Thursday, October 02, 2008

They Flee from Me....

On the other hand I was just sitting on a crowded tube - Central Line, natch - when I looked up to see one of those Poems on the Underground. Normally these are okay or bad but they do provide moments of pleasure. On this occasion, however, the poem was this, one of the most delicate, moving and erotic poems in the language, a quote from which adorned John Ashbery's choice of a ChapStick for his time capsule. Between Tottenham Court Road and Notting Hill Gate I entered a better world.


  1. i remember reading that Stephen Spender poem 'I think continually' or whatever, for the first time in the canteen of a hellhole bank back in 2004, where i was slaving for my many black sins. i was exhausted and bitter, cynical and savage, full of homicide and venom, and in a couple of minutes the poem transformed me into a Shelleyan dreamer of great dreams; then i closed the book and looked about me, somewhat amazed that the wretched building still stood and those mighty words had not blasted it apart with their beauty, as had seemed likely during the reading. In a sense, poetry changes nothing, except it changes the human imagination, a kind of 'nothing' in Shakespeare's sense of a dream, the not-quite real, the fairy kingdom that is us.

  2. Too right, elberry. This one - though the last line should be singed not signed, shouldn't it?!

  3. I remember when an English teacher introduced us to this poem as 14-year-olds, and I couldn't see what the fuss was about. Wyatt sounded like any other pissed off has-been. Now I think it's the sexiest poem I've ever read... 'and now they range, busily seeking with a continual change...'