The View from the Window
Like a painting it is set before one,
But less brittle, ageless; these colours
Are renewed daily with variations
Of light and distance that no painter
Achieves or suggests. Then there is movement,
Change, as slowly the cloud bruises
Are healed by sunlight, or snow caps
A black mood; but gold at evening
To cheer the heart. All through history
The great brush has not rested,
Nor the paint dried; yet what eye,
Looking coolly, or, as we now,
Through the tears' lenses, ever saw
This work and it was not finished?
R. S. Thomas, Poetry for Supper (Rupert Hart-Davis 1958).
The thought embodied in the poem is lovely: the World is forever unfinished, but, at any given moment, it is absolutely perfect. Some may find this thought trite or simplistic. It is neither. I'd say it bids fair to be the secret of life.
Felicity Charlton, "Cineraria" (1964)
Five Minutes at the Window
A boy, in loops and straights, skateboards
down the street. In number 20
a tree with lights for flowers
says it's Christmas.
The pear tree across the road shivers
in a maidenly breeze. I know
Blackford Pond will be
a candelabra of light.
A seagull tries over and over again
to pick up something on the road.
Oh, the motorcars.
And a white cat sits halfway up a tree.
Trivia. What are trivia?
They've blown away my black mood.
I smile at the glass of freesias on the table.
My shelves of books say nothing
but I know what they mean.
I'm back in the world again
and am happy in spite of
its disasters, its horrors, its griefs.
Ewen McCaig (editor), The Poems of Norman MacCaig (Polygon 2009).
Andrew Nairn (1903-1993), "The Hill Road"
"Happy were he could finish forth his fate/In some unhaunted desert . . ." I understand the feeling, as well as the longing that underlies the feeling. However, we do not need to find an unhaunted desert. We are capable of happily finishing forth our fate at this moment by walking out into the World and looking around us.
But the looking is best done without thinking and without naming. How difficult it is to simply look!
"The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion, -- all in one."
John Ruskin, Modern Painters, Volume 3, Part IV, Chapter XVI, Section 28 (1856).
W. Floyd Nash, "Canonbury Tower" (1942)