Gurnard’s Head, west of Zennor
Monday 19th November is the late poet WS Graham’s 100th birthday. Below is a poem by Matthew Francis from The Caught Habits of Language, an anthology published by Donut Press to mark Graham’s centenary. WS Graham: New Selected Poems, edited by Matthew, was published by Faber in September.
A Dream of Cornwall
i.m. W. S. Graham
Now only the sea is ahead of us, a meniscus of blue, unscratched by waves. I feel we are driving into an eye. Sometimes a glassy blip slithering across makes me wonder if the eye is my own.
In the snug under the cliff where leaves shaped like the ears of lynxes, elephants, donkeys, grow in a Max Ernst profusion, we sweat in the hothouse steam that reeks of wild garlic.
West of Zennor, foxgloves and redhot pokers incandesce in the rain. The land becomes pinched. The fields are stone pens for a single cow. A coach is winding round the lanes towards us. We can see everywhere, as if we were flying.
I stand in the look-out hut where men watched for the gleam that meant the fish were returning, and see the molten shoal spit and leap on the surface. There is no one to shout to.
A man is typing something in a cottage by the pilchardy light of an oil lamp. I am trying to read over his shoulder, but the page is all consonants and obelisks, and I am miles away in my childhood.
The sea is not yet dark, a laundered cloth stretched over the mahogany land, as the candles of lighthouses flutter their yellow. Tonight we’ll dine in the ocean.