Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

0075 The Connoisseur - Poem by Michael Shepherd

Do come in. I’m so glad that you came –
it’s good to have someone to
share one’s pleasures and delights with.
Some of my family think I’m
some sort of misanthrope, hiding away
with my collection of Chinese porcelain…

I tell them, it’s the opposite – I feel that
I’m in touch with the finest work of
contented men, creating some sort of memory of
perfection, for others to enjoy – I guess
you feel the same way about those poems
you write? Now –

your hands are clean? Not because of
this celadon Sung vase, let’s start with that –
but I’d like you to feel the outer layer
of skin on your fingertips touching
the surface of the vase and yet
not quite touching, feeling
the air between – silk on silk,
almost – I was going to say, the skin of
a young girl’s cheek greeting
another young girl’s cheek, but that wouldn’t
sound quite right – you must have
the same problems, with choosing just the right
similes and metaphors, that are
thrilling without being ‘clever’?

I don’t want to be pretentious about
all this – just feel the surface: not matt,
not shiny, the colour not bright, not blatant,
but not in hiding – and see
how the potter takes the vase’s curves and contours
from neck to belly, like a yacht,
like a horseman, like a lover – put
this vase in a room to itself and its stillness
fills the room with presence…

they talk a lot of nonsense about
connoisseurship – it’s just loving what
is fine, and long reflected over, and
as human an activity as can be. You meet
the maker in the art. And yes,
there are other connoisseurs who
love the roughness of a cracked, irregular
Japanese tea-cup, a one-off from a woodman’s kiln…

I expect you feel just the same
about poetry? How fortunate
we are, you and I..


Comments about 0075 The Connoisseur by Michael Shepherd

  • (1/11/2006 11:08:00 AM)


    You're sort of defined connoisseurship (and probably learned how to spell it, by this time, too!) . I'm impressed. As Rusty says below, this says a lot about poetry, too. I love your descriptions of the vases. The 'touching the air' reminds me of an exercise a friend used to do with me and others in college, putting our hands almost together, but not quite. We could really feel the energy field. (Report) Reply

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  • (1/10/2006 11:26:00 AM)


    This is a masterful 'comment' Michael, and I would also say, poetry.
    Regards, Rusty
    (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Poem Edited: Thursday, July 13, 2006


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