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Remember: The Last Ditch by Austin Clarke

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Last Ditch by Austin Clarke

“ Was it an engineer
Busy over a plan
To bring the city nearer,
Who tore up aquatic plants
with fountain pen, would not let
Inches of rivulet run
Where Spring had set a sil
Of flowerets? I could name
Among those little neighbours
Of mine only a few
Of what our County Council
Considers to be refuse;
Mare’s tail that must have pined
A million years to be pine
Or spruce, young reed and flag
That helped me when spirit flagged.
Duckweed, sagittaria,
Might have spread there by road-tar.
They would have been known to Wordsworth
But what are my words worth now ?
I jingle while men pipe down
Delight and look at the mist in
The southwest, think of the missing.
Beyond the pneumatic drill,
Small things uncurl a damp tendril,
Up there at Piperstown.”

Why do I like this poem? 

Clarke’s sense of Nature, compared to Wordsworth’s grand intimations of Nature, had been diminished by “Progress”.  Clarke experienced a world that wasn’t  Wordsworth’s rustic universe any longer.

There was however the immediate freshness of intimate growing things, neighbors, at the edges - where we renew our vital perceptions.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading the poem a number times (that is what a poem asks of a reader), I discovered that it kept on resonating inward. At first some of the unusual uses of patterned sound were a bit jarring, but they are integral to the poem's distinct feeling and not a meaningless formal device. It invents its own kind of quietness; delivers a man's small articulate note of relationship to Nature and his Times. The use of Wordsworth as a background for comparison and emphasis is deftly done. There are other things to admire beyond these few comments of mine. Thanks to Austin Clarke for the good poem, and to you for blogging it.

April 10, 2010 at 8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're really testing Reality! Poems for an Internet crowd? No one has an attention span anymore! Literacy is obscene!

Dr.Conun Um

April 10, 2010 at 9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lightly complicated,
sweet, and meaningful

Giselle Hanna

April 11, 2010 at 8:59 PM  

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