Here is Frank Bidart’s long poem Confessional. It employs a layered composition of first person narrative and extended quotation from Augustine’s Confession. It is at once alienated and intimate, appealing to the mind and heart as a grown son works through his grief and anguished conscience after his mother’s recent passing, with a mysterious confessor who needs the first lessons of faith taught to him.
These Three Poems by Seamus Heaney are given in the order of their publication, with one each drawn from his first three books. (I’m reading Opened Ground now, a volume of selected works that came out after he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995.)
Heaney has an incredible sense of sound, making each word count and turning every short line into a pleasure. It is interesting how Heaney seems to approach his early poems (the first two volumes) with so much humility, focusing on observation of his environment, and writing with ready material, especially of his childhood, without hype or grandiosity.
Moore was very stoical and firm in life, but if she held out the joy she displays in poetry in some physical craft she would have made a marvelous and playful dancer.
The Fish wade through black jade. Of the crow-blue mussel-shells, one keeps adjusting the ash-heaps; opening and shutting itself like an injured fan. The barnacles which encrust the side of the wave, cannot hide there for the submerged shafts of the sun, split like spun glass, move themselves with spotlight swiftness into the crevices— in and out, illuminating the turquoise sea of bodies. The water drives a wedge of iron through the iron edge of the cliff; whereupon the stars, pink rice-grains, ink- bespattered jelly fish, crabs like green lilies, and submarine toadstools, slide each on the other. All external marks of abuse are present on this defiant edifice— all the physical features of ac- cident—lack of cornice, dynamite grooves, burns, and hatchet strokes, these things stand out on it; the chasm-side is dead. Repeated evidence has proved that it can live on what can not revive its youth. The sea grows old in it.