Coming Out : The Name and Nature of the Poet

It is a time for the consideration of New Year resolutions; a time to think of tweaking or in some small way to redefine what you are or hope to be in the coming year. At the beginning of 2011 I made a decision which has only found some small voice, but which continues as one of my resolutions for the coming year:  In all my work as a researcher, editor, writer etc., I spend my days working with the creative output of others; I channel my thoughts and ideas through the output of mostly long dead composers and poets. This certainly continues to be the case, but in 2011 I sought to find space for my own creativity, in answer to long held desires to both compose music and write poetry. Why should I live wholly through the work of another when my own work might bring me some (greater?) fulfilment?

In spite of such a resolution, it is not often that I have been able to turn my hand to the such things, with the distraction of our two children, who are now 21 months old, the PhD, just submitted, and much else. March-July 2011 saw my first flurry of serious application to the task of poetry, working up some ideas both old (jotted in a notebook in 2009) and new. Since this first flurry, this last few days have been the first time that I have had the slightest space to begin to think about seriously working up some of the fragments and ideas that I have had in the intervening months. And this is only poetry: the several musical ideas I have, some quite well developed, must remain untouched for the present.

A question that has dogged me since the resolution to allow space for my own original creativity has been one of validity and purpose. It is a question that I suspect has been asked of many an Artist (a title I don’t dare claim for myself): Is my desire to create a matter of ego and self-indulgence? (A question that might be asked also of the impetus to blog, tweet or similar such avenues.) Or is it something greater; something more important and fundamental? I must admit that, after much thought, I don’t think it is a matter of ego. I don’t believe that to be the driving force behind my desire to create. I enjoy and receive a great deal of stimulation and solace from the music and poetry I hear, perform and read. My brain seems at times to stumble upon ideas for things that I somehow need to express in order to exorcise that idea from my mind so that further ideas follow, be they unrelated or growing out of previous ideas. I find the same in my research and commentary on the work of others. Ideas are what seem to drive me. I hope somehow that they might find resonance with others, but if those others be only one other person then it matters not. I must express the truth of what I think, be it of use or not. Perhaps there is some element of ego in this, but one could argue that nothing is devoid of ego.

Having only successfully completed a handful of poems I in no way lay any claim to the title of Poet. I just enjoy writing poetry when I am able. I know little of the art, knowing only what I like, and what I want to say. The nature of poetry is a curious thing. For some poetry is defined by rhyming lines. For me, rhyme and metre are not high in my poetic considerations – although this is not to say that rhyme and half-rhyme are not part of the armoury, and also does not mean that enjambments are arbitrary (they are often very far from being so – the enjambment is one of the most potent poetic ‘devices’). Poetry is about ideas; about the intensity of those ideas and the intensity with which they may be explored. Prose would be too, well, prosaic. Poetry seems to be the only way.

With such musings I here put forth one of my ‘things’, which is dawning upon being seasonally apt. I hope that I might find time to draw a line under several further ideas in the coming year, and maybe also excise some of the music that has been welling up. It is easy to live life through the work of another or in work that benefits another (although financially essential at times). But one must not solely live life through and for these others. We all have the capacity to create and to create something individual and be true to ourselves.

Twelfth Night

Eden lies desolate,
Abandoned and lost;
Unheeded by trains
of men that daily pass.

But one tree remains,
its yet budless boughs
dripping with the unfulfilled
passion of the dying season,
those unpearled gold
green garlands gathering
in twice regal conference,
hastening, foreshadowing
its end; awaiting
the final fall of this
manforsaken plot.

No Eve now comes
to pluck the dwindling
fruits of autumn
that untasted fall
to feed in vain long
fallow ridge and furrow
to which no Adam
now bends his plough.

Wantonly fertile;
impotent and futile.
What hope for this
now exiled embanked
garth in lonely brink,
ripe for reclaiming
by the wild places?

© Philip  Lancaster, 2011