The Silver Eel

"A gape-jawed serpentine shape of pale metal crested with soot hung high for a sign."

Monday, February 04, 2008


Recently came across this in a copy of the Scottish Review of Books from May last year. An article by Alan Riach on MacDiarmid, quoting the poem 'The Two Parents':
I love my little son, and yet when he was ill,
I could not confine myself to his bedside.
I was impatient of his squalid little needs,
His laboured breathing and the fretful way he cried
And longed for my wide range of interests again,
Whereas his mother sank without another care
To that dread level of nothing but life itself
And stayed day and night, till he was better, there.

Women may pretend, yet they always dismiss
Everything but mere being just like this.
According to the article the son, Michael, was three when this was published. The line "To that dread level of nothing but life itself" makes me think of Ted Hughes' poetry.

MacDiarmid wasn't the only one to resent his children. In an essay, 'Fires', Raymond Carver is absolutely bleak and uncompromising when he considers the effect his children had on his writing:
During these ferocious years of parenting, I usually didn't have the time, or the heart, to think about working on anything very lengthy. The circumstances of my life, the "grip and slog" of it, in D.H. Lawrence's phrase, did not permit it. [...] This hit-and-miss way of writing lasted for nearly two decades. There were good times back there, of course; certain grown-up pleasures and satisfactions that only parents have access to. But I'd take poison before I'd go through that time again.
From Call If You Need Me.


I'm reasonably sure my reluctance, bordering on inability, to post or indeed read anything on the internet for the past couple of months is linked to mild SAD. I noticed on my way back home today that there was still a little light in the sky at around a quarter to six. Makes a hell of a difference. I haven't even been able to read much, other than a bit of poetry.

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At 5 February 2008 at 11:13 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carver, as a keyword, brought me to your post. Your last paragraph gave me a lot of pleasure, so thanks.

At 7 February 2008 at 18:22 , Blogger The Silver Eel said...

Um, you're welcome.

At 12 February 2008 at 10:46 , Blogger Yvonne said...

Hope the return of the light is an improvement for you.

At 4 March 2008 at 23:58 , Blogger The Silver Eel said...

Thank you Yvonne, very much. Getting there.


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