Discrepant age

It’s not easy to maintain a daily blog, but I have no complaints. Over a lifetime of reading and wide experience, I have a lot of cultural material at my disposal; and the supply of such stimuli is endless, living, as I do, in a city such as London where there is so much going on and so many events and galleries and museums and places of interest to visit, not to mention people to observe.

The fact that the main focus of this blog in on poetry is a further advantage. In his preface to the Selected Poems of Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot wrote that a poet should write every day, that the poet should in fact write for the sake of writing and not be overly concerned about the quality of the verse. The discipline of writing every day Eliot compared to the fireman keeping his engine in good working order by polishing it daily. True inspiration, as every poet knows, is rare and cannnot be summoned, and it can come and go in a flash. Shelley wrote of the same phenomenon in his Defence of Poetry (see my earlier post including an extract from that essay).  

So most days I rise and I write, just as I did this morning. I have notebooks at my disposal should I want for ideas, and in these notes there are many quotations from other sources: writing is, after all, re-writing. Today, for example, a couple of lines from Robert Herrick seemed appropriate and I have consciously slipped them into my own poem, other references are unconscious.

The vocation is sacred, nothing else!

 

Discrepant age

How brightly the flame of beauty
      burns in the mind’s eye
and how jealously the memory
      guards the precious memory
They may replace my hips
      or my knees or my teeth
or my hair as I slip
      into that other state
that other country
      that is still not quite the end
With scalpel they may sculpt
      a fresh smile
or tighten the failing skin
      across my pale cheeks
They may in so many ways
      breathe new life into old
but how brightly burns
      the flame of memory
in the mind that never flags
      that never tires of recalling
the silk of her flesh
      the soft impress of her lips
nor the sweetness of her voice
      the ruby niplet of her breast
the love that struck me
      with such gentle cruelty

Peddlers of time beware
      of passions that do dislodge
the hourglass from its pedestal
      that smash the unholy bulbs
            to smithereens

John Lyons

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