Anne Barbara Ridler
A Letter - Poem by Anne Barbara Ridler
Lying in bed this morning, just a year
Since our first days, I was trying to assess --
Against my natural caution -- by desire
And how the fact outdid it, my happiness:
And finding the awkwardness of keeping clear
Numberless flamingo thoughts and memories,
My dear and dearest husband, in this kind
Of rambling letter, I'll disburse my mind.
Technical problems have always given me trouble:
A child stiff at the fiddle, my ear had praise
And my intention only; so, as was natural,
Coming to verse, I hid my lack of ease
By writing only as I thought myself able,
Escaped the crash of the bold by salt originalities.
This is one reason for writing far from one's heart;
A better is, that one fears it may be hurt.
By an inadequate style one fears to cheapen
Glory, and that it may be blurred if seen
Through the eye's used centre, not the new margin.
It is the hardest thing with love to burn
And write it down, for what was the real passion
Left to its own words will seem trivial and thin.
We can in making love look face to face:
In poetry, crooked, and with no embrace.
Tolstoy's hero found in his newborn child
Only another aching, vulnerable part;
And it is true our first joy hundredfold
Increased our dangers, pricking in every street
In accidents and wars: yet this is healed
Not by reason, but with an endurance of delight
Since our marriage, which, once thoroughly known,
Is known for good, though in time it were gone.
You, hopeful baby with the erring toes,
Grew, it seems to me, to a natural pleasure
In the elegant strict machine, from the abstruse
Science of printing to the rich red and azure
It plays on hoardings, rusty industrial noise,
All these could add to your inherited treasure:
A poise which many wish for, writing the machine
Poems of laboured praise, but few attain.
And loitered up your childhood to my arms.
I would hold you there for ever, and know
Certainly now, that though the vacuum looms
Quotidian dullness, in these beams don't die
They're wrong who say that happiness never comes
On earth, that was spread here its crystal sea.
And since you, loiterer, did compose this wonder,
Be with me still, and may God hold his thunder.
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