Harold Pinter Poetry: British Analysis - Essay

Harold Pinter Poetry: British Analysis

(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Poetry is a form that continually interested Harold Pinter. During sixty years of creativity, in addition to his plays and film scripts, he wrote innumerable poems, including nearly one hundred that were published. Some of his poems were initially published in now defunct journals such as Poetry London under pseudonyms such as “Harold Pinta.” Some of these poems have been reprinted in anthologies of prose and poetry, in private-press publications (such as Ten Early Poems under the Greville Press imprint), and in various editions of his Collected Poems and Prose and Various Voices.

Pinter’s first published work, including poems and prose pieces that appeared in his school magazine, belong to the period of the 1940’s and early 1950’s. “New Year in the Midlands” and “Chandeliers and Shadows” (from Poems) were published in Poetry London in the August, 1950, issue and the poem “One a Story, Two a Death” in the final issue. In the summer of 1951, Pinter’s poem “I Shall Tear off My Terrible Cap” (from Poems) was published in the Poetry Quarterly. “Chandeliers and Shadows” expresses desperation, depicting scenes of decadence and sexual depravity with a sense of chaos throughout the universe. In this poem, the insane and a random deity rule over a room, and God has been transformed into a monster.

Pinter continued to write poetry during his stay in Ireland. “The Islands of Aran Seen from the Moher Cliffs” (1951; from Poems), in five verse quatrains, extols the magnificent coast and the myths related with that area of Ireland. The Hackney railings and landscape of childhood are transformed into the Irish coastal countryside. Loss, deprivation, isolation, alienation, betrayal, and love are frequent themes in Pinter’s poems. “Episode” (1951; from Poems) is a poetic dialogue with a rejected main voice, an apparently successful rival, and a silent “she” over whom they feud. There are also poems of celebration. “Poem” (1953; from Poems), for example, focuses on love and stability: The final four words, which are repeated through the poem, conclude on a note of Pinteresque ambiguity amid the Irish coastal scenery.

Pinter used poetry to mark the key points in his life. For example, “Paris” (1975; reprinted in Collected Poems and Prose), with its two verses of four lines each, celebrates Pinter and Fraser’s initial intimacy. The longer “Ghost” (1983; reprinted in Collected Poems and Prose), in two six-line verses, was written after the death of Pinter’s first wife, Merchant, with whom so much of Pinter’s early work was...

(The entire section is 1112 words.)