Search This Blog

Monday, July 11, 2011

Number 213: Charles Causley "Eden Rock"

Eden Rock

They are waiting for me somewhere beyond Eden

My father, twenty-five, in the same suit

Of Genuine Irish Tweed, his terrier Jack

Still two years old and trembling at his feet.

My mother, twenty-three, in a sprigged dress

Drawn at the waist, ribbon in her straw hat,

Has spread the stiff white cloth over the grass.

Her hair, the colour of wheat, takes on the light.

She pours tea from a Thermos, the milk straight

From an old H.P. sauce-bottle, a screw

Of paper for a cork; slowly sets out

The same three plates, the tin cups painted blue.

The sky whitens as if lit by three suns.

My mother shades her eyes and looks my way

Over the drifted stream. My father spins

A stone along the water. Leisurely,

They beckon to me from the other bank.

I hear them call, 'See where the stream-path is!

Crossing is not as hard as you might think.'

I had not thought that it would be like this.

-- Charles Causley

Hap Notes: This is one of Causley's most famous and moving poems. Here he is reading it aloud- his reading adds to the simple mysterious beauty of the words:

I have a couple of notes for the poem. H.P. Sauce, a note for us Americans, is a brown sauce somewhat like a steak sauce but it has tamarind in it and now comes in a variety of blends. It's a very popular condiment in the U.K. First invented in the late 1800s, it was used in a restaurant in the Houses of Parliament and inventor of the sauce Frederick Garton says that's why he eventually named it "H. P." Causley's mother is using the bottle to hold milk for the picnic. She's stoppered the bottle with a bit of twisted paper.

Genuine Irish Tweed is capitalized because it is authentic hand-woven tweed of pure wool made in Donegal. Other tweeds are not allowed to use this designation.

Isn't this dream like image in the poem a very child-like and lovely thing? It's particularly moving since Causley lost his father when he was only 8 or 9 and he's hearkening back to a time when his parents were (and now are) together and happy. The poet seems a boy, rather than a man in this poem even though we know it is a full grown man writing it. It's very stirring with the sky whitening with a sort of divine light.

Causley died in 2003 and I most fervently wish that this is the vision that met him as he passed on. His gravestone (pictured in the masthead) says simply "Poet" and that he was. The rocks in the masthead picture are Dartmoor and you have to hear him read the poem to know why I whimsically used it.

Here is where we have talked about Causley before:

and here:

1 comment:

  1. as a poetry lover and one who post a poem daily on my facebook page and blog page,,
    this poem has happy memories for me