I’ve been trying to write a long poem in tribute to my father who was a Wordsworth enthusiast. Needless to say, I have found it very difficult and don’t know what to make of my attempt. This is the beginning. The good thing about a blog is you can float ideas to try out. This is not a finished draft; merely a first attempt!
Is it for this an un-bridged chasm yawned between us?
I know I turned away from your literary conversations
and when you wrote your annotations, but be sure, that now
I venerate your Everyman hardback. Now you’re no longer
able to converse with Wordsworth or with me I’ll try
and bridge the widening gap. I’ve paid homage today
by gluing the loose spine and placing your book on my altar.
You didn’t annotate De Quincey’s quip, that Wordsworth’s legs
were certainly not ornamental so I wonder if you smiled
when you followed De Quincey’s meandering steps. Did you
chuckle when you read that beside a tall clergyman
Wordsworth’s figure appeared “mean” and he walked
like a beetle, even edging his companions off the highway?
Once you attached a grapnel around his eyes and underscored:
there was a light as if radiating from some spiritual world
the light that never was on land or sea.
I’m in concord here and throw a rope to the other side, hoping
I can narrow the distance. I’m following a convoluted path
here and now but recognise your footprints: your battles
en route and with the dimming light. Some footholds
afford some security and I can rest awhile. I travel on
and glimpse a finger-post pointing to a deep ravine;
I hope there’s a permissive path beyond the gorse.
I was a toddler trailing clouds of glory when you read
about your hero’s legs. Like his, yours conquered many a peak
and cut a path through scrub and gorse. Years later I came to myself
in a dark wood: I knew I had lost the way. If only I had
talked to you about Dante’s Labyrinthine Way!
Your furrow then was straight and certain, a bulwark against
the distractions of the world. You underlined in pencil;
he was guarded from too early intercourse with the deformities
of crowded life. In the ensuing years your naming of parts
obscured both our paths. You named the poetic faculty
as the highest good. I find your longer sentences difficult
to follow even with a magnifying glass. You turned his Ode
around and wrote horizontally. There is little that’s fugitive
but his spots of time became your asterisks; his radical ideas
your ‘toning down.’
I lay down my words in the shadow of yours;
I underline the verses next to yours and tomorrow I’ll copy out
your longer passages before they fade from view. My hands
touch the edge of both our worlds on this cold day.
A double underlining for the powers of reason and nature
thus reciprocally teacher and taught – you can be my guide
even at this late date. I know that, a voice without imagination
cannot be heard. Is it for this that I am searching for the signs?