Image by John Hedgecoe

The Grain of Things

The Grain of Things

Beware of what's uniform, lapidary, slick.

As if a twisting country lane
where shadows bow and curtsy
were to be avoided
because of its green spine and blisters;
or it were desirable
that literary translations should not sound
foreign and close to the originals.

Waxen-skinned fruit is apt
to taste less sweet than the pocked potato
and ruckled pomegranate.

Let me have about me
not members of the awkward squad
or fools so cussed they cannot compromise,
but friends who think, and say
what they think, not given to repeat
themselves with variations;
men and women with robust wordbanks
who deal in things no less than intuitions
and cast their cloaks before the beautiful.

Salt-milled stone has its place.
Oil has its place.
Likewise the assembly line.

And no, I have no wish to be abraded
when I am low in spirits
or to listen to the litanies of the bigoted,
nor even to be pricked by the moustache
of an amorous woman!

But give me the gruff,
the honest stumble and crux -
the obstinate knot in the grain of things.


from Selected Poems (Enitharmon Press, 2001), copyright © Kevin Crossley-Holland 2001, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Recordings

Kevin Crossley-Holland Reading from his poems

1The Rain-Giver

2Dusk, Burnham-Overy-Staithe

3The Island

4The First Island

5The Dream-House

6Grandmother's Footsteps

7An Approach to the Marsh

8Mosquito

9from Waterslain

10Orkney Girls - an extract: The Girl at Gurness

11Sounds

12Do You, or I, or Anyone Know?

13Here, at the Tide's Turning

14Solvitur Ambulando

15Across the Water

16The Language of Yes

17Still Life: Eleanor with Field-Flowers

18Leaf-Girl

19White Noise

20Light Weather

21Counting Her Steps

22The Fox and the Poet

23Translation Workshop: Grit and Blood

24Idling

25The Heart-in-Waiting

26Like a Small Sigh

27Limoges

28The Grain of Things

29The Art of Picking Blackberries

Books & cds by Kevin Crossley-Holland