Guest poem sent in by Mel Benson
(Poem #1153) Meeting the British
We met the British in the dead of winter. The sky was lavender and the snow lavender-blue. I could hear, far below, the sound of two streams coming together (both were frozen over) and, no less strange, myself calling out in French across that forest- clearing. Neither General Jeffrey Amherst nor Colonel Henry Bouquet could stomach our willow-tobacco. As for the unusual scent when the Colonel shook out his hand- kerchief: C'est la lavande, une fleur mauve comme le ciel. They gave us six fishhooks and two blankets embroidered with smallpox.
I find this poem slightly chilling, to be honest. It seems almost innocent until the final word, which suddenly makes the entire poem incredibly ominous. The half rhymes increase the growing sense of unease as the native Americans in Canada meet the British colonisers and the reader becomes gradually aware of all the consequences of this meeting. There is no real point of first contact between the two sides shown in the poem - the native American narrator is already able to describe the sky and snow as lavender, which blurs the narrative voice somewhat [That would have been through their earlier contact with the French, though. Still, I see Mel's point -martin]. Muldoon makes full use of hindsight and poetic device to create a poem sinister yet political. Mel Links: Biography of Muldoon: http://www.interviews-with-poets.com/paul-muldoon/muldoon-note.html Some Paul Muldoon pages: [broken link] http://www.uni-leipzig.de/~angl/muldoon/muldoon.htm http://www.complete-review.com/authors/muldoonp.htm A very readable interview: [broken link] http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4185192,00.html