Monday, 17 March 2014

What we below could not see

A guest post by David Riley

What’s the best poetry about spring? I’ll tell you, it’s my job to pontificate. It’s when humans are, at most, at the edge of things. Take Seamus Heaney’s Rite of Spring, for example. Spring is there and does better than people can, who can only imitate its liberating effects.

Even more, people can be removed from things, as Ted Hughes does in The River in March. His river is an elemental force, it might even be a deity in itself. In Heaney and Hughes there are things the river and Spring can be and do - they don’t stand for something, they are something.

Wordsworth knew it too - his daffodils are beauty on a hillside, whether there are people there to see it or not.

Jane Hirschfield is excellent at showing how nature is really something other. We may dress it up and give it names, develop amnesia every year when the same seasons come around and trot out our same banalities but it is that something of itself, beyond us, that she shows.

Edward Thomas in his many meditations on nature sometimes links human activity and the seasons. At other times, he urges us to take a step back or rather to another position altogether, where we might see nature as other creatures do. Read his Thaw. See what you think. 

Rooks are back again by Alexei Kondratyevich Savrasov



Christo said...

Thanks for the snippets, David.
I shall come back to this later.
Great to read Jane Hirschfield - she deserves more recognition over here in GB.

Adele said...

Really enjoyed reading Thaw, David.

During Winterwatch, I learned that if you put food on a bird table after dark, birds do a flyover at dusk and bookmark their day. I love seeing the world from above when flying and for anyone who didn't catch the programme, Channel 4 did a whole day from The European Space Station that is available on 4od. This doesn't just take you out of the picture, it takes you out of this world.