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Occasional Poem — bpNichol

Tuesday, October 17, 2006
by

Winter: 35th Year

i have travelled longer on this road than i thot i would

the mountains & the oceans lie far behind me
as far as the bed where my mother & my father dream

& i have come across the flat lands thru the forests
talking with friends about the difficulties of the journey

it is night now

midway between this world & another
the feet step from daylight into darkness

here we are all growing older
wiser perhaps
at least more confused

but there is the love
something we have worked at

a bottle of wine shared with a friend &

the songs Lord
so glad to still be singing these songs

This poem always makes me think of Simon & Garfunkel’s Bookends — at once a lament for times past, but also a celebration of the present and the journey as a whole.

bpNichol was known primarily for his concrete poetry, but I hate concrete poetry — I find it self-consciously ‘clever’ and trite — so I decided to showcase one of his excellent ‘traditional’ works.

Although, with bpNichol, nothing is ever strictly traditional. You’ll notice he does not capitalize, uses an ampersand instead of ‘and’ and removes ‘extraneous’ letters from words (‘thot’ instead of ‘thought). He was more interested in the sound of the word than what it looked liked on the page and believed those silent letters cluttered things up (if I remember correctly — it’s been a while since 2nd year Modern Lit).

Those concerns are minor, though; I love this poem for its sheer straightforwardness of form and emotion. The first three stanzas recount his personal journey from birth on the Prairies to settling in Toronto. Then he is deliberately general; when speaking of night, he doesn’t get fancy with metaphors or descriptions — he is simply ‘between this world & another,’ between ‘daylight and darkness.’ Then he makes a simple play on the old cliché of ‘older and wiser.’ Then a simple declaration that ‘there is love,’ and that love can be summed up in the image of a bottle of wine with a friend and the power of those songs that you become a part of you and you will sing until the end of your days.

Simon & Garfunkel, perhaps. meopcco03971semaj

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Tuesday, October 17, 2006 2:03 pm

    It says on Wikipedia that he wrote for Fraggle Rock. So that automatically makes him cool in my book.

    My book being, of course, Everything That is Cool, by graemepowell.

  2. James17930 permalink
    Tuesday, October 17, 2006 2:36 pm

    Is that availabe at Amazon?

  3. Tuesday, October 17, 2006 2:46 pm

    Indeed.

    In fact, Season 1 is available in my living room.

  4. James17930 permalink
    Tuesday, October 17, 2006 2:50 pm

    You said it was a book.

  5. Tuesday, October 17, 2006 3:59 pm

    I like to think big.

  6. James17930 permalink
    Tuesday, October 17, 2006 5:52 pm

    Books don’t have seasons graeme. They have pages.

    Pages!

    By the way, you never said whether or not you like the poem. 

  7. Wednesday, October 18, 2006 11:41 am

    I like it, simple, direct. I especially like the last line – he doesn’t tell you what the songs are, therefore it bridges generations, and allows the reader to hear whatever songs they want to hear. In that sense, for me, it feels very cinematic.

  8. James17930 permalink
    Friday, October 20, 2006 6:06 pm

    Re: Comment 1

    Too bad he isn’t around to write for the upcoming Fraggle movie.

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