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Saturday, 12 November 2011

Stevie Smith: Pad, Pad


Sumiyoshi no meigetsu. Autumn moon over Sumiyoshi. Print shows a person wrapped in a flowing kimono standing beneath a maple tree at Sumiyoshi. Vertical Oban Nishikie panel, trimmed, from the series Tsuki hyaku shi: 100 aspects of the moon
: Yoshitoshi Taiso (1839-1892), [188-] (Japanese prints and drawings, Library of Congress)

I always remember your beautiful flowers
And the beautiful kimono you wore
When you sat on the couch
With that tigerish crouch
And told me you loved me no more.

What I cannot remember is how I felt when you were unkind
All I know is, if you were unkind now I should not mind.
Ah me, the power to feel exaggerated, angry and sad
The years have taken from me. Softly I go now, pad pad.

Kyō (Kyoto):
print showing a man and a woman playing a game, possibly go, on a kimono with a ruled pattern. From the series: Santo no yūjo: Beauties of the three capitals
: Masanobu Okumura (1686-1764), 1734 (H. Irving Olds collection / Japanese prints and drawings, Library of Congress)

Nishike brocade with paulownia arabesque, with red background. showing bright floral, leaf and vine designs for kimonos: between ca. 1750 and 1900 (David Murray collection /Japanese prints and drawings, Library of Congress)

Women's straw zōri sandals: photo by Pike, 19 March 2009

Stevie Smith: Pad, Pad, from Harold's Leap, 1957




Thanks for glimpse of autumn moon over Sumiyoshi ("Softly I go now, pad pad") --


light coming into clouds above shadowed
plane of ridge, red-tailed hawk calling
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

relation which follows from
this when, in that it

in place of it, thing which
is described, is that

grey of rain cloud moving across ridge,
drops splashing into windblown channel

Ed Baker said...

"I always remember your beautiful flowers"
The years have taken from me. Softly I go now,
pad, pad."

that's a beauty !

TC said...

Thanks, my friends.

I regret to have to say that for the time being comments will take a little longer to appear here. A step I have never wished to take with this site is "Moderation", which as of now is in place... at least for the time being.

I've always preferred the spontaneity of free and open conversation, but this liberal approach has been serially abused by a deranged being from Lancaster, California, who, it seems, invades poetry blogs, under cowardly pseudonyms, as a way of "life" -- evidently because he has no actual life of his own. His racist, sexist, anti-semitic and homophobic slurs have long since become too tediously repetitive for words; cleaning them out of the inbox has become too time-consuming to allow this to go on any longer.

Apologies to all, and let's keep talking. I will see, post and respond to your comments as quickly as possible. Many thanks for your generosity and patience, and Peace to all.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


I found the Stevie Smith very challenging - usually her humor does more than just peak through - there is such an abiding sadness here at both the dulling of memory and the present moment as portrayed.

The illustrations, too, are wonderful.


PS All of your regular readers I believe will support your comment moderation. Given the circumstances, having patience is very least we can do. Many thanks for everything.

Nin Andrews said...

Beautiful post! And I think it's a good idea to moderate. The blog trolls thrive on abusing people, and it's always a relief when they are silenced.

u.v.ray. said...

Ahhh, deranged internet beings. I wondered when you were going to get one!

Commonly referred to as "trolls" - I've had a few. They enjoy emailing me through my website.

As for Stevie Smith I've never much liked his work. I find it over-sentimental.

I liked the way this one started, before he slumped into whining about his inner hurt.

Yes, yes, Stevie, she's gone. And no bloody wonder! Now get down the pub and get over it, man.

u.v.ray. said...

And yes. I know "Stevie" Smith was a woman.

I thought I'd better add.

Confusing the gender is a joke of mine.

Ed Baker said...

first "look into" who Stevie smith is/was

(although my original muse (Pauline) a long
time ago sent me

in an hand-written letter (remember those?)
written out her:

" Drugs Made Pauline Vague"

anyway soon after I finish this book re: Shamanism
gonna persue/track back into her works...

especially (as I just read) her

"rough sketches or doodles" that are in her 1937

"A Good Time Was Had By All"

and this:

as for "trolls" aren't they those little mystery beings
that live in Ireland ?

TC said...

How wonderful, this Moderation. Where has it been all my life?

Ray, you sly devil, so you DID know Stevie was a "she"!

