Week 169: One Evening, by Molly Holden

There are many poets that I take pleasure in for their prowess, but relatively few that I return to over and over because I find them important to me in a way that transcends mere prowess: call it spiritual resonance. Thomas Hardy, Edward Thomas, Robert Frost, A.E.Housman, R.S.Thomas – and Molly Holden. So I make no apology for featuring another of Molly’s poems here, particularly as she seems to me never to have had anything like the notice she deserves, perhaps partly because her concerns were not overtly feminist but simply and unfashionably human. I see in this poem a powerful image of her conflicted life, its storms of illness contrasting with a vision of serenity beyond, glimpsed through those closing gates of light.

One Evening

I came on to waste land
at evening, at the edge of the town,
where the hill drops away to meadow,
lane, and different distances of trees.
The wind was wild and the clouds

As I looked ahead
my eye’s vision seemed halved
for the earth was dark and the horizon
just as dark with clouds, but above
a sudden space of clear sky captured
breath. For above was the last
light and the first stars, edged
by the insane tumbling of black clouds,
brought up from tremendous distances
of night, framing sudden serenity.

All seemed so close, so furious
that I shrank, and then stared through
that lessening space at space itself,
withdrawn and permanent,
the gates of light now closing
on a stormy night.

Molly Holden


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