Having done regular weekly batches since last August, apart from the 29 February and StAnza, I’m not sure if regular weekly posts come too often or not. In any case we’re on the early side for a weekend posting right now.
I’m doing something else new too this time: I’m posting a very old poem. It’s about the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights, through which some of us (especially in Scotland) have travelled this week.
So here is a travel poem from Carolyn O’Connell, and a, um, travel poem from Stuart Macdonald (plane/car then train/bus) followed by Dugald Moore’s longish poem written in English reminiscent of Wordworth and Keats, despite his occupation as a Glasgow bookseller.
And in case you think that poem is a load of fiery nonsense, and are not in the mood for crushing enormous whales, we finish with a small Sheena Blackhall poem (in English, for once) that is guaranteed to bring you back to sanity.
Please continue to send in your poems and invite your poet friends to do the same
The plane was the last to land at Heathrow
bringing you from Sri Lanka’s heat into
the icy blizzard sweeping England.
Ignoring our appeals
you headed north trying to outrun the snow,
following a lorry spreading a protective veil
of grit and salt spanning a single carriageway.
Your belly large with new life, your eyes tired.
You plough through a night of swirling white flakes
dense as the Icelandic flurries we drove through
in Reykjavik many years ago.
Arriving home before the winter’s dawn
your cases find a lake sweeping the hall,
a water feature formed by a seal
split by the encroaching frost.
Highly Commended Poetry Space National Competition 2012, and published
in the collection Timelines by Indigo Dreams.
Wind patterns woven
through green grass
you and I
shared the common
enemy called aggrievement
the time an
old blue train
got stuck on
the east coast
line heading home
dead bracken like
caramel frost crystals
and then when
the train nudged
into Prestonpans the
conductor told us
to get off
as it started
to sleet and
there was nowhere
near to shelter
slender bare saplings
straight as spears
it is way
past modesty now
but when the
sun came out
the cold garment
of our shadows
fell from us
landing together in
a pile creating
a small night
for our feet
and the gibbous
moon waxing alone
we waited for
the connecting bus
clouds passed overhead
and in the
time it took
the sun to
blink we were
stranded in twilight
hanging by a
thread of shivers.
(New Writing Scotland 24, 2006)
Are ye unholy shadows, that by fits
Start from your grave, and in your shining shrouds
Walk those high wastes, where desolation sits
Nursing the dreamer silence, ‘mid the floods
And snow of centuries, and savage crowds
Of peaks, that cut with their sharp scythes of ice
The dusky myriads of the charging clouds
Led by the giant storm, whose fiery voice
Cries, Gather–and rush on, the seas beneath rejoice!
Your mirror is those everlasting spars
Of stainless frost brush’d by the whirlwind bare,
Shooting like glory up among the stars,
Ye flash like moonlight on perdition; there
Ye’ve plough’d for centuries the fetter’d air,
Like Satan struggling over chaos–well
That savage region, where death makes his lair,
Might seem the monstrous billows of deep hell,
Frozen in their wildest roll by some almighty spell.
The feeble pinions of the cheerless hour
Can bring no change within thy ghastly realm;
The sickly sunbeam in its short-lived power
Strikes vainly on the cliff’s majestic helm;
The muttering hoar-frost soon can overwhelm
The struggling day-star–winter in his cloud,
With his sharp icy fingers, does embalm
The haggard form of nature in her shroud,
Whose features, turn’d to stone, remain when states have bow’d.
Methinks the first sad solitary bark
That, like a pilgrim, cross’d the frozen deep,
Whose stony floods were fetter’d in the dark,
Felt hope descending ‘mid the horrid sleep
That gather’d o’er the elements–they’d keep
Their fond eyes fix’d upon the stainless blue
Of the chill sky, that bound each rolling heap,
And, as along the ice thy streamers flew,
Oh! they have knelt to thee, how lonely–yet how true
When in his cloudy chariot, icy death
Rattled above them through the frozen scars
Of the sharp icebergs, whose destroying breath
Glued them like statues to their deck, thy bars,
Shooting athwart the Highlands of the stars–
Oh! they have bless’d–that momentary blaze
Which flashing on the desert’s thousand spars,
Like hope upon desire, such beauteous rays
Which wafted warmly back the dreams of their young days.
Your realm is in that cold and frozen clime
Where ruin and old silence holdeth sway;
Where winter’s breath has glued the wings of time
Like marble to the wizard’s shoulders grey;
Where Hecla, like hell’s altar, flames for aye,
His red plume plunging in the sunless heaven,
Lit by old earthquake, shining ‘neath his ray
A vast eternity of glaciers riven
Gleam through the fetter’d air, like the last flush of even.
Fear walks a shadow o’er the horrid coast,
With finger on her lip and cloudy eye,
While death sits darkly on his throne of frost,
Waving his icy sceptre through the sky,
His tresses are the thunder storms that fly
In dread sublimity along the deep,
When in their caves the savage monsters die,
And the old glaciers, roused from years of sleep,
Crush the enormous whale, while in her maddest leap!
Slightly shortened. from the works of Dugald Moore, Glasgow Bookseller and Poet, 1805-1841
Diving for Poems Dhanakosa, Balquihidder
Diving for poems,
I entered the moon’s reflection.
The water swallowed me like a womb,
Like a shark, like a dark friend.
Shadows swam round me;
I dipped into the depths, over and over.
Moon poems are beautiful, plucked from inky fathoms.
I would wish for all poem fishers,
Little lights set out along the shore
To guide them back.
First published 2009. Painting by Joseph Wright