Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Hauge and Dickinson

On the note of poetry and Emily Dickinson in the previous post, I remembered this poem by Norwegian poet Olav H. Hauge, which encapsulates both. It is called "Eg har tri dikt", which means "I have three poems".

Eg har tri dikt

Eg har tri dikt,
sa han.
Seg telja dikti.
Emily kasta dei
i ei kiste, eg
kan ikkje tru ho talde dei,
ho sprette berre ein tepakke
og skreiv eit nytt.
Det var rett. Eit godt dikt
skal lukta av te.
Eller rå mold og nykløyv ved.

I have three poems

I have three poems,
he said.
How about that, counting the poems.
Emily threw them
into a chest, I
cannot think she counted them,
she just slit open a packet of tea
and wrote a new one.
That was right. A good poem
should smell of tea.
Or of raw earth and newly split fire-wood.


In this short, simple poem smelling of earth and tea, there is a closeness to the matter, that of poetry, that I find moving and deeply satisfying. The casual mention of Emily Dickinson, using only her first name, creates an intimate feeling between these two poets, as different and divided by time as they might be. Like there is a fellowship only poets have access to, and that there everyone is on first name terms with each other (like a highly personalized version of intertextuality). A rather romantic notion, I clearly see, but still there is a feeling of the great diversity of poets being united by some common note. As I picture it, they stand underneath the same dome, low-ceilinged and vast at the same time.

You find a sort of poetics here. Poetry is being connected to the earth, to something homely and everyday-like. This I feel quite comfortable with. Again Hauge shows his close connection to simplicity. The language, the props, the normality of it all. Straightforwardness shining through in every stage.

Another interesting thing about this poem for me is how the tea and the raw, black earth seem to take on each others' characteristics - when Emily slits open the packet of tea, it smells like earth, and the earth towards the end smells like tea. This poem evokes these different scents in me which seem to seep out in a thick, golden brown liquid throughout my reading it. First the woody scent of an old chest, perhaps with hints of cherry (for some reason I imagine it must have been a cherry wood chest - the deep redbrown of it). Then the mentioned tea and earth, and then the fire-wood. All brown, promising rich and earthy scents.

I figure I like it when it feels like my toes are embedded in earth and grass when reading a poem. 

1 comment:

Lyle Daggett said...

"Or of raw earth and newly split fire-wood."

Oh, yes...

It's the kind of line that can keep me up late writing. (Or so one can hope...)