Saturday, 21 October 2017

Discovering a Loss

Two poets have died in recent days. Richard Wilbur was in his nineties, so his death was not entirely surprising, although I'm not suggesting it wasn't sad for all that. The second though was young - and,  as so often happens, it was only because of his death that I became aware of him. Gerard Fanning was his name and, only now that there are no more where that came from, I discover how good he was.

Here is a poem that appeared in The London Review of Books in 2000:

The Stone House: Dromod Harbour’

Gerard Fanning

Boat piers are much alike.
Stepping ashore at The Stone House,
Doused in the inky stream of Acres Lake
We walk a tarmacadam line
Where curvature comes together
As strands of carmine
Climb through migrant sprays
Of laburnum and maple.
In a wait that slowly accumulates
Until too long, hours refract,
And like a tiptoeing through a glass lean-to
We examine the stills of this romance –
The trays of alpines dusted over,
The hunter’s shot leaving no report,
The tennis court going under –
Trying to fathom that flinty allure
As somehow the wail
Of the long-haul Dublin train
Recalls a man who was falling,
Crying out somewhere
For his coffee-stained hill,
Folding his wings as if all he desired
Was a polished strip
Amongst petrified pines,
Where the stain of silence
Would be heaven sent,
And boat piers would greet the innocent.

I have always half-believed that those who die within a few weeks or months of each other spend a bit of time together, in some indescribable place where their spirits are readied for the mysteries of their next existence. I hope that Wilbur and Fanning are able to enjoy interesting chats while they sit in that celestial waiting room.

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