(Poem #622) The Ice-Cart
Perched on my city office-stool, I watched with envy, while a cool And lucky carter handled ice. . . . And I was wandering in a trice, Far from the grey and grimy heat Of that intolerable street, O'er a sapphire berg and emerald floe, Beneath the still, cold ruby glow Of everlasting Polar night, Bewildered by the queer half-light, Until I stumbled, unawares, Upon a creek where big white bears Plunged headlong down with flourished heels And floundered after shining seals Through shivering seas of blinding blue. And as I watched them, ere I knew, I'd stripped, and I was swimming too, Among the seal-pack, young and hale, And thrusting on with threshing tail, With twist and twirl and sudden leap Through crackling ice and salty deep -- Diving and doubling with my kind, Until, at last, we left behind Those big, white, blundering bulks of death, And lay, at length, with panting breath Upon a far untravelled floe, Beneath a gentle drift of snow -- Snow drifting gently, fine and white, Out of the endless Polar night, Falling and falling evermore Upon that far untravelled shore, Till I was buried fathoms deep Beneath the cold white drifting sleep -- Sleep drifting deep, Deep drifting sleep. . . . The carter cracked a sudden whip: I clutched my stool with startled grip. Awakening to the grimy heat Of that intolerable street.
I like today's poem for the vivid trip through the poet's imagination - the images are glowingly detailed, and move easily from scene to scene, the whole capturing the feel of an extended reverie admirably. The varying pace is handled nicely too - the crystalline images setting the scene, the burst of activity, the drifting snow, all slide effortlessly into each other, until the vision is abruptly shattered and the narrator is returned to the 'grimy heat' of his surroundings. Biography: b. Oct. 2, 1878, Hexham, Northumberland, Eng. d. May 26, 1962, Virginia Water, Surrey British poet who drew his inspiration from the workaday life of ordinary provincial English families. Gibson was educated privately, served briefly in World War I, and thereafter devoted his life to poetry. A period in London in 1912 brought him into contact with Lascelles Abercrombie, Rupert Brooke, John Drinkwater, and other Georgian poets, with whom he founded the short-lived poetry magazine New Numbers. In 1917 he made a long lecture tour of the United States. His first poem had appeared in The Spectator in 1897, but it was with his realistic presentation of the lives of country folk in Stonefolds and On the Threshold (both 1907) that he first exploited the themes of contemporary life which distinguished his major works. -- EB Links: For a vision of an altogether different sort, poem #30 Ice, poem #145 martin