"Ponderynge together yestardayes promise, and two-dayes doyng"
(Hall's Chronicle - 1548)


"Goronigl gwyr yr Ynys" (Lewis Glyn Cothi - 1450)

Jean Earle : A Naïve Poet?




I have written on this blog about Jeane Earle in the past. I discuss her at greater length in the current number of the online arts and literary journal Horizon Review. It also contains  a number of poems, fictions and articles, and is well worth a look.  THIS LINK leads to my article on Jean Earle in which I argue that her deliberate - and I argue sophisticated - use of 'naïve' techniques constitute part of her honesty as a poet.

Her poem  on Jean-Baptist Giraud's 'naïve' painting 'The Picture of the Tiger Hunt', a detail from which appears on the cover of her Selected Poems articulates the idea directly:


I did not wince because the tiger is pinned by spears,
Stuck and lifted on the elephant's tusk.
Nor for the blood too bright
Nor for the forest leaves
Streaming to blaze the scene,
As in frightening dreams.

No; what moved me was the tiger's hands.
Hands - not paws -
Past all powerful dealing.
Sprawling out wide, loose.
Asking astounded of the continuing spear,
Of the red workaday gleam in the elephant's eye.

So do all creatures, peaceful or tiger, lift hands,
Not paws,
At the flash of death.

The picture was done by a 'naïve' painter.
'Naïve' we call him - and we look for truth.
Hands open and shape NO! Hands, not paws.
Two or four hands - or one, as in a dying flower.

Towards light is the last appeal,
And should evoke tears.


This statement, from her first published collection, could, I argue, be taken as a working principle of all her later poetry both in matters of subject and style. Her statement "we look for truth" I take to be an invitation to look for a similar truth in her writings. This is what I attempt to elucidate in the article.