Posts Tagged ‘Michael Rosen’

Poetry Chain 3

April 2, 2016

Next came a poem from my lovely daughter, and after that, one from her friend who lives in France.  Kate reads this one to her little boy, but it is really for all ages.


Made a boat
from sticks and cloth –
put it on the water
to see it float.
Go boat, go boat
sail across that sea.
Go boat
and sail on back to me.
It’s sea and sky all the way over
my boat flies out across the water
but always comes on back to me.
It’s a good boat
go boat.
She’s a sail boat
my boat.
Go boat, go boat
sail across that sea.
Go boat
and sail on back to me.

Michael Rosen.

It reminds me of – it answers, perhaps – the Alexandria poem, with a loss that is recovered.  The boat is let go willingly, and comes back again in that satisfying, enclosing circle  – the embrace – of the last line.  Might that be because it was released with pleasure and grace?  Perhaps because the poem came from my daughter, and my grandson, I begin to think about the ways in which one’s children go out, go free, and then somehow return, changed and yet the same.


The next poem was in French, and, kindly, my daughter’s friend didn’t translate it for me.

Vert, orange, rouge
les feux sont des fruits,
des coeurs qui scintillent,
des yeux qui s’allument
au coin de ma rue.
dans les soirs de brume,
les feux sont des songes
au bout des trottoirs.

Pierre Gamarra, “Les feux”, La ville en poésie.

Coincidentally, another French poem came in that same day – this time I was glad of the translation, as then I could retro-fit the English back onto the French and find unusual ideas.


L’huître, de la grosseur d’un galet moyen, est d’une apparence plus rugueuse, d’une couleur moins unie, brillamment blanchâtre. C’est un monde opiniâtrement clos. Pourtant on peut l’ouvrir : il faut alors la tenir au creux d’un torchon, se servir d’un couteau ébréché et peu franc, s’y reprendre à plusieurs fois. Les doigts curieux s’y coupent, s’y cassent les ongles : c’est un travail grossier. Les coups qu’on lui porte marquent son enveloppe de ronds blancs, d’une sorte de halos.
A l’intérieur l’on trouve tout un monde, à boire et à manger : sous un firmament (à proprement parler) de nacre, les cieux d’en dessus s’affaissent sur les cieux d’en dessous, pour ne plus former qu’une mare, un sachet visqueux et verdâtre, qui flue et reflue à l’odeur et à la vue, frangé d’une dentelle noirâtre sur les bords.
Parfois très rare une formule perle à leur gosier de nacre, d’où l’on trouve aussitôt à s’orner.

Francis Ponge – Le parti pris des choses (1942)

The Oyster
The oyster, the size of an average rock, is rougher in appearance, less uniform in colour, brilliantly pale. It’s a world obstinately closed-off. However, you can open it: to do so, you have to cup it in a rag, and employ a dull, perforated blade, and go at it several times. In doing so, curious fingers get cut, nails broken: it’s a dirty job. The blows you rain down upon it mark the casing with white rings, like halos.
Inside you find a whole world, to eat and drink: under a firmament (to be precise) of nacre, heavens above give way to heavens below, to create no more than a puddle, an oily olive-tinged squelch, that ebbs and flows, the smell and the sight, fringed along the edges in black lace.
On very rare occasions, scree collects in its lustrous throat. Those who find this immediately decorate themselves with it.

I suppose it’s the crustacean theme, but I find myself thinking of that film ‘The Lobster’ which I saw recently.  Human beings displaying aspects of an animal nature – a specific animal’s nature.  That intersection of the human, the stereotypical view of a creature (our projection, if you like) and the reality of the creature’s existence – seems to me to illuminate all three.

So far, no further poems.  Perhaps that’s my lot?  And what a marvellous lot they are. Thank you, world, for these gifts.

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