Gwen Harwood

(8 June 1920 – 4 December 1995 / Taringa, Queensland)

Critic's Nightwatch Poem by Gwen Harwood


Once more he tried, before he slept,
to rule his ranks of words. They broke
from his planned choir, lolled, slouched and kept
their tone, their pitch, their meaning crude;
huddled in cliches; when pursued
turned with mock elegance to croak

his rival's tunes. They would not sing.
The scene that nagged his sleep away
flashed clear again: the local king
of verse, loose-collared and loose-lipped.
read from a sodden manuscript,
drinking with anyone who'd pay,

drunk, in the critic's favourite bar.
'Hear the voice of the bard!' he bellowed,
'Poets are lovers. Critics are
mean, solitary masturbators.
Come here, and join the warm creators.'
The critic, whom no drink had mellowed,

turned on his heel. Rough laughter scoured
his reddening neck. The poet roared
'Run home, and take that face that soured
your mother's lovely milk from spite.
Piddle on what you cannot write.'
At home alone the critic poured

gall on the poet's work in polished
careful prose. He tore apart
meaning and metaphor, demolished
diction, syntax, metre, rhyme;
called his entire works a crime
against the integrity of art,

and lay down grinning, quick, he thought,
with a great poem that would make plain
his power to all. Once more he fought
with words. Sleep came. He dreamed he turned
to a light vapour, seeped and burned
in wordless cracks where grain on grain

of matter grated; reassumed
his human shape, and called by name
each grain to sing, conducting, plumed
in lightning, their obedient choir.
Dressed as a bride for his desire
towards him, now meek, the poet came.

Light sneaked beside his bed. The birds
began their insistent questioning
of silence, and the poet's words
prompted by daylight rasped his raw
nerves, and the waking world he saw
was flat with prose and would not sing.

Submitted: Friday, April 20, 2012

Do you like this poem?
1 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Form:


Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Critic's Nightwatch by Gwen Harwood )

There is no comment submitted by members..

Famous Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  3. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  4. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. Caged Bird
    Maya Angelou
  8. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  9. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  10. A Dream Within A Dream
    Edgar Allan Poe
Trending Poets
Trending Poems
  1. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  2. If, Rudyard Kipling
  3. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  4. Dreams, Langston Hughes
  5. Good Morning My Love, craig moon
  6. Caged Bird, Maya Angelou
  7. Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
  8. If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
  9. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
  10. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
[Hata Bildir]