"The Landscape Was the Occasion"
I’ll admit; it took me awhile to find a poem in this collection that truly spoke to me and made me want to read it over and over again. Many of the poems seemed quite dry, overly-worded, overly-planned, and exhausted (as well as exhausting!). But, the one I finally found is probably one of my favorites of all time. It’s called Zennor, on page 95 of Poetry of the Thirties (compiled by Robin Skelton). It is written by Anne Ridler, one of the few female poets included in this collection, which I found especially important and exciting! (In fact, I went looking for a strong, female-written poem in this book, and found only a handful. It isn’t surprising, considering the time period in which the poems were written, but it is still disappointing.)
Besides the beautiful imagery in this poem (I love this line: “What held its waters from flooding the world entire.”), the idea of consistency and reliability really appeals to me. She seems to be suggesting that life must go on, regardless of catastrophe or success, something that is especially important to me now as I struggle to keep up with all of the demands in my life. They seem never ending (and they probably will never end), but there will always be something beyond the tasks and deadlines I must complete. There is a “must” to experience life, and to let everything else go, just for minute, to experience something so real that it is surreal. I feel like it’s so easy for me to get caught up in the tediousness of everyday life that I forget what else is important.
She begins the poem with a picture of the sea, stretching into the distance, and ends with the idea that the sea “sucks the last shreds of sun” from the sky, as though her day (and life) ends and begins with the same scene. It doesn’t matter what happens in between. We can always depend on the sunrise and sunset, just like we can depend upon our breath and our heartbeat. I like that idea also, in that it physically links me to my day and to the days of others.
It’s just a poem about a landscape, about something that we might see daily. However, the acknowledgement of nature’s beauty and regularity is what makes this poem so compelling.