Thursday, August 11, 2011

“The World And I”

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


  1. I'm rushing and will come back for the poem, but want to say right away how huge and complex that topic is, "how language and meaning interact." Thanks for bringing it up.

  2. What a wonderful way of saying! I'll have to read more of her work. Thanks for the intro. I find something good each time I come here!

  3. I love this. I'll be looking at her elsewhere--didn't even know she was a Fugitive. Thanks! (Has she always added Jackson to her name?).

    "doubtful whether
    Was ever a thing to love the other."

    Love as a "thing"? I have a hunch she wanted us to notice that.

  4. Hi Banjo52 & Karen

    Banjo52: The "interact" line isn't me at my best--I wrote that late last night! Laura Riding added Jackson to her name since her marriage to Schuyler Jackson. She was known as Laura Riding during her association with Robert Graves, & is still referred to that way in some circles. Glad you liked this!

    Karen: Yes, I think you'd enjoy acquainting yourself more with her work! Thanks.


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