Back in 1971 my sister – 11 years old – bought me a book of poetry with a title that would now, I guess, be considered offensive.
It had been published first in 1964 and reprinted in 1969. It cost 4/-. A lot of pocket money in those days. I loved it and still have it on my shelves.
The collection of poems include modern and traditional African verse, some American poets and this – rich, vivid, alert, conscious of both past and present – from Derek Walcott, who has died today:
When we visited Snape late last year I came across this book – one long poem – by Julia Blackburn.
I am busy with death
And the fact of it
Because my husband died
Three months ago
Almost to the day,
The landscape of my altered world
Between before and after.
The verses are woven around some beautiful photographs of starlings in formations, flying. Murmurations.
The poet describes the connection between the movement of the birds and her grief:
The way they pull between a celebration of living
And an intimation of things unseen…..
Starlings make me able to believe
That everything will be alright
In its own way
And that is good to know
-If it is knowing –
Perhaps it is more to do with trust.
It’s intimate, poignant and very moving. You can read a little more about it here. You can buy it here.