IAN WEDDE is a freelance writer living in Wellington. His most recent
books of poetry are The Commonplace Odes (Auckland University
Press, 2001) and Three Regrets and a Hymn to Beauty (Auckland
University Press, 2005), where ‘A Hymn to Beauty: Days of a Year’ was
published. A new novel, The Viewing Platform, will be published
by Penguin in September 2006.
Wedde comments: ‘ “A Hymn to Beauty” recycles remembered
and misremembered lines from many songs, by Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons,
Ryan Adams, Sneaky Feelings, John Lennon, Lou Reed, Johnny Cash, Jimmy
Dorsey, Courtney Love, and several others. My thanks to the lyricists.
There are remembered (and misremembered) fragments from philosophers
and poets of the sublime, especially William Wordsworth and John Ruskin.
Religious texts are also remembered, including the Bible, the Tao-Te
Ching, Dhammapada, Pali canon, and Tanakh. Like beauty, these fragments
The form of “Hymn to Beauty” can be sourced in
any number of versions of magazine and newspaper pages that repeat a
formula of horoscopes, “today in history” lists, thought-of-the-day,
cryptic crosswords and birthdays of the famous. Read obsessively and
cumulatively, these newspaper pages gain an eerie precision, like accurately
coded ghost messages.’
Poem: A Hymn to Beauty: Days of a Year