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Andrew Motion

Andrew Motion

Andrew Motion was UK Poet Laureate from 1999 to 2009. He is now Homewood Professor in the Arts at Johns Hopkins and lives in Baltimore.

Meeting Tom

I met Tom—and Jenny—in what turned out to be the last part of his life, at a small poetry convention in Mexico, and within a few minutes of starting to talk we had become friends. That sort of quick connection has only happened a few times in my life. Keats was our go-between: Tom had read my book on Keats, and I could see at once that the great spirit of that man was a part of his own great spirit. So we talked a lot about Keats on our first evening together, shivering around a supper table in an open-air cloisters-restaurant. Then more about him and everything else under the sun for the next few days—including one day we bathed together in the steaming waters of a hot spring. It seemed then and seems now not in the slightest bit strange that two people who had only known each other for a short while should be wading and talking in a mostly-undressed state. Because a part of Tom's genius was to have very little interrupting his perception of the world, and very little diminishing his reception of it and response to it. That's what his poems do. They lay themselves open to the world, and roar back in the face of its own roaring. He looked like a lion and he was a lion.

Ode to the Joyful Ones

                Shield your joyful ones.
                            from an Anglican prayer

 

That they walk, even stumble, among us
is reason to praise them, or protect them—even the sound
of a lead slug dropped on a lead plate, even that, for them,
is music. Because they bring laughter's
brief amnesia. Because they stand,
talking, taking plasure in others,
with their hands on the shoulders of strangers
and the shoulders of each other.
Because you don't have to tell them to walk toward the light.
Because if there are two pork chops
they will serve you the better one.
Because they will give you the crutch off their backs.
Because when there are two of them together
their shining fills the room.
Because you don't have to tell them to walk toward the light.





from To the Left of Time, Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

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