Sunday, April 22, 2012

"The God Of Poetry"

As a general rule, I am wary of Poems About Poetry and Poems About The Writing Of Poetry.  It all seems too self-indulgent, self-regarding, and hermetic to me, what with the whole of the world out there to be written about.  That being said, as the absolute (but, I hope, benevolent) dictator of this blog, I reserve the right to arbitrarily make exceptions to my arbitrary general rule.

Hence, I present the following Poem About Poetry by Patrick Kavanagh, for whom I am willing to make an exception because he is Patrick Kavanagh. Moreover, the poem takes a skeptical view of the grandiose school of poetry, which also merits an exception to my general rule.  And, finally, Kavanagh (not always, but to a great extent) practiced what he is preaching in this poem.

                            Elsie Barling (1883-1976), "Cornish Mill" (1942)

      The God of Poetry

I met a man upon the road
And a solemn man was he,
I said to him: you surely are
The god of poetry.

He never answered my remark,
But solemnly walked on,
Uttering words like 'splendour' and
'Picasso-fingered dawn'.

Then I walked on until I met
Another man and he
Danced with delight -- this surely is
The god of poetry.

All day I walked, all day I searched,
And had no eyes to see
The genuine god who never looks
A bit like poetry.

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

                                          Elsie Barling, "Welsh Village"

As evidence that Kavanagh practices what he preaches in "The God of Poetry," I suggest having a look at "Wet Evening in April" (which appeared in my previous post).  The following poem (which I have posted before, but which is worth revisiting) is lovely evidence as well.

     Consider the Grass Growing

Consider the grass growing
As it grew last year and the year before,
Cool about the ankles like summer rivers,
When we walked on a May evening through the meadows
To watch the mare that was going to foal.


                                      Elsie Barling, "Celtic Landscape"


Shelley said...

That "as it grew last year and the year before" is a tone really hard to achieve.


Stephen Pentz said...

Shelley: thank you for the thought on Kavanagh's line. Yes, it is very fine, isn't it? One of the things that I like about his poetry is his ability to use that sort of conversational tone, but at the same time to add a sort of elevation (I'm not sure if that is the correct word) to it. But I would not want to over-analyze these things: it sounds lovely, which is enough.

Thank you for dropping by again.