Mountains have a unique way of shaping the experiences of those who traverse their rocky terrain. David Craig, through his poem, offers a sincere and unvarnished portrayal of a mountaineer's journey. In this article, we take a closer look at the simplicity and authenticity of David Craig's poem, as it encapsulates the essence of a climber's encounter with the mountains.
He stretched to fit the rock
He crouched and eeled to fit the rock
Thinned and flexed to fit it
Spreadeagled on its smelted plates
Feeling his fingers hone to claws
He chimneyed up the gigantic split
Sitting in air like an ejecting pilot
While the sky out there
Blazed at him and the granite ground his spine
Then surfaced from the fissure like a mole
Bearing the chimney's pressure in his hunch
Its rising in his springing tendons
Its darkness in the gleam behind his eyes
Bearing the face's crystals in his fingerprints
Its cracking torsions in his wrists
Its drop in the air beneath his insteps.
It moulded him. He was its casting.
His clay was kneaded to its bas-relief.
His brain infolded, mimicking its strata.
And when he called, and the echo heard his note,
It parodied his language.
David Craig's poem captures the essence of the mountaineering experience with straightforward imagery. It paints a vivid picture of a climber adapting to the rocky environment—stretching, crouching, and thinning to fit the terrain. The poem's language brings forth the tangible sensation of a climber's fingers transforming into claws, mirroring the physicality of mountaineering.
As the poem unfolds, it immerses us in the mountaineer's journey, describing their ascent through a "gigantic split" in the mountain. We can feel the tension in the climber's muscles and sense the challenge as they sit suspended in mid-air. The language is simple, yet it conveys the profound connection between the climber and the mountain, as well as the natural world that surrounds them.
David Craig's poem beautifully illustrates the transformative power of the mountains. The climber's body responds to the mountain's pressure and darkness, adapting to the rugged terrain. The poem celebrates the synthesis of human and mountain, where the climber's physicality moulds to the contours of the landscape.
In the final stanza, the poem takes us inside the climber's mind, where their call is answered by the echoes of the mountains. The language paints a picture of the climber's features mirroring the mountains' facets and their wrists embodying the terrain's torsions. It emphasises the profound communion between the climber and their surroundings.
In this poem, the mountains become more than a backdrop; they become a partner in the climber's journey. Through simplicity and authenticity, we are invited into the heart of mountaineering, where the rocky landscape serves as a canvas for human determination. This celebrates the raw beauty and the genuine connection between those who dare to explore the heights and the mountains that beckon them. It is a testament to the timeless allure of the mountains and the poetic simplicity they inspire in those who seek to spend time in and on them.
If you enjoyed David’s poem, click here to learn more about David’s book, “Native Stones”!