Thursday, October 22, 2020

Invocation To A Muse

After the despair of View From The Window comes the resilience, the determination, and the sometime impotent rage of Invocation To A Muse. Still at university, though composing this poem several years later, I am enduring what mystics the world over know as the Dark Night of the Soul when God, or Love as I prefer to call Her, seemingly deserts the sufferer as they are forced by Her to walk through the valley of the shadow of Death. I paste the poem below - it is long, so I shall analyse it in sections over the next few days...


Regale me with your woes,

Bequeath to me your pain,

Weigh me down a hundredfold,

Please.

You know it fouls me up, so go ahead,

Wreck me with your needs, your wants, your wretched self,

Which swells, like all your kind, way inward, outward,

Looking after one, one only.

Hell to those others who bear the same world of hardship,

Taking burden from your like,

It is our wont, let us pay.

 

I am ill, remember that, sick with the cold of the world,

Reality’s bite, the jab of the devil punching holes in my heart,

And whilst I filch whatever drops of joy I may, those others,

The ones who’ll never understand,

Declare that all feel as I do.

Nay, but a few.

If you saw as I do the darkness which lies beyond the grave,

Itching, scratching at Death’s door to drag us each and every one

Away to Hell, I think you’d understand my mind,

So don’t, don’t burden me with earthly problems

When I contemplate the world below, day in, day out,

Unceasing, one foot there, trying to save you, your friends, our race

From falling under that bloody influence of nothing.

 

I spit on materialism, religion of empty souls,

Animals, led along a path of tedium, blinkered,

Self-blinding their periphery,

Why don’t you face up, rip the mockers off your eyes,

And glory in God’s realm, His kingdom, Earth Heaven?

Oh, what am I saying? Preaching, pontificating, slandering those I love,

Unbelievers, the most holy, better by far than fools of the cloth.

No! Blasphemy He will not tolerate.

Nor degradation of the secular.

You are a sinner poet, turning on existence,

Retract your miserable view and give another.

 

Fine. I will say this. I love humanity. I love people.

And so it is I fret. Two sides. Two sides to everything.

Two worlds. Both within us. Secular. Spiritual.

As much as one as two.

Please, don’t ignore the last.

Look, see what happens when we do.

Enmity. Hostility. War.

True it is that battles of religion are fought,

But belief in the divine is just one interpretation of the spiritual.

Wait, poet, confusion reigns, this reads like an essay,

Move on.

Right.

Body. Soul. Conscious. Unconscious.

World. Other world. Life. Death.

Yes, that’s the one.

We live, and then we die.

Wrong.

We die and then we live.

Do you see?

In our end is our beginning,

Isn’t that what he wrote? Or meant,

East Cokering our passage from Norton to Gidding.

You were right, Stearns, you knew you were,

And I, your student, my mind stretched beyond measure by your genius,

Leapt into another world of understanding,

Knowing there is no close, that immortality holds us one and all the same.

I live in the next life. Constantly. Always.

There must be others.

But not you, concerned with yourself, your aims, your goals,

Fulfilment of your selfish ends,

Not caring who you wreck along the way.

Can’t you understand we’re nothing,

In a double century we neither one will be remembered?

So let’s prepare for death, give ourselves up to love, light, truth, God,

And beg Her use us for Her own.

Please, come with me, quit your frame,

Meld your soul to mine,

We will go-a-wandering, soar above this plane,

Dwell next door to life, and contemplate the mysteries of our race.

Then ignorance, misunderstanding, confusion will strife us no more,

And we shall…

 

Enough! Poet, your words are empty, hollow, lacking wit,

No wonder you are mocked, scorned, unrewarded for you art.

Dare you emulate those who worked their lives in pain?

You are an impostor, a fake, a mimic,

Foully copying that which you read.

Innovation scalds your skin,

Its touch the hottest pain,

Stop your trade until it soothes, embalms.

I will go, fly, find other talent,

Returning when self, narcissism, belief in immortality are shed.

