All That Still Matters At All: A Voice that Deserves to be Heard

all that still matters at all

I don’t normally review poetry- indeed I don’t normally read whole poetry collections cover to cover. But this book was special. Part of that was due to the complex story of the man behind them- Miklós Radnóti- a Hungarian poet murdered in the Holocaust.

“The velvet darkness fails to comfort me/and thorny anger no longer can liberate”

There are many strands of his life story tangled up with his writing: the death of his mother and twin at his birth, his wife and muse Fanni, and his conversion to Christianity (sadly even this could not save him from the labour camps). Add to that the fact that these poems were recovered from a notebook found on his exhumed body and it feels like these words are speaking from beyond the grave.

“O will I have the strength to come back/swept away in the riptide of my life”

Through the themes of death and war, this book speaks to the depths of humanity. Burdened with survivor’s guilt from his tragic origins, he paints himself as an anti-hero, a “beast of humankind”. In this way, the image of his twin reflects more than just a single tragedy- it recognises the duality of the human race and the capacity within us all for good and evil.

“the dusk moth will hover already and its wings sparkle silver”

One of the striking elements of these poems is when he harks back to the Ecologues, imagining a conversation with Virgil, where he discusses the madness of the age. With this time travelling exercise he creates a bridge between past and present in a way that even he could not have considered. For in the very last line of this collection, we are inadvertently reminded that his words reach out even after his death:

“on my ear the muddied blood was caking”

A brief, yet impactful read, there were so many wonderful poems here that if I wanted to list my favourites I would be giving you half the contents page.  Instead I will leave you with one last line from this beautiful collection:

“The dusk was copper-skinned/and death was heroic”

Rating: 5/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana

So will you give this a go? And do you have any poetry collections you can recommend me? Let me know in the comments!

My favourite poem in the whole wide world…

I really believe this is the best poem known to mankind:

the tay bridge disaster.png

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

’Twas about seven o’clock at night,
And the wind it blew with all its might,
And the rain came pouring down,
And the dark clouds seem’d to frown,
And the Demon of the air seem’d to say-
“I’ll blow down the Bridge of Tay.”

When the train left Edinburgh
The passengers’ hearts were light and felt no sorrow,
But Boreas blew a terrific gale,
Which made their hearts for to quail,
And many of the passengers with fear did say-
“I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay.”

But when the train came near to Wormit Bay,
Boreas he did loud and angry bray,
And shook the central girders of the Bridge of Tay
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

So the train sped on with all its might,
And Bonnie Dundee soon hove in sight,
And the passengers’ hearts felt light,
Thinking they would enjoy themselves on the New Year,
With their friends at home they lov’d most dear,
And wish them all a happy New Year.

So the train mov’d slowly along the Bridge of Tay,
Until it was about midway,
Then the central girders with a crash gave way,
And down went the train and passengers into the Tay!
The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,
Because ninety lives had been taken away,
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

As soon as the catastrophe came to be known
The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown,
And the cry rang out all o’er the town,
Good Heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down,
And a passenger train from Edinburgh,
Which fill’d all the peoples hearts with sorrow,
And made them for to turn pale,
Because none of the passengers were sav’d to tell the tale
How the disaster happen’d on the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.

YES THAT’S RIGHT- William McGonagall, the world’s worst poet, is my favourite!

mcgonagall.png

YES- SERIOUSLY! I swear to you this is not an April Fools- I wouldn’t lie to you like last year… I’m not kidding; I never kid… Oh alright then APRIL FOOLS!

(But I really do love that poem- gets me every time 😉 )