With eagles and Mr Eliot
I went on a walk,
I was accompanied by two wedge tailed eagles, a black tipped falcon; an old and overweight red kelpie; a grasshopper, a culmination of clouds and a copy of T.S Eliot’s poetry circa 19-later then I thought.
I first read T.S Eliot when I was five, sitting at my grandmother’s linoleum table; skinny shins dangling from bony knees; Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats in front of me.
I remember being both disappointed and intrigued that the words were so different to those sung in the musical. It was thus my first insight into the undulating world of adaptions. I was fixated with the musical Cats after my parents took me to see it for, I think, my fifth birthday.
I loved that night, the darkness, the fur, the trash lined theatre, the melodies. I loved everything except that my shyness meant that my brother got to sit on Mr Mistoffelees lap and not me. Oh, that musical spawned many an enthusiastic amateur performance in tights, in the lounge room with my brother in a perfunctory role, (usually in the wood basket at stage left; way, way back in stage left ). I knew it off by heart and this childish fixation means that when sitcoms pick on Cats, (and they often do) I find a skinny shinned ire rising within me, “Oi” it growls, “I liked that show!”
The next time I read T.S Eliot was in year 12 literature. We studied Preludes. I love the way he rubbed grime and cold and time into the page. I loved, love, the line:
You dozed, and watched the night revealing
The thousand sordid images
Of which your soul was constituted
He stoked my love of poetry, honed another edge on my desire to write and gave me words for grime. When I see mist I think of Mr Eliot; when I see cobbled stone lanes and roll your own cigarette butts I think of him. When I read his work I am very aware of the paper and its relationship to the print. And their relationship to meaning.
I enjoy and appreciate poets that can decorate the air with their words, but I like my poetry best on pulp. I quite obviously love my computer too and the blog, however I’m frustrated because ultimately this is not paper. Things just don’t look as good when they ain’t in ink. And poetry is food for the soul and the eyes. As is walking.
On this walk I read Sweeny Among the Nightingale…
I liked the way its gritty, groaning dirtiness was in contrast to the easy sunshine I strode within. I liked looking up from the page to see the wedgies circling. And down to see the startled grasshopper stop…. I liked having a head that swept through memory, to the horizon, to the future, to my lucky lucky heart.