Patterns for Arans

By Linda Norton Linda Norton

We could paint semi-darkness in semi-darkness. And the ‘right lighting’ of a picture could be semi-darkness.
                                                            from Remarks on Color

These islands lie off the west coast of Ireland
as if nothing matters.
The people have lived here for centuries
with only a thin covering of soil over the surface.
Great use is made of the seaweed,
the cattle swimming out.
The women here are justly famous.
They weave their own tweed
and make a type of belt called criss.
The heavy Atlantic seas,
the slip stitch.
The difficulty of the patterns
are never written down.
Most impressive and rich, the trellis pattern
and the rope, the tribute to the hardworking bee.
But sometimes their knitting shows mistakes,
with a true Irish touch of nothing
really matters, a careless nonchalance
of the crossing of their cables.
And note mistakes in the simple patterns:
forked lightning or cliff paths,
small fields fenced with stone,
the ups and downs of married life,
the mosses.
The openwork has a religious
significance or none.
Sometimes the clarity of the pattern is
lost through the use of
very fine wool.
Green from the mosses, brown
from the seaweed, grey and cream
color from the stones and pebbles:
many are distinctly over-bobbled.
No matter. They are too lovely
to be lost. Wool and knitting
leaflets can be obtained.
In no case is the whole pattern given.
There are certain gaps and yawns
and part of the pattern is left out
as if it doesn’t matter,
or was too lovely,
so was lost.
Some of the simple patterns
are charming for children’s jerseys.
This one, for example,
would be lovely on a child.

Linda Norton, “Patterns for Arans” from The Public Gardens, published by Pressed Wafer. Copyright © 2011 by Linda Norton. Reprinted by permission of Linda Norton.

Source: The Public Gardens (Pressed Wafer, 2011)

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Poet Linda Norton


Subjects Activities, Jobs & Working, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Social Commentaries, Town & Country Life

Poetic Terms Free Verse


Poet, writer, and collage artist Linda Norton was raised in Boston and educated at Holy Cross and the University of California at Berkeley.
Formally inventive, layering documentary with lyric, Norton merges genres to get at the crossings of her life and to trace the imprint of searching, finding, mourning, raising, and doubling back. Addressing the connection between personal and public histories in The Public Gardens in a . . .

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Poems by Linda Norton

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SUBJECT Activities, Jobs & Working, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Social Commentaries, Town & Country Life


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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