photo by: Sunday Grrl
I came home last night to find on my desk The Great Modern Poets: An Anthology of the Best Poets and Poetry Since 1900 (edited by M Schmidt). It's an ideal (re)introduction for someone like me who has not studied poetry in any sustained way since high school and who doesn't have the frame of mind for a tome. Each of the 50 poets is given a short introduction, and some historical and critical context for his or her work. Plus, the book itself looks pretty and feels precious. I will resist taking it around with me today for show and tell.
The usual team was called up - Hardy, Houseman, Frost, Yeats, Frost, Pound, Eliot, Graves, Auden, Thomas, Hughes, Plath etc. - to join names I hadn't heard of before. I was quite surprised to find an Aussie in there, Les Murray (1938 - ). After reading a few of the heavies (it is ordered by poet's date of birth), I came across him and was taken back to the muggy classroom of my teenage years.
I want to share one of his poems here, not because it was necessarily the most pleasurable or insightful of those I read before bed (although I don't think I was being particularly discerning, I was just happy to have my new book!) and certainly not because he is an Australian (you may already know about my ambivalence towards patriotism). I have chosen it because his poem threads many of my recent thoughts about academics, particularly those in consuming spells of thinking and writing. Also, it's reminiscent of a fair few religious/spiritual and philosophical ideas I have read or heard over the years that have appealed to me.
The Meaning of Existence
Everything except language
knows the meaning of existence.
Trees, planets, rivers, time
know nothing else. They express it
moment by moment as the universe.
Even this fool of a body
lives it in part, and would
have full dignity within it
but for the ignorant freedom
of my talking mind.
Anyway, I am off to my Department. It is far too bright and warm for it and my legs are rebelling against the idea. I am quite certain this will be another day of students talking about admiring and smelling flowers and worrying about their inability to focus or finish sentences.
Feel free to point me to your favourite poems - who knows how long this zeal with last! Hope you are feeling uncluttered and positive about things.