The time has come for another round of blogging. As I write this, I’m waiting for my dinner to arrive (thank you, Deliveroo, you are a great invention) and watching The 39 Steps. A good evening, helped along by a martini, courtesy of my brother, and a pot of tea, courtesy of me, so I thought that made the perfect atmosphere for an attempt at writing again.
I wanted to write about a poem by T. Inglis Moore, an Australian poet from the 30s and 40s; I recently found a collection of poems at the university library (Bayonet and Grass, which is a fantastic name for a book), but, much to my despair, it turns out to be nigh impossible to find any of his poems online. So, this whole ramble is to reveal the true subject of this post, the Imagist poem A Girl by Richard Aldington.
First of all, the poem can be found about half way down this page. As the reader will notice, it’s very short, showcasing my laziness through insistence of choosing short poems for me to discuss. As for Richard Aldington, I don’t know too much about him, but Wikipedia has come to my aid. He was married to the Imagist poet H. D. (which is how she always signed her name – I believe it is for Hilda Doolittle, or something along those lines), and worked closely with the Imagist poets. Aldington had many falling-outs, and went off to the First World War, about which he wrote in his novel Death of a Hero. Although not the most vital piece of information, I quite like his obituary in The Times, which described Aldington as “an angry young man of the generation before they came fashionable.”
Sicilian Girls by Thomas Pelham
I discussed this poem recently with a brother of mine, and we agreed that the true genius of the poem was that it said absolutely nothing. It describes a girl (we know it is addressed to a girl only through the title, which is rather clever) as that ‘clear Sicilian fluting’ and carries this metaphor through the brief poem. Nevertheless, in saying essentially nothing, the poem creates this haunting feeling (one might even say, if the Dear Reader can withstand the joke, a haunting image), that captures everything Aldington wanted to say. The first two lines perfectly set up the epigram, giving us the epigram’s metaphor, and the following line introducing the sorrow, one presumes of loss or death, that makes this poem worthwhile. I should also mention that ‘Sicilian fluting’ would appear to be an allusion to something; I believe a Roman or Greek god was said to hang around there, but my memories of Sicily have been overtaken by The Godfather, so all that comes to mind are images of mafia and scorched hills. Plus Syracuse.
The last three lines finish the metaphor, with the final line left hanging to haunt the reader, the dactyl drawing out the finish, as the soft end fades away. The alliteration hammers the final lines into one’s head, and brings one’s mind back to the theme: the clear Sicilian fluting.
That, Dear Reader, is the sweet and short work of Richard Aldington. It is, I must confess, probably one of the shortest poems I’ve covered on the ol’ blog, but it is a fantastic poem, and showcases the Imagist works, some of my favourite poets from the 20th century. I hope the Dear Reader appreciates the sweetness of the piece, and how, in so few words, Aldington conjures up the image and haunting feeling, entirely without ever actually saying what the poem is truly about (save, perhaps, for the title).