Sunday Night Journal, September 9, 2018
Sunday Night Journal, September 16, 2018

52 Poems, Week 37: First Ode for a Very Young Lady (Anselm Hollo)


Shamming accuracy
I was going to say
    that she is spherical...

She is not,
she consists of
    two spheres

joined together
by not much of a neck
and six
    symmetrical protuberances
ears, arms, legs--

plus a small knob
in the centre
    of the smaller sphere,
the one on top.

But this
description of her shape
gives you no idea.
    She's round!

She's simply
round, and moves
in a manner
    not unlike rolling--
while remaining seated
very upright

what attracts her
    attention, right now
the silent
    television set;

and there she is,
on the screen--
in full
    though slightly muted

It is
    without question
the best programme
    of the day.

Of course,
I am thirty years older
and so
    our relationship
is deceptively easy:

will follow--

I hope
    they will,
I wish for decades
    of trouble with you
my daughter

wish it
    in the teeth of
        our monstrous days:

that the screen's
daily images
    of incessant war
and destruction

will fade
    and be superseded
by faces and forms
of another degree

worthy of you, your
happy geometry.


Anselm Hollo? Who?! you ask. Well, if you read his Wikipedia entry you will know about as much as I do. He was born in Finland in 1934, lived in England for most of the '60s, then moved to the U.S. and lived here until his death in 2013. 

The time he spent in England is the reason I know of his existence. Back in the '70s I had a Penguin paperback anthology called British Poetry Since 1945. I never did more than browse in it, but I liked some of what I read. It includes dozens of poets, only a few of whose names anyone but a very avid student of 20th century British poetry would recognize. Hollo was one of them, though I don't remember either his name or this poem from that time.

Somewhere along the line that book got away from me. Several months ago I saw a reference to it and thought I'd like to have a look at it again. I was able to find a used copy in very good shape online and have kept it on my bedside table, reading a poem or two or three every night.

This poem is Hollo's only presence in the anthology. I don't think it's a great poem by any means, but it gave me a smile and I marked it as worth returning to. It's that last line that makes it.

If we take the "thirty years" literally, the very young lady was born around 1964, and so is now, if she's still alive, well into her fifties. I hope the countless complications and the possible decades of trouble weren't too bad, and she's having a good life.

--Mac is the proprietor of this blog.


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I love it.


Thought you might. :-)

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