You may live in the next world, poet, but it lives not in you.

Farewell.

 

Muse, please, I feel as a boat in some subterranean passage,

Stalagmites rising, stalactites falling,

Spearing me up and down,

Your doing, wench, your doing,

Tearing me in two, laughing, fooling, toying with my heart, my mind,

Like all your kind,

Even you, whore, even you, selling your wares to bidders, poets,

Flattering them with praise, seduced, won over by your beauty.

Well not me.

You laugh at mankind, promising creative minds your choicest gifts,

Offered under veil of deception.

You drain, muse, that is all you do,

So go, fly, and I will do without,

I will call on Mother, Father, He, She

My earthly, godly parent, and let Her guide my pen.

What need I you, destroyer,

Why wait for your descent?

I will write without corruption, painting worldly life in lightened shades.

We are human, muse, we live for good,

Tell your poets that, our nature base alone is in your eyes.

We live, we love, and whilst we do we join us hand in hand.

Only you, not of our ilk, encourage darkened thoughts.

 

What, now, trying to trammel my ink?

Begone, hag, take your woes, your pain,

Inflict them all on someone else.

You try and tame a spirit here who reaches out beyond your grasp,

I will write, write, until the day appointed ends my breath,

So choose – help or hinder.

But bear in mind, whichever way, I will charge on regardless,

My output bringing hope to all who struggle as I do in this test, this puzzle, life.

God, our guide, will show Herself upon this planet’s plane,

And we will go-a-wondering,

Gazing into other worlds, their systems quite unlike our own.

Then, and only then, shall we know truth,

That both our kinds are one,

Split atom-like before, oh way before, the birth of earth,

Our task to salvage, aid, augment and raise ourselves to pitch of unity,

Holding tight together, now, then, at all times,

Seeing oneness in our minds, our souls, though torn and rent apart

For reason why we simply will not know until we pass beyond the gate.

But howsoe’er we make it there, ignorant or learned,

We will be taught, muse, taught the reasons for our distance,

And you, you will be stopped, stopped from tearing us apart,

Guiding your employees scribe their art against the world

How cruel the place, how sad, gross lie I know, that Fate dictates

Our destiny sublime or dull.

Now, my juncture sought, reached, passed, I bid you off,

Off to trouble other souls who hope I that they guard against your wiles,

Whilst I, with Her, will forge ahead,

Composing other forms,

Proving soon how fickle, frail, false you are,

How we will do without,

And if my fault lies dormant, soon to be unearthed,

Then ye shall never hear my voice again.

Ay, there’s the deal.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

View From The Window - Analysis

The language is tighter from the start:

Here, on my hilltop,
Whilst the clouds roll in from all points,
I stare from my window.
A dropped catch, crumbling paint, and I rest my arms on the ledge.
There it is, there, the city,
And I, filled with despair,
Impersonality pressed on my mind,
Loneliness squeezing me down,
Gaze into the void, its chasm,
Fighting those monsters of fear,
Remembering the voice of an old friend whose music rings in my ears,
'When you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.'
That city, its houses, those hills, their clouds,
Like dark demons from hell, calling my soul,
Reaching tendrils and tentacles to drag me into the pit.
I cannot bear it. I look away, and isolation,
Sweet isolation, mimics the heel of my heart, that longing for grace divine.

'Here' - where? The poet owns the poem from the start with play on 'Here' as 'Hear', the 'Hwaet' of Beowulf, I'm in charge, I'm the narrator, I'm the sufferer, listen to me audience, this is 'my hilltop', not 'the' hilltop or 'a' hilltop or even 'that' hilltop, it belongs to me and I am standing upon it to tell you my experience, wholly under threat as 'the clouds roll in from all points', an unnatural event as clouds simply don't do this, they don't converge on a point, they don't 'roll in' together, they roll over us and that never 'from all points' at once. There is something of the Raiders of the Lost Ark here when the spades and shovels and picks and crowbars are being used against the failing sun to open the hidden chamber, thunder and lightning accompanying.

