The Cutting Edge

a cutting edge

the cutting edge comes near

I once heard someone boasting that they were ‘right on the cutting edge’ and I winced and thought ‘sounds painful!’ then I thought some more and wrote this poem. As usual you can hear it by pressing the ‘play’ button, or if that fails to appear, clicking on the title. This poem, has also been translated into French and published in a magazine there, so in my next installment I’ll post the French version and reflect a little on the process of being translated. Meanwhile here’s the original version:

The Cutting Edge

At my back, like you, I always hear

The edge, the cutting edge is coming near.

Not the blind fury

With the abhorred shears

But this is what I fear;

The stealthy scissors of a blinded time

Cutting through accretions of the past

Dully and daily deleting, whatever is not next

Sneering, and sniping and snipping,

Excising every sign-post from the text

Paring all the parts that point away

To something other than our circled self.

I know the angels were the first to fall,

Cherub and Seraph spiralled down

In circling curlicues of sacred text,

Flaring in ink and paper to the floor,

The shredded evidence of our affair

Our old, embarassing affair with God.

And God himself will follow soon enough;

A little word so easy to excise

Another snippet for the cutting room

A sweeping on the heap of history.

But still at night, I tiptoe to the door

To rustle through these severed strips of love,

And strew my heart with scraps of poetry,

Forbidden hopes and shards of mystery.

They rustle through me in my waking dreams

And so I’ll have a heart-, a head-, a handful when

The scissors come for me.

For at my back, like you, I always here

The cutting edge, the edge is coming near.


Filed under imagination, literature, Poems

6 responses to “The Cutting Edge

  1. James McLaren (Jersey, Channel Islands)


    you put it beautifully. Poetry would not be my defence against the cutting edge – I don’t have that gift – but for me there is still the quiet reclaiming and proclaiming of people’s history as I sit transcribing in the local archive…

    • malcolmguite

      Well said James. I agree Keeping local story and history alive is another way of staying rooted and connected to the heart of things

  2. Ed

    Thank you for this poem, for phrasing perfecty feelings I didn’t know how to put into words.

  3. Pingback: Found in Translation | Malcolm Guite

  4. I like this very much, especially the alliteration and the use of sharp words. I could pick up the cadences of the French Translation if not understand it well enough. Incidentally today’s “In Our Time” on the Bhagavad Gita had a couple of excerpts read in the Sanskrit which demonstrated its wonderful poetry

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks David, must catch up with this weeks In Our Time. It’s always worth a listen. Thanks for subscribing to this blog M

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