For Thursday—a poem by the great & greatly enigmatic Laura Riding Jackson.
If you don’t know about Laura Riding Jackson, I’d encourage you to take a look at her biography, & also to seek out more of her poetry. Tho Riding Jackson is “associated” with the Fugitive school of poetry (the writers associated with the magazine The Fugitive, including Hart Crane, Alan Tate, John Crowe Ransom & others), her poetry now strikes me as an exploration at depths beyond the works of her fellow “Fugitives.” Laura Riding Jackson often grappled with the possibilities of meaning both in poetry & by extension in language overall in both a direct & a profound manner, as you will see in “The World And I.” Based on this poem, perhaps you won’t be surprised to learn that Riding Jackson ultimately renounced poetry, tho she continued to work with language from a more theoretical standpoint & continued to explore how language & meaning interact.
The World And I
This is not exactly what I mean
Any more than the sun is the sun.
But how to mean more closely
If the sun shines but approximately?
What a world of awkwardness!
What hostile implements of sense!
Perhaps this is as close a meaning
As perhaps becomes such knowing.
Else I think the world and I
Must live together as strangers and die—
A sour love, each doubtful whether
Was ever a thing to love the other.
No, better for both to be nearly sure
Each of each—exactly where
Exactly I and exactly the world
Fail to meet by a moment, and a word.
Laura Riding Jackson