Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Waves by Katherine Mansfield

I saw a tiny God
Under a bright blue umbrella
That had white tassels
And forked ribs of gold.
Below him His little world
Lay open to the sun.
The shadow of His hat
Lay upon a city.
When he stretched forth His hand
A lake became a dark tremble.
When he kicked up His foot
It became night in the mountain passes.

But thou art small!
There are gods far greater than thou.
They rise and fall,
The tumbling gods of the sea.
Can thy heart heave such sighs,
Such hollow savage cries,
Such windy breath,
Such groaning death?
And can thy arm enfold
The old,
The cold,
The changeless dreadful places
Where the herds
Of horned sea-monsters
And the screaming birds
Gather together?
From those silent men
That lie in the pen
Of our pearly prisons,
Canst thou hunt thy prey?
Like us canst thou stay
Awaiting thine hour,
And then rise like a tower
And crash and shatter?

There are neither trees nor bushes
In my country,
Said the tiny God.
But there are streams
And waterfalls
And mountain-peaks
Covered with lovely weed.
There are little shores and safe harbours,
Caves for cool and plains for sun and wind.
Lovely is the sound of the rivers,
Lovely the flashing brightness
Of the lovely peaks.
I am content.

But Thy kingdom is small,
Said the God of the Sea.
Thy kingdom shall fall;
I shall not let thee be.
Thou art proud!
With a loud
Pealing of laughter,
He rose and covered
The tiny God's land
With the tip of his hand,
With the curl of his fingers:
And after--

The tiny God
Began to cry 

____________________ I don't know much about KM's poetry - it's a revelation to me. This feels more fable than poem, really, although the rhythms and the excellent language are the stuff of poems. These lines will send me off now into Xmas and Summer Holidays - a time of family and food and countryside and reading and writing and relaxation: Lovely is the sound of the rivers,/Lovely the flashing brightness/Of the lovely peaks./I am content.

Merry Christmas to all the talented and generous Tuesday Poets who continue to amaze me each week - especially my kind and creative co-curator Claire Beynon - and to all my wider group of blog-readers who visit here. 

I have been so lucky to have been part of a longstanding book club and a brand new writing group this year (both of which I find necessary and stimulating), and to have met with many wonderful writers via Randell Cottage (of which I'm a trustee), Massey University (where I teach) and other writer events, and  to have taught/mentored some talented up-and-coming writers - one of whom is only 16. I have published a chapbook of poems (and been part of an art exhibition) and am looking at publishing other writers; I have finished my children's book and am awaiting publisher feedback, and I continue to work on my adult novel This Seagull Heart of Mine. 

I also continue to ponder a possible poetry collection and work as an anthologist on a collection of Eastbourne writing. I work every Friday at the local bookshop and next year I'm the NZ Post Book Awards Festival Co-ordinator. 

I'm also a wife and mother, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, friend, neighbour, and dog-owner, and I live by the sea and walk in the bush, and sometimes I go inland to sit under olive trees. Nga Mihi Nui.


Kathleen Jones said...

This is a poem I didn't know very well - her poetry is sometimes strange and the quality varies enormously. But she was always aware of words and rhythms and there are some striking images. That's what makes her stories so good, I think.
Have a lovely xmas and new year Mary. See you in January/February!

Helen McKinlay said...

This is an interesting one...a whole mix of language. I particularly like the lines you picked out
'Lovely is the sound of the rivers,
Lovely the flashing brightness
Of the lovely peaks.
I am content.'
It seems like an oasis in this poem.

Enjoy your holidays and Christmas and have a great famiy time with nice spaces for you. Thank you for your help this year.:-)

Helen Lowe said...

Thanks for posting--KM's poetry is new to me, too.