Saturday, January 6, 2007


This year the weather people are again talking about the cold that’s coming, the hard, icy winter - last year was supposed to be colder than any since 1962, the year that Sylvia Plath died, that terrible early February of the full moon and the howling wolves. I lived around the corner from her and remember it well. Or to be more precise the details I learned later became the imagined past and filled the place of memory. I read Ariel when I was fifteen, heard what happened just a short walk away from the flat where I lived with my mother and sister near Primrose Hill and I thought that if only I had known her I could have done something to change the situation, that we could have been friends and I could have saved her. That she may not at that point have welcomed the friendship of a nine-year-old child didn’t occur to me until years later, but by then the idea had lived in me so long it had taken a kind of root. And I wrote a story called “Saving Sylvia”. So it goes.

My neighbour says he is ready now for whatever comes. It can hail and sleet and huff and puff and his house can withstand it all. He is a builder. He has filled in all the cracks, lagged and plastered, rendered and made good. In our house there are cracks and imperfections but I think it will do and can’t help wanting the clean, sharp bite of real cold, something strong enough to harden the earth. Clear bright nights with stars. I fear it when I think of my children, grown as they are, out in it without enough warm clothes, but want it too, more than the long, grey, warm and wet days with cars slushing through congested streets and flooding in the low-lying parts of the county, the sky with its endless incontinent weeping and mutterings about the effects of global warming. I am ready for the cold.

And now it is almost epiphany. Here is the beginning of T.S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi”:

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’

Keep warm.



The polar bears without a home
the cat beside a fire
the snow no longer falling
and a coat I

got for fifty quid from an outdoors shop opposite the Spanish Church in Wolfe Tone Square that's been turned into an up market eaterie and bar with an outser spiral staircase enclosed in perpsex.

I am like you. As I write I am wearing one of only three pairs of trousers in my entire sartorial collection of second hand apparel, One of several freebie Eircom Ireland Soccer T shirts they used to give out at Lansdowne Road before it closed down, sports odd socks from my usual supplier at the Thomas street Eurosaver and an au natural non existent undergarment.

The only rainment of indulgence I am frivolous about is a decent coat.

A Regatta X-ert performance jacket, with detachable, super lightweight and easily compressible shell lining.

A garnment cut from technical cloth - waterproof, breathable and windproof, with Isotex 8000 membrane fabric system and enhanced water repellancy, stain resistance and an independantly tested superior handle and luxuriant drape.

It's only been cold enough to wear it fully assembled once since I splashed out 6 weeks ago.

They always have a sale on and last year I got a technologically engineered jacket with detatchable fleece for 70 quid. Half price. I had lost it by March due to my excessive drinking habit which causes me to black out but remain upright and anti-social; so this year I went in again, but none were on show and when I asked if they had any decent stuff at radically reduced prices, the Polish shop assistant deported herself upstairs and returned with the one now hanging a few feet away from me here at poetry flame HQ in inner city Dublin, where to leisure is to learn and nothing less than full time unemployent and 24 hour a day leisure time a pre-requisite working condition for my career in the dark arts.

It was one of the final few from last years stock, which made me wonder.

Does she fancy me? Have I got a chance of finding love here near Capel street with a migrant who could claim my heart? Should I tell her how attractive she looks in her uniform of T shirt and crumpled jogging bottoms? No. No I decided as I slipped on my new purchase. it cannot be for I have pledged my heart to She who shall remain nameless but brings me to the computer everyday to surf 'n learn. The unconscious order of unknowable tune moving me to write this message in my search for the higher streams of poetical thought, where I long to free the mind from and invoke an alternative realm equal to but apart from the actual: a world I can sidestep into and strike, the singualr note.

The outside-of-self silent, raging light of creation, swimming fate-strokes upon the life-lone canvas of time we move through dear Signstress.

Reading the Signs said...

irish poets, the coat sounds to die for, as they say who know not the exquisite pleasure of sartorial essentialism.
I wish you success in the dark and other arts and salute your ability to remain upright.
Signstress: yes, could go with this.

Anna MR said...

Well, Signstress - don't mind me, am just nosing about.

I actually clicked on your Sylvia Plath label because I - like so many women - have a bit of a relationship with her. Mine is different and unique, though! honest! - as I have played her mum Aurelia in a theatre production (Letters Home, based on her letters home, uncannily enough. Cut up and arranged into a two-woman play by Rose Leiman Goldemberg, about whom I don't know anything else at all). As I spent ages memorising excessively lengthy bits of her letters (and poems, too, in the process) - my lines - one would have thought I would be more sympathetic towards her, but no. I must say I find my sympathies swung towards Ted Hughes, who had to continue with the guilt and the children. Although, it has to be said, Lady Lazarus in particular is a fabulous poem.

Anyway, I suppose this message is really only to keep you on your toes, as it were - I too can dig and delve. Enjoyable it is, too.


(pzvre - definite East Europe thing there)

Reading the Signs said...

Well, I had my suspicions and this confirms it: you really are a bit eccentric, going right back into winter. I have always had a thing about Plath and for years thought it was just me, just my thing. But every other woman I meet has a thing about her too, which is where the idea for my story came from. A very strange relationshipshe had with her mother, it seems. Apparently warm, but she wrote some vicious things about her. I'm one of those who prefers the poetry of Ted Hughtes, though I do like SP's poetry. But her life, her journals - fascinating. And what a novelist she might have made if she'd stayed the course.

Anna MR said...

Yes - a real mothers-and-daughters love-hatred thing. Poor everybody, really, but as I say, I mostly feel for Hughes. "Birthday Letters" was fantastic - I am less familiar with his earlier stuff (for shame).

True eccentric? Me? Oh really, Signs...although maybe it takes one to know one...?

nzrvcfm Nazareth Vacuum Cleaner - Fun Model

this clip is wonderful, too said...

- at least in my opinion (shying away from universal truths here). Listen, Signstress - I am acting as His Secretary here and He wants you to know He has a genuine and serious computer problem - namely, He hasn't one because it's packed in totally - and that that is the only reason why He's currently shutting up on that thread (and elsewhere).

But it was my idea to put that information here, for you to find, because I understand that your comment notification works, even if you can't see where I've been...


Reading the Signs said...

Well please pass on my commiserations, madame secretary. And tell him it's probably a Sign, but just at this moment I can't think of what, and he will, I am certain, overcome this. Impressed that you have a hotline to Him - Gawd almighty!