2 for Halloween – part 2, “The Ghost’s Lament for His Former Home”

I think it’s been three hundred year
This house has almost fallen down
No one I knew back then is here
Where once was field, now there is town

Once children came and broke the glass
Spooking them helped to pass the time
Then there was that lover and his lass
See, carved upon the wall – his rhyme

What will I do when those beams give
How can I haunt a pile of wood
It won’t be a place for a ghost to live
I may have to go – this time for good

One day I’ll wake to heaven instead of dawn
I hope the spiders miss me when I’m gone

2 for Halloween – part 1, “In the Dark”

In the Dark

You never saw me, did you, there, in the dark room?

I was standing right there, by the window, watching you as you came in and sat on the bed. You looked – how shall I put it? – a little lost.

You took off your jumper and threw it on the floor. I almost went over, to pick it up, tidy it away, but stopped myself. What would have been the use, anyway?

You buried your face in your hands for a long minute. Were you crying? I took a step, the smallest, tiniest of steps, but then you suddenly stood up, and I froze.

You came to the window to look out over the back garden. A distant street lamp shining through the trees cast a complex illumination across your face.

I held my breath, then let it out when you turned away. You never saw me and I was only six inches away. If I had put my hand out and touched your face, would you have felt something?

You fell into bed with your clothes on, tossed and turned for a few minutes, then became still – so still. Until I saw your hand twitch, I wondered.

Now, asleep, I can sit on the bed next to you, and here in the dark, softly, soft as a memory, caress your fine hair with the tips of my fingers.

Deirdre’s Lament

Do you remember how I dreamed of this?
On the shores of Loch Ness, in the days of our bliss
I dreamed of a dove with mead in its mouth
Pursued by a hawk, red with blood from the south
And now you lie beautiful down in your grave
Between your two brothers, whom you couldn’t save

Naoise, oh Naoise my husband, my love
With soft spoken words and the eyes of a dove
Men will remember your sword of bright steel
But your wife will remember how you made her feel
On the shores of Loch Ness, in the days of our bliss
Before that dark night when I first dreamed of this

I was a fair maiden, the world was unknown
When first I espied you, your raven hair shone
And flew like the pennant when men go to war
To meet their sad fate on death’s lonely black shore
Your rode with your brothers, so gallant and brave
Now the three of you, lovely, lie down in one grave

Our story is strange, our story is long
A poet might tell it one day in a song
Might tell of my father, a harper they say
Who foresaw my sad fate and then sent me away
He foresaw how the dove with the mead in its mouth
Would be killed by the bloody red hawk from the south

He foresaw how my laughter and bonny bright smile
Would one day the King of all Ulster beguile
And Conor would send many men to their graves
That a kiss from these ruby red lips he might have
For my smile did the brave men of Ulster make war
And meet their sad fates on death’s lonely black shore

You were my fate, my fairest of fair
The finest of Ireland with raven black hair
You were my fate, and I was your weird
And this bloody black day is the day my Da feared
When the finest of Ireland is laid in his grave
Between his two brothers whom he couldn’t save

But you tried to save them, and that was your doom
Now you lie close between them, and yet there is room
I’ll fall down beside you and cross to the Isle
Where the dead men of Ulster may yet see me smile
And there I will find you and there we will kiss
As we kissed at Loch Ness in the days of our bliss

Water of Life (Just give)

Hello friends,

I’m taking part in the Marie Curie cancer care charity 2013 Skinny Dip, on 2nd of June, in the chilly waters of the Firth of Forth! Marie Curie provides care for people suffering from cancer and can use all our support.

