29 February 2012

Intimations of Deity?

The Linnet

Upon this leafy bush 
With thorns and roses in it,
Flutters a thing of light,
A twittering linnet. 
And all the throbbing world
Of dew and sun and air
By this small parcel of life
Is made more fair;
As if each bramble-spray 
Of mounded gold-wreathed furze,
Harebell and little thyme,
Were only hers; 
As if this beauty and grace 
Did to one bird belong
And, at a flutter of wing,
Might vanish in song.

- Walter de la Mare

No doubt I've said something much like this before. But there are poets whose command of language is so instinct with magic - so imbued with a mastery and a delicacy that is more than human - that in their company words like "uncanny" and "preternatural" become the tiredest of cliches. 

I've been reading, studying, savoring de la Mare for going on 12 years, and I still don't know how he does it. He can speak of some frail wisp of a bird, not just with enraptured interest, but with such attentiveness to loving, and loved, detail - to shaded breast, and impossibly round head, and tracery of wing - it's as if he were decoding isolated fragments of the very sentence that first spoke it into being. Yet not just as naked words hanging in the air, but rather as if clothed with something of that first fresh smile, and deep breath, and gleam in the Eye. 

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