Here’s a poem I really love.
The Way We Go
the way we go about our lives
trying out each empty room
like houses we might own
eavesdropping for clues in corridors until
standing at a gate or attic window
seeing beauty in a flag of sky
we’re gone, leaving the doors wide open
all the lights burning
By Katharine Towers
This is full of imagery but in a very quiet and unshowy way.
Our lives are full of empty rooms to try out. Then a simile: ‘like houses we might own’. Then back to the metaphor ‘in corridors’ and then I think we’re suddenly active in the image (outside the house or looking outside anyway) ‘at a gate or attic window’ where we understand the beauty of the world only to find that ‘we’re gone’.
Although I understand the meaning of every one of Katharine Towers’ simple words, the poem is finally mysterious, although, at the same time, I do understand what she’s getting at: it’s all very beautiful and very brief.
I don’t know. But I think it’s a very beautiful poem and the kind of poetry I’d like to write.
I do sometimes try to write poetry on grand themes. But I think my best poem yet is about picking spots. (I would put it up here but then it’s published online and I can’t enter it for any competitions – sorry.)
This poem by Ted Hughes, conveyed the experience of being in strong wind to me so vividly that, during a class discussion of imagery I found myself arguing that wind does really dent your eyeballs, so caught and held by the image was my mind’s eye.
This house has been far out at sea all night, The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills, Winds stampeding the fields under the window Floundering black astride and blinding wet Till day rose; then under an orange sky The hills had new places, and wind wielded Blade-light, luminous black and emerald, Flexing like the lens of a mad eye. At noon I scaled along the house-side as far as The coal-house door. Once I looked up -- Through the brunt wind that dented the balls of my eyes The tent of the hills drummed and strained its guyrope, The fields quivering, the skyline a grimace, At any second to bang and vanish with a flap; The wind flung a magpie away and a black- Back gull bent like an iron bar slowly. The house Rang like some fine green goblet in the note That any second would shatter it. Now deep In chairs, in front of the great fire, we grip Our hearts and cannot entertain book, thought, Or each other. We watch the fire blazing, And feel the roots of the house move, but sit on, Seeing the window tremble to come in, Hearing the stones cry out under the horizons.
When I grow up … or in my dreams, anyway.