The effect of this poem may be enhanced by watching and listening to this YouTube video in which Matthew Macfadyen reads the poem ‘This Is Just To Say’
William Carlos Williams ( 1883 – 1963 ) had an English father and a Puerto Rican mother. He grew up in Rutherford, New Jersey. He was an American poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright. He was also a physician practising both paediatrics and general medicine. With Ezra Pound and H.D.Williams he was a leading poet of the Imagist movement and often wrote of American subjects and themes. He became an inspiration to the Beat generation in the 1950s and 60s. As in the poem above, his poetry was often domestic in focus and was described as “remarkable for its empathy, sympathy, its muscular and emotional identification with its subjects.”
Known primarily as a novelist, Kurt Vonnegut (1922 – 2007) was an American writer. He published 14 novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five works of non-fiction. He is most famous for his darkly satirical, best-selling novel ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’, published in(1969.
I do like this short poem of his which I came across only recently. Apparently it was never given a title by Vonnegut and was discovered in a letter of 1961 sent by him to a friend. It has a delightfully simple and artless warmth which engenders such good feeling and optimism.
Two little good girls Watchful and wise — Clever little hands And big kind eyes — Look for signs that the world is good, Comport themselves as good folk should. They wonder at a father Who is sad and funny strong, And they wonder at a mother Like a childhood song. And what, and what Do the two think of? Of the sun And the moon And the earth And love.
A poem written to keep in my memory the thoughts engendered by the music played at my wife’s funeral eight weeks ago today. Composed by Vaughan Williams, ‘The Lark Ascending’ was very much her favourite piece of classical music. The version used was played on the violin by the Scottish violinist, Nicola Benedetti, and can be heard on YouTube at: ‘The Lark Ascending’
The promise of the sea As it thrusts towards the shore Is of resurgent love And with it the swell in my heart soars Its tide in turn repeating What once I had before When life was young And in its flow
Now as it ebbs It is not easy To renew that glow Which once provided all the hope Of future bliss I ever needed When sun kissed seas Spoke loud their passion Their cresting waves Breaking one on one In repeating fashion Mirroring my wishes Releasing desires Bringing the froth and foam Of hope To these cool shores
Ribbed sand now reminds Of what is yet to come The ripples of my heartbeat Become the breakers bolstering my breath The thrill of expectation Arriving with the tide
On what distant shores have those same waves Broken their strength And torn in two My harried heart