01 May 2014

Poetry Thursday - The Ice Cart by Wilfrid Gibson

"Polar Night" by Sylvia Whitehouse, based on "The Ice Cart"

The Ice-Cart

 Perched on my city office-stool,
 I watched with envy, while a cool
 And lucky carter handled ice. . . .
 And I was wandering in a trice,
 Far from the grey and grimy heat
 Of that intolerable street,
 O'er a sapphire berg and emerald floe,
 Beneath the still, cold ruby glow
 Of everlasting Polar night,
 Bewildered by the queer half-light,
 Until I stumbled, unawares,
 Upon a creek where big white bears
 Plunged headlong down with flourished heels
 And floundered after shining seals
 Through shivering seas of blinding blue.
 And as I watched them, ere I knew,
 I'd stripped, and I was swimming too,
 Among the seal-pack, young and hale,
 And thrusting on with threshing tail,
 With twist and twirl and sudden leap
 Through crackling ice and salty deep --
 Diving and doubling with my kind,
 Until, at last, we left behind
 Those big, white, blundering bulks of death,
 And lay, at length, with panting breath
 Upon a far untravelled floe,
 Beneath a gentle drift of snow --
 Snow drifting gently, fine and white,
 Out of the endless Polar night,
 Falling and falling evermore
 Upon that far untravelled shore,
 Till I was buried fathoms deep
 Beneath the cold white drifting sleep --
 Sleep drifting deep,
 Deep drifting sleep. . . .

 The carter cracked a sudden whip:
 I clutched my stool with startled grip.
 Awakening to the grimy heat
 Of that intolerable street.
-- Wilfred Gibson

Wilfrid Gibson (1878-1962) is a British poet who drew inspiration from the lives of ordinary provincial  families, particularly the poverty of industrial workers and farm labours. First published in 1897, he left his native Hexham after his mother died and spent time in London from 1912, co-founding a short-lived "Georgian" poetry magazine, New Numbers. He was a friend of Rupert Brooke and later one of his executors.  During WWI Gibson was in the army (managing to join the fourth time he applied) but never left England. By the end of the war his reputation was in decline, eclipsed by the Ezra Pound/TS Eliot school of "Modern" poets. Later he lived in Gloucestershire, continuing to publish a book every three or four years and going on reading and lecture tours.
"plunged headlong ... through shivering seas of shining blue"

"the grimy heat / of that intolerable street"
Sylvia Whitehouse is an artist living and working in north London and exhibiting regularly in London and elsewhere.


Sandy said...

oh I like this poem very much!

mongaries said...

hi, magaret.

It's mee young. It's been long time no see. How are you doing? I feel very sorry do not touch you quite long.. But. I am here.
I like this poem. ^^

hope to see you again. ^^