Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I was proper naughty yesterday.  I went on to Amazon to order Rob Mackenzie's collection and, surprise, surprise, I didn't feel entirely satisfied until some hours later, after buying lots of other sparkly things.

As well as a good sized hoard of DVDs, I also ordered several more books: Alice Oswald's A Sleepwalk on the Severn  (I really enjoyed Woods etc., so wanted to try some more of hers) and a couple of books by Margaret Atwood - Eating Fire, which is a selection of her work from 1965 to 95, and her latest collection, The Door.

I, like many other people, I suspect, knew Atwood as a novel writer before realising she wrote poetry - she does it pretty well too...  I particularly love her poem, 'You Begin', which I first came across in the Norton Anthology.  I read it as a parent / grandparent speaking to an infant, although I guess that if you looked at it a more spiritual way, it could be a god-like life creator speaking to a human of any age.  Although I aren't a very spiritual person, I kind of like the second reading better...

You Begin

You begin this way:
this is your hand,
this is your eye,
that is a fish, blue and flat
on the paper, almost
the shape of an eye.
This is your mouth, this is an O
or a moon, whichever
you like. This is yellow.

Outside the window
is the rain, green
because it is summer, and beyond that
the trees and then the world,
which is round and has only
the colors of these nine crayons.

This is the world, which is fuller
and more difficult to learn than I have said.
You are right to smudge it that way
with the red and then
the orange: the world burns.

Once you have learned these words
you will learn that there are more
words than you can ever learn.
The word hand floats above your hand
like a small cloud over a lake.
The word hand anchors
your hand to this table,
your hand is a warm stone
I hold between two words.

This is your hand, these are my hands, this is the world,
which is round but not flat and has more colors
than we can see.

It begins, it has an end,
this is what you will
come back to, this is your hand.

by Margaret Atwood


BarbaraS said...

Ooo lots of booky wooks. I was bold yesterday too. Be interested to see what you think of Alice Oswald's latest. I liked Woods hugely.

BarbaraS said...

Can you email me again - I had to buy a new lappie, my old one died! Not sure if I have your contact saved - so hoping you'll see this...

Rob said...

Hope you enjoy the book, Messalina and thanks for odering it. I like the Atwood's poem's clever use of repetition to good effect.