Today is World Poetry Day – whatever that means. If, like me, you only know about it because you spotted it on Twitter, or maybe just now while you’re reading this, and maybe you’re reading it in the future and it isn’t World Poetry Day any longer anyway, that probably ain’t a whole lot. I’m just guessing that there’s a ‘national poetry day’ and an ‘international poetry day’ &c. like there is for short stories, long stories, and just about every author the art institution/general public ever really LOVED (or hated).
This particular day was declared by UNESCO according to Wikipedia. That doesn’t mean a whole lot to me either, although I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the name UNESCO on the TV so I guess today being World Poetry Day is pretty legit. More to the point, I actually happen to be reading a book of poetry at the moment, which despite my literary pretensions is a fairy rare occasion because as I frequently mention, poetry makes me a little uncomfortable. This book is Ted Hughes’ Crow, and I bought it because the quote from the Observer on the back said ‘Each fresh encounter with despair becomes the occasion for a separate, almost funny story…’ Despair being one of my favourite themes, obviously. I was not disappointed and found the quote to be almost accurate, except for the word ‘almost’. The poems in Crow are not almost but frequently funny; full of black humour. This is one of my favourites; I think it’s terribly good, and it’s for my mother because she likes birds.
Crow and the Birds
When the eagle soared clear through a dawn distilling of
When the curlew trawled in seadusk through a chime of
When the swallow swooped through a woman’s song in a
And the swift flicked through the breath of a violet
When the owl sailed clear of tomorrow’s conscience
And the sparrow preened himself of yesterday’s promise
And the heron laboured clear of the Bessemer upglare
And the bluetit zipped clear of lace panties
And the woodpecker drummed clear of the rotorvator and
the rose farm
And the peewit tumbled clear of the laundromat
While the bullfinch plumped in the apple bud
And the goldfinch bulbed in the sun
And the wryneck crooked in the moon
And the dipper peered from the dewball
Crow spraddled head-down in the beach-garbage, guzzling
a dropped ice-cream.
The image in this post is by Matt Collier.