Winding up with a New Zealand poet - thanks to Harry Smith for suggesting today's poem
(Poem #573) At a Fishing Settlement
October, and a rain-blurred face, And all the anguish of that bitter place. It was a bare sea-battered town, With its one street leading down Onto a shingly beach. Sea winds Had long picked the dark hills clean Of everything but tussock and stones And pines that dropped small brittle cones Onto a soured soil. And old houses flanking The street hung poised like driftwood planking Blown together and could not outlast The next window-shuddering blast From the storm-whitened sea. It was bitterly cold; I could see Where muffled against gusty spray She walked the clinking shingle; a stray Dog whimpered and pushed a small Wet nose into my hand - that is all. Yet I am haunted by that face, That dog, and that bare bitter place.
As Harry observed when he sent this in, we ran a string of October poems last year - there's something wonderfully gloomy about this time of year that seems to inspire poets to greater efforts. Today's poem blends the grey, rainy, windswept ambience of an October day with the air of tired despair that clings to a failing settlement, weaving the separate images together into a satisfyingly coherent whole. The scene is portrayed with surprising vividness - due, in some part, to the attention paid to the often neglected senses of taste and touch. The soured soil, the brittle pinecone, the cold, wet nose of the dog, engage the reader's imagination at a visceral level, encouraging him to picture not just the scene as described, but himself in the narrator's place.  yes, this is not technically a directly gustatory image; nonetheless, it is a metaphor that depends intimately on the reader's sense of taste for impact. (as, to a lesser extent, does 'that bare, bitter place'). The form too - rhyming but irregular, the lines huddling together in tight couplets - echoes the tattered, dilapidated, storm-lashed settlement; like most good poems, it complements and enhances the imagery without obtruding upon it. Biography: [broken link] http://www.vuw.ac.nz/nzbookcouncil/writers/campbella.htm An article on Campbell: [broken link] http://www.arts.uwo.ca/~andrewf/clippings/campbell.htm -martin