Friday, October 21, 2011

I Wish I'd Written This

Rae Desmond Jones at the launch of his book «Blow Out» 
at the Summer Hill Hotel, Sydney, 15 March 2009. Photo by John Tranter.

I’m delighted to share with the Poets United community some wonderful poems that I would love to have written, and introduce you to the brilliant poets who did write them.

I’m starting with Sydney poet Rae Desmond Jones. I know him best as a free verse poet who confronts the human condition with enviable insight and candour. I was surprised to discover him in formal mode in this poem, which enchants me:

Ghazal to the beloved on the last night  

In the dark a woman knits across the table,
Her needles click softly & tenderly. 

The smell of roses are rich & sweet,
The pulsing blood of moving air.

The old pepper tree shudders & whispers,
The full moon spills silver into my hands.

Shadow, what do you know?
The sinistral mirror smiles along its crack.

The sparkling stars peck at the clouds,
An angel breathes down my back.

There is no one else in all there is
& our world is alone in its wick of light. 

Published Decline and Fall
ASM publishers, Macao.

More samples of Rae's work can be found here.  You may also be interested to read an interview with him in Stylus Poetry Journal, or critic Martin Duwell's review in Jacket Magazine.

Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).


  1. Wonderful, poetically poignant.

  2. What a glorious poem, Rosemary. Great pick. Thanks!

  3. Wonderful poem indeed.
    But i have a question.why is it called a ghazal?the ghazal generally uses autonomous or semi-autonomous couplets with rhyme refrain and strict metrical structures.experiments are always interesting though.hence the question.

  4. I'm glad you all share my enjoyment of this piece!

    Abin, in answer to your question, Rae says:

    In Arabic & Persian that was the practice. Most of those who write english Ghazals do so by expanding the number of lines (Bly) or by not end jambing the verses (Thompson). Many use half rhymes, or no rhymes at all. Even translations of the great Rumi haven't attempted rhymes, at least not in my version: despite this, it conveys something of remarkable power & beauty. The major point is to generate intensity & break up the logical sequence through images that are disparate yet linked in 'mood'.

    and he adds:

    correction: it isn't end jambment, it is endstopping at the end of each two lined verse. which I do, but Thompson does not: Bly usually does, but expands the verse into three lines (mostly). I guess the point is the emotional/ spiritual intensity that can be created

  5. This is beautiful, Rosemary - a wonderful pick. It is difficult in English to write something deserving of the "ghazal" label (MO) - Rae has managed it here.

  6. I love the specific, sensuous objects and the intimate privacy and closeup of it. Just delightful.


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