The black bough thing

Is taken from Ezra Pound’s ‘In A Station Of The Metro’ and reads in its entirety:

The apparation of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Despite three years buried in the library at UEA studying English this is the only poem that I can ever recall/recite in full. I can do the opening of The Waste Land, and some of the shanti, shanti, shanti stuff half way through, I can do the opening of Chaucer’s Prologue to the Canterbury Tales but that’s it. That education was wasted on me.

Of course the subtext to this could be my academic insecurities – that I spent a considerable amount of my bookish childhood, teenhood and young adulthood devouring books and all I have to show for it in practical terms is one remembered poem. Oh, and a huge amount of books.

The book collecting thing has stuck with me. There are currently 6 books on my bedside all part read, or about to be read. Wolf Hall is dominating the to-read pile, I keep carrying it from room to room without starting it; it came highly recommended from my new favourite bookshop, Wenlock Books, in Much Wenlock, so I will sit down and read it at some point . . . or never show my face in the bookshop again.

I’d prefer to think that the Black Bough arose from the external world. Beneath my window the river Corve currently flows like a length of squid ink tagliatelle through the snow. It’s darkness only now apparent. The ancient oaks of Wenlock Edge also stand like Victorian portrait silhouettes, their mass and age revealed even more so.


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