Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Flowering Past of Malcolm Lowry

photo © Mark Butkus 2015
Under thunderous trams.

There is no poetry when you live there.
Those stones are yours, those noises are your mind,
The forging thunderous trams and streets that bind
You to the dreamed-of bar where sits despair
Are trams and streets: poetry is otherwhere.
The cinema fronts and shops once left behind
And mourned, are mourned no more. Strangely unkind
Seem all new landmarks of the now and here.

But move you toward New Zealand or the Pole,
Those stones will blossom and the noises sing,
And trams will wheedle to the sleeping child
That never rests, whose ship will always roll,
That never can come home, but yet must bring
Strange trophies back to Ilium, and wild!

— Malcolm Lowry

Malcolm Lowry is primarily known for his roman de clef Under the Volcano which takes place over the course of 24 hours in Mexico on the Day of the Dead in 1939. The tortured writer — who considered himself a poet — also wrote hundreds of poems while living outside Vancouver, Canada. A selection of these poems was published posthumously in 1962 as the Selected Poems of Malcolm Lowry from which The Flowering Past appears.

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