May 6, 2012

Jack Matthews, "Things"

Unidentified Painting, a gallery in Florida
November 1980 : Poetry Magazine

In recent posts, Emily Dickinson, Deborah Digges, Anne Sexton, Josephine Jacobsen, and less directly, John Crowe Ransom and Yeats have been concerned with things and observation—or witness, as the poetry world tends to call it. Of course, most poetry focuses on things and the perception process to one extent or another. Jack Matthews’ “Things” (it might open slowly, but it's only a matter of seconds) is a bit more direct than some other work we’ve seen here; maybe it’s downright preachy or prosy. But I very much like what he’s saying, and I think the aforementioned poets would too. Which of the last half dozen or so poems about seeing, naming, and considering things in a detailed, imaginative way is your favorite? And of course, why?

Sorry to repeat this one, but I could not resist its relevance
November 1980 : Poetry Magazine

The robin is also the "American Thrush"


Anonymous said...

"Now there are some things we all know, but we don't take them out and look at them very often. We all know that something is eternal...There's something way down deep that's eternal about every human being."

Made me think of this passage from Our Town.

Banjo52 said...

AH, I like it.

Pasadena Adjacent said...


I read it several times trying to get a grasp on the them and me aspect. Maybe the "gift" others grasp, as you like to say, is the one you have. I think I like this poem so much I'm going to cut and paste and file in my Words folder

Brenda's Arizona said...

I love it. It is the ying and yang of life. It is the balance of talking and listening, of teaching and learning. Sometimes the teacher is the student, ya know?

Banjo52 said...

PA, Brenda, that's great news. And thanks. In so many ways, I've felt like the student most of the time, I think. Still do. What could be more boring than having all the answers (or the illusion of same)?

Stickup Artist said...

"Think to listen as they must do."

I too loved this poem. It is how I feel when I go off into the desert alone to look at and walk among millions of years of rocks. They are witnesses, they seem to have a soul. They speak, and I listen... it is the only time I feel free and eternal...

Jean Spitzer said...

The image of the swan has stayed with me, maybe because I see swans fairly regularly and the poem's description was so good.

Lovers' Lane