As my exams draw closer and closer, I find myself staring closer and closer at the contents of the various textbooks that lay strewn around my room. One of these textbooks is a particularly hefty anthology of poets and poems that I’m to know for one of my English exams.
While I’ve never been a fan of poetry, I’ve found myself growing fond of this motley collection of verses. Naturally, many more in my year have had the opposite reaction. After all, how long can you spend reading, dissecting and interpreting the same works before either reaction takes hold?
Of all the poets that I’ve studied for my course, Emily Dickinson is by far my favourite. So much so that I’ve accidentally memorised the poems of hers that we’ve been reading. There is something about both her style and themes that I find so elegant and simple, that I just can’t resist.
But, I’m not writing this post to talk about Dickinson. Instead, I wish to tell you about another poet, whose works we’ve been studying: Eavan Boland. A poet of Irish birth and a Trinity college graduate, Eavan Boland has been a respected and well-regarded poet for several decades now. Not that that mattered to a bunch of snarky teenagers – or the snarky teacher for that matter.
No, the thing that mattered most to the class about Eavan Boland – for about five minutes anyway -was that she has Feminist leanings. The horror! But, I’m not writing to give you a treatise on the Feminist themes of some of Boland’s poetry. I’m writing to present to you one of Boland’s poems. A poem that I personally found to be rich in its utter simplicity.
I do not presume that you have not heard of Boland or read her poetry – I’m aware that many of you on this site are of a poetic bent – but I certainly hope that you enjoy it if you haven’t.
Things are getting ready
out of sight.
Stars and moths.
And rinds slanting around fruit.
But not yet.
One tree is black.
One window is yellow as butter.
A woman leans down to catch a child
who has run into her arms
Apples sweeten in the dark.
Themes reminded me a little of Forough Farrokhzad’s “Window”
I also love Dickinson. I can’t explain why her verses are genius, they just are. They look random, but there’s a real cadence to them that you can’t count by meter – or maybe you can – but not any that I’m familiar with.
This style also reminded me a little of Plath. Transcending the monotony of the humdrum, which hides within it a rhythm deeper than we recognize in our daily rush. All those little moments, when we pause, are windows to look through later and see what we were to busy and stressed to see at the time. That life itself can have all the symbolism of a dream.
Pure and beautiful.
I understand, and share, your attraction to her writing.
Thanks for sharing her with us.
Thanks for sharing this with us Caru. I’ve never read this one before. You mention simplicity, and that struck a chord with me. One of my beliefs about poetry is that a poem should say a lot, with an economy of words.
When I first became interested in poetry, it was after reading Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “A Coney Island Of The Mind.” Great collection, kinda beat and like Ms. Boland’s poem above, very economic in text.
Then I discovered ee cummings. I was hooked. (another reason I started writing poems, was to get girls);)
KT, I went back to read more Du Fu. He is a provocative poet. I didn’t think to read him; there is sooooh much history in China that it’s hard to pick A thing to focus on.
Lovely poem, caru. Thank you for it. It makes me think about cusps; about instants just before something, when things are neither started or completed.
Poetry —probably needs a poem to describe itself. I really like that I have to take it in slowly so as not to miss it, just as those few minutes should be taken slowly so as not to miss the apples sweetening, the love, the night sounds.
Good luck with the exams 😉
This is for you, foodchain:
cher, thanks for posting this poem. I am very much in agreement with Ms. Moore’s thoughts.
This is a quote from Nietzsche, whom I am reading at the present;
“All poets believe this: that he who, lying in grass or in lonely bowers, pricks up his ears, catches a little of the things that are between heaven and earth.”
Cher- Marianne Moore!
Cher, thank you! Just back from many hours of older puppy training. YOu must have the biggest finger tips ever! ;-). “nor till the poets among us can be
insolence and triviality and can present
for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall we have
it.” This describes this poem so well. And the field is so enormous that the describers always seem limited.Moore does a good job of describing the many aspects. And even so, the translation of mind to word is so limited.
Thank you for this. I’m sending it to my son who is an English/poetry person on, as KT says, finding his whole.
I’m excited about my puppy; pics of your dog helped move me into the HERE!
I like it Caru for the same reason you do, it’s simplicity in telling of a moment in time. I hope that this one isn’t regarded as one in her “feminist” genre, that would be too silly for words.
Now you have made me want to check out her other works.
Good luck with your cramming. I remember times when my mind would go completely blank, then fearing that I might not remember a thing. It certainly helps if you are enjoying it.
Thanks, Kalima. My first English exam is tommorow. Slightly nervous now.
No, this isn’t one of her poems that’s regarded as Feminist. Though personally the poems that are regarded that way, at least those that I’ve seen, aren’t very, very Feminist, IMO. At least not when compared with Adrienne Rich.
I can’t remember meeting anyone who wasn’t nervous before an exam. I used to throw up. I’m sure you will be fine. Fingers crossed. Go get em! 😀