And I don't look whimsically from the window, I 'stare' from it with all the glumness and disorientation and listlessness such look affords; the 'dropped catch' an element of cricket, for those who play the game its dipping sense, the hole, the despair and disappointment when this happens or more plainly just the action of unloosing the catch on a window, down, down, remember everything is exorbitant, exaggerated here, 'crumbling paint' equated completely with the mind of the depressed, 'crumbling' in the hands of God although I am of that totally unaware right now, resting my arms 'on the ledge', how suicidal in intent and yet, and yet the poet stands not on the ledge but rests his arms - is he somehow still in control?

The city is 'There' and 'there', there it is whilst lines following show its effect on the 'I' now of the poem, 'filled with despair', 'pressed' and 'squeezed' (once more the cluster) so that I 'Gaze' (not 'stare') a wonderment perhaps(?) 'into the void, its chasm', where on earth are we but once more in the darker parables of the New Testament, Dives and Lazarus, and I fight, I fight against 'monsters of fear' before, oh I wish I hadn't included these line on Nietzsche, the piece would have held up fine without them, but here they are, the abyss looking in to me. 

And that's exactly what I felt at the time, explicated following by grasping, clinging, holding desperately to nature, 'city', 'houses', 'hills', 'clouds', anything, anything normal, tangible, real to stop these 'dark demons from hell' (so much more powerful than in My Soul) dialling straight into that soul 'Reaching', oh that choice of verb is perfect here, perfect for the sense of their octopus limbs attempting 'to drag me into the pit'; but what pit? What is this abyss? Chasm? Void? It is absolutely abnormal, of unknown human experience, and so 'I cannot bear it.'

The simplistic 'I look away', the dread sense of 'isolation' for I feel utterly alone in this endeavour and the wonderful oxymoronic 'Sweet isolation', for sure it is that polar opposite and so 'mimics the heel of my heart' with play obvious on a 'heal' which I long for, yearn for and yet at this instance am utterly confounded by, the imitation, the copy, 'that longing for grace divine'. 

Wow! I have nailed it. 

For the first time, I have expressed with 98% accuracy what I feel, and the power of that expression is evident. This is the first poem of mine which hangs together almost complete, but for the Nietzsche lines; I am finally beginning to explain how I actually feel and I move now from this fragment to a rolling, roiling piece which will cement my decision to be a poet whilst simultaneously setting me on a path of creativity from which I will never again be able to deviate...    

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

View From The Window

We come now to possibly the saddest part of my experience with mental malady; I'm still back home and recovering, but the writing is coming thick and fast and with one of the hospital's occupational therapists our group sits down to write a poem emotive from the heart. 

There is only one place I have been which qualifies for such examination, the house I shared with five others in my second year at university, my first floor bedroom looking out upon the city in which I studied as an undergraduate. This is View From The Window...

Here, on my hilltop,
Whilst the clouds roll in from all points,
I stare from my window.
A dropped catch, crumbling paint, and I rest my arms on the ledge.
There it is, there, the city,
And I, filled with despair,
Impersonality pressed on my mind,
Loneliness squeezing me down,
Gaze into the void, its chasm,
Fighting those monsters of fear,
Remembering the voice of an old friend whose music rings in my ears,
'When you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.'
That city, its houses, those hills, their clouds,
Like dark demons from hell, calling my soul,
Reaching tendrils and tentacles to drag me into the pit.
I cannot bear it. I look away, and isolation,
Sweet isolation, mimics the heel of my heart, that longing for grace divine.

Monday, October 19, 2020

My Soul - Analysis

I'm afraid this is another mediocre poem, and that's crying shame for me because I feel I could have done so much better given its idea that I, me, you might not just meet ourselves one day but that we could use that opportunity to really get to know ourselves better!

