Monday, 4 July 2016

Poem Featuring a Sentence by Thom Gunn

Interviewer (Clive Wilmer): What do you mean exactly by transparency?
Gunn: Transparent to my meaning. [. . .] There’s the whole question raised of how much meaning you have before you sit down to write and how it gets altered in the process of writing. But you do start with some knowledge of what you’re going to say after all. It may well not be what you end up saying, but it often is related to what you say. Yes, transparent . . . as though you’re looking through a glass at an object. That’s what the word implies. So the words are the glass to my mind. My mind is the fish in the tank behind the glass.
– Interview for The Paris Review, 1993

My mind is the fish in the tank behind the glass.
My mind is the fish in the tank behind the glass

     and my body sings a mantra for open ears.
     The disinclined man or woman hears what s/he hears.

Even when I sigh, my voice is as bold as brass.
My mind is the fish in the tank behind the glass;

     more a yellow tang, for sure, than a red piranha.
     We can all agree, hear hear, that I’m a charmer—

other opinions constitute a feckless farce.
My mind is the fish in the tank behind the glass,

     but the trawler’s net forever hangs in the air;
     and when I holler, I do so with practised flair:

my voice is a dream fished out to squirm on grass.
My mind is the fish in the tank behind the glass.

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