I always believed that the human condition needed to be better examined but it wasn’t until recently that I discover how well a medium poetry is for doing just that. I have started reading older published works of poetry and feeling overwhelmed by the process. There is a lot that is being recommended for me to read. However one book has brought older works recently to my attention and that is The Essential Margaret Avison .
The World Still Needs (Excerpt) page 9
Frivolity is out of season.
Yet, in this poetry, let it be admitted
The world still needs piano-turners
And has fewer, and more of these
Grey fellows prone to liquor
On an unlikely Tuesday, gritty with wind,
When somewhere, behind windows,
A housewife stays for him until
Hour of the uneasy bridge-club cocktails
And the office rush at the groceteria
And the vesper-bell and the lit-up buses passing
And the supper trays along the hospital from
Sore throat and dusty curtains
Avison’s words here have a clear a descriptive quality. They are easy to understand and the imagery becomes apparent to the mind’s eye while reading.
Hid Life (Page 39)
Red apples hang frozen
in a stick-dry, snow dusty
network of branches,
against lamb’s wool and pastelblue of sky,
a crooked woodenness, a wizening red.
Are these iron stems? or is
this tree in a lee out of the
Heavily in my heart
the frost-bruised fruit, the sombre tree,
this unvisted room off winter’s endless corridors
even this fruit’s flesh
will sodden down at last.
Botanist, does the seed
so long up held
still somehow inform
petal and apple-spring-perfume
for sure, from so far?
Is the weight only
Robyn Sarah has provided a interesting introduction to the life and work of Avison at the beginning of the book.
Forward – Page 8
Avison’s poems exhibit a range of forms and styles, yet in every mode a voice comes through that is uniquely recognizable as hers – a response to the world that seamlessly blends the cerebral, the sensory, and the emotive. She broaches the metaphysical, the social and the human, delineating these with almost hallucinatory attention to detail. A wide-ranging allusiveness reflects eclectic reading, but equal attention is given to the unmediated ‘real world’ (primarily an urban world, rendered with haunting vividness through changes of season and times of day). The simplest poems about weather today, or the view out the window, easily yield a metaphoric reading, yet can also satisfy as poems about the weather or the view out the window.
It was a pleasure to read Avison’s work here. No doubt I will be exploring more of her work in the future.
Power (page 45)
Master of his first tricycle,
pedalling furiously towards the singing
he – double elation – meets
his father fresh afoot from that main thoroughfare –
to circle and
come too? No – a palaver
in reasonable terms he mutinously
waits out, stubbed between land and father’s foot,
all dammed-up and high voltage
with all ear for where he’ll go
At last dad hoists him, waist under one arm
trike dangled from the other hand
and heads home
DON’T PICK ME UP! the scarlet
struggling sobbing adventurer
wails (after the fact).
One is so powerful.
One is so small.
How can power know
not to make helplessness
what is decisive?
The Essential Margaret Avison was an enlightening introduction into the works of a brilliant poet. A must read for any poetry fan.