Sunday, May 18, 2008

Landscapes and Silences

The last two posts have discussed glimpses of landscape in nature poetry and poems of place, history and memory. In contrast, the Irish poet Geoffrey Squires describes landscapes directly but in much more general terms. In Landscapes and Silences (1996) for example, there are only vague clues as to the location: 'ancient stone houses', 'a government hotel' (which government?), 'metal barns on stilts'. And the poet is equally disinclined to pin down details of the natural world: 'on the house a blue climbing plant / whose name I forget', 'the scent of thyme or some other herb', 'some small animal or bird rooting around in the dead leaves.' It seems 'impossible to gather into perception' the 'tangle of nearness', although the mind's 'seeming inability to fix on anything... is itself an advantage'. He writes about a psychological landscape where 'pale white light... seems to drain things of themselves / leaving no substance no solidity'.

The excellent Shearsman Books site includes two free e-books by Geoffrey Squires: Lines (2006) and So (2007). It's worth also looking on their site at a collaboration between Kate Ashton and Gerrit Offringa, Waddenzee (2006), which describes the landscape of Friesland.

Postscript: there is now a French translation of Landscape and Silences...


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