Poetry nudges me: you know, poetry says. You know all of this is irreducible, Unmanageable, unwieldy, and unfit for prose (“How about for amateurs?” I want to quip – But know that poetry, though she loves her puns, Would fail to see the joke). Poetry’s relentless: what you feel, now, and what you see – They’re mine, poetry insists. Where beauty is concerned – Bandit-masked magpies bounce and glimmer verdigris In tumbling March light, and clouds, reflected in many-angled windowpanes, Are copper, now, and cobalt, now, and now the colour of clear tea – Poetry is proprietorial.
“And what about - ?” – but poetry’s ahead of me. Yes, all that stuff, too: what’s awful, what’s deep-sunk – What rolls through you like ocean-currents, riptidal, cold, bonegrey, Roll through an ocean: over wrecks and bones – These things that make you (“Me?” I ask – yes, you, she says) Not weep or sing but, rather, summon something more: That make you want to answer in a manner consonant in scale with The way the world expresses things – These have a sort of beauty too, she smiles – that is, if I say they do. I smile back at poetry. “And do you say so?” Poetry says she does. And if they’re beautiful, these things, then poetry Will take them for her own.
“It’s all the same,” I argue. “Prose and poetry: neither’s real, Neither’s true, and each is only compromise, is humbug, is a sham, And furthermore,” I say (for I am drunk and not articulate), “they’re both Just words, is all they are. Life does not have words – And nor does life need all that scaffolding Of scansion, stanzas, rhythm, rhyme and tone – no, life has a high style all its own, and words aren’t worth a damn.” I fall silent, then, feeling like that Cromwell-era poet who (though Godly) railed against his God, Until, with gentleness ineffable, rebuked: “Child!”, God says. But poetry Says nothing – So I again declare: “Life has no words, and has no need of words”, and poetry says, “Nor has poetry.” I (being drunk and not articulate) have no quick reply – but think (as I have thought before) that this Is just the sort of damned confounding thing that poetry often likes to say. .