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Sunday, 23 September 2012

Short of Breath (Keats at Winchester, September 1819)

Richland Park143 by JewelHouse10.

Richland Park 143: photo by Terri Stanisha/Jewel House 10

After another fine sharp temperate night
It is a warm morning. This is part of the world.
Summer light and dust blow yellow
Filmed clouds into the air. The brown stubble
Fields feel warm, give off a red excited
Glow like irritated raspberry marks
On fair skin, with its soft white weight,
As the doleful choir of gnats still wails,
And the maiden at the manor window shakes
The sheets out, or is it her fine light hair
That flows or is flung from the storybook casement,
That causes me to stop to catch my breath?

Richland Park144 by JewelHouse10.

Richland Park 144: photo by Terri Stanisha/Jewel House 10


Susan Kay Anderson said...

Beautiful. Clean. Cumulus with vertical growth. Or else cumulus humilis, "wool pack." This poem a field under them.

TC said...

Yes, that capacity for growth. A cotton wool expansiveness, for aeration. Words shaken out of the clean sheets. Many thanks, Susan.

Jonathan Chant said...

I worked in Winchester for five years - before I discovered the meaning of Gardening Leave. I tracked down some of the places he visited. Touched doors he had opened. It's a beautiful city.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

I now see why the Slinger was so keen on this writing. Spanish Steps and all.

Wooden Boy said...

As Susan says, Beautiful.

"This is part of the world". What an affirmation! Something to hope with.

"The brown stubble/ Fields feel warm, give off a red excited/ Glow like irritated raspberry marks/ On fair skin, with its soft white weight..."

The landscape and the bodies loved communicating. And the weight: soft and white and real and kept from the scales.

My Uncle John, a Conwy man, will draw in a breath when you say something that matters. I've noticed it with other North Wales people. It always moves me when I hear it. The poem stirs this up in me.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Flung with these words
to the Spanish Stairs
steps flung
up and down
to the window
I see described
so beautifully
Clark mesmerizes
the memory of Keats
Seeing as he sees.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

"dust blow yellow"
Fresh. Clean, yet Beatnik.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Exactly--a poem
that causes me to stop
to catch my breath

wherever it was I was going.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Poem breath--
animal breath
but sweeter
in its stunk
mud and stubble



"or is it [such white clouds and such words]
That causes me to stop to catch my breath?"


grey whiteness of fog against invisible
plane of ridge, green of leaf on branch
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

presumably between at least
form, that this after

looks like this, what it is
appearance, nature of

silver of sunlight reflected in channel,
whiteness of jet trail in pale blue sky

TC said...

The poem is -- and I suppose this is obvious -- a sort of attempt at the inhabitation of a persona.

Er, as it were.

The central text around which turns the sequence from which this comes (in, that is, my book Junkets on a Sad Planet: Scenes from the Life of John Keats), is, or course:

John Keats: To Autumn.

I had sensed our Jonathan, latterday poet of this precinct, might have some local knowledge here. Correctly as it turns out.

My sole Winchester junket came in September of 1966, when I took off, on the spur of the moment, with a maid of the Fulham Road in a white vinyl dress, after two nights without sleep, on a day trip to scout the cathedral. Happily the details now lost to history.