Last week T.S Eliot group looked at Harsent’s Night, the trademarks of which can be summed up in a few quotes:
wingbeats in darkness
the edge of night
swarming half light
low pitched music
Other elements: a nameless ‘she’, dusk, voyerism and slight movements….
What I enjoyed in Harsent’s poetry was the elevated state of being that his night-time world created, only to be brought down to earth with some reference to ‘spongy things underfoot’. There’s a purposely purposeless protagonist who peers in at windows, is outside the action yet part of it. Linda felt moved to tears by The Hut in Question, Harsent’s spin of on Edward Thomas’s rainy hut. When we did the twentieth century poetry module I enjoyed E. Thomas for his melancholy, the rainy hut is the perfect symbol. I even pastiched Rain choosing to use ice instead, and tried to repeat the word ice as many times as Thomas does rain without it losing it’s meaning!
I was confused by the poem Necrophilia, which just seemed there for the sake of being there. ‘the perfect parting kiss’, seemed kind of tepid a conclusion. Sometimes Harsent reads quite bland, and the shock that his subject provides doesn’t make up for the incessant rhyming that permeates his poems, internal rhyme, external rhyme, half rhyme. He rhymes to the point that he reminds me of Wilfred Owen, and I prefer Sassoon to Owen so in that sense Harsent’s poetry doesn’t appeal to me. Sometimes I think Harsent’s poems can be tender, then they become oddly funny in weird places, in that way that a distanced narrator can achieve.
I would like to look at his bee poems further and compare them to Plath’s, and I am impressed by his eternal night-scape that his poetic voice stalks across.
Necrophilia Extract (It is made of two rhyming couplets)
nothing of jealousy, no risk of bliss,
the wide, white eye; the perfect parting kiss.