The art of poetry

Since the dawning of 2015, I have been very aware of the impact art has on us and how it can relate to very deep and often hard to reach places in ourselves. This year, some pieces I post will incorporate that aspect of life, which makes our experiences richer and more meaningful.

Poetry can often reach us in a very visceral way. It can express that which is intangible and beyond our immediate understanding. It hints at the grey, the areas where we are ‘in between‘; which is very like the definition of relationships as they are based on what happens between people. The space that lies in the middle of you and me. How we communicate with each other, how we understand each other, how we are hurt, how we are supported, how we are irritated, how we are embraced, how we are joyful; all of these are responses to how we are in relationships.

This is why I find poetry so engaging and relevant, it reflects back to us a dynamic and energy that defines the essence of life. The complexity of relationship is so often captured with beautiful accuracy in poetry and it’s expression allows us to bask in it’s meaning that is always unique to the person experiencing the poem.

I find much moving in the poem below. For me it describes, in a real way a relationship with a parent, one that time alters dramatically. This is the journey of many of us and we will relate to it in our own particular way.

Seamus Heaney

My father worked with a horse plough,
His shoulders globed like a full sail strung
Between the shafts and the furrow.
The horses strained at this clicking tongue.

An expert. He would set the wing
And fit the bright steel-pointed sock.
The sod rolled over without breaking.
At the headrig, with a single pluck

Of reins, the sweating team turned round
And back into the land. His eye
Narrowed and angled at the ground,
Mapping the furrow exactly.

I stumbled in his hob-nailed wake,
Fell sometimes on the polished sod;
Sometimes he rode me on his back,
Dipping and rising to his plod.

I wanted to grow up and plough,
To close one eye, stiffen my arm.
All I ever did was follow
In his broad shadow round the farm.

I was a nuisance, tripping, falling,
Yapping always. But today
It is my father who keeps stumbling
Behind me, and will not go away.

Our relationships form us and they are our most essential developmental component. How we interpret them will indicate where we are on our journey in life and how we recognise ourselves on that journey.

As a therapist, I meet people in this place; the interpretation of their identity which they connect to through their relationships. We explore the territory of the ’in between’ space, to see what we can find that relates to the person in the present day.

We all stumble and trip up. We must learn to trust ourselves in relationship, in what is created between people. The following captures this beautifully:

Honeymoon Flight
Seamus Heaney

Below, the patchwork earth dark hems of hedge,
The long grey tapes of road that bind and loose
Villages and fields in casual marriage:
We bank above the small lough and farmhouse

And the sure green work goes topsy-turvy
As we climb out of our familiar landscape.
The engine noises change. You look at me.
The coastline slips away beneath the wing tip.

And launched right off the earth by force of fire,
We hang, miraculous, above the water,
Dependent on the invisible air
To keep us airborne and to bring us further.

Ahead of us the sky’s a geyser now.
A clam voice talks of cloud yet we feel lost.
Air-pockets jolt our fears and down we go.
Travellers, at this point, can only trust.

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