Friday, April 20, 2012

"Wet Evening In April"

In this part of the world, one need not wait long for a wet evening in April to come calling.  And so, tonight, the following poem by Patrick Kavanagh comes to mind.

            Wet Evening in April

The birds sang in the wet trees
And as I listened to them it was a hundred years from now
And I was dead and someone else was listening to them.
But I was glad I had recorded for him the melancholy.

Patrick Kavanagh, Collected Poems (Allen Lane/Penguin 2004).

                             Charles Ginner, "St John's Church, Chester"

Patrick Kavanagh was more than a little preoccupied with the role of The Poet in society -- perhaps too much so.  He wasted a great deal of energy in literary quarreling and in producing satirical verse about the Irish literary and political world.  However, I think that "Wet Evening in April" is a lovely evocation of what a poet is capable of doing at his or her best.  After all, here we are -- not yet a hundred, but sixty years later -- reading about Patrick Kavanagh's birds singing in the wet April trees.  (And thank you, Mr. Kavanagh, for recording the melancholy.)

A serendipitous side-note:  I am writing this post on April 19, 2012.  In preparing to write the previous paragraph, I thought that I should find out exactly how long it has been since Kavanagh wrote "Wet Evening in April." I checked the Notes to his Collected Poems (edited by Antoinette Quinn) and this is what I found:  the poem was first published on April 19, 1952, in Kavanagh's Weekly.  Thus, a tiny, but nice, coincidence:  the poem was published exactly 60 years ago today.

                       Charles Ginner, "Hampstead Heath, Spring" (1932)


Chris Matarazzo said...

Stephen -- I love this sort of time-marking approach. It reminds me, at least in terms of its effect, of "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" by Whitman. I remember reading late into a summer morning and being chilled by: "What thought you have of me now, I had as much of you...I consider'd long and seriously of you before you were born...Who knows, for all the distance, but I am as good as looking at you now, for all you cannot see me?"

Stephen Pentz said...

Chris: thank you very much for the fine lines from Whitman. They fit perfectly! I can see why they would have brought chills as you read them.

I suppose that to write what Whitman and Kavanagh wrote on the one hand takes a great deal of self-confidence, but on the other hand is a very tender (I hope that that word doesn't sound too corny) and touching gesture. The idea of the connection across time is, I agree with you, lovely.

As always, I appreciate hearing from you.