Literary treasure

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Snow topped Fells. Frosted fields. Winter sharpens ancient definition in glorious Lakeland scenery. And every year, noting steaming breath, I marvel at sheep knees and noses withstanding intense cold.

At the Maryport Literary Festival, hosted at the Senhouse Roman Museum where picture windows frame the Solway Firth, I enjoyed a tour de force from Steve Matthews (‘polymath and raconteur’) whose book Lap of Horror tells of early travellers to Borrowdale and Derwentwater.

The genius of the Brontë family came alive in Angela Locke’s illuminating conversation with renowned authority Juliet Barker. Each of Patrick Brontë’s children was shy. Writing became their means to articulate rich inner lives.

A personal and poignant reading by Grevel Lindop, the timbre of whose voice hums in his stanzas before he speaks, brought poetry’s moving power to search depths centre stage.

Echoes of Roman soldiers on the mileforts. Time-travel to walk with early Lakeland tourists. Encouragement to the shy. A great poet’s inspiring to aim high. Solway Firth’s sea and sky. Treasure of a way to spend a winter’s day.

Substance

I thought that the substance of poetry
does not lie in the sound value of the word,
nor in its colour, nor in the metric line,
nor in the complex of sensations, but in
the deep pulse of the spirit; and this deep
pulse is what the soul contributes, if it
contributes anything, or what it says, if it
says anything, with its own voice, in a
courageous answer to the touch of the world.

Antonio Machado
Introductory piece for Soledades, Madrid, 1917

It is this “deep pulse”, I think, this resonance, this courage to put one’s inner-self out there, responding deeply to “the touch of the world”, that has oft-inspirited Angela Locke, a poet friend of mine, with exquisite poems that “came to me complete.”

… so we turn and turn
the atoms of the world in the sea’s hand
in the wind’s hand in form and gravity
and fire
atom and atom
so we love and from our loving
from the drawing of the deep earth place
some god    some creator
some mathematician
draws down

the beginning
of the rose

Angela Locke
from Rose and Stone
Whale Language: Songs of Iona

And that is why I come before poetry in reverence and in awe.