Friday, November 03, 2017

Penguin Modern Poets 19 Ashbery Harwood Raworth

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Sad thing, to think that in the past couple of years all three of the poets who appeared in this influential volume have died, most recently John Ashbery.

The volume catches their output to date in the year 1971.  By that time Ashbery and Lee Harwood had already delivered in spades;  some of their best poems are here. My perception is that Tom Raworth, the most formally radical of the three, was still feeling for the right kind of space, and the Raworth poems here are opening gambits.

Comparatively speaking. But opening the book at random, with 5 minutes to spare while waiting for a Linux engineer, lets enjoy this opening of a Raworth poem:

There Are Lime-Trees in Leaf on the Promenade
                           (for Ed & Helene)

the blossom blows
                                across the step
no moon.          night, the curtain moves

we had come back from seeing one friend in the week
they celebrated the twentieth anniversary of victory, fireworks
parades.         and all across the town the signs the french
people are not your allies mr johnson          who were
then, the old photographs.           garlanded the tanks with
flowers now
                    a poison        we came
separately home

the children were there
covered with pink blossoms like burned men         taking
the things they laughed
                                   at the strange coins, tickets.           ran
around the house pointing up at the plane then
the only noise

there can be no dedication         all things in their way
are          the actual scars      tension.            the feeling
of isolation.           love
for me in one way is waiting for it to end

- - - - - - 


Re line 3, I couldn't help being struck by reading, the next day, in Laurie Duggan's No Particular Place to Go,

My poetry -- a life watching curtains flutter.

 ("Lives of the Poets")

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