In great poems, chosen words combine in ways which confer unique meaning memorably with resonance and power. The scent they produce infiltrates the mind, like body chemistry. I have good chemistry with this poem.
This poem starts with a blow which jolts the reader urgently from peace to panic. It is delivered by a narrator who says ominously ‘hush, this lion sleeps tonight.’ The wind no longer blows. A sombre, yet tense, insistent tone is set. The reader’s attention is dramatically gained; the opening is intriguing. Why the frozen stillness?
The last book of poems that frightened me was George Murray’s The Hunter (2003). I’m not accustomed to thinking of poetry as a frightening genre. Unlike life and many fictions, poems end neatly; they insist on order; they elude the march of time. Not Murray’s. His Hunter tracks Yeats’s rough beast–or is tracked by it; or is that beast–through fire and desert towards no certain Bethlehem. The poems’ lines go two by two or three by three–but to call these stanzas couplets or triplets belies their staggered state. And because the poems eschew regular rhyme and metre, like fire they resist one’s efforts at remembrance. The poems are burnt out from around their titular bones: what sticks in one’s mind is the index, an alphabetical sequence that reads like a skeletal poem (Albatross, Anchor, Arrow, Bear, Bed, Bomb, Book …)