Wandering through my mind one day I chanced to meet myself.
'Hello,' I said, 'what brings me here?' Said I, 'Come follow me.'
I led me up to memory's door and pushing right on through
Did find myself a boy again playing in the woods alone.
I pulled apart a piece of brush, a bit of tree, a thicket
And facing me were three demons of another world,
Staring, smirking, laughing. Who are they? 'Who are they?'
'They are your past,' I said stepping back, 'an echo from your past.'
'What now?' I looked and there I was, am, writing at a desk,
Lost for words, searching my soul, penning these lines,
The sound of patients outside reminding me of what I do,
What I have become, what I will never forget.
I searched forward knowing what was next, which door was yet to come.
Through I went and saw what I had made for me,
The places I would go, and I told myself these were dreams
Though idle they were not. 'This is the place of deja vu,' I said,
'Where future echoes clash with the past. These are your dreams,
Make them your truth. This is your soul, this is your soul,
All that you learn brings you here. You are what you are and what you will be,
Remember that. Bear no grudge, pent no anger, love life for its gift.
That is all.' I spokle with heaven's grace then turned to walk away
With guile's guise, bearing the plinth of doubt on shoulders of faith,
But I caught me up. 'Wait,' I cried, 'what else is there to know?'
'Nothing,' I said, 'that is all.'
'You lie,' I cried, 'I am you, I am your proof. Tell me.'
I turned round, sighed, then opened one more door and looking in
I saw two worlds combined, one of fire, one of cloud, both within my soul.
'How can this be?' I cried, 'how can this be?'
'The two are one, your blessing and your curse. You live in both though
Choose just one beyond the grave. Do not seek more knowledge. Now go.'
I walked away and left myself in consultation with my thoughts and wondered
Why on earth that damned eternal question battered at the forefront
Of my mind. 'Take the hint,' I urged, 'take the hint and love life for itself.
That is truly all.'

A friend of mine who read this poem said they liked the relaxed nature of its opening, and I suppose there is something in the way it begins quite calmly 'Wandering', 'chanced', 'what brings me here?'. The image of 'memory's door' pushed 'right on through' is all right before I move on to a childhood experience in which I received a shock when in a park near my home - essentially, I found a den in which three teenagers were lounging and they said to me: 'Now you're on your own, we're going to get you.'


It was all nonsense of course, and I ran for the hills but something about the encounter gave me shock enough that I recalled it at this point all those years afterwards; anyway, I feel here that by calling them 'demons of another world' I completely nullify the actual threat and the 'Staring, smirking, laughing' just doesn't work at all before the redundant repetition 'Who are they?' really finishes matters off such that the might-be intriguing 'echo from your past' simply loses any force it might otherwise have effected.

The poem improves a little now as it hits the present where I sit in a side room 'penning these lines', the 'patients outside' bringing me right back to the seriousness of my current situation, and there is genuine weight in the realisation of my predicament which will engender the kind of determination to overcome it that we'll see a little later in Invocation To A Muse.

For now, it is on to the future with some rather unmemorable composition including the lazy 'dreams / Though idle they were not' and a blatant episode title steal from Red Dwarf re 'future echoes', the unnecessary repetition of 'This is your soul' and later 'How can this be?' and the truly dreadful 'You are what you are and what will you be', just indolence on the poet's part not to find better expression.

And more - the lines 'I spoke with heaven's grace...' are simply nonsensical though my plead with myself is something a little stronger and of course the 'two worlds combined' comes straight from Christian teaching, our choice to inhabit 'fire' or 'cloud' indicative of the free will this great religion teaches us all. But not now. For now I am trapped, ill, with all the existential angst of the 'Why?' question weighing me down, and so I must drive on in my search for better health by revisiting the very worst time my condition pressed me into the ground...      

Saturday, October 17, 2020

My Soul

Having finished university, and in increasingly poor health, I returned home to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a mental illness characterised by fluctuations in mood from joy to despair, something of which I had started to experience when I wrote Visions.

