Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Tuesday Poem: Grevel Lindop 'Cosmos'

 Between Orion and Gemini, an almost-full moon.
Wrinkled tidewater tilting at the lips of Morecambe Bay.

Galaxies of cow parsley edging the valley fields.
Slow explosions of lichen on the fellside boulders.

The long-armed yew gesticulating at your window:
ancient growth-rings cupping a still more ancient hollow.

Old glass: molten tremulous lungful of human breath
spun flat, cut to rippled squares, set in the dusty casement.

Grain of the living oak, stopped dead in your tabletop.
Cobweb at the table's corner a map of skewed co-ordinates.

Your table lamp fed by Heysham's uranium rods,
Haverigg's twinkling windfarm, buried cables along the Duddon Valley.

Your mobile: lit menu, notional time, no signal.
The mountain: against the black of the sky, a blacker black.

The labyrinth of your fingerprint: Chartres maze stretched to an oval.
The fieldpaths crisscrossing in the palm of your hand.

An ink-slick spreading in the pen's furrow:
gold keel ploughing an ocean of churned Norway spruce.

All of it drawn and drawn into the pupil's black hole,
the dark that cannot be seen, the space that is everything else.

© Grevel Lindop
Reproduced with the permission of the author.



We have some good poets up here in the north.  Grevel Lindop's new collection Luna Park, published by Carcanet in Manchester, is absolutely his best yet and marks him as one of the UK's major poets. The title poem, Luna Park, refers to a funfair in Sydney, Australia which closed in 1979 after a Ghost Train fire that killed six children.  It is 'a haunted theme-park of talkative ghosts'.  'Forget the Opera House, forget everything,'  the poem instructs the reader.  'What I remember/is Luna Park, unreachable behind/ chain link fencing and KEEP OUT signs'.  The poem is about more than a derelict funfair and a child's longing, it seems to represent everything that's beyond our reach. (Luna Park has since re-opened under new management and stringent safety restrictions).

Luna Park as it is now. 

I found it hard to pick out favourite poems.  The Maldon Hawk brought back memories of studying that marvellous Anglo Saxon poem The Battle of Maldon at university.   Grevel's poem is centred on the hawk, missing from the original narrative; 'I am a word forgotten from his story'.  One of the passages I loved from Anglo Saxon poetry was the account of the Vikings' landing in the marshes and their 'cold voices' carried on the sea breeze, chilling the hearts of those who listened on the other side of the water.  A line in Grevel's poem reminded me of this; 'the sea-wind tastes of death'.  In the tragedy of Maldon massacre, the hawk's handler meets his end and, 'Never again,/ child of the waste moor and the tufted woodland,/ will I perch on that wrist, grasp the bone beneath'.

Another favourite was 'Bed', somewhere I love to read and write ;-
 
'It's a great book.  Open the covers,
soft and floppy as the hide of a giant folio,
patched and stitched.  Inside are the stories
of our one thousand and one nights, the radiant
conceptions of our children, dreams and memories
neither time nor water will wash out
nor the wringing of hands.'

But the bed is also a boat 'wooden raft that tilts on the tides of sleep' and also '(forgive me love)/ it's a grave, the narrow space where each day's laid'.

This is poetry to read and re-read, lyrical, deeply intelligent, romantic (in the BEST sense of the word), literary and yet completely accessible.  If you haven't already read it - get it! You can get it on Amazon from £3.54. Or you can be good and go direct to the Carcanet site.

Luna Park
Grevel Lindop
Carcanet Press

                 

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