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Of You -- Norman MacCaig

Guest poem submitted by Laura Simeon:
(Poem #1299) Of You
 When the little devil, panic,
 begins to grin and jump about
 in my heart, in my brain, in my muscles,
 I am shown the path I had lost
 in the mountainy mist.

 I'm writing of you.

 When the pain that will kill me
 is about to be unbearable,
 a cool hand
 puts a tablet on my tongue and the pain
 dwindles away and vanishes.

 I'm writing of you.

 There are fires to be suffered,
 the blaze of cruelty, the smoulder
 of inextinguishable longing, even
 the gentle candleflame of peace
 that burns too.

 I suffer them.  I survive.

 I'm writing of you.
-- Norman MacCaig
I encountered Norman MacCaig for the first time on Minstrels two years
ago, something for which I am eternally grateful.  Needing to read more
of his work, I found _Norman MacCaig: Selected Poems_, edited by Douglas
Dunn (Chatto & Windus, 1997), in which I found this gem, one of his
previously unpublished works.

MacCaig described himself as a "Zen Calvinist," which Dunn expands upon
when he writes that "in MacCaig's poems the Yes often implies (and
sometimes states) a No..."  In "Of You" there seems to me to be
something of this greater truth behind an apparent contradiction, with
great love bringing pain and comfort in equal measures.  Saying Yes to
love is saying Yes to more than simple, unadulterated joy.

Laura.

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