Poem of the Week
FATHER CARRIES ME ACROSS A FIELD
My father carries me across a field.
It’s night and there are trenches filled with snow.
Thick mud. We’re careful to remain concealed
From something frightening I don’t yet know.
And then I walk and there is space between
The four of us. We go where we have to go.
Did I dream it all, this ghostly scene,
The hundred-acre wood where the owl blinked
And the ass spoke? Where I am cosy and clean
In bed, but we are floating, our arms linked
Over the landscape? My father moves ahead
Of me, like some strange, almost extinct
Species, and I follow him in dread
Across the field towards my own extinction.
Spirits everywhere are drifting over blasted
Terrain. The winter cold makes no distinction
Between them and us. My father looks round
And smiles then turns away. We have no function
In this place but keep moving, without sound,
Lost figures who leave only a blank page
Behind them, and the dark and frozen ground
They pass across as they might cross a stage.
By George Szirtes
The Hungarian-British poet George Szirtes wrote the poem 'My father carries me across a field' as part of a sequence called 'My Fathers' in the collection Reel, which won the 2005 TS Eliot Prize. Much of Reel, the title of which deals with the film-reel of memory, is bound up with recollections of childhood. This poem is written in memory of childhood when he was leaving hungry along with his father, though the poet has put imaginary figments also to make it compatible on creative pamphlets. This poem is written in terza rima form. terza rima, Italian verse form consisting of stanzas of three lines (tercets); the first and third lines rhyming with one another and the second rhyming with the first and third of the following tercet. The series ends with a line that rhymes with the second line of the last stanza.
Dante, in his Divine Comedy (written c. 1310–14), was the first to use terza rima for a long poem
Bio : George Szirtes (b. 1948) came to England in 1956 as a refugee from Hungary. He was brought up in London, going on to study fine art in London and Leeds. He wrote poetry alongside his art and his first collection, The Slanted Door, appeared in 1979 and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. After his second collection was published he was invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Other acclaimed collections and translations followed, a return trip to Budapest in 1984 proving a particularly fruitful trigger for his creativity. Reel was awarded the 2004 T. S. Eliot Prize.