When I go fishing I like to know that there's nobody within five miles of me.
And the second question, can poetry be taught? I didn't think so.
However, I learned something. I thought that if the young person, the student, has poetry in him or her, to offer them help is like offering a propeller to a bird.
There are some friends you don't meet for twenty years and when you meet them again it's as if no twenty years has happened - you're lucky when that happens. I feel the same about books.
I learned words, I learned words; but half of them
died from lack of exercise. And the ones I use
often look at me
with a look that whispers, Liar.
And in a way, that's been a help to me, because I take great passions for a particular poet - sometimes it lasts for many years, sometimes only for a while. This happens to everybody.
And it's impossible for me to read Henry James.
And some poets are far better read off the page because they're very bad speakers. I'm thinking of one in particular whom I won't name, a good poet, and he reads in such a dry, boring way, your eyes start drooping.
But you'd have a job to find many of my poems which would seem to be very influenced by a particular person.
I don't think of myself all the time.
I used to fish the Border rivers, but nowadays you have to queue up for a shot and I can't stand that.
I never think about poetry except when I'm writing it. I mean my poetry.
I only keep books that I like very much. Otherwise I'd throw them out.
I said I have no powers of invention. Well, I also have no powers of mimicry.
All I write about is what's happened to me and to people I know, and the better I know them, the more likely they are to be written about.
A terrible thing about getting oldish is that your friends start dying, and in the last ten years I have lost seven or eight of my closest.
Landscape is my religion. ...God in a green legend, I lean over the pool In a testament of leaves. I dangle my twinkling mood Before me in a cool cave roofed with branches And floored with a skin of water.
I'm very gregarious, but I love being in the hills on my own.
But I hang on to books. I love them. I even think they're very nice decor in a room - far better than paintings... That's not quite true!
If I wrote a play with four characters every single one of them would talk like me regardless of age or sex.
I don't care whether a book is a first edition or not. I'm not a bibliophile in that word's natural sense.
When I was a teacher, teachers would come into my classroom and admire my desk on which lay nothing whatever, whereas theirs were heaped with papers and books.
Anybody who writes doesn't like to be misunderstood.
When I was asked to be Writer in Residence at Edinburgh I thought, you can't teach poetry. This is ridiculous.
All those authors there, most of whom of course I've never met. That's the poetry side, that's the prose side, that's the fishing and miscellaneous behind me. You get an affection for books that you've enjoyed.
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