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Lyrics lucid and flowing

Ġorġ Borg: Fittixni fl-ilma ġieri: poeżiji
Horizons, 2018.

Following his 2013 volume Ċrieki fl-għadira, much praised by Oliver Friggieri in his critical note published in that volume, Ġorġ Borg has now produced this volume that is bound to please his faithful readers and the lovers of his gift of writing short, finely-produced lyrics often expressing his experiences as a lover of friendship, nature and – perhaps above all – God and religion.

In his short foreword to the volume, the author makes two striking statements.  He is a follower of T.S. Eliot in his desire “to wrestle  with words and meanings”, and he believes that poetry requires not only a well-chosen vocabulary but also conciseness.  He could have added his love of striking rhythms and elegant rhymes. Reading his poems aloud, even to myself, often leads me  to read poem after poem without tiring.

I have been following Borg’s development since, perhaps, the 1970s (his successful Solitudni fir-Ramla, 1978) and have always been held by the transparency and fluidity of his verse.  He has never been led astray by fashion from his desire to write verse that is lucid, and using traditional prosody.  His desire to be simple has rarely led him to lapses into banality.

In this volume, a number of poems shows the poet asking himself if old age is affecting his ability to write as well as he did in the past.  These momentary doubts vanish with the successful writing of the poem expressive of those doubts, such as the elegant piece Għadni Nħoss, in which he realises he still feels in tune with the universe’s rhythms and can still feel at times the spark that ignites his writing.

Some of the most interesting poems relate to his platonic friendships, in which the friends seem to be partners in spiritual growth. There are also the disappointing moments as the one seemingly referred to in Ilment, in which he sadly asks why he and his friend have allowed what they formerly treasured to slip away from them through their fingers.

His desire to be simple has rarely led him to lapses into banality

I like his loving poem addressed to the fine poet Mario Azzopardi who, in recent years, has shown a growing interest – still with some doubts – in God and religion, telling him gently: “Perhaps, unknowingly, you had approached the Fountain of Life”. 

The strong believer Borg is hoping that his friend, formerly well known for his scepticism, may have finally turned the corner.

Not that Borg himself has never had his own days of doubt and spiritual anguish, as some of the poems testify.  In fact, his L-Għanja tal-kumbattent hints at the severity of his spiritual struggle, with the third stanza speaking of the mist that can  make his viewing difficult, and in other poems like Bil-Qalb imrażżna he speaks of the essential aid that he receives from the Beloved which enabled the poet to approach Him.

The only poem I noticed that may be political in nature is Ħolm, in which he reproves someone for claiming that now a new Malta has been created under his approving guidance. It is a poem I hope that many will read with pleasure.

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