There are some things a poet cannot accept

There are times when a poet must make a stand and say, “This has happened without my cognisance and I will not accept it!” Today has not been the best of days. Today I got a note from a patron. Common enough, especially from her, as she was always quick to praise, swift to encourage. But today the note had a bitter flavour. She was sitting awaiting death. A week? Longer?

And what can a poet do? A poet can protest, a poet can stand tall and say firmly that this will not do. A poet can bang the table with his wine glass obvious of the fact it has shattered and the pieces lie glistening but incoherent, shards of dreams never now to be dreamt.

Others have known Sue for longer than I, others will doubtless feel the grief more keenly, will mourn longer, but my job as a poet is not to throw myself into grief but to set a scaling ladder against the walls of uncaring time and fix it in place with my contempt for the mere trammels of mortality. I cast my words into the face of eternity.

To me she was all a patron should be. Yes a patron who pours you white wine with a generous hand and laughs at your jokes is to be prized. But the patron who shares your work with their friends, who tells them, “Come here and see what I found,” that is a patron to treasure.

And now what? I think of that house in Port Naain (on Vincent Crescent where Dilbrook opens out and the ground rises a little). I see her still in her garden, cosseting her great hound and casting occasional glances north where, in the far distance, on a clear day you can still see the mountains of her youthful home.

But there is a door we must all walk through, one way or another, and that door hangs open and beckoning. But poets cheat. Yes we walk through that door like others. We too wait to see what the other side is like, its views and vistas, its salons, its gardens. But still we cheat.

A thousand years from now, some young fool seeking words to woo a lover, will pull a book from a shelf and flick desperately through the yellowing pages. In their quest they will have disturbed the runs of small rodents, the hunting grounds of arachnids and will doubtless have made a myriad of lesser creatures homeless. But as they scribble down my words, a faint flicker of the poet will live on. I have talked and argued, drank wine and wept, with poets three thousand years dead.

Wherever words are treasured, wherever people still delve into the forgotten corners and grasp with joy the volume they find, a writer cannot die.

Indeed when one writes this sort of thing, one normally finishes with the name of the person, along with the year of birth and death. For me that is impossible. As a gentleman, what knowledge would I have of a lady’s year of birth? As a poet how am I expected to know when her words will cease to be read?

So I have heard the news, I renounce it, I nail my angry words to the gates of years and I laugh in the face of mere mortal certainties.

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. I have spoken and can say no more.

139 thoughts on “There are some things a poet cannot accept

    1. Yes, I realise I speak for many, and hopefully Sue realised it as well
      I wrote it when she sent me the email telling me she might have a week to live, and I sent it to her and asked her permission to post it when the time came.

      Liked by 7 people

  1. Reblogged this on Stevie Turner and commented:
    I’m re-blogging Tallis Steelyard’s (Jim Webster) poignant tribute to Sue Vincent today. Sue had over 19,000 followers on WordPress, and she faced the inevitability of death with much courage, even apologising a few weeks before she died for lingering on. She was a year younger than myself, and left this world too early. However, we must be happy for her that she is now free from pain and suffering. R.I.P Sue. x

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Reblogged this on beetleypete and commented:
    Jim says it all-via Tallis Steelyard- about the tragic loss of the lovely Sue Vincent. This community will be poorer without her, and she will always be remembered by anyone who encountered her on her blog, and in her writing. RIP, dear Sue.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. Do you prefer your wine chilled or at room temperature? 🙂

        Seriously Sue touched people, and everybody has their own words. For some they know what they want to say but because of their own grief they struggle to say them. It is the duty of those of us who have managed to write something to get it out there. That’s why found your thoughts so moving.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. You are so right, Jim. Sue’s poetry always found a way into my heart. I’m reading her books right now. Her esoteric journey mirrors many of my own excursions. We will remember her through her poems and writing. ❤

        Liked by 2 people

    1. When we were arranging for her place in my current blog tour we swapped several emails back and forth and I commented that, “Tallis Steelyard keeps muttering in my ear that with four good lads and a two seater sedan chair we could have you out of there and on the road north to civilisation.”

      Her comment sums her up, “My bag is packed “

      Liked by 5 people

  3. Thank you for this beautiful tribute to a wonderful writer, poet and soul who has been loved and appreciated by many. Her words will live on in her beautiful writings. May God bless her soul. My heart hurts ❤

    Liked by 6 people

  4. While the bells are tolling the news across the blogging universe, the vast silence and emptiness she leaves is deafening.
    We shall have to pick up and travel on in her stead. Not an easy task.
    A wise old soul who lighted our way for as long as she was allowed.
    Thanks – to you both
    Finely done

    Liked by 4 people

  5. So sad to hear.
    I knew her not but through your words I miss her so
    We all will die, we all will cry but not in vain for your words, her words will survive.

    Such a beautiful tribute you ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is a strange world, we know people well who we’ve never met and we miss people desperately who never darkened our door. Each of us must pick up the candle and carry it forward, striving to be the greatest of creatures, the decent person.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. I’m so sorry to hear of Sue’s passing Jim. She was taken too soon. I had the pleasure of meeting Sue in person and feel sad that she could not continue to be the creative, lovely, supportive and magical soul she has alway been. Rest in Peace Sue. Your words live on.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. A beautiful tribute to, lament for, and upholding of a brilliant light, Jim. Her light warmed so many of us, and her words, as she prepared for death, moved me greatly, while still teaching, still reaching. Thanks for this.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Reblogged this on The Showers of Blessings and commented:
    A beautiful tribute to Sue Vincent from Jim Webster. Thank you, Jim, for speaking for all of us and let Sue know what you were doing before her passing. She held all our love with her.

    Sue lived a courageous life. She was still writing when her legs were too weak to stand up. She showed us to be true to ourselves and be vulnerable. She didn’t complain about her dying but continued to value her living.

    Sue, you lived a life greater than life itself. We all missed you tremendously and we’re thankful for the precious words you left behind!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. You did a beautiful job with this post, Jim. I am terribly sad and I am glad I was able to do something for her to make her lasts weeks better. I also have five of her lovely poems in a forthcoming anthology, as you have said here, poets and writers never really die, they live on through their words.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Roberta. I asked her to start my current blog tour. She always did and I couldn’t not ask her. So she emailed back to say the blog was set up in case she wasn’t about.
      I told her that if I went to the trouble of putting together a blog tour I expected her to hang around and enjoy it, not go sloping off.
      Of all the things, I remember her humour and the banter we had backwards and forwards over the years

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, I was also in touch with Sue over email and she was a great supporter of my work too. I am already missing her very much. I finished her new book last night and had hoped she would enjoy my review. I shall now post it tomorrow as a tribute to Sue and her writing.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks, Jim. A lovely tribute, and it’s heart-warming to know that she got to read it as well. Thanks for sharing it with all of us. It won’t be the same without her. ♥

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Our hearts are heavy with the passing of this amazing woman. But she will live on through her inspiring words and through her wisdom so selflessly shared. We will all miss this earth Angel. Thank you for a wonderful tribute, Jim.

    Liked by 2 people

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