Friday, December 30, 2011

Lists, Part Seven: As The Year Comes To A Close

As the year comes to a close, we are encouraged to come up with resolutions that will help us to straighten up and fly right in the new year.  I'm afraid that my resolutions are the usual prosaic suspects:  fewer words are better (i.e., don't add to the cacophony); simpler is better; kindness is better.  All of which will be broken within the next 15 minutes or so.

But here is one that I hope might have a longer duration:  pay closer attention.  The following poem by Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006) provides a good start.

   Green Waters

Green Waters
Blue Spray

Anna T
Karen B
Netta Croan

Constant Star

Starlit Waters
Moonlit Waters

Ian Hamilton Finlay, in The Bloodaxe Book of 20th Century Poetry (Edna Longley, editor) (2000).

                                 Richard Eurich, "Dorset Cove" (1939)

   Some Preliminary Definitions

Your life:
A collection of facts;
A succession of desires;
A whirl of thoughts.

Your death:

The world around you:
An intractable paradise.


               Richard Eurich, "Coast Scene with Rainbow" (1952-1953)


James Russell said...

Richard Eurich - an artist due for a rediscovery, I think.

Where's the second poem from?

You're spot on about paying greater attention: anyone can do it and the effort required is not very great. It helps to have a guide, though, whether artist or poet... I often remember my grandmother, who made me look at things closely when I was very young - buds on a tree, a flower in the grass.

WAS said...

I like the idea of the world as an intractable paradise. Happy new year trying to make it more tractable.

Stephen Pentz said...

Mr. Russell: as always, thank you for your thoughts.

I agree with you about Eurich. I only discovered his work a couple of years ago, and I am always pleasantly surprised by what I find. There is a great deal of variety in his work, isn't there?

Yes, that is one of the primary functions of art and poetry isn't it: helping us to pay attention. It is, as you say, ostensibly a simple thing to do, but difficult in practice. (Especially with all of the distractions around us.)

As for the source of the second poem: I'm afraid that it is something by yours truly. I was reluctant to post it, but I thought that it might fit with the subject of the post.

Best wishes for the New Year!

Stephen Pentz said...

Happy New Year to you as well, Mr. Sigler.

As far as the world being intractable, I have, of course, no say in the matter. As for "trying to make it more tractable": I am not going to butt my head against that wall! I'm content to look on.

James Russell said...

I thought the second poem must be yours - more, please!

Stephen Pentz said...

I greatly appreciate your kind and encouraging words, Mr. Russell. This is the first time I have ventured into this territory, so I am not being coy when I say that I do not wish to try the patience and the good will of readers such as yourself. Perhaps quarterly or so (thinking of Larkin's quarterly "reproaches").

Thank you again!

Fred said...


Intractable indeed.

Happy New Year--may the coming year be a good one.

Stephen Pentz said...

Fred: yes, intractable, but still paradise (now and then).

Best wishes for the New Year to you as well.

Kylie said...

So "sip" is you? I thought it was the poet exhorting us to sip at life--akin to "gulp", only seemlier. (I am too literal-minded!)

I like your poem very much. What a lovely way to end the year. Thank you.

Stephen Pentz said...

Kylie: yes, "sip" is me. I can see how it might be confusing. However, you may have improved the poem, come to think of it!

I greatly appreciate your kind words. As always, thank you very much for visiting. Best wishes for the coming year.

Julie Whitmore Pottery said...

utterly delicious post in every way
Happy new year, Stephen

Stephen Pentz said...

Thank you, Julie. Best wishes for the New Year.