Young poet

28th January 2000 at 00:00
My little friend has changed,

I don't know him, he is a new one.

But we will walk together tonight.

He brings me back to my real home,

where everything is so surreal

that it means nothing

until you drown.

He said that it is possible to fly,

but I don't want to.

I was sleeping when he came to me.

Now I am awake.

Vividness apparently makes them real

but they are, the other place is not.

It fades when I come home.

There is no analysis here

because it is where I live.

Bed sheets form my protection

to your society.

Sometimes I wish I was awake

when my friends visit me.

This poem is beautiful and sad, surprising and inevitable. At first reading it seems as abstract as music, partly because the information is hard to make sense of. There is nothing beautified about the language, and the tone of the piece seems optimistic. After a while we realise that the place "My Real Home" is where the narrator sleeps, and we recognise the reasonable (but disorientating) voice and manner of the poem, which has the logic of drems. The clues are there: in our waking life, a dream seems a place "where everything is so surrealthat it means nothing"; but when "you drown", when you go under into that dream-life, that is another matter. Only waking do we analyse dreams and, more importantly, the poet also says that only awake do we analyse anything; our waking life is fraught with having to make sense. On its own terms the poem makes perfect sense, though ultimately it is as ambiguous or multivalent as dreams or music.

Peter Sansom

Esther Kennard receives Emergency Kit, edited by Jo Shapcott and Matthew Sweeney (Faber). Her poem was submitted by teacher Clare Morris. Peter Sansom has published the handbook, Writing Poems, with Bloodaxe. His third Carcanet collection, partly about his Poetry Society Marks and Spencer residency, is published this year. Please send poems, not more than 20 lines, to The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX. The TES Book of Young Poets (pound;9.99), a selection of poems from this column, can be ordered by phoning 01454 617370. A set of posters is available for pound;3.99

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