Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Desire For Something None Can Say"

I once suggested that A. S. J. Tessimond (1902-1962) was a "neglected poet," but was later pleased to learn, through the help of readers, that Bloodaxe Books re-published his Collected Poems last year, and that he was the subject of a feature on BBC Radio 4 in April of that year.  In the following poem Tessimond provides a fine (if melancholy) view of autumn in the city (in this case, London).


Already men are brushing up
   Brown leaves around the saddened parks.
At Marble Arch the nights draw in
   Upon expounders of Karl Marx.

By the Round Pond the lovers feel
   Heavier dews, and grow uneasy.
Elderly men don overcoats,
   Catch cold -- sniff -- become hoarse and wheezy.

Grey clouds streak across chill white skies.
   Refuse and dirty papers blow
About the gutters.  Shoppers hurry,
   Oppressed by vague autumnal woe.

The cats that pick amongst the empty
   Gold Flake boxes, sniffing orts
From frowsy fish-shops, seem beruffled,
   Limp of tail and out of sorts.

Policemen are pale and fin-de-siecle.
   The navvy's arm wilts and relaxes.
With more than usual bitterness
   Bus-drivers curse impulsive taxis.

A general malaise descends:
   Desire for something none can say.
And autumn brings once more the pangs
   Of this our annual decay!

A. S. J. Tessimond, Morning Meeting (1980).

                         Cyril Edward Deakins, "Suffolk Scarecrow" (1984)


Shelley said...

As an "unfancy" writer myself, after reading several of the recent posts here, I find myself wondering whether English writers are more unafraid of simple language and diction than American writers are. Of course that's a ridiculous overgeneralization....

Stephen Pentz said...

Shelley: thank you for visiting again, and for your thoughts. I agree with you on the defects of most American writers (of say, the past 30 years, particularly poets), and I will leave it at that, before I get on my soap box.

Thanks again.