Posts Tagged ‘The Corner Knot’

Robert Graves












The Corner Knot

I was a child and overwhelmed; Mozart
Had snatched me up fainting and wild at heart
To a green land of wonder, where estranged
I dipped my feet in shallow brooks, I ranged
Rough mountains, and fields yellow with small vetch;
Of which, though long I tried, I could not fetch
One single flower away, nor from the ground
Pocket one pebble of the scores I found
Twinkling enchanted there. So for relief
“I’ll corner-knot,” said I, “this handkerchief,
Faithful familiar that, look, here I shake
In these cool airs for proof that I’m awake.”
I tied the knot, the aspens all around
Heaved, and the riverbanks were filled with sound;
Which failing presently, the insistent loud
Clapping of hands returned me to the crowd.
I felt and, fumbling, took away with me
The knotted witness of my ecstasy,
Though flowers and streams were vanished past recall,
The aspens, the bright pebbled beach and all.

But now grown older, I suspect Mozart
Himself had been snatched up by curious art
To my green land: estranged and wild at heart
He too had crossed the brooks, essayed to pick
That yellow vetch with which the plains are thick;
And being put to it (as I had been)
To smuggle back some witness of the scene,
Had knotted up his cambric handkerchief
With common music, rippling, flat and brief;
Then, home again, had sighed above the score
“Ay, a remembrancer, but nothing more.”

Marianne Stokes 'A Young Girl Picking Flowers'














Robert Graves’ poem about of the musical ‘transport’ he experienced as a child listening to Mozart  is appositely allusive  to the the ‘trance’ in which genuine poems take their form. The swirling galactic  indeterminate fields of dust and gas where stars are born, and the shadowy ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ (‘La Noche Oscura’) described by St. John of the Cross,  also relate to to this rich and fertile state and place  – this dream-like ground of transcendent mystery and creativity – this mystical reality from which it is so difficult to retrieve and return scarcely any but a shredded scrap back to our ordinary realm: A scrap hastily torn from a vision entire which shimmers and dissolves and disappears much as the world of a dream does upon awakening.

The test of a true poem is that it is able to restore in great part to the reader that other realm which stubbornly refuses to accompany us back into our dreamless world – or only does so in the tantalising shadowy fragments of ‘through a glass darkly’. The true poem accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of paradoxically forming with words an evanescent world in which what is the most real effortlessly unfolds without them.

Mozart Aged Eight, Holding a Bird's Nest.




The Corner Knot

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