Over the next few months, I became an out-patient at the local hospital; each morning, I would drive there from home and spend several hours writing, usually working on my first novel Saman's Revenge but also on a deal of poetry including the following, My Soul...

Wandering through my mind one day I chanced to meet myself.
'Hello,' I said, 'what brings me here?' Said I, 'Come follow me.'
I led me up to memory's door and pushing right on through
Did find myself a boy again playing in the woods alone.
I pulled apart a piece of brush, a bit of tree, a thicket
And facing me were three demons of another world,
Staring, smirking, laughing. Who are they? 'Who are they?'
'They are your past,' I said stepping back, 'an echo from your past.'
'What now?' I looked and there I was, am, writing at a desk,
Lost for words, searching my soul, penning these lines,
The sound of patients outside reminding me of what I do,
What I have become, what I will never forget.
I searched forward knowing what was next, which door was yet to come.
Through I went and saw what I had made for me,
The places I would go, and I told myself these were dreams
Though idle they were not. 'This is the place of deja vu,' I said,
'Where future echoes clash with the past. These are your dreams,
Make them your truth. This is your soul, this is your soul,
All that you learn brings you here. You are what you are and what you will be,
Remember that. Bear no grudge, pent no anger, love life for its gift.
That is all.' I spokle with heaven's grace then turned to walk away
With guile's guise, bearing the plinth of doubt on shoulders of faith,
But I caught me up. 'Wait,' I cried, 'what else is there to know?'
'Nothing,' I said, 'that is all.'
'You lie,' I cried, 'I am you, I am your proof. Tell me.'
I turned round, sighed, then opened one more door and looking in
I saw two worlds combined, one of fire, one of cloud, both within my soul.
'How can this be?' I cried, 'how can this be?'
'The two are one, your blessing and your curse. You live in both though
Choose just one beyond the grave. Do not seek more knowledge. Now go.'
I walked away and left myself in consultation with my thoughts and wondered
Why on earth that damned eternal question battered at the forefront
Of my mind. 'Take the hint,' I urged, 'take the hint and love life for itself.
That is truly all.'

Friday, October 16, 2020

Visions - Analysis

Here's the verse again:

I thought I saw the way. I bellied on amid the glare through blinding golds and greens,
Then rent asunder by the flash I raised my hands up high.
What is this curse I bear which no one seems to know, this constant gaze
Into another world of misery and hate?
Glimpses sometimes, future flashes of a place ahead,
A time for us the people when nothing good, no great at all exists,
Where evil's miracle reigns supreme and the fabulous
Knocking of my mind creates a welter of mockery and spite.

I closed my eyes but the visions grew inside,
Striking arrows deep inside my head,
Flying at the nerve ends of my brain,
Reaching to touch and pull and twist and tie and cut.
Severed in turn but still the images grew,
Faint at first and shallow, a glance, a stare, a face of fear, a cry for help,
Then after that the shadows fell around about,
Great blocks of silver grey passing throughout my sight.
Surely these are the ravings of my tortured mind,
My low tide colouring these thoughts?
Why else would I see the end, the time of darkness
When all people live in the shadow of paralysing nameless dread?
It must be so.

But what if my curse is gift disguised,
Telling me to tell all what is to come?
What must I do? Must I write and turn the pages of a history
That dictates no method in my madness,
Else stand upon the highest peak, the tallest tower, biggest stage
And spout pontification's lesson to the rabble?
I can't. I would be harried, stung, stoned,
Hanged for treason of the foulest kind, betraying human nature.
Didn't those who wrote the words that set in stone
The power of a super state believe in people's good, people's great,
None of which I see? Yet they are, they really are the building blocks
That house us all, foundations which we've placed to mark our course,
And no wind, earth or fire will ever shift them from their place,
The rock of all our souls. This is mankind's greatest good,
His tendency to live, survive and understand what ails and what aids.
This and this alone will be my vision, that my race is noble,
Full of grace and ever faithful to itself until the end.
There, that is a pleasant dream.


