Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Wednesday, 11 January 2017



(for B.)

The evening came sprinkled
with particles of poetry:

feelings gripped so tightly
they seemed they could fit
within a glimmer in an eye
or into the trace of a smile.

But when preserved in words
such moments can last forever.
And they often form the most
beautiful blue crystals.

20 September 1989
A belvedere or belvidere (from Italian for "fair view") is an architectural structure sited to take advantage of a fine or scenic view. While a belvedere may be built in the upper part of a building the actual structure can be of any form, whether a turret, a cupola, or an open gallery. Or it may be a separate pavilion in a garden, or the term may be used for a paved terrace with a good viewpoint, but no actual building. — Wikipedia
This is a wholly inadequate poem. I love it. I love it dearly. But it fails to capture what I was aiming to: the effect B. had on me. Words really are useless. I’ve hear talk of writers inhabiting ivory castles or even garrets although I mostly think of artists when I hear that word and Stravinsky. (If you’ve ever seen the room where he wrote The Rite of Spring you’ll know what I mean.) Me, I climb up into a belvedere the better to see what’s going on around me. It’s not quite an out of body experience or anything like that but I am aware of a division between the me who’s experiencing whatever it is and the writer who’s watching all and making notes. I’ve no idea what was so special about this particular night. It was probably a night like any other. B. was a regular visitor to our home. We were probably just watching a film. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure came out in February and I’d been making all my friends watch it. Maybe she was part of a group. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.
Why blue crystals though? That is lost to me.


vito pasquale said...

I thought, even before I saw your question, that the letters B in "Beautiful Blue crystals" were for B. I guess I was wrong but I do like that encoding even if it is untrue. Words are useless. Their capacity to capture truth pales in comparison in their ability to traffic that which is untrue. Still we are condemned to use words or pictures if we paint or a song if we sing. But just think, if words are useless for a poet, what good are they for others who wish to be understood when trying to explain something complex? I can imagine the frustration. "Sprinkled with particles of poetry. . . " is a joyful phrase. One that should be loved dearly.

Jim Murdoch said...

I did wonder if blue was the colour of her eyes, Vito, but resisted the urge to dig out an old photo to check; they just make me maudlin. At the end of the day I probably chose ‘blue’ because it went so well with ‘beautiful’. I do seem to recall changing ‘blue’ to ‘clear’ one time I submitted the poem somewhere but it wasn’t accepted for whatever reason and I probably never sent it out again if I’m being honest.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned somewhere along the lines that my dad bought me an organ with his redundancy money in the early seventies. Anyway I was the only person who ever played it; my siblings showed no interest and neither did either of my parents and yet one day I went into the front room to find my dad sat at the keyboard trying to pick out a tune. It was a tune from when he was a boy, one I didn’t recognise, and here he was with his sausage finger trying to bring it back to life. It really was so sad to watch when I could sit down and music simply flowed from my fingers. I tried to help him—I suppose I got him to sing the tune (sing he could do)—but he lost interest (I think he was embarrassed to be honest) and found something else he needed to do.

Ping services