Guest poem submitted by Laura Simeon:
(Poem #1299) Of You
When the little devil, panic, begins to grin and jump about in my heart, in my brain, in my muscles, I am shown the path I had lost in the mountainy mist. I'm writing of you. When the pain that will kill me is about to be unbearable, a cool hand puts a tablet on my tongue and the pain dwindles away and vanishes. I'm writing of you. There are fires to be suffered, the blaze of cruelty, the smoulder of inextinguishable longing, even the gentle candleflame of peace that burns too. I suffer them. I survive. I'm writing of you.
I encountered Norman MacCaig for the first time on Minstrels two years ago, something for which I am eternally grateful. Needing to read more of his work, I found _Norman MacCaig: Selected Poems_, edited by Douglas Dunn (Chatto & Windus, 1997), in which I found this gem, one of his previously unpublished works. MacCaig described himself as a "Zen Calvinist," which Dunn expands upon when he writes that "in MacCaig's poems the Yes often implies (and sometimes states) a No..." In "Of You" there seems to me to be something of this greater truth behind an apparent contradiction, with great love bringing pain and comfort in equal measures. Saying Yes to love is saying Yes to more than simple, unadulterated joy. Laura.