This is a poem of confusion and contradiction; the poet starts in the dark and finishes there too. He doesn't see the way, but thinks he does. He doesn't walk, or stride, or run even, he is on his belly like a soldier in No Man's Land or maybe even a snake...colour blinds him, followed by the 'flash' which brings him into first position of surrender.

And then, and then he alone in some twisted prophetic trance sees a world 'of misery and hate' in which 'nothing good, no great at all exists', a place where evil seems not just to have the upper hand but to reign 'supreme' - I wish I could tell you what the one and a half lines following that mean but I would be uttering mistruth, for they simply came from my pen and I put them on the page!

Closing his eyes to try to stop these visions, they only intensify, 'Striking', 'Flying', 'Reaching...do you see once more the word clusters emphasising and re-emphasising the discomfort before again 'Great blocks of silver grey' begin to drive the poet to delusion in which he sees everyone in the world living 'in the shadow of paralysing nameless dread'?

But rewind, for in his insanity there is clarity too; the poet questions what he sees, is aware of his own 'ravings' and 'low tide', and thereby the beginnings of a greater disorder emerge at this instant, the tension between what he experiences and what he knows actually to be the truth. And his first reaction is confusion - is what he sees 'curse' or 'gift disguised' and must he therefore address the world on this evident evil he is now aware exists in human nature?

There is some really weak language in this section of the poem which I should have excised in revision, but here it remains: 'What must I do? Must I...', 'dictates no method in my madness' (a cheap copy from Hamlet), 'spout pontification's lesson', what on earth is that? But the worst is the cheap, poor volta 'None of which I see? Yet they are...' before a section that just screams cringe all the way to the end of the poem before I try to spin it with 'There, that is a pleasant dream.'

But it's not strong enough, that last line can't turn good what has become a mediocre piece of writing. The truth is, at this stage in my illness I cannot express what I am feeling; there is the definite pendulum swinging already here but it is raw, not refined. Over the next few poems I write, that begins to change and first in line for such examination is my soul...       

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Visions

Short post today after the analytical effort of yesterday's poem; so, if the loss is felt severely enough then the spectre of depression begins to loom. It can of course be dispelled but if it lingers and takes hold then a general gloom and despondency starts to press down upon the soul such that normal daily activity becomes a struggle.

In my own case, I was at university with friends living the unhealthy lifestyle many students succumb to in their often first time away from home; a large part of this included consumption of alcohol which again in my instance only exacerbated the melancholy I was feeling after my loss. And unfortunately, matters began to unravel from there such that one night I found myself hallucinating, something of which I try to capture in my next poem, Visions...

I thought I saw the way. I bellied on amid the glare through blinding golds and greens,
Then rent asunder by the flash I raised my hands up high.
What is this curse I bear which no one seems to know, this constant gaze
Into another world of misery and hate?
Glimpses sometimes, future flashes of a place ahead,
A time for us the people when nothing good, no great at all exists,
Where evil's miracle reigns supreme and the fabulous
Knocking of my mind creates a welter of mockery and spite.

I closed my eyes but the visions grew inside,
Striking arrows deep inside my head,
Flying at the nerve ends of my brain,
Reaching to touch and pull and twist and tie and cut.
Severed in turn but still the images grew,
Faint at first and shallow, a glance, a stare, a face of fear, a cry for help,
Then after that the shadows fell around about,
Great blocks of silver grey passing throughout my sight.
Surely these are the ravings of my tortured mind,
My low tide colouring these thoughts?
Why else would I see the end, the time of darkness
When all people live in the shadow of paralysing nameless dread?
It must be so.

