Tuesday, 19 August 2014

NEW: Jack Gilbert's 'Michiko Dead' in Favourite Poems

Michiko Dead is a powerful poem in which Gilbert likens the grief he feels over the death of his wife, the sculptor Michiko Nogami, to the way a man carries a heavy box. It is an extended metaphor (i.e., the metaphor continues throughout the entire length of the poem) and the way each line on the page runs into the next mirrors the way the subject of the poem tries to wrap his arms around a barely manageable load. The language is simple but the sentiment it so skillfully hints at makes it one of the best 'descriptions' of grief that I have ever read.  

August's Favourite Poet

Better late than never- August's poet is Jack Gilbert who wrote one of the all-time most heart-wrenching poems (see Favourite Poems page) entitled Michiko Dead. Check out the Favourite Poets page for links to Gilbert's bio and sample poems.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

New Poem added to Favourites

Lying in a hammock at William Duffy's farm at Pine Island, Minnesota by James Wright

is a haunting poem that I can read over and over again and find something new each time. The poem starts at a specific time and at a specific location and begins observationally in a pleasant, pastoral tone but by the second sentence I always sense some unease (why is the house empty?) and a kind of disassociation beginning to creep in (not cows following one another but cowbells).

How interesting the transformation of the horse droppings in the next line, but why are they last year's horses? It's an unusual syntax and adds to my sense of unease and discomfort. And then evening comes with the image of a predatory bird looking (but not finding?) home. By now, what can be read as a gentle nature poem has, for me, become something more sinister, although in a very subtle, understated way I find difficult to describe. And then- the dagger through the heart!

I have wasted my life. 

No matter how many times I read this poem, I find this line startling but also quite ambiguous. Has the poet had a sudden moment of utter despair, as sometimes afflicts all of us? Or conversely, is he rejoicing in this moment of intense observation and realising that he has previously walked blindly through his life? I love that this line is so unexpected and can be read in so many different ways. I don't care that I'll never know what James Wright intended- he has written something that continues to surprise and resonate- and for me, that is the essence of a 'favourite' poem!