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Two poems by Anne Stevenson.

Making Poetry.

by Anne Stevenson.

‘You have to inhabit poetry
if you want to make it.’
 
And what’s to ‘inhabit ‘ ?
 
To be in the habit of, to wear
words, sitting in the plainest light,
in the silk of morning, in the shoe of night;
a feeling bare and frondish is surprising air;
familiar…rare.
 
And whats ‘to make’ ?
 
To be and to become words’ passing
weather ; to serve a girl on terrible
terms, embark on voyages over voices,
evade the ego-hill, the misery-well,
the siren-hiss of  success, publish,
success, success, success.
 
And why inhabit, make, inherit poetry ?
 
Oh , it’s the shared comedy of the worst
blessed ;  the sound leading the hand;
a worldlife running from mind to mind
through the washed rooms of the simple senses;
one of those haunted, undefendable, unpoetic
crosses we have to find. 
 

from Anne Stevenson , Poems 1955-2005, Publ. Bloodaxe Books.

Carol of the Birds

by Anne Stevenson.

 
Feet that could be clawed, but are not ….
Arms that might have flown, but did not…
No-one said, ‘Let there be angels!’ but the birds
 
whose choirs fling alleluias over the sea,
Herring gulls, black backs carolling raucoucly
While cormorants dry their wings on a rocky stable.
 
Plovers that stoop to sanctify the land
And scoop small, roundy mangers in the sand,
Swaddle a saviour each in a speckled shell.
 
A chaffinchy fife unreeling in the marsh
Accompanies the tune a solo thrush
Half sings, half talks in riffs of wordless words,
 
As hymns flare up from tiny muscled throats,
Robins and hidden wrens whose shiny notes
Tinsel the precincts of the winter sun.
 
What loftier organ than those pipes of beech,
pillars resounding with the jackdaws’ speech,
And poplars swayed with light like shaken bells?
 
Wings that could be hands, but are not…
Cries that might be pleas yet cannot
Question or disinvent the stalker’s gun,
 
Be your own hammerbeam angels of the air
Before in the maze of space, you disappear,
Stilled by our dazzling anthrocentric mills.
 


 
from Anne Stevenson , Poems 1955-2005, Publ. Bloodaxe Books.