Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Awakening to Poetry.

Justin Evans notes in his response to my poem "Marked and Stranded" that, " I have read very little of him [Mark Strand]. "Orpheus Alone," however, was one of the first poems to inspire my own writing---even though I will never be able to match it on any level."

I also find myself returning to and rereading a Strand poem: "Keeping Things Whole", which often stimulates in me an almost pristine appreciation for ars poetica taking me back to the initial point of discovery of poetry and that which continues to instill in me an affinity for this means of communication. As Strand aptly puts it : " … it's not that poetry reveals more about the world — it doesn't — but it reveals more about our interactions with the world than our other modes of expression. And it doesn't reveal more about ourselves alone in isolation, but rather it reveals that mix of self and other, self and surrounding, where the world ends and we begin, where we end and the world begins. "

Strand himself also seems to point to a specific pome as a catalyst, "Strand characterizes McLeish's poem ["You, Andrew Marvel"] as the kind he would like to write himself, "something with its sweep, its sensuousness, its sad crepuscular beauty, something capable of carving out such a large psychic space for itself." He even concedes his returning often to the oeuvres of certain poets and his maintaining an ongoing admiration for individual poems such as "You, Andrew Marvel" are central to his own continuing desire to write poetry: "It is one of the poems that I read and reread, and that reinforces my belief in poetry, and that makes me want to write." " ( from Mark Strand's Interview with Katharine Coles)

You, Andrew Marvell
Archibald MacLeish

And here face down beneath the sun
And here upon earth's noonward height
To feel the always coming on
The always rising of the night:

To feel creep up the curving east
The earthy chill of dusk and slow
Upon those under lands the vast
And ever climbing shadow grow

And strange at Ecbatan the trees
Take leaf by leaf the evening strange
The flooding dark about their knees
The mountains over Persia change

And now at Kermanshah the gate
Dark empty and the withered grass
And through the twilight now the late
Few travelers in the westward pass

And Baghdad darken and the bridge
Across the silent river gone
And through Arabia the edge
Of evening widen and steal on

And deepen on Palmyra's street
The wheel rut in the ruined stone
And Lebanon fade out and Crete
high through the clouds and overblown

And over Sicily the air
Still flashing with the landward gulls
And loom and slowly disappear
The sails above the shadowy hulls

And Spain go under and the shore
Of Africa the gilded sand
And evening vanish and no more
The low pale light across that land

Nor now the long light on the sea:

And here face downward in the sun
To feel how swift how secretly
The shadow of the night comes on . . .

That I find it absolutely fascinating that a poet can trace his/her continued interest in poetry to one source is obvious. This choice often speaks volumes and gives us a valuable insight into the poets approach to craft.

Further reading - "Four Decades of Mark Strand's Poetry"


Erin Monahan said...

Well, Billy the Blogging poet said come see you - I'm glad I listened!

Mark Strand is quite possibly my favorite poet of all time. "The Dreadful has Already Happened" had such an effect on me that I had no choice but to read more and more of him. His Point of View on death, or shall I say, on life and its inevitable ending, absolutely intrigues and awes me.

He is absolutely and without a doubt one of the contemporary poets who inspires me, not only to write, but to write better.

Nice to "meet" you... I'll be back ;)

Nick said...

Glad you made it here and a pleasure to meet you.