Shatteringly cutting to the soul of the sea…
Although I did attend a poetry club for a while at my school, I must admit that I am still developing in my understanding of it. Nevertheless, I read most of The Glass Aisle, a collection of poems by Paul Henry, almost in a single sitting. The poems contained some truly beautiful phrases of imagery: “bright polyphony”, “colours of heartbreak” and “a fanfare of gulls, brass light deafens on the shore”. Each line is magnificently and wonderfully decorative.
The sea, beach, or canal-slash-river feature in many of the poems, with some insightful reflections on past experiences of the ocean and water. The incredible, yet replicable across any coastline, idea of the sea is conjured into an ethereal image by Henry, of some otherness that until now had been awe-inspiring, and now seems simply above awe. It’s a case of seeing something that has been a presence in all of our lives, to various degrees, as newly beyond the limits of the senses, as intangible, and imagined.
I connected with some of the poems more than others, but all of them are relatable, thought-provoking and mysterious to me. While I understood some elements of it, others left me thinking, sometimes without an answer at the end of it. That’s exactly what poetry should do to the reader, and that’s what happened to me. Poetry isn’t the place to find easy answers… it’s like jazz; it’s hard and the reader has to work at it, but, in the end, it’s well worth the effort. This collection of poems by Henry is no exception to this.
The Glass Aisle is simultaneously melancholy and terrifying, in all the right ways.