The Year of the Lark

One man's experience of the pandemic year 2020

It fell to Taylor by way of his work to speak every day with care home staff: official recorder of deaths, unofficial listener for folk at the end of their tether. Then he took the day's permitted walk, woodland and riverside, sun and rain and skylarks.

How to endure such a year? Rilke tells writers to 'turn themselves into solid words, as a stonecutter in a cathedral doggedly turns himself into cool, calm stone'. Taylor has stuck to that simple task, a poem a day, each an act of close attention. The canto form he struck on at the start has held true so that the whole, cathedral-like, coheres. Or better, like a bothy it holds the storm at bay.

Harry Smart (Faber and Drunk Muse)


You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen:


It begins with disappointment. She was on the organising
committee; but it's been cancelled now, the end of year prom. So
have her classes. So has school; no more after Friday. She'd
ordered the dress; a 1930s theme.

Perchance to dream, about a handsome boy who would notice
how beautiful she was. Sweep her away; into the night. She'd
already lived it a thousand times. Gone, too, her festival in the
summer; ironically called Transmit. Her eighteenth birthday
party; all of it, cut.

Now her favourite jeans have a hole in the backside. And she
doesn't know whether she will be taking exams. And everything
she worked for; so hard. Now she's standing in the kitchen;
crying, jabbing her finger through the rip.

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