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The Rain and the Glass


Listening silence in the glass
The listening rain against.
All in the silent house asleep,
The rain and the glass awake;
All night they listen for a noise
No one is there to make.

All in the silent house asleep,
The rain and the glass awake;
Listening silence in the glass
The listening rain against.
All night they listen for a noise
Their silence cannot break.

These lines were written by Robert Nye at the age of thirteen one afternoon in 1952 after he fell asleep ‘by a window in the front room of the house in an Essex resort where I was living with my parents’. The poem came to him in a dream; ‘It was after this dream that I knew what I had to do for the rest of my life’. The poem is published in The Rain and the Glass which contains all the poems Nye has written since his Collected Poems in 1995 together with his own selection from that volume, and his piece about the book is published in the January 2006 edition of Acumen. Many poets will sympathise with Nye’s sense that ‘the writing of poems is based on a trust in inspiration – it happens – tempered by mistrust for the actual poem when it has been written down.’ For Nye, the poet needs to be ‘a kind of secretary to something more than his or her own little self’.

I’ve quoted the earliest of the poems in the volume; here’s one of the latest, after a sixth century Greek neo-Platonist cited ‘mostly because I like his name':

After Simplicius

Time is a dream and all we do
Will be the same again.
I’ll sit like this and talk with you,
Between my hands this cane.
And we shall kiss again, like this,
Again, and then again.

Again, and then again, like this
We’ll sit, I’ll have this cane
Between my hands, and we shall kiss
And talk, like this, again.
Dear, what I tell you now is true:
Time is a dream and all we do
Will be the same again.

And a final word from Nye, which should also strike a chord with poets: ‘I have spent my life trying to write poems , but the poems gathered in The Rain and the Glass came mostly when I was not.

The Rain and the Glass is published by Greenwich Exchange (8 Balmoral Close, Billericay, Essex, CM11 2LL) and costs £9.95 sterling.


Over the last few weeks I've been having lots of dreams which come in the form of langugae, but I can never remeber more than a snatch or two on waking. A lot of it is prose, but last night was a full song, and the only snatch I can remeber is

"Fill the sky and paint the stars."

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