Sunday, 18 January 2009

Do I dare?


Uninvited, the thought of you stayed too late in my head.
so I went to bed, dreaming you hard, hard, woke with your name,
like tears, soft, salt, on my lips, the sound of its bright syllables
like a charm, like a spell.

Falling in love
is glamorous hell: the crouched, parched heart
like a tiger, ready to kill; a flame’s fierce licks under the skin.
into my life, larger than life, you strolled in.

I hid in my ordinary days, in the long grass of routine,
in my camouflage rooms. You sprawled in my gaze,
staring back from anyone’s face, from the shape of a cloud,
from the pining, earth-struck moon which gapes at me

as I open the bedroom door. The curtains stir. There you are
on the bed, like gift, like a touchable dream.


I like pouring your tea, lifting
the heavy pot, and tipping it up,
so the fragrant liquid streams in your china cup.

Or when you’re away, or at work,
I like to think of your cupped hands as you sip,
as you sip, of the faint half-smile of your lips.

I like the questions – sugar? – milk? –
and the answers I don’t know by heart, yet,
for I see your soul in your eyes, and I forget.

Jasmine, Gunpowder, Assam, Earl Grey, Ceylon,
I love tea’s names. Which tea would you like? I say
but it’s any tea for you, please, any time of day,

as the women harvest the slopes
for the sweetest leaves, on Mount Wu-Yi,
and I am your lover, smitten, straining your tea.

Carol Ann Duffy, Rapture, 2006 Winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize

The images of new love are brilliant - the idea of enjoying the small things about someone, particularly visible in the second poem, is exciting and real. Of enjoying NOT knowing, knowing that you are going to learn. In the first poem, it is the idea that someone else can walk into your life seemingly unaware, unaffected, while you have to hide from the earthquake of their presence in the ordinary that is most effective. But if it's really love, then the invader and the invaded are the same person. That first poem speaks as an individual - that feels odd. One only has one's own feelings to write about, certainly, but an impression of mutuality is missing from the first poem. Isn't it? Though it is possible to love someone who does not feel the same. Is that really loving? Doesn't love demand some interplay between two people?

I have found a new resource for poetry, having nearly exhausted the books I keep around me. I have found a few things in it over the last few weeks, and inspiration for a few more things. She's a peculiar woman, that one. I'd be intrigued to meet her, though I wonder whether or not I'd actually like her. I get the impression I'd have got on with her younger self but not the person she is now. She has had a hard life, but that only makes her more interesting. I haven't finished with that site yet.


  1. I love both those poems. The first one is just perfect, and the second strangely connected to what I just went through too...

  2. How so? I'm curious. And possibly nosy... :-)

  3. "Isn't it? Though it is possible to love someone who does not feel the same. Is that really loving? Doesn't love demand some interplay between two people?"

    Such a good question. But what level of interplay? if there's none, I suspect it borders more on infatuation or obsession than *love* - love to me implies some knowledge of one another. Not a cosmic connection that you see in rom-coms,which I suppose means that I don't actually believe in love at first sight. But loving someone who doesn't feel the same? Absolutely possible, I'm afraid.

    I wonder if there's that inequality in all relationships, if there really is someone who is loved and someone who loves - I can't remember where that quote come from but it gives a good sense of the imbalance there can be - but it's still a question that is too close to be objective.

  4. I think I was trying to say that, really - that I don't think it can be *love* if only one person's feelings are involved. Language falls down a bit. 'Infatuation' is too derogatory a term for loving someone who doesn't feel that way back, because it does exist, but it is not the same as being in love. The difference between being in love and loving? There's a big difference, there.

    I still believe in a love that has magic about it. And have come to the conclusion that I'm not prepared to live in a relationship that doesn't have a considerable amount of mutuality and equality in feeling and understanding. I'd rather be single. I'm sure there are loving relationships where the unequal distribution of feelings works well enough for the couple in question. I can probably list several. But I want more than that, for myself.

    I think that that truly loving would come from both people being both the loved and the lover. Not necessarily at the same time, but there has to be sharing of roles. I can't help but think that too much of playing the one role could never lead to being truly happy. Maybe that's just me though. Need for variety, as well as equality. To know and to understand the other person that thoroughly, always aware that you haven't understood enough.