Elaine Feinstein is a prize-winning poet, novelist and biographer. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature since 1981, she has traveled across the globe to read her poems and appeared at all the major English-language festivals, most recently Latitude. She has chaired the judges for the T.S. Eliot Award, and her work has been translated into most European languages, as well as Korean and Chinese. The Clinic, Memory: New and Selected Poems (Carcanet, 2017) includes a selection of recent poems reflecting wryly on surviving into old age, and older poems chosen from a half century of her writing life, ranging from tender lyrics about children, elegies for her father and amused reflections on marriage, to ‘Gold’, the story of the vicissitudes of Mozart’s librettist, Da Ponte.
The first surprise: I like it.
Whatever happens now, some things
that used to terrify have not:
I didn’t die young, for instance. Or lose
my only love. My three children
never had to run away from anyone.
Don’t tell me this gratitude is complacent.
We all approach the edge of the same blackness
which for me is silent.
Knowing as much sharpens
my delight in January freesia,
hot coffee, winter sunlight. So we say
as we lie close on some gentle occasion:
every day won from such
darkness is a celebration.