Whatever Sends The Music Into Time: New & Selected Poems
Page Count: 172
Publication Date: Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Cover Artwork: Howard Fritz
About this Book
‘All the emotions/ generously there’ Leah Fritz has written in ‘The Country Air’, about a friend she greatly admired, and this is also true of Whatever Sends the Music into Time: New and Selected Poems, a volume covering half a century in the life of a poet who has seen and been actively involved in a world she never made but tried as hard as writing is able to make it better. From the title poem, first published in Poetry Review, to the final ironic ‘Book Review’ sequence, Leah Fritz questions everything, argues passionately, loves ecstatically, empathises warmly, but always with an edge of humour, and always – above all – following her one demand of poetry: It sings.
As Chris Beckett wrote in Poetry London about the illustrated edition of the poem, ‘From Cookie to Witch is an Old Story’, ‘Frankly, you shouldn’t even try to resist this book...’
Praise for Leah Fritz’s Poetry:
‘Never “cute,” but reaching, in mundanity’s midst, toward acute measures of real experience – not for a single absolute but for the many possible truths – Leah Fritz’s poetry is always enjoyable for its intelligence, wit, satirical sting and freshness of wording.’
Patricia Oxley, MBE, editor of Acumen:
‘Leah Fritz’s poetry constantly reminds its readers of the important problems of life – poverty, hatred, war – yes, these of course – but also love, respect, how ordinary, everyday things can be invested with a life-enhancing sensibility if viewed aright. Her diction is plain, her style taut, yet there is space within her poems for the reader to move around and explore deeper aspects than perhaps a first reading reveals, for hints of wit and irony enliven with a quiet rhetoric which leaves a feeling in the heart rather than an image in the reason. Leah Fritz’s poetry always seems to celebrate life.’
‘These are the poems of a wide-ranging intelligence greedy for experience – but also offering us her own sharp and entertaining “criticism of life.”’
And as Chris Beckett wrote in Poetry London about the illustrated Hearing Eye edition of the poem, From Cookie to Witch is an Old Story,
'Frankly, you shouldn’t even try to resist this book...'
Born and educated in New York, Leah Fritz’s essays and journalism on the peace, civil rights and feminist movements resulted in two non-fiction books. She spoke at universities and in churches across the USA, and in debates on radio and television. Although she has written poems since early childhood, it wasn’t until she crossed the Atlantic in 1985 that she accepted poetry as her true vocation. In Britain her work has appeared in several anthologies and in Acumen, Ambit, Poetry Review, PN Review and numerous other magazines. From 1987 to 2007, four collections of her poetry have been published. Having received an award and commendations in competitions from Jo Shapcott, Les Murray and Carol Ann Duffy, Leah Fritz served as an adjudicator on the Torriano Poetry Competition and for three years on the Petra Kenney Memorial International Competition, becoming an honorary patron. Her archives are at Duke University in America.
WHATEVER SENDS THE MUSIC INTO TIME
Whatever sends the music into time,
not just in metre but through centuries,
Mozart years of sound, the flat stone skipped
across the glassy surface of that fourth
transparency; whatever it may be,
code as tight as DNA or heavenly gift,
perhaps a curse, but if a curse a gift
for some poor devil in the mind of time -
what I am getting at, it cannot be
within one’s sole control – the centuries
roll back, old ground uncovered, a fourth
of history returns, the rest is skipped
to be revealed again when more is skipped
under the stone where earth’s most treasured gift
lies buried waiting the tiller’s bringing forth
each truth in its appointed (random) time.
And so the influence of centuries
gone by foreshadows what is yet to be.
But here I am concerned with what will be
when my pen, across the pages skipped,
auditions for its place in centuries.
How does a poet hint for such a gift
and to whom? Mother of future time,
where do I seek you? In Einstein’s fourth
dimension? Or in myself, which can give forth
such music as I have? Let it be
enough for me and mine in our own time.
About that time – about the days I skipped
through city leaves, thinking the sun a gift
immeasurable, no thought of centuries,
no knowledge then of years (of centuries
and histories, less intimation): if forth
from infancy comes all there is of gift,
struggle though I may; if it should be
my name in that long heritage is skipped
for one less happy in her own true time,
I think the music that I hear must be
enough, the other vanity well skipped.
Sufficient beauty is there in my time.
Often I veer from wanting to be good
to doing what is right, and back again.
They’re not the same. To open up the flood-
gates of my heart may simply drown my brain;
to stem that tide with reason, just restrain
a passion that has instinct on its side.
And what accounting must I make for pride?
To attract new friends and keep the old, to please
my love beyond the argument of skin,
must I consider each antipathy,
concur with every shibboleth? How thin
is such affection! What’s then left of me?
But, truly, would I ever surrender love
when there’s no other cause I’m certain of?
Copyright © Leah Fritz 2012