Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tuesday Poem - The Winding Stair by Robert Sullivan

I had rented a little car to Boyle
where my grandfather’s birth was registered,
was returning when I saw Yeats’ Tower,
turned off the country highway with its sheep
reminding me of New Zealand—went in
to the cottage shop, paid the price, and sat
through the presentation. Then up I climbed
wagging my tail as I went. The stone steps
were narrow, windows were slits in darkness,
each chamber was a stanza of the great
man’s dreams. The sedge and slate were repaired
for visitors like me. I recommend
one takes a drive to Coole Park too as I
missed out—fear the rental company might
charge late fees prevented that. The visit
astonished me: a cosmic accident
to stand atop the tower and gaze out
as Yeats once did, and to imagine stars
placed there, to feel his intellectual fire.
Ten years after I climb and climb the stair.

This elegant poem of homage and a kind of home-coming was published in Robert Sullivan's recent book – Shout Ha! To The Sky. Reading it enticed me to go away and reread The Wild Swans At Coole. I haven't met Robert Sullivan, or read much of his work (yet), or ever heard him read, but I hope all these things will happen in good time. It is a very attractive poem, with a gentle charisma and that touch of magic that makes a poem keep on working as the days go past.

Robert Sullivan (Nga Puhi, Kai Tahu, Galway Irish) has published five collections of poetry with Auckland University Press. His most recent collections are Shout Ha! to the Sky (Bloomsbury: Salt Publishing, 2010) and Cassino City of Martyrs (Wellington: Huia, 2010). Also this year, he coedited with Albert Wendt and Reina Whaitiri Mauri Ola: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English (AUP and University of Hawaii Press). He is Head of Creative Writing at Manukau Institute of Technology, having recently returned from the University of Hawaii at Manoa where for a time he directed the creative writing programme.


1 comment:

  1. The return to the notion of the poet as visitor is intriguing in this poem. Yeats is one of my poets on the fridge, so I adored this poem. I hope I can be this visitor some day. Thanks so much for posting and Merry Christmas!