Saturday, November 29, 2008

Poetry Class!

A Postcard from Crete

(i.m. Giles Gordon, 1940-2003)

Icarus', you say, 'was clearly misdirected,
Waving himself to death in the Aegean.
He should have striven for the moon instead.'

You wrote from Crete, the fifth time in twelve years
The family had stayed at Rethymon.
'Far fewer Germans than usual, mercifully.'

Too hot to do much sight-seeing, you report,
But the children have been 'thrilled to be informed
That Zeus was born in a cave just down the road.'

'We're even giving Knossos a duck this time.
But wonderful flowers, vegetation, reading,
Food, wine, ouzo, raki ... Love from Giles.'

I turn the postcard over, foolishly
Looking for you, white-suited, on the boats
Crowding the harbour. You're not there, of course.

You're here in your own words, each scribbled sentence,
As you were always present in your words,
Filling them with your wit and despair

That words can never quite hold what we are.
Maybe you should have striven for the moon,
But striving for the sun you flew as far

As any other Icarus I've known.
I miss your laughter, Giles. This card from Crete
Seems now I look at it your last good joke.

Robert Nye


Rusty said...

Yeah. I like that.

Here's another one:

From the TLS, May 26, 2006:

MATCHES (by Robert Nye)

Some matchsticks in a patch of melting tar
Held my attention for at least an hour
One afternoon when I was rising four.
Crouched in the shadow of some willow trees
I stared at them and saw the way love sees,
And all was close and clear and singular.

Three matchsticks in a black hot patch of tar,
One spent, one bent, one still a fusilier
Standing up proud and perpendicular
With fire in his head, my cavalier.
Well, I knelt by them on my naked knees,
Transfixed as always by simplicities.

I loved those lordlings of the molten square,
My puny masters stuck in hot black tar,
Though only now I’ve worked the reason out
(If love needs reasons, which of course I doubt):
We’re outcast in this world, and derelict,
Matches from nothing into nowhere flicked.

steve said...

Rusty! Welcome!

I like "Matches" as well, and I'm wondering who this Robert Nye is - wasn't there a novelist by that name, once upon a time? The writer of "Falstaff"?

Writers moonlighting as poets! What IS the world coming to?