Me today (yes, I always look that annoyed)
I'm feeling my age. Actually I'm feeling someone else's age, a guy of about eighty-four. Suffice to say I'm getting to the age where I'm starting to see how well I might measure up to that eighty-four year-old in other ways. Wisdom and age are supposed to go hand-in-fist. So I've been told. I'm still waiting. In the meantime I make do with intelligence. Of course being intelligent – which I think is different from being 'clever' – doesn't mean you'll automatically become wise.
The poetry I remember growing up with, and this is well before I discovered Larkin as a teenager, were these little balls of wisdom, home truths, important truths and I expect that's why they've lasted. They were like bible verses and the thing I liked about the bible was that in the main I was only ever asked to digest a couple of verses at a time and a lot of them were like tiny poems, little nuggets of truth. I don't think it's a coincidence that I write the kind of poetry I do; we work with what we have.
But the bible was written by wise men and poetry was written by old buggers – I've seen photos of them and they were all ancient – so what business did I have trying to make out like I had something to say? The thing I remember as a kid starting off is that I did believe I had access to that kind of wisdom. I could feel it milling around inside me. It was getting to grips with it that was the problem. You see being wise is all well and good but communicating that wisdom is another kettle of fish completely. Every time I put my pen to paper it refused to be the conduit of all my wise words. The occasional bit of cleverness would leak out onto the page but that was about it.
I think wisdom is one of those things like magic. Magicians tend to keep schtum about how they do their tricks, the good ones anyway. Most magic, the kind that doesn't depend on huge apparatuses, is within the capabilities of you or me; it's sleight of hand and a lot of practice. And I guess that's all poetry is when you get down to it. Everyone has poetry within themselves but not everyone can get it out.
Anyway, if you'd like to read a bit more about what I think about wisdom and poetry have a look at my guest post on Jasmin's Heart. Jasko very kindly asked me if I'd contribute a few poems and write a few words to introduce them. So I did. And then I wrote this to set up the introduction. I think I just like to hear the sound of my own voice.