At the Lakes with Roberta

Our guide 
(to whom Roberta has already been ingratiating herself
in a horribly forward manner)
has taken us to Windermere,
and tomorrow will take us to Grasmere.
Of course I am eager to see,
first-hand, as it were,
the sources of inspiration,
but I fear Roberta’s behaviour
shall spoil the entire experience.

Speaking bluntly: she is far too light-hearted;
rather superficial if one may say such a thing,
and she flatters him, that’s the point,
she flatters him with her incompetence.
I’m afraid I find it unseemly.

The fact is,
if she continues to distract our guide from his duty as guide,
there will be a breach between Roberta and me.
The fault will lie with her:
it’s perfectly clear she came only to enjoy The View –
while I can hardly bear it, you see;
I can hardly bear the weight of this poetic air,
the air that WW breathed: such steep atmosphere.
There’s nothing for it: one must simply never travel
with one’s female companions.

And now, look:
our guide is daring to quote from ‘To the Small Celandine’
(never favourite of mine)
and Roberta’s foolish gasps of pleasure hang on the mist.
It’s unfortunate, really, that he has been quite so taken in,
so swallowed up by what one might call
a rather ordinary attractiveness.

And clearly I shall remain ignorant for the rest of the tour
about the more – intimate – details 
of a poet’s life.

from This is Yarrow (Carcanet, 2013), ? Tara Bergin 2013, used by permission of the author and the publisher

Tara Bergin in the Poetry Store

The free tracks you can enjoy in the Poetry Archive are a selection of a poet’s work. Our catalogue store includes many more recordings which you can download to your device.

Close