Thursday 27 October 2016

Secretive poet who was richly praised by Clarke

Published 17/04/2016 | 02:30

Praise: Austin Clarke
Praise: Austin Clarke

Why is there so little known about RND Wilson's poetry? We do know that he was a Coleraine man and he went to Trinity College Dublin. There is also some information about him at Rendcomb College in Gloucestershire where he taught English. But the main difficulty in tracing his life as a poet is that he only found a form of artistic expression half way through his writing career. That he had real talent as a poet we know from Austin Clarke, who said of him that "he anticipated the richness of the Byzantium poems of Yeats".

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His poem 'Enemies' is a good introduction to this secretive poet. It tells about a swallow which he encounters panting on the ground, brought down by the wind, but still defying it. Read it out loud a few times and you can hear the tinkle of word music playing in the background.

In the first verse, "most of all" rhymes with "cynical"; and in the second and fourth line "wisdom is" rhymes with "analysis". You probably won't get it the first time, but "swallows blown" is a half rhyme with "the wing's rebellion" as "word" is with "stirred". The poem has become a portable music box which you can take out at any time and play for your own delight. Have a go...


… And you, O most of all

I hate, whose wisdom is

But to be cynical, -

The knave's analysis.

You who have never known

The heart set wild with a word,

Or seen the swallows blown

Northward when spring has stirred

The wing's rebellion.

I wonder if you found,

Beaten with wind and sun,

A swallow on the ground,

Would even a moment's thought

Trouble you with a fleet

Pain,that such daring brought

Such passionate defeat.

RND Wilson 1899-1953

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