But what if my curse is gift disguised,
Telling me to tell all what is to come?
What must I do? Must I write and turn the pages of a history
That dictates no method in my madness,
Else stand upon the highest peak, the tallest tower, biggest stage
And spout pontification's lesson to the rabble?
I can't. I would be harried, stung, stoned,
Hanged for treason of the foulest kind, betraying human nature.
Didn't those who wrote the words that set in stone
The power of a super state believe in people's good, people's great,
None of which I see? Yet they are, they really are the building blocks
That house us all, foundations which we've placed to mark our course,
And no wind, earth or fire will ever shift them from their place,
The rock of all our souls. This is mankind's greatest good,
His tendency to live, survive and understand what ails and what aids.
This and this alone will be my vision, that my race is noble,
Full of grace and ever faithful to itself until the end.
There, that is a pleasant dream.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Loss - Analysis

Yesterday, I left you with my poem Loss. It wasn't the first piece of verse I ever wrote but it is part of my juvenilia and as such contains words, sentences, even sections perhaps which could otherwise have been improved upon, or simply left out. Here it is again:

The rift grows between us. Why I cannot say,

How I cannot tell, but onwards, ever onwards

To infinity beyond, swells this void of separation.

Engulfed by funereal dark we lie together,

Whilst the ashen plane of our numbstruck love

Falls headlong into the grave. I just don’t understand.

For months we were as two as one, enjoying all we shared,

But now this drift cremates our peace entire,

And the light of a million stars is nothing save a shade,

Grey dimness through the filter of my sight,

Gobbling in wake the nabbing trawl of joy’s own catch.

We were, we were, we saw each other whole,

I brought you up, you did the same, we took ourselves on high,

We held each other close, we breathed each other’s sleep and dreams,

We talked the talk unguarded, all barriers worked clear,

We basked in glow, we walked in step, we lived and worked in fere,

All thoughts directed to ourselves, our hopes, our plans, our future.

 

No longer. This is the end, we both feel it,

Together, apart, and the distance between those stars is nothing but a ramble,

A short hike through the filter of my thoughts,

Compared to what falls between us.

Even enemies are as friends against the gulf which lies between,

For no bind of faith, intimacy, or promise lies with them,

No tender bond, torn apart by ending’s hands,

And thrown upon us where we rest.

Now the ever-growing footfall of our turbulent archivist,

Suffusing dignity and state, runs through my mind,

Plucking passages of past happiness to place before me,

And I screw my eyes tight shut, though still I see you laughing, crying, talking,

Your whispers sounding even as you sleep beside me.

How will I bear this loss? I know I will live without you,

And in time I will forget, but before then must be days of pain

When what I’ll be is you, living in your soul, wondering how you cope,

What you think, where you are, stretching our elastic taut over the void

Until it snaps, and we’re no longer joined by anything save memory

Of our gentle tie, the easy knot of a good time once past.

Now I must sleep, get ready to mourn my loss.


The whole poem is mouthed, understood or written by the persona who is contemplating the end of his relationship with someone even as he lies in bed next to her. She is sleeping, but he is awake and tormented - matters have deteriorated such that he feels there is very real 'rift' between them both, and that this is getting broader. 

There follow two and a half lines of weak language to try to describe this before the words 'swells this void of separation' I think emphasise the severity of the situation with its image half-forming in the reader's mind, quickly followed by the language of death, 'funereal dark', 'the ashen plane', the 'grave' themselves qualified respectively by other vocabulary, 'Engulfed', 'numbstruck love', 'Falls headlong'.

I don't want to go into too much linguistic detail this early in the blog but I hope the above paragraph shows the poet's mind at work, even in his infancy of craft, joining, linking and trying to outline through choice of words the central aspect of the poem which is of course its title, Loss. Much of this occurs unconsciously as I write, but I am indebted to John Donne for the idea for this verse as he once wrote a poem in which he was enjoying the affections and comfort of his partner so much that when the sun came up in the morning to rouse them from bed he told it to clear off! Of course, my own effort is of much sadder experience in this regard.

If you look further, the language of death continues, 'cremates', 'shade', 'Grey dimness' before I have enough of it and rewind to those early, happy days with this lady. 'We were, we were' is weak again as is the 'We basked in glow...' line but I do like 'we breathed each other's sleep and dreams' and of course 'the talk unguarded'.

