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Thursday, 1 May 2014

Stevie Smith: Mother, among the Dustbins


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 Play: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 13 March 2009

Mother, among the dustbins and the manure
I feel the measure of my humanity, an allure
As of the presence of God, I am sure

In the dustbins, in the manure, in the cat at play,
Is the presence of God, in a sure way
He moves there. Mother, what do you say?

I too have felt the presence of God in the broom
I hold, in the cobwebs in the room,
But most of all in the silence of the tomb.

Ah! but that thought that informs the hope of our kind
Is but an empty thing, what lies behind? --
Naught but the vanity of a protesting mind

That would not die. This is the thought that bounces
Within a conceited head and trounces
Inquiry. Man is most frivolous when he pronounces.

Well Mother, I shall continue to think as I do,
And I think you would be wise to do so too,
Can you question the folly of man in the creation of God?
.....Who are you?

Stevie Smith (1902-1971): Mother, among the Dustbins, from Tender Only to One (1938)
 



DSC–0153: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 2 April 2008
 

Untitled: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 13 March 2009
 

DSC–0069: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 24 February 2008
 

Untitled: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 12 February 2009
 

DSC–0088: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 24 February 2008
 

Untitled: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 9 March 2009


DSC–0088: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 26 March 2008



Untitled: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 6 May 2009


DSC–0035: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 24 February 2008


Untitled: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 5 May 2009


DSC–0080: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 2 April 2008


Untitled: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 25 February 2009


DSC–0021: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 20 April 2008


Untitled: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 5 May 2009



DSC–0055: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 2 April 2008


Untitled: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 5 May 2009



DSC–0027: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 11 May 2008


Untitled: photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn, 5 May 2009

4 comments:

TC said...

The great Stevie Smith should need no introduction here. Her first two books of Poems, A Good Time Was Had by All and Tender Only to One (from which this poem comes) reflect the inner perils of a fragile childhood.

The talented young Belgian-born photographer An-Sofie Kesteleyn works for a Dutch newspaper but has travelled with her camera in America, to telling effect. A recent project of hers has proved an eye-opener for some people.

An-Sofie Kesteleyn: My First Rifle

Wooden Boy said...

I'd seen the kesteleyn article - great photos - but the pictures here are something else. She catches the chaos without condescension. You can't ask for more than that.

I love to see Stevie bending metre, as if the lines have no choice but to give room to her truth (our truth too, of course).

The closing question has an echo of this:

"Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me".

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Stevie and An-Sofie: Two bull’s-eyes.

TC said...

Many thanks, friends.

This photographer opens doors, and eyes.

Ah, that terrible, abrupt closing question of Stevie's. To what presumed power or authority may it not be directed, any more?