Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Poplar Memory"

My previous two posts considered the possibility that our souls may leave remnants behind when our stay here comes to an end.  I should have noted at the outset of this excursion that, in bringing up this subject, I am not attempting to be profound or metaphysical or anything of that sort.

As is always the case, I am merely idly ruminating.  This detour was occasioned by a small poem by Mary Coleridge, not by a weighty contemplation upon Our Place In The Universe.  There shall be no ontology here.

In the interest of further idle rumination, the following poem by Patrick Kavanagh is, I think, a lovely instance of how we may leave something of our soul behind.

                                     David Jones, "The Storm Tree" (1948)

                    Poplar Memory

I walked under the autumned poplars that my father planted
On a day in April when I was a child
Running beside the heap of suckers
From which he picked the straightest, most promising.

My father dreamt forests, he is dead --
And there are poplar forests in the waste-places
And on the banks of drains.

When I look up
I see my father
Peering through the branched sky.

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

         David Jones, "The View from Gatwick House, Essex, April" (1946)


Bovey Belle said...

What a lovely post and poem. I have planted apple trees, and pears, and oaks, so perhaps someone may wonder about them in the future, much as I do about the sporadic plantings of splendid Copper Beeches hereabouts.

Stephen Pentz said...

Thank you, Bovey Belle. I have seen parts of your garden and some of your trees on Codlinsandcream. You have already created a lovely legacy!

Mathias Richter said...

Dear Stephen,
I must confess that I first read about Patrick Kavanagh at your blog. He has been just one of several finds during the last months. Perhaps it is due to your talent for selecting the right poem at the right time that Kavanagh spoke to me immediately. I own very few poetry collections; I frequent the local university library quite often which provides me with a lot interesting things. But I was surprised not to find any Kavanagh there! So I ordered his collected poems which by a happy coincidence arrived today. When I read your post this afternoon I knew it was the right decision.
Thank you so much for your stimulating work, Stephen!

All best wishes,

Stephen Pentz said...

Mr. Richter: thank you very much for your kind words. The pleasure is all mine, and I am always gratified when poets whose work I post find more readers.

I'm sure you'll enjoy the Collected Poems. It's a nice coincidence that your copy arrived when it did!

His work was hard to find (partly because of copyright disputes) for quite some time. Antoinette Quinn performed a great service by putting together the Collected Poems in 2004.

Thanks again.