Wednesday, 22 November 2006

THE BLOOM OF CANDLES by Laurie Lee, Rs. 30

Such a jolly sweet little name. But his poetry is so morbid. At the book fair, I found a book of his poetry, published in 1947. The book is a slim - practically anorexic - volume, bound in yellow, and titled "The Bloom of Candles".

"Tonight the wind gnaws
with teeth of glass,
the jackdaw shivers
in caged branches of iron

(what does that mean?)
"the stars have talons."

The stars have talons. And he is talking about Christmas Eve. He paints this depressing harsh landscape -
"the ground bitter with stones"

and then he ends with

"a new star opens
like a silver trumpet over the dead.
Tonight in a nest of ruins
the blessed babe is laid

I kind of get where he's going: the ghastly ugly world, and the baby who's born to redeem it. It's a poem about hope, painted with despair. I don't know whether to hate it or love it.

When I first posted this on Rumi's Bird, the infamous commenter Vichoobhai sent me an excerpt about Laurie Lee:

That is the way he describes nature, always tinged with terror and gore, larks screaming, clouds fuming and sky tearing apart.

I googled Lee and found him described as a gentle, humourous, soft-spoken man and I can't help wondering what unspoken horrors he translated into words on nature.

I want to sing like the birds, not worrying about who hears or what they think - Jalaluddin Rumi

No comments: