Isn’t life grand?

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.

Cathy x

Posted in Uncategorized
6 comments on “Isn’t life grand?
  1. Yep, I wanna write like that Katharine Towers. So quiet but incredibly powerful (like a silent fart).
    This is what I am aiming for in my poetry. I have a long way to go.

  2. I want it on my epitaph:
    She wrote poetry like silent farts

  3. Silent poetry mushroomed from her rear
    and as the toxic cloud drifted downwind,
    the world ran for cover.

    Will that do? Not sure I’ve grasped the whole ‘metaphor thing’ yet.

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