Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Two different ways to fly

Poetry Month, Day 21: This seminal work of collected Canadian poetry was first published in 1968, in the golden afterglow of Expo '67. It reads like a who's who of Canadian poetry: A. M. Klein, Milton Acorn, Charles G. D. Roberts, Bliss Carmen, James Reaney, Isabella V. Crawford, P. K. Page, Al Purdy, Achibald Lampman... You get the idea. I'm using the expanded 1984 edition for today's poems.


a s
big as
ball as round
as sun . . . I tug
and pull you when
you run and when
wind blows I
say polite

--Colleen Thibaudeau

I, Icarus
There was a time when I could fly. I swear it.
Perhaps, if I think hard for a moment, I can even tell you the year.
My room was on the ground floor at the rear of the house.
My bed faced a window.
Night after night I lay on my bed and willed myself to fly.
It was hard work I can tell you.
Sometimes I lay perfectly still for an hour before I felt my body rising from the bed.
I rose slowly, slowly until I floated three or four feet above the floor.
Then, with a kind of swimming motion, I propelled myself toward the window.
Outside I rose higher and higher, above the pasture fence,
     above the clothesline, above the dark, haunted trees,
     beyond the pasture.
And, all the time, I heard the music of flutes.
It seemed the wind made this music.
And sometimes there were voices singing.

--Alden Nowlan

from The New Wind Has Wings: Poems from Canada, compiled by Mary Alice Downie and Barbara Robertson; Illustrated by Elizabeth Cleaver, Oxford UP, 1984.

The original edition had the more simple name, The Wind Has Wings: Poems From Canada (1968).

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