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November 1st Colette Bryce

Poetry thoughts:  some associative…  Sunday November 1st

Rereading some favourite poems from Self-Portrait in the Dark by Colette Bryce, and from Grain by John Glenday.

I love the 10 line poem 'The Hopes' for the vivid image of hopes as mechanical giraffes, and the assertion that the hopes are 'Dignified', and 'there for a reason' (hopeful in itself to know that!). The third couplet, 'Cables hang / from their heads like harnesses.' is striking in its imagery and personally strong to me as I remember a dream years ago, one of those with images you don't forget. In the dream, horses were bolting in the sky, their harnesses hanging as Colette describes. The dream came the day after my eldest daughter had left for university - I'd been tidying her almost empty room, read a photocopy of Ted Hughes' poem The Horses,  a poem she must have been studying, and the poem must have influenced the dream.
In Colette Bryce's poem, I love also the subtle rhymes, sure voice, and the final words that feel like perfect advice: 'Don't give up.'

The Hopes

They extend above the houses
like mechanical giraffes.

they are there for a reason.

Cables hang
from their heads like harnesses.

Behind them, the sky is unusually
blue and clear

for a month so late
in the year. Don't give up.

I read Colette's interview in Poetry London too and love her comment about truth in poetry:

CB: Well… I think a poem is no good if it doesn’t have an emotional truth. And, you know, autobiographical writing is not fashionable in poetry these days. ‘It’s all about form’ tends to be the gospel. But I believe content is equally important. I’d like to fly the flag for content because as human beings we are interested in each other’s lives, and the world. That’s why we read.



The Horses                                       [Ted Hughes]
I climbed through woods in the hour-before-dawn dark.
Evil air, a frost-making stillness,
Not a leaf, not a bird-
A world cast in frost. I came out above the wood
Where my breath left tortuous statues in the iron light.
But the valleys were draining the darkness
Till the moorline blackening dregs of the brightening grey
Halved the sky ahead. And I saw the horses:
Huge in the dense grey ten together
Megalith-still. They breathed, making no move,
With draped manes and tilted hind-hooves,
Making no sound.
I passed: not one snorted or jerked its head.
Grey silent fragments
Of a grey still world.
I listened in emptiness on the moor-ridge.
The curlews tear turned its edge on the silence.
Slowly detail leafed from the darkness. Then the sun
Orange, red, red erupted
Silently, and splitting to its core tore and flung cloud,
Shook the gulf open, showed blue,
And the big planets hanging
I turned
Stumbling in a fever of a dream, down towards
The dark woods, from the kindling tops,
And came the horses.
There, still they stood,
But now steaming, and glistening under the flow of light,
Their draped stone manes, their tilted hind-hooves
Stirring under a thaw while all around them
The frost showed its fires. But still they made no sound.
Not one snorted or stamped,
Their hung heads patient as the horizons,
High over valleys, in the red levelling rays
In din of the crowded streets, going among the years, the faces,
May I still meet my memory in so lonely a place
Between the streams and the red clouds, hearing curlews,
Hearing the horizons endure.