Thursday, 14 February 2013

Reading the Love Metre

It has probably not entirely escaped your detective faculties that - on this day -  love, as they say, is in the air.  Similarly, when Prince William's most intimate courtiers observed his reaction to Kate Middleton, they muttered to themselves that love was in The Heir.  But enough of that.

In our household this morning, we honoured the blessed Mr. Valentine in the traditional  manner by exchanging greetings cards.  In addition, and in flagrant contravention of ratified marital policy, my wife, knowing my predilection for writing which fails to reach the right-hand edge of the page, presented me with a copy of Salt's Best British Poetry, 2012.  
I haven't opened this book yet, but I am issuing British Poetry with a stern warning that, if I fail to discover a plenitude of form and structure within its ranks, there will be a strongly-worded sestina coming its way.

For my part, I embellished my offering with a hand-made, rhyming acrostic in iambic pentameter (for the most part - a small dactyl crept in through the metre-flap at the beginning). I have, of course, taken the precaution of marrying a person with an even number of letters in her name, and so have been able to produce several versions of this form for her in a manner that has been pleasingly challenging on each occasion.

Which brings me to my point.  Being ever-vigilant for the slightest pretext for proselytizing the pluralistic pieces of Mervyn Peake (apologies if your browsing device just showered you with saliva), I wanted today to share one of my favourite love poems, which nestles quietly in a shady arbour within the Peake canon.  It was written for his wife, and runs thus:

To Maeve

You walk unaware
Of the slender gazelle
That moves as you move
And is one with the limbs
That you have.

You live unaware
Of the faint, the unearthly
Echo of hooves
That within your white streams
Of clear clay that I love

Are in flight as you turn,
As you stand, as you move,
As you sleep, for the slender
Gazelle never rests
In your ivory grove.

This is vintage Peake, with arcane words such as 'clay' and 'grove' perfectly suiting the romantic theme, and the rhythm beautifully evoking the animal movement and stillness being described.

By the way, there are only 364 shopping days to Valentine's Day, so I am obliged to remind you that I can offer a range of poetic products to enchant your inamorata/o.  Contact me for a full tariff; (sonnet sequences comprising twenty or more elements are charged at a premium rate, but bulk discounts may be negotiable).

No comments:

Post a Comment