Poetry’s Echo

“I love life; I love each day, // I love when sunlight starts to stray // Through swaying trees, then pirouettes // Enhancing dancing silhouettes.”

I first encountered JM Robertson’s poetry a little over ten years ago, when I found myself in possession of his book ‘Words of an Edinburgh Lad’. It was, amongst others, and in particular, his poem entitled ‘I Love Life’ that somehow made a home amongst the clutter of a teenage mind, vivid imagery determined to remain unforgotten despite the years that went by.

What was it about Robertson’s poetry that made it more arresting than its prosaic counterpart?

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Boule de Suif | Longreads

“Elle se sentait en même temps indignée contre tous ses voisins et humiliée d’avoir cédé, souillée par les baisers de ce Prussien entre les bras duquel on l’avait hypocritement jetée.” 

– She was conscious at the same time of anger against all her neighbours and humiliation at having given way, as if she had been defiled by the embraces of the Prussian, into whose arms their hypocrisy had cast her.

(Spoilers within.)

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This Is Just To Say

“Time is a storm in which we are all lost. Only inside the convolutions of the storm itself shall we find our directions.”

William Carlos Williams said it well when he compared time to a chaotic force to be reckoned with. With the eye reputedly it’s calmest point, and convolutions of the storm far more testing, it is easy to see why he believed it is in these convolutions, or difficult times, that we are shaped, and emerge with a sense of direction.

For each person ‘convolutions of the storm’ will appear in different sizes and on different occasions; alas, it is that time of year again where I find myself facing some of mine.

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Fiona Barton: The Widow

“He wasn’t there to provide for her anymore. Or to stop her talking.”

Barton’s ‘The Widow’ tells the tale of Jean Taylor and husband Glen. He is the accused, and she is the loyal wife, quiet at his side as his name is tarnished and reputation sullied. Until, that is, the day she finds herself alone. With Glen gone, suddenly it’s her turn in the spotlight, and all those unanswered questions from the past are back and knocking on the door.

(This review may contain spoilers.)

(Major plot spoilers and the ending aren’t mentioned though.)

(Still not sure if you should read on? In that case, read the book then get back to me.)
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A Personal Tale of Bibliophilia

“I am simply a ‘book drunkard’. Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.”

Never has a truer word been said about a bibliophile and their relationship with books than these by Canadian author L.M. Montgomery (for those of you trying to place her, Montgomery’s rise to literary stardom began with the publication of ‘Anne of Green Gables’ in 1908).

How many of us have told ourselves we’ll stop after one more page, before somehow managing to reach the end of the chapter? And how many have promised the same for one chapter but have gone on to finish the entire book, sleep be damned? I know I for one fit into both camps, and it is that ‘irresistible temptation’ that is to blame.

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Fitzgerald, Technology, and Writing Decline | A Commentary

“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.”

In a letter to his daughter “Scottie”, writer of American classic ‘The Great Gatsby’, F Scott Fitzgerald offered this curious insight. Though the letter was undated, what is clear from both his own accounts, and those of him from the time, is he did not see himself as the literary great the world does today.

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Dickinson, Poetry and Bronchitis

“Then Space – began to toll, // As all the Heavens were a Bell, / And Being, but an Ear,”

My favourite lines in Emily Dickinson’s ‘I felt a Funeral, in my Brain’, the first time I read them, I was struck by imagery of starry galaxies being poured down a golden ear horn, into a waiting ear. Her poetry was dark, and bleak, and yet rhythm and lexical choice had been woven together to produce such simplistic beauty I was inspired.

This inspiration manifested itself during a biology class where the teacher set us several tasks. One of them was to write a poem / rap / song / conversation entitled ‘Doctor – is there anything that can be done about my bronchitis?’ Drawing on Dickinson’s poem, I ended up with this:

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