'Croak and Bel Canto', poetry collection
My ‘Croak and Bel Canto‘, published by Lapwing Publications, Belfast, was launched on 12 October, 2018, in Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop, Galway. Anthony Daly, a young actor, playwright and poet, made the presentation. I was very touched and felt honoured by the tribute he paid to my first collection printed in Ireland (after two which had appeared in Switzerland).
Thank you, Anthony!
Please, read below.
Introduction by Anthony Daly:
Nearly two hundred years ago, in 1821, Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote in his 'Defence of Poetry'- 'Poetry thus makes immortal all that is best and most beautiful in the world; it arrests the vanishing apparitions which haunt the interlunations of life, and veiling them in language or in form sends them forth among mankind bearing sweet news of kindred joy to those with whom their sisters abide - abide because there is no portal of expression from the caverns of the spirit which they inhabit into the universe of things. Poetry redeems from decay the visitations of divinity in Man'.
In her latest collection 'Croak and Bel Canto', Esther Murbach has followed this philosophy. You might ask what is best and most beautiful in the world, as Shelley puts it and although a great deal of debate clouds this as do personal preferences, I think we can all agree that love, most especially love based on compassion is one of those key, essential, treasured human things.
The exquisite poem 'Requiem for Thorsten' comes from a place of love, without which one can never experience what the lack of it means - namely grief. We are drawn to certain people in life for reasons we can't explain. She writes- 'We did share one blood type of feeling suffusing two hearts' -and when that person is gone, the world is never the same again.
In 'Fading Eden', a lyrically powerful poem, love is not so obvious and it is more an intense nostalgia for a beauty that cannot be recaptured, in fact that is what makes it so precious, the fact that it can only briefly be recalled.
Perhaps this is a glimpse of the 'visitations of divinity' Shelley speaks about. This collection has great range and does not just focus on one area of the human condition, it touches on philosophy and what it means to be human as in 'Reflections on Silence'. Something as simple as silence can be elegantly profound and we feel this when we read this poem.
Altogether the collection hints at a much larger canvas, as if we are just dipping into an ocean, or as if we know it to be a marker, a pointer to an even greater work. It can be difficult to separate the poet from the work but in this case they are integrally linked - the words themselves are a mirror of the person. So when we read these words on the page in the silence of our own hearts or hear them spoken like a spell, they immediately conjure up the image of a wise, kind, compassionate person. As these qualities shine through in Esther the person and Esther the poet. She has an immediately recognisable glow of inner truth, a warmth that cannot be imitated or concealed, she is someone always true to herself and to everyone around her.
Her skills extend beyond the world of poetry into translation and into the world of prose.
I encourage you to read and listen to her work because it is a poetic voice worth listening to. And even though Percy Bysshe Shelley captured her essence nearly two hundred years ago, I think she has something he lacked, considering his rather wreckless choices outside poetry, and that is wisdom.