Friday, 25 April 2014

Poetry Corner

This is a new feature I have decided to post on the blog.  I am intending this to become a regular slot on a weekly basis and if possible, on the same day each week, Friday.  I was going to call it Friday Feature but I have a feeling there is a meme with this title or something very similar.  I don't want to cause confusion or unintentionally upset anyone out there over naming posts either.

I have recently renewed my acquaintance with poetry and I like it a lot.  It is this new found love that has made me want to share some of my favourites or poems that I have recently discovered with you.  I am currently dipping into More Poetry Please which is a BBC publication.  It contains poems which viewers have requested to be read out on the Radio Four programme Poetry Please.  So far, I haven't found anything in this book that I want to share.  I do want to share a poem by Carol Ann Duffy from her collection The World's Wife.  The teen introduced me to Duffy's work as she is studying her poetry for AS level English Literature.

I hope you like this new feature.

Little Red-Cap

At childhood’s end, the houses petered out
into playing fields, the factory, allotments
kept, like mistresses, by kneeling married men, 
the silent railway line, the hermit’s caravan, 
till you came at last to the edge of the woods. 
It was there that I first clapped eyes on the wolf. 

He stood in a clearing, reading his verse out loud 
in his wolfy drawl, a paperback in his hairy paw, 
red wine staining his bearded jaw. What big ears
he had! What big eyes he had! What teeth!
In the interval, I made quite sure he spotted me, 
sweet sixteen, never been, babe, waif, and bought me a drink, 

my first. You might ask why. Here’s why. Poetry.
The wolf, I knew, would lead me deep into the woods,
away from home, to a dark tangled thorny place
lit by the eyes of owls. I crawled in his wake,
my stockings ripped to shreds, scraps of red from my blazer
snagged on twig and branch, murder clues. I lost both shoes

but got there, wolf’s lair, better beware. Lesson one that night, 
breath of the wolf in my ear, was the love poem.
I clung till dawn to his thrashing fur, for
what little girl doesn’t dearly love a wolf?1
Then I slid from between his heavy matted paws
and went in search of a living bird – white dove –

which flew, straight, from my hands to his hope mouth.
One bite, dead. How nice, breakfast in bed, he said,
licking his chops. As soon as he slept, I crept to the back
of the lair, where a whole wall was crimson, gold, aglow with books.
Words, words were truly alive on the tongue, in the head,
warm, beating, frantic, winged; music and blood.

But then I was young – and it took ten years 
in the woods to tell that a mushroom
stoppers the mouth of a buried corpse, that birds
are the uttered thought of trees, that a greying wolf
howls the same old song at the moon, year in, year out,
season after season, same rhyme, same reason. I took an axe

to a willow to see how it wept. I took an axe to a salmon
to see how it leapt. I took an axe to the wolf
as he slept, one chop, scrotum to throat, and saw 
the glistening, virgin white of my grandmother’s bones.
I filled his old belly with stones. I stitched him up.
Out of the forest I come with my flowers, singing, all alone. 

Carol Ann Duffy 1999

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