Sixteen page neo-romantic poem, accompanied by ‘Seven Letters’ apparently written to both an absent lover and a fellow nightfisher. Written 1955, the same as Larkin’s ‘The Less Deceived’.
A recurring theme of “sea as a metaphor of the sea”, seems to center on the writer perishing, on-board – to a woman – just as he does writing his letters. For me, it’s only in those letters that the reference to “Time’s grace” in the main poem seems to be borne out: “this moment” allows Graham to write, as well as erase himself from the sea.
And some of the writing is effective, if oddly dramatic in address. I don’t think the meter distracts from that especially.
It is us at last sailed into the chance
Of a good take. For there is water gone
Lit black and wrought like iron into the look
That’s right for herring. We dropped to the single motor. (Collected poems, 109).
The poem swallows its author – WS Graham – but leaves this reader unsatisfied and a little bored.