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By David Wheatley

Writing in Poetry assessment Roddy Lumsden discovered reason to compliment David Wheatley’s ‘wilfully outstanding shape and rampaging vocabulary’, whereas within the TLS Peter interpreting counseled his technical assets as ‘an unobtrusive excitement to read’. A Nest at the Waves, taking its identify from the people trust that petrels lay their eggs at sea, ruminates on issues of commute, leave-taking and displacement. From his local County Wicklow when it comes to East Yorkshire the place he lives, the poems hint an arc of tours, real or imagined, to Australia, Africa and Antarctica. Migrant employees, migrating birds and nomadic tribes enact anything of the drama of the place domestic can be. From shamanism to the lives of saints, responses to the Donegal gaeltacht and homages to musical heroes (Brad Mehldau, Ali Farka Touré), David Wheatley’s curious, wide-ranging and now usually open-ended verse provides grounds for Maria Johnston’s statement within the Dublin evaluation of Books that ‘the experience of probability in Wheatley’s paintings turns out limitless’.

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Sample text

Lob der Ferne (207) vi 15 Im Quell deiner Augen erwürgt ein Gehenkter den Strang. Almost every image in this poem is oxymoronic, inverted, or put on its head. In a composition dealing with the problem of writing poetry, the hanged man, the speaker, ‘strangles’ what is strangling him, that is, the endeavor to find adequate words (see p. 196). The würgen motif has thus become totally abstracted and metaphorical. To be sure, Pöggeler (1986: 65), for one, puts it quite differently: “[Lob der Ferne] spricht von einer Liebe, die eine bestrickende Verführung ist”.

Ii Die Rispe, die winkende Dolde, gehorchen nicht mehr dem Kobolde. iii 5 Ich trau mich nicht mehr mit Flöten den Schlummer der Gräser zu röten. iv Und ich folge nicht mehr den Spuren der lautlosen Sonnenuhren. v Ich muß nun in Welt und Gewändern 10 den Zauber der Faltern verändern. vi Was brauch ich für Spangen, für Ringe, daß mir der Wandel gelinge? vii Nicht mehr mit den blühenden Zweigen kann ich die Welt zu mir neigen. 6 The attempt to come to grips with this poem’s vagueness breeds frustration.

Note that the following examples could readily be increased if inventory were taken of all the instances in which allusions or explicit references are made to breathing, whether via forms of atmen or other means, for instance, the choking effect of a necklace. Leise, Geliebte, leise (31) i 9 Taubenschwärme fangen zitternd ein silbernes Spiel an, das Ringe schlingt um deinen Hals, und fortnimmt. As understood here, “fortnimmt” equates with ‘takes breath away’, hence has to do with suffocation and the inability to speak.

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