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Hamish’s stories Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Posted by carryapoem in Stories.
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I don’t literally carry poems round with me (though there was a time – late teens, early twenties – when I took Robert Graves’s The White Goddess everywhere), but there are poems, or lines from poems, which have inhabited my head for years. They’re there for a variety of reasons: Browning’s ‘My Last Duchess’ for its virtuosity and tone; William Carlos Williams’s red wheelbarrow for its simple saying so much; Emily Dickinson’s ‘There is no frigate like a book’ for its slogan; Edwin Morgan’s ‘The Apple’s Song’ for its dizzy voice; Auden’s ‘Look, Stranger’ for its sound; Catullus’s ‘odi et amo’ for its telling truth about love and Sappho’s ‘phainetai moi…’ for the accurate delineation of the physiology and psychology of being in love; and my favourite line of poetry, ‘The silly buckets on the deck’, from Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, for – I don’t know – its ineffability? They’re all touchstones.

Hamish Whyte is a poet, publisher and former librarian and bibliographer. He has worked extensively with the Scottish Poetry Library, not least on granting them the acquisition of his Edwin Morgan Archive.