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meaning meaning

David Hart


1. In our everyday lives moment by moment such shifts of 'meaning'.

2. During a conversation the person I am talking with: their eyes turn away.

3. Hearing on the radio a piece of music I like, I sing it then in the shower.

4. In a corridor I like the sound of someone's voice but cannot catch the words.

5. Walking along the street my eyes are caught by an advertisement for soap.

6. I like what you are saying but then you refer positively to someone I don't like.

7. Someone phones me and cries while on the television people are laughing.

8. I try to recall what it was a stranger said to me at the bus stop and sighed.

9. Someone walks into the room who reminds me of someone I knew years ago.

10. Someone is making a speech with which I agree but I don't like their voice.


11. Do we want a poem to affirm what we know and affirm already?

12. Do we want a poem to affirm what we feel - what stirs us - already?

13. Is a poem most worthwhile when in a significant way it confuses us?

14. The reading aloud of a poem in a language I didn't understand moved me to tears.

15. A poem on the page - its shape, its font - made me want to read it.

16. Give a subject to a journalist, a politician, a teacher and a poet.

17. On my way to a funeral I couldn't bear the idea of a poem.

18. I didn't understand the poem but I knew I had to keep it with me.

19. The poem wasn't that good but it was written for me and I treasured it.


20. If we keep saying the lake shimmers it will no longer shimmer. It never did anyway, didn't have this label stuck on it.

21. If every day I tell you you are lovely, 'lovely' gets worn thin, as it does if we all say to each other constantly, 'You are lovely'.

22. How different if I describe you with affection in my voice as a goat or a twig or a catherine wheel or a spicey pudding or as a sunrise or a bottle of the finest wine or a dandelion.

23. The smell of bacon reminds me of a transport caff which reminds me of the chair Van Gogh painted which reminds me of the many-coloured coat you wore in the carnival, and there was another carnival, by the sea.

24.  I break a line here   or here   or here  or here and the meaning changes?

25. One person's 'description' in poetry of a scene can be dull, another person's description of the same scene can be gripping. How is this?

26. I feel something stirring and I want to send you a poem: should it be a sonnet or a haiku or a song-text or a villanelle or a talk-poem or a fragment?  By which of these means will my meaning be best carried?

27. Last year this poem meant so much to me, now it seems flat, nothing.

28. She says it's a great poem, so does he, but I don't see it.

29. I like the idea of poems in the hospital, on the walls, but why can't they put up sensible poems? I mean bizarre poems? I mean shit-hot?


30. If only I could find a way of saying this simply.

31. God told me to write this poem. Maybe.

32. If I write it the best way I can now, maybe one day I will understand what I've written.

33. I was crying when I wrote that poem, so how can you be so clinical about it?

34. The person tip-toeing into my poem has no right to be there.


David Hart

November 2005  


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