- Reading, books 2013: 22.
22. I done a book! \o/ (In other news: waiting rooms are boring.)
I read Selected Poems by C. Day Lewis
. I usually avoid collections in which the author has been allowed to choose and arrange their own poems but Lewis' preface indicates that he understood what he was doing (although I don't know enough of his work to accurately judge whether or not he achieved his intention well). Lewis' reputation as a poet has declined with time and this volume doesn't include many poems I'd want to quote at people in their entirety but Lewis' deliberate choices of lyrical language mean there are many images and phrases that will stay with me:
"a brown mare / Drinks her reflection." From The Double Vision
"Then I turn the page / To a girl who stands like a questioning iris / By the waterside, at an age / That asks every mirror to tell what the heart's desire is." From The AlbumO Dreams, O Destinations, sonnet 2
, by C. Day Lewis
Children look down upon the morning-grey
Tissue of mist that veils a valley’s lap;
Their fingers itch to tear it and unwrap
The flags, the roundabouts, the gala day.
They watch the spring rise inexhaustibly -
A breathing thread out of the eddied sand,
Sufficient to their day: but half their mind
Is on the sailed and glittering estuary.
Fondly we wish their mist might never break,
Knowing it hides so much that best were hidden:
We’d chain them by the spring, lest it should broaden
For them into a quicksand and a wreck.
But they must slip through our fingers like the source,
Like mist, like time that has flagged out their course.
"To settle like a bird, make one devoted / Gesture of permanence upon the spray / Of shaken stars and autumns;" [...] "Her home is soon a basketful of wind." From O Dreams, O Destinations sonnet 9 (You can hear Lewis read the whole sonnet sequence on youtube
I am especially fond of his lyrics Jig and Hornpipe, and also very much appreciate what he was trying to achieve in Two Songs (and hit what he was aiming at although I think he missed a perfect bullseye because his middle class, male perspective was too skewed to see his subject with complete clarity).
It seems fitting that one of Lewis' best known and poetically most successful works, from which the epitaph on his gravestone is taken, is a lyric about love and death (written for his lover Rosamund Lehmann in 1944, when there was too much death and not nearly enough love).Is It Far To Go?
, by C. Day LewisIs it far to go?
A step - no further.
Is it hard to go?
Ask the melting snow,
The eddying feather.( Full text of Is It Far To Go? )