of the sea.

Here at a small field’s ending pause
Where the chalk wall falls to the foam and its tall ledges
Oppose the pluck
And knock of the tide.
And the shingle scrambles after the suck-
ing surf, and a gull lodges
A moment on its sheer side.

Far off like floating seeds the ships
Diverge on urgent voluntary errands,
And this full view
Indeed may enter
And move in memory as now these clouds do,
That pass the harbour mirror
And all the summer through the water saunter.

1935


W H Auden once described his face as resembling a ‘wedding cake left out in the rain’. Anyone as devoid of vanity as Auden (except where arch expression is concerned) has to be ok in my book.

The two best lyric poets writing in English in the twentieth century were Auden and W B Yeats. Yeats was a bit too up his own arse mystical Anglo Irish fuckwit for my liking, but he was immensely talented. Auden was a drawling upper middle class Oxonian, but he had an easy familiarity with the English language that enabled him to produce a seamless lyricism that hasn’t been equalled since.

I particularly like the way the Microsoft grammar checker has a head fit when I type some of his writing. Frankly, it’s a relief. There are far too many ‘technical writers’ out there producing sub literate blurbs describing the intimate functions of vacuum cleaners for my liking.




13 comments:

Wyndham said...

And he gives good smoke.

garfer said...

You've been at those porn sites again Wyndham, haven't you?

I'd desist if I were you. Next thing you'll be thinking up uses for a roll up filter.

It's a slippery slope.

Wyndham said...

He's quite good looking for some of the people on those sites, though.

MHN for short said...

I'm liking his style as well. I like Yeats too, but have a much less opinionated opinion of him than you do. Love ya, Garfer!!

suburban wonder said...

I only know the one poem from Auden (the one from 4 Weddings & a funeral), but I know lots of Yeats. I enjoy Yeats.

Arabella said...

There is a production line of poetry from graduates of creative writing programs over here.
All very much the same.
After looking through a few of these at The Book Shop, I invariably crave Auden. Auden and John Cooper Clarke.

First Nations said...

I'ts no wonder he was memorialised in a top 40 hit((McArthur Park). He deserved it.

Here's with you 150% on Yeats. Geegh.

funny thing said...

I don't know anything about poets apart from they are made to wear cravats.

If I was a poet I would rebel and wear a big wooly scarf with huge blue and yellow stripes.

So there.

Arabella said...

I have been picturing poets wearing Funny Thing's "big wooly scarf with huge blue and yellow stripes".
It's an exercise I can recommend. Certainly takes the edge off Pope.

Steve said...

What about that obnoxious twat Philip Larkin? A piece of ordure but, without doubt, a stunning poet.

garfer said...

There's no reply to that.

Art grows from a dung hill.

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