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Christian’s story: ‘Simple’ and ‘Late Fragment’ Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Posted by carryapoem in Stories.
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Raymond Carver is best known as a writer of short stories, but he also published several collections of poems. Two of my favourites are ‘Simple’ and ‘Late Fragment’.

I love them for their specificity – the bowl of raspberries, the contrasting colours of mountains, fields and river – and also for their absolute transparency. “If I were dead…I wouldn’t be eating them… It is that simple,” and “What did you want?/To call myself beloved, to feel myself/beloved on the earth.”

‘Simple’ is taken from Ultramarine, whereas ‘Late Fragment’ is the last poem in Carver’s last collection, A New Path to the Waterfall. But in their clarity, their modest question and answer format, both are clearly part of the same enterprise: the effort to reach past ordinary human frailty (loneliness, remorse, the larger challenge of one’s own mortality), and arrive at some place of joy and gratitude. “O taste and see!” goes the voice of the psalm, and Carver does just that, browsing idly from the bowl of raspberries, exulting in the colours of the earth and sky, acknowledging his own good fortune, just in being alive.

Christian McEwen is a poet and teacher.

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