As the poem today, but I remembered I had posted it before, so I found this one instead (same poet).
The Caged Skylark
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
As a dare-gale skylark scanted in a dull cage
Man’s mounting spirit in his bone-house, mean house, dwells―
That bird beyond the remembering his free fells;
This in drudgery, day-labouring-out life’s age.
Though aloft on turf or perch or poor low stage,
Both sing sometímes the sweetest, sweetest spells,
Yet both droop deadly sómetimes in their cells
Or wring their barriers in bursts of fear or rage.
Not that the sweet-fowl, song-fowl, needs no rest –
Why, hear him, hear him babble and drop down to his nest,
But his own nest, wild nest, no prison.
Man’s spirit will be flesh-bound when found at best,
But uncumbered: meadow-down is not distressed
For a rainbow footing it nor he for his bónes rísen.
Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poems seem to me to fill up the senses and the soul.
If you look at a word long enough it can start to look strange, alien even. I only need to glance briefly over the words poet, poem or poetry for them to start to look very discombobulated indeed. And then, for some stranger reason, I can only recalibrate my brain by thinking about Winnie the Pooh who also says something about the word poem, but I am sure has the letters in the wrong order. I am hoping for an explication of this phenomenon from the Winnie the Pooh expert after she has finished ambulance duties for the day.
Which is all a rather long preamble to what I originally intended to say which was this. Amy Winehouse was a lyrical poet and that’s why, as my friend Jamie has observed, all her words have meaning. Not every artist can do this: expose their own feelings directly in the work. Does the authenticity of this process take more out of them, or was the taking out of them already done. I don’t know, but I do know this is a heartbreak of a song to listen to and a very fine lyric poem.
I was watching Andrew Motion struggling in Jamie’s Dream School last night as he tried to get a group of teenagers to engage with their first poetry class. Probably unsympathetically edited, he was shouting within minutes.
First mistake – he tried to get them to engage with an Edward Hopper image: a woman staring out of a window… Perhaps it’s an image that interests him. The kids were entirely uninterested; I know a bit about the artist, but I am with the kids. I should have been sympathetic to Motion’s plight having been faced with a barrage of sullen faces and crossed arms in my own Monday night class when we looked at some poetry, but I was not.
He was just too, well too wet blanketish, shuffling around in his quiet way.
I know only too well it’s not easy. It must be even harder with a camera there to record every moment of your dying on your feet. And of course he only had two hour long sessions – a ridiculously short time to do anything at all.
My top tip would have been to have chosen one of Edward Hopper’s other women looking out of a window (there are plenty, all based on his wife). One like this.
The shoes, the women, the windows, the staring – they all get right on my tits.