Friday, October 23, 2009

Meeting Mr. Tennyson


Pulp museums, anachronisms—that’s what they are,
old soldiers dressed in fine leather jackets,
guarding knowledge and admitting access
to inquisitive index fingers worn a bit from life.

I don’t recall the volume number now—
I believe it was “Teapot to Utah”—
where I met Mr. Tennyson laboring at his desk,
hunched over, old, bearded, intense.

He was writing lines for In Memoriam,
one-hundred-and-thirty-three poems
for his friend Arthur Henry Hallam
who had faded early into senseless, seamless death.

The poet no longer understood God or life,
and his midnight poems were an encyclopedia
of sadness seduced, of grief, questions,
and occasionally a mustard seed of hope.

On cold nights when bony branches tap the windowpane,
death’s raw reminder, I read Mr. Tennyson’s encyclopedia.
My index finger runs across the troubled rhyme and verse
as the furnace down below goes quietly to sleep.

I do not feel so lonely in the presence of his words.
Someone was investing ink to clarify a mind besieged,
and that is comfort enough, a distant mercy
for my winter-frozen heart to seize and keep.

14 comments:

Lana Gramlich said...

Wow. Powerful stuff.

Diane Vogel Ferri said...

I appreciated your comment on Coexist and of course, agree. I'm glad you did that because I rediscovered this blog - I've checked Publexicon periodically and miss it!

Billy said...

Lana, thanks. You're too kind.

Diane, Publixicon got left by the wayside. I'm so busy with work, and Publexicon was quite ambitious, with so many features and links to daily update. I ran out of gas -:)

Cassiopeia Rises said...

Billy, this is one powerful poem. It must be the season of fall that has everyone writing about untimely death.
BTW, I have had to change my web page name. I am now:
Cassiopeia Rises
http://cassiopeiarises.blogspot.comIt's a long story. Someone hacked in to my blog took a few poems then tried to post them on another site as me.
Don't ask me why. I mean it's only poetry. Anyway hope all is well and Hope to hear from you soon.

love, Melanie

P.S. Beloved Dreamer leads to a date site. LOL

Billy said...

Melanie, thank you ... every time I try to access your new site, the page freezes while it tries to load. I'll keep trying :)

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Billy - so good to see you again. What a dreamy poem and a fine tribute to one of the world's greatest poets.

I love this line -
I do not feel so lonely in the presence of his words.

Marja said...

Billy you are a master. This gives a deep impact about a man I never knew. It seems that you are in ned of a bit of sunshine too

SandyCarlson said...

An encyclopedia of sadness seduced, of grief, questions, and occasionally a mustard seed of hope.

I just felt like typing that, of tracing your steps in creating that line, in a way. Succinct and clear, yet the poetic process itself is often neither.

beautiful.

Billy said...

K., thank you. Tennyson was my favorite poet in high school and college.

Marja, I don't know about the master part, but I try LOL. Thanks.

Sandy, thanks. I like to read Tennyson and others in old volumes. The words seem to have more life there. Otherwise, poetry feels so antiseptic.

Geraldine said...

Beautifully expressed Billy. I particularly enjoyed the last stanza. I know of what you speak....

BFN, G

PS: Great to "see" you again today!

JP/deb said...

I love this meeting ... your words are rich with understanding.

peace,
jp/deb

Billy said...

Deb, thanks. When I read old books, I feel I am really meeting the authors in them, which is, I think, the intent of every writer of poetry.

anthonynorth said...

What a great tribute that was. Excellent. And many thanks for the comment on mine.

Raven said...

Wonderful, as all your poems. I especially love the last two stanzas, which speak volumes.