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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 19. 3rd August 1972

Earthquake Weather:

Earthquake Weather:

Reading Smithyman is again a kind of shadow boxing with syntax. But it is not merely the exercise of the gut intellectual, it is rather a need to be honest. He is the last poet to consider compromise, and his lyric flourishes

("Hard from the sun's heart sets a flight
a score of phoenix birds, superbly the late citizens
of night.")

are contained in colloquial and often adumbrated impressionist language, which is his testament to awareness. As in Transit lounge, Singapore, Smithyman recalls his U.S. Marine

"He does not approve or disapprove. He takes part", His verse follows (often abbreviated) through patterns not demands of metre, and Earthquake Weather presents a series of reflections on patterns, on moments, on possible significance, without ever including the dangers of being adamant. These are the musings and cogitations of a man aware of himself and what is around him. Smithyman's is the meticulous gesture.

"I have picked pockets
of several shrouds and more than one
fashion of shroud, for crummiest of crumbs
driest fragments, dust of droppings bone flakes."

(Research Project). Earthquake Weather illustrates a kind of resignation, a quieter, more sinewy (if sometimes contorted), tone than his earlier verse. It shows Smithyman now declining to supplicate or demand, but observing as in

"Stones, pavings, columns, the arches
they do not speak to you. Their point is abnegation
of metaphor, but how usefully they have you look
into the character of caring."

(Kirkstall Abbey). It is no longer the tone of Apologia (1965)

"which asks you to sustain my claim to move
your charity",

but the terser

"what remains stands literal
not inviting dramatics."

(Kirstall Abbey). The only positive stance taken by Smithyman in Earthquake Weather is the refusal to supply the comfort of definition. It is not mere abstraction, he combines sharp use of image with an atonal resonance, resulting at times in an almost geometric discipline — How To Make A Mountain In Six Modes. He represents both the power and inadequacy of language, leaving the rest to his reader:

"We communicate, in the reasonant silences
between my words. Also, are your words. "

— Lydia Wevers.