Sunday, August 16, 2009

I Peeked Into Jean Valentine's Stable and Seamus Heaney and Paul Muldoon came rushing out at me (sigh)

In a hospital examination room I took out the New Yorker and read the two poems in it. One called, I think, "Meditation," which was about a squirrel, human consciousness, living in the moment, etc, etc.... The other was a Jean Valentine poem I tore out and took with me because the Dr. (who would make me cough and who spoke about rich fatty salmon and cold mountain water-- the mixed benefits of the last frontier) walked in.

Here's the Valentine Poem:


Hawkins Stable

It was years before you could climb

back up over the fallen stalls, and knock at

the Hawkinses’ old door

—they were gone,

you could just look in from the road.

Field after field.

Your eyes looked two ways at once.

Under the fields,

the dense tongue of the cow—

and the horses’ eyes—

and the water from the hand pump in the sink,

racing as horses race.


A strong, interesting piece I've read and enjoyed several times. But this is a poem (or something very like it) that Seamus Heaney might have written 40 years or, even more so, Paul Muldoon a decade or so later.

"Your eyes looked two ways at once" is a particularly Muldoon-ish line. Interesting and provocative. But (for me) also cryptic in a somewhat unattractive way.

I enjoyed this poem. More so perhaps for how it brought me back to work I read over 20 years ago. Heaney's "Death of a Naturalist" and Muldoon's elegant and often zany Quoof." (Two books that were very important to me.)

On a related note: in the airline magazine I saw an ad for an Italian painter making his final appearance in the U.S. They labeled him the Van Gogh of Our Times. Sigh.


Demeter said...

The (sigh) is very recognisable but I liked the poem very much so ...

Ross Brighton said...

"your eyes looked two ways at once" has a certain grotesquerie to it, if not (perhaps) as intentional as that of the title poet in *death of a naturalist*, which I like very much. It makes me think of the mechanics of eyeballs (much as the Heaney is about the discovery of sex), and what thinking about someone's organs can do to your rection to them, or more specifically their body (bowels anyone?)

Ross Brighton said...

and I keep misreading "field after field" as "fled after field"

Rauan Klassnik said...

Demeter--- i like the poem very much too....

Ross-- yeah, the "eyes looked two ways" has a Heaney feel to it. but much more so, for me anyways, a Muldoon touch i think.....