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This poem is taken from PN Review 236, Volume 43 Number 6, July - August 2017.

Roy Fisher’s Mirror: An Appreciation Jeffrey Wainwright
IN RECENT YEARS, whenever my wife Judith and I visited Roy Fisher in his house in the Upper Dove Valley, he was confined daylong to a single chair. To begin with we were puzzled that this chair was placed with its back to the window, thus denying him the view from his window of the garden with its birds and the fields and fells beyond. But Roy pointed out that the mirror hanging over the fireplace afforded him an adequate version of the scene behind him and that he was content with this. It seemed almost as though having accepted the reality of the restrictions his strokes had put upon his physical capabilities, that he was willingly imposing a further restriction almost as an emblem and as a reminder that our straight-on view of the world is not exhaustive.

Roy was astonishingly uncomplaining about his condition to which he rarely referred. To call him ‘stoical’ would be an understatement and, in his view, pretentious. He was determined to write no poems about his condition, after all, as he satirically said in conversation and in print, ‘why should I be rich and famous?’ Without breaking this vow he did, however, write one poem specifically about the view in the mirror, ‘The Skyline in the Wall Mirror’ (Standard Midland) where the ‘pasture when last looked at / juts dark, its dip and sag / as good as lamp-black / and the right not to know what it’s made of / revives.’ The mirror then might be seen as an emblem of the way Roy saw the world. Certainly there is what is consensually ‘there’ to the eye, ‘the malted-milk brickwork / on its journey past the sun’ with which ‘Wonders of Obligation’ (The Dow Low Drop) begins, but that ‘is for “realism”’, as the early poem ‘For Realism’ has it, and that is but one prism through which we sight the scenes we live among. There are also:


As many skies as you can look at
stretched in a second
the manifest
of more forms than anyone could see

and it alters
every second you watch it,
...


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