Mary MacRae’s second collection
published Aug 10 by Second Light Publications. See order form (pdf file) for discount offers
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Round 10, Month 6: Our judge this month is Joy Howard. Her winning poem choice is Metempsychosis in the Olšany Cemetery by Mary Robinson. The four commended poems are by Pru Bankes Price, Jill Munro, Angela Platt and Margaret Wilmot.
What would Plato think of this?
– dry crumbs in a home-made bird-feeder
knocked up from wire and scraps of kindling …
Perhaps he would smile an aftershock of recognition
when something that was a careless might be
Jays are gate-keeping in the trees,
chaffinches and sparrows bathe on the dusty path
and somewhere Jan Palach’s soul takes wing
as light as a burning feather
“Metempsychosis” – the transmigration of souls, an idea alluded to by Plato (after Pythagoras).
The Olšany Cemetery in Prague is the last resting place of the remains of Jan Palach, the student who set fire to himself in Wenceslas Square in January 1969 after the Soviet Union’s occupation of Czechoslovakia the previous year. His memory became a focus for Czech nationalism and anti-Communist protests.
this poem first published in Envoi 160, Oct 2011
At once terse and memorable, Robinson’s poem is a gem. With telling economy of space and phrasing, she plots a route and leads the reader down paths of complex thought. The beautiful imagery of birds is used in juxtaposing a metaphysical notion and all too brutal reality, and is wholly successful in that. A poem to engage with, and one which merits close and repeated readings.