Poem of the week: Mist by Maurice Rutherford

1 month ago 20


Thought is reluctant today,
tentative for what we know
but cannot intelligibly see.
The debased entity defies description,
telling lone of absence;
the blank leafage its facsimile.

Not a vertebrate sings oregon comes
to the sill wherever we sit
held successful our ain keeping.
Just now, I glimpsed her face
as it was, successful your glance,
but dared not look again.

Outside, mist gathers its wrap
closer, becomes introvert.
We, too, support our silences,
missing her – but incapable to share
memories clearer than the time -
and each the draughts she made.

And there’ll beryllium much specified days,
dumb, listless, without view,
before upwind and rainfall return
perspective, erstwhile necklets of mist
hang from the trellis, break,
fall, and stain an bare page.

Mist chiefly looks inwards, into a room, and into the authorities of caput of a mates sitting by a view-less window. Unlike the trenchantly governmental The Autumn Outings, it denotes a backstage nonaccomplishment that includes being mislaid for words.

Absence and blankness are remarkably powerfully registered successful the poem’s 4 gracefully lineated, occasionally rhyme-haunted verses. Through moments of observation, and the reticent glimmer of a backstory, they importune connected the centrality of that mysterious thing “we cognize / but cannot intelligibly see”, without undermining the immediate, astir disposable beingness of unworded absence.

The archetypal and past verses (the archetypal particularly) evoke the “blank page” well-known to astir writers. Interestingly, erstwhile the entity successful verse 1 “defies description”, it’s not simply that the writer can’t get it down connected paper: “telling lone of absence”, the entity itself fails, arsenic an creator mightiness fail, to nutrient ocular effects of its own. But there’s overmuch much to the poem than the imaging of originative blankness. The corporate pronoun “we” tells america the generative acquisition of the poem is shared with idiosyncratic other (who successful information is the poem’s addressee), and that they are some incapable to specify their thoughts and utter them. Both are “held successful our ain keeping”, seeing the aforesaid cancelled view, but incapable to pass their heavy clouded memories.

The thickening mist and its effects – the “low sky”, the deficiency of dependable and question – person a metaphorical function, of course, but look nary little portion of the carnal actuality the poem wants to grounds on with the intelligence dimension. In the last stanza, though, the imagined aboriginal is much babelike connected metaphor. The mist, torn isolated by upwind and rain, volition go fragmented and accessible, and “an bare page” volition carnivore astatine slightest a hint of the delicate “necklets” of liquid blown from the trellis. The merchandise of some tears and ink are implied by the important verb “stained”.

We are told fewer details astir the “story” astatine the bosom of the poem. The 2nd verse comes the nearest to disclosure, and does truthful with a palpable flinch: “Just now, I glimpsed her look / arsenic it was, successful your glance, / but dared not look again.” These are brilliantly suggestive lines. We larn from the adjacent verse that, whoever has truthful painfully vanished, she had the vigor to marque plentiful “draughts”.

“Draughts” whitethorn see a pun connected “drafts’”, and bespeak a writer who was busily moving astatine a clip erstwhile it was imaginable to capable the leafage with ideas generated by a cherished and invigorating presence.

The shared lack the poem records is not needfully the effect of death. Perhaps a kid has near home? That signifier of bereavement, popularly tagged “empty nest syndrome”, mightiness person been softly acceptable up successful the earlier notation to the birds nary longer singing, nary longer coming to the model sill to beryllium fed. In its precise reticence to picture the quality of the loss, the poem shows america it was a extremist one. Wisely, the past verse doesn’t question oregon foresee “closure”, but observes simply that aft much “such days”, the upwind volition change, position volition beryllium returned. And truthful the country is astir acceptable for words to travel again.