Once more, I don't want to overload you in this first exploratory post, so I shall give you some homework! How does that 'talk unguarded' relate to the section on 'enemies' in the next paragraph, and can you see the connection between the two parts mentioning the word 'stars'? Again, this is all happening subconsciously for me until the words are out from the nib of my pen and on the page so if you find it a bit tricky to make the join please don't worry as you are not alone - I'm right behind you!

Oh, 'our turbulent archivist' feeding me memories of our time together, but I almost ruin it with the completely redundant 'suffusing dignity and state' - what on earth does that mean!? Luckily, I think I manage to rescue some semblance with the succession of action verbs 'screw my eyes',  'laughing, crying, talking', 'whispers sounding'. I am learning here, early in my craft, the importance of cluster words and images to create effect.

I shall leave the last few lines for you, dear reader, hoping my elastic band image works as you would feel the experience of breaking up with someone though retaining that 'gentle tie' and 'easy knot' some time afterwards, and of course that word 'void' which takes us all the way back to the third line of the piece; encirclement of beginning and end of the poem is something I am also learning at this early juncture of my apprenticeship, 'mourn' in the final line further example so and that in 'sleep' again referenced earlier.

Tomorrow, I'll talk a little bit more about the background to this poem (though my then girlfriend's name will remain mine!) and show how such deep sense of loss led me to start having visions before going on to question the very nature of my soul itself...      

Monday, October 12, 2020

Loss

This is a companion blog to my author website which can be viewed over at:


Whichever way you landed here, I welcome you to a series of posts which I hope may afford you greater understanding of my book, my poetry and where both came from, my mind!

I exclaim because in sailing close to that faculty of mine I'm afraid we enter some pretty choppy waters, for when I was in my late teenage years I grew ill with a malady of the psyche which has taken me just over two decades to assimilate and understand fully.

But assimilate it, I have. Understand it, I do. And do you know where it all begins, this madness? Well, for me as with many other youngsters who for the first time experience romantic love, it is simply that sense, feeling, concomitant pain of Loss...

The rift grows between us. Why I cannot say,

How I cannot tell, but onwards, ever onwards

To infinity beyond, swells this void of separation.

Engulfed by funereal dark we lie together,

Whilst the ashen plane of our numbstruck love

Falls headlong into the grave. I just don’t understand.

For months we were as two as one, enjoying all we shared,

But now this drift cremates our peace entire,

And the light of a million stars is nothing save a shade,

Grey dimness through the filter of my sight,

Gobbling in wake the nabbing trawl of joy’s own catch.

We were, we were, we saw each other whole,

I brought you up, you did the same, we took ourselves on high,

We held each other close, we breathed each other’s sleep and dreams,

We talked the talk unguarded, all barriers worked clear,

We basked in glow, we walked in step, we lived and worked in fere,

All thoughts directed to ourselves, our hopes, our plans, our future.

 

No longer. This is the end, we both feel it,

Together, apart, and the distance between those stars is nothing but a ramble,

A short hike through the filter of my thoughts,

Compared to what falls between us.

Even enemies are as friends against the gulf which lies between,

For no bind of faith, intimacy, or promise lies with them,

No tender bond, torn apart by ending’s hands,

And thrown upon us where we rest.

Now the ever-growing footfall of our turbulent archivist,

Suffusing dignity and state, runs through my mind,

Plucking passages of past happiness to place before me,

And I screw my eyes tight shut, though still I see you laughing, crying, talking,

Your whispers sounding even as you sleep beside me.

How will I bear this loss? I know I will live without you,

And in time I will forget, but before then must be days of pain

When what I’ll be is you, living in your soul, wondering how you cope,

What you think, where you are, stretching our elastic taut over the void

Until it snaps, and we’re no longer joined by anything save memory

Of our gentle tie, the easy knot of a good time once past.

Now I must sleep, get ready to mourn my loss.