Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 10 March 2008

  • Falling Asleep with Henry James

    The wrongly placed (as it had seemed to him)
    Apostrophe got up upon its several
    Tiny feet, strode purposefully across

    The margin and began a traverse
    Of the ridges of his index fingernail.
    In the meantime, Miles had passed his arm

    Around his little sister and was reading
    To her as they walked together, up and down,
    In the garden.   No doubt an English

    Garden with flowerbeds ─ nothing to match
    The Villa Rincon and its high, cool terraces,
    The grey-green leaves of the olive trees

    Set off by the wrinkling blue of the sea.
    Page fifty-six was where his marker was.
    The children had evidently gone inside.

    But not the pair of ladies, who were deep
    In agitated conversation.   Fifty-eight.
    The cicadas had stopped, leaving behind

    One of those silent moments when the world
    Seems to have gathered itself together
    And be crouching.  The younger of the ladies

    Was threatening to leave.   A pine cone dropped,
    And he had the uneasy feeling there was
    Someone else looking out from underneath

    His eyelids and leaning their elbows
    (Could it be Quint?) on the sills of his skull.
    And in that instant nothing seemed to him

    More natural than that these things, as he
    Had read somewhere, should be those other things
    Which clearly they were absolutely not.

    by Neil Curry

    from Other Rooms: New & Selected Poems (2007)

    There is a powerfully dramatic and narrative quality to the new poems which preface Neil Curry's Other Rooms, and we hear in them a wide variety of voices speaking to us from different times and different places, but speaking to us of things which nevertheless concern us deeply today.  Whatever form Curry adopts is handled with flexibility and skill, and wherever the poems are set there is a geographical and linguistic exactness which makes them as compelling as his acclaimed translations of the classics.    

    Neil Curry was born in Newcastle upon Tyne and now lives in Ulverston in the Lake District. His verse translations of Euripides, published by Methuen and Cambridge University Press, and in the USA by Doubleday, have been performed in many countries. Enitharmon has published his four earlier collections:  Ships in Bottles (1988), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, Walking to Santiago (1992), The Bending of the Bow (1993) and The Road to the Gunpowder House (2003).

    Founded in 1967, Enitharmon Press publishes fine quality literary editions. While specialising in poetry, we also publish fiction, essays, memoirs, translations, and an extensive list of artists’ books.