‘…..the holding burden of a wisteria
drape amid drape, the sodden
copia of all things flashing and drying..’ Geoffrey Hill
This is from the poem Broken Hierarchies that ended Geoffrey Hill’s Selected Poems and that he took as the overall title of his 936 page recently printed Collected Poems which arrived unexpectedly in the post this week. This is a Christmas present that is likely to last for many years and is the culmination of my wonderful year of poetry presents. Hill seems to me to be like Eliot. Huge and teetering between prolific and prolix, and like Eliot he lodges in my brain and I start to look at the world differently and to relish words again. Here is how I saw the ‘drape amid drape’ of our wisteria – – which was also, coincidentally, a wedding present. It was planted last Spring and has grown amazingly well around the window of my study.
Hill opens one’s eyes to the minutiae of the world around and then explains it in wonderful words. I wrote a recent poem that had the lines
‘…those Jacks/ aleatoric modes of chance.’ I couldn’t actually remember what aleatoric meant and spell check insists on underlining it in red. Looking it up again I was again caught in the excitement that words bring.
The Dark Horse magazine arrived a couple of days ago and this, also, is a wonderfully erudite publication with words and meaning central to its poetry and prose. I aspire to be published in this magazine more than any other. New Year Resolution?
It’s a funny time of year. There are external constraints that I have become unused to. Deadlines and postings, lists and projects. I try to write something for my grandchildren every year – the books for the older ones are now quite tattered and antique looking. However with the doubling of numbers as Phil and I found ‘Christmas glitters with our combined pasts’ comes a creative pressure that I find hard to keep up with. All the little children (five of them) will be visiting at some point next year so I have written a Bienvenue to France for them describing local places to visit and giving a short vocabulary list. As two of them, my great grandchildren arrive next week to spend Christmas with us I will have a chance to see whether they work as engaging stories. Older children have been given a copy of my children’s apocalyptic novel ‘Teranius-Earth-holder’ – the idea was first discussed some years ago with Woody, who is now 17 and past the target reader group but who I hope will still enjoy it and will read it with his sister. I would have liked to do more, had ambitions for puppets and illustrations but time and energy are limited. So off in the post they all went, costing a fortune to send and meaning that I kept the queue waiting in Beny Bocage PO, with its single lady serving, for some considerable time.
So, this morning, my study is restored to order and to its purpose of being a writing room, with the odd exception of the cards for those whose address I have lost and a couple of unwrapped late presents waiting to be hand delivered.
Writing this gives me back a feeling of purpose and a determination to keep writing, keep writing. I have updated the ‘send-out’ list and am preparing to send a set of poems off to Happenstance and to Poetry News. I will do new submissions to my favourite magazines, hoping that persistence and ambition will yield an occasional result. Interested readers in the fate of Lullaby Lu should know that she has favourite laps, favourite cushions and favourite dinners. She is developing in a suitably cat-like way!
I look forward to be being more regular in my blogging next year. Thank you readers – you are my community of fellow readers and writers and are much appreciated. Have a very happy Christmas.