Septuagesima by John Burnside
I was attracted to this poem because of the imagery of light, but I stayed with it because of the sense of space.
I dream of the silence/ the day before Adam came/ to name the animals.
The music in it is different from that of Luing, but like Luing
it takes place inside the poet's head - because a world without
language would still surely be filled with noise, but in the poet's
consciousness the sensory experience is not separate from language, so
without it there is silence.
A winter whiteness haunting the creation, /as we are sometimes haunted /by the space we fill
lines are mysterious to me, but they are the point at which the poem
takes on an extra dimension. The pronoun has shifted from I to we but seems to be referring to a collective loneliness and sense of loss.
I decided to live with it for one week, as I did with Luing - not analysing, just allowing it to stay with me - to see if this process illuminates anything...
it did! I was on a bus from Lancaster train station to the university
when what it meant suddenly came to me - or at least what it means to
me. So this system of reading definitely works. It involves switching
off the critical brain but giving attention to the poem - almost like
Also I love the last line of this poem - the word 'gloss' is exceptionally fine.