Florence Margaret Smith, born in Hull, 1902.

The "Stevie" came because she was small, and thought to resemble a well-known jockey of the period.

When she was three she came with her mother and sister to live with her aunt in Palmers Green, eventually attending North London Collegiate School for Girls, a late Victorian establishment founded on the premise girls ought to have schooling on a par with that given boys. She did not attend university, but became a publisher's secretary, a job she held onto all the way into the late 1950s.

The "original" of the suitor on the couch, in a tigerish crouch, may may have been one of Stevie's beaus, Freddy (Frederick "Eric" Armitage).

At one point he proposed, but she said no, because she feared being suffocated by conventional existence in a suburb.

She hated suburbs. And lived out most of the rest of her life on Avondale Road in North London, with her spinster aunt Margaret Spear; and was totally bowled over when the older woman died at 96.

She made a point of saying that in response to anyone who assumed she knew nothing about emotions because she had never married, she wanted that "put right" after her death.

"I loved my aunt."

Her poems will grow on you, if you let them. There are a pack of them listed in the index here, under "S" for Stevie.

She died on March 7, 1971, having by then earned herself a nice little reputation for her poetry and novels. The Times obit described her as "always a person apart". That sounds about right.

Ed Baker said...

pee est..
check THIS out !

and something else that I appreciate/identify with that was her way to go:

she "read few contemporary poets in an attempt to keep her voice original and pure"

seems she died just about the time when i dropped out !

TC said...


Thanks for reminding us of this little gem:

Drugs Made Pauline Vague

u.v.ray. said...

It's not a conscious choice - but I have never naturally enjoyed poetry by women. I just don't relate to it, I suppose. There are some isolated poems by women that I like but as a rule, I have no female poets that I am a huge fan of.

ACravan said...

A couple of years ago, an artist I admire quipped to an interviewer (who was inquiring about another subject) that he believed in the maxim "all things in moderation, including moderation." That being said, your moderation decision is sound and has obviously found support all around. This is a wonderful poem and I'm glad I know it now. I had missed the Pauline poem and I'm glad I read that one also, but especially Pad Pad. Curtis

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

A. Craven:

The variation I have heard, and quote regularly, is "Everything in moderation, including excess."


TC said...

Blake's Proverbs of Heaven and Hell For All Purposes:

"The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom."

Ed Baker said...

I'm wit' Blake

had I but known then from here looking back some 70 years
jus' to see what "moderating" has gotten me ?!?!!

shld have had a more "willie-nillie sex life for one thing..
& shld have dropped that "moderate drinking" and "moderate cussing" b o l o g n a !

"moderating" my "me" sure has been an handicap towards my becoming:

I could have been a contender ! Instead I have to settle for being just another

Minor American Poet/Artist...

&, mostly , conditional

"moderation"? chapter 69: Moderation and Futility

TC said...

Ed, I know you know that the road of moderation leads ultimately back to the ancient temple of Apollo at Delphi, which bore the inscription Meden Agan (μηδεν ἀγαν) -- 'Nothing in excess'.

Moderation is one of the three jewels of Taoist thought.

There is nothing that cannot be moderated including one's actions, one's desires and even one's thoughts. By doing so one achieves a more natural state, faces less resistance in life and recognises one's limits.

Taken to the extreme, moderation is complex and can be difficult not only to accept, but also to understand and implement.

It can also be recursive in that one should moderate how much one moderates -- that is, by not becoming too worried about moderating everything or not trying too hard to find a middle ground.

In olden times, as I'm sure you are aware, The Yuza-no-ki, an instructional chair in Ashikaga Gakko, was meant to teach students the importance of moderation.

When empty, the cup is inclined. When you pour water into it, it swings into an upright position. When you pour more water into it, it tips again.

But I am sure you are familiar with all these things, Edward; and further, I reckon that it is only the exercise of a great austerity, a practise of moderation on a daily basis, that allows you to get up so early every morning and become the artist you are.

Ed Baker said...

just a moment ago


of the Yazo-no-ki

the "little dip-per in the stars element !

and than P O W O W !

you mention "Edward" and

off I go into that poem:

"vie is you sword so dripped wit blood, Edward, Edward"


time to home-brew another 5 gallons of our version of Buddha Beer...

then in 7 days hence fill my cup ... moderately up !

then toast Ikkyu and Santoka

to be continued;