A Personal Choice: Selected Verse 2007-17

Summary

An introduction to the poetry published by Ocaso Press. A good selection of poems, some complete and some excerpts, that illustrate the styles, variety and themes of Colin Holcombe's work. The poems are not grouped by date or appearance in collected form, but so as to provide some continuity to enjoyable reading through themes that progress from childhood through love in its all its forms, to society, travel, history, the miseries of war and oppression to the thoughts that close off our human existence — broadly speaking: there's considerable overlap. All the collections are represented, but the bulk has gone to the more successful pieces. There is also a succession through the book from simple, song-like pieces to more serious and denser poems. Many poems are too long to be printed in their entirety, and are given as short excerpts.


This is poetry as it once was, before Modernism imposed its narrow filters: an attempt to express the elemental human condition, memorably, eloquently and truthfully, through a wide breadth of subject matter, search for beauty of phrase, and deliberate verse craftsmanship. The poetry is not simply a return to the past, however, but a return from the past in themes and treatments that Modernism has chosen to ignore. One such is the preoccupation with contested social issues, doubtless unwelcome in state-funded academia, but strongly present in pre-Elizabethan, Augustan and Romantic poetry. Second is the development of strict forms into believable voices. Third is the emancipation from indrawn Modernist preoccupations to a keen animal appreciation of the world, the bodily happiness of being alive. Also included are excerpts from verse tales and play, matters not seriously attmpted since the nineteen thirties, when poetry was an extension of good prose, not the wholly different animal that today caters for a shrinking segment of the book-reading public.

Some 120 poems are represented, introduced with a review of contemporary poetry difficulties.

A free ebook in pdf format.

Example: Youth

Youth I had and beauty such
as all men think is their desire.
Tinder the laughter and the light touch
of my inward-burning fire.

I am not proud, nor was so.
Sufficient for the day
their courtesies, their meekness, though
what can glad words pay?

For the heart is ever the fawn-
eyed creature, fearful and wild:
doubting but to old paths drawn,
impetuous as the child.

Sometimes, when the wind blows, for
all is spent now and I have no friends,
sorrow to the soul seems loving, sore
grieving till it ends.

Girls who are not pretty, swirl round
with the mouth full or sad:
better a house on the stony ground
than brood on what I had.

Blessings

The world is how we know it, what we wake
to in each opened moment of our lives
which otherwise are obdurate if not opaque

to all embodiments of goods and wives,
that blessed enabling that is always ours,
as promised surely as the pilgrim strives

to reach those self-delighting, heavenly powers
that rise instinctive in the air we breathe,
the light perpetual out of noonday hours.

With this I take my final parting, leave
to you this world of wonders, pray my tongue
was ever honest with you, will bequeath

a swelling sense of happiness among
the brethren of our faithful here below,
in harmony with what the angels sung.

Which we may hear, if listening as we go
about His purposes, and quietly trace
the lineaments beyond this world we know.

So blessings of His word, and may His grace
attend you always as you journey on
to sense the forwardness of that far place

that's ours in majesty, when all is gone
from us, our breath, our bodies, those we love:
and we but paths on whom His mercy shone.