Alexander Averin

Friday 1 May 2009

The First of May

Dear Diary,

Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen”

Leonardo Da Vinci

It’s May Day!

A little poem for you.

May Day

I will start with a wee poem,

Why not?

A new day,

A new month.

A new Poet Laurate.

A woman!

Carol Ann Duffy,


I am posting below two of my favourite poems by Carol Ann Duffy. I understand that Carol Ann's mother is Irish and her grandparents come from Carlow and Hackestown.

I always imagine that In Your Mind is written about Ireland but I am probably wrong…perhaps someone will enlighten me?

In Your Mind

The other country, is it anticipated or half-remembered?
Its language is muffled by the rain which falls all afternoon
one autumn in England, and in your mind
you put aside your work and head for the airport
with a credit card and a warm coat you will leave
on the plane. The past fades like newsprint in the sun.

You know people there. Their faces are photographs
on the wrong side of your eyes. A beautiful boy
in the bar on the harbour serves you a drink – what? –
asks you if men could possibly land on the moon.
A moon like an orange drawn by a child. No.
Never. You watch it peel itself into the sea.

Sleep. The rasp of carpentry wakes you. On the wall,
a painting lost for thirty years renders the room yours.
Of course. You go to your job, right at the old hotel, left,
then left again. You love this job. Apt sounds
mark the passing of the hours. Seagulls. Bells. A flute
practising scales. You swap a coin for a fish on the way home.

Then suddenly you are lost but not lost, dawdling
on the blue bridge, watching six swans vanish
under your feet. The certainty of place turns on the lights
all over town, turns up the scent on the air. For a moment
you are there, in the other country, knowing its name.
And then a desk. A newspaper. A window. English rain.

Carol Ann Duffy


Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims1 sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. 2 Grade I piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child's name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio's prayer -
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.

Carol Ann Duffy

Bye for now,
Enjoy the month,
Go mbeannai Dia Duit,


Jude said...

Thank you for that Cait, it just coincided with me hearing she had won on the news.
I rather enjoyed both of them and will be looking for some more.

Chris Stovell said...

it's brilliant news about Carol Ann Duffy. (Did you see that U A Fanthrope died yesterday?).

Pondside said...

Loved In Your Mind. She really 'gets' it doesn't she?
Happy May day, Cait!

DAB said...

Great news about Carol Ann Duffy :) Cait, Have a great Bank Holiday TFx

Auntie sezzzzzz... said...

Beginning your posts with "Dear Diary," is this permanent now? It's cute. I like it.

I guess I like things which put a stamp of uniqueness on blogs, and on things in general. Sort of like people having a signature scent they were, all the time.

Happy May,
'Aunt Amelia'

Vee said...

Thank you for telling us about Carol Ann Duffy. It's time for a woman to hold the position. Now this sends me scampering to Google to see what else I don't know about poet laureates. (That proved to be a lot. I had no idea that the current poet laureate for the U.S. is also a woman. I really need to keep up.)

Oh, and easy for you to tell me to "go for it." If you only knew... And, would you believe that I'm seriously considering red? RED? Screaming red? Now what do you think?

FireLight said...

Thank you for featuring this poet! I have been enjoying May 1st, and your post was just the right reading for the day!

ds said...

These are lovely, Cait! I hadn't heard of her before. It is always so exciting to learn something new!
Thank you, and happy May!

Pat Posner said...

Happy May, Cait.

Frances said...

Hello Cait,

Having heard of the newest PL, I just knew I could go to see your place and find out more. Thank you!

Shall we hope that her true, true poetry will withstand the requirements of the posting?


Martha said...

Thank you -- they were lovely.

laurie said...

wasn't that terrific news??? good for her!

happy may day and you would be more than welcome on our trip! we leave in six hours. can you be ready?

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I read about her in the newspaper this morning, but I was unfamiliar with her work. Thanks so much for posting these. They are wonderful poems!

CAMILLA said...

Thank you for posting the Poems Cait. Wondeful news that Duffy has been chosen as our new Poet Laureate, although I did wonder whether Simon Armitage may have clinched it.