If you want to support my mad adventure, please visit my JustGiving page and give what you can:

http://www.justgiving.com/Paul-Milne-skinnydip2013

To learn more:

http://www.mariecurie.org.uk/en-GB/events/Skinny-Dip/

In grateful humility, I offer a poem of thanks:

Water of Life

Dark water floods my dreams
Erasing familiar things of life
Nothing now is what it seems
No more gentleness, or strife

I wade into the water, bare
Feel it compass me entire
Nothing hidden, all is there
And even submerged, the fire

Cannot be extinguished
A lesson I’ve yet to learn
The ordinary, the distinguished
All seek to join, and yearn

Yearn for the connection that the darkness brings
Where the waters soothe, and the mermaid sings

 

A Perfect Moon

A perfect crescent moon in the frozen western sky
The Goddess smiling over the rugby pitch
A laughing moon, a moon to make you cry
A moon to make you spread your wings and fly

All this moon lacks is a wicked, wicked witch
Dangling a shapely leg among the stars
Or a  wolf running through the woods to find his bitch
And pausing to howl, unearthly, eldritch

A frozen puddle beside a hulking car
Glitters, frost etched like a poem in runes
A jewel that even floodlights cannot mar
And more eloquent than this poem by far

The sound of children laughing, ancient tune
Running up the pitch to score a hard-earned try
A moment like an oasis beside an arid dune
Children laughing, playing beneath a perfect moon

Reflection on a brief flurry of snow

Snow falls, and melts on touching ground
In a moment the air is clear and bright again
In a moment I’ve lost what I had found
It will come again, but when?

Elsewhere the snow lies crisp and deep
Elsewhere the icicles hang hard
I don’t know which clothes to cast, which to keep
What to rejoice in, what discard

Only looking back can choices be confirmed
Too close, too close now to know for sure
In the grave can consequences be unwormed
But til then our ignorance is pure

Pure as the snow or the wind’s scouring sound
Pure as a muddy footprint in frozen ground

Mid-January

Feeling wabbit and a little lost
As day slips by day and night follows night
Waiting for winter’s first real frost
Waiting for Imbolc and Candlemas light

Waiting til waiting becomes a lost cause
And action becomes the only choice
And creation seems to breathe and pause
Before singing out with gathering voice

A song that breaks the binding spell
Chains fall away, dissolve in rust
Where we go next no one can tell
But we will go because we must

Living moves us through each ticking breath
And we move when falling into death

Sub-Liminal

Beneath the foam our footprints smoothed away
Above the line the evidence is clear
We walked, we paused, we ran on such and such a day
Below the line our lives just disappear

Stolen by time’s unyielding tide
That washes every mark to make the sand pristine
As if memories are dirty marks it’s best to hide
And better soon forgot once seen

Birds leave no wingprints in the air
Why then should my prints persist in sand
Time and nature never use the concept “fair”
You see the world renewed at every hand

King, beggar, child and crone alike are all washed out to sea
And love only lasts as long as memory

paulmilnepoetry:

This is a magnificent riposte, very clever and very true.

Originally posted on newsrealpoetry:

Excuse us, Mr Grey,

We’d like to have a word.

All this ‘Mummy Porn’ you’ve spawned,

Is really quite absurd.

Fifty Shades of fear -

There’s no need to domineer.

 

Since when was bruising girls alright?

Bed partners should be equal.

What a load of literary shite:

Won’t bother with the sequel.

Fifty Shades of bin the whips -

There’s other ways to get your kicks.

 

This craze for sub-dom sex

Is really just insanity.

It makes our bottoms sore,

And causes expletive profanity.

Fifty Shades of erotica -

Leaves us needing arnica.

 

Despite the cash & private jets,

Egoistic bondage is bestial & mean.

Nipple clamps do nothing for us:

You can keep your sado’ dream.

Fifty Shades of all f***ed up,

We’d make you tear that contract up.

 

A man that makes us laugh

Is all it takes to get it right.

Loving arms and honest eyes,

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The Windhover by Gerard Manley Hopkins

If I could write a poem 1/10th as fine as this one by Gerard Manley Hopkins, I would die happy.

The Windhover

To Christ our Lord

I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-
  dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
  Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
  As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
  Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
  Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

  No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
  Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89)


Notes

Meaning

A very quick summary explication of the poem – my take on it anyway. It can be a bit tricky to understand since Hopkins liked to use words for their sound as much as their sense and was not beyond making up words to fit a line (“sillion” meaning a ploughed furrow, for example, from the French “sillon”).

The first octet is about seeing a glorious kestrel (windhover) riding the morning air and “rebuff[ing] the big wind”. Watching its easy mastery of flight, the poet’s heart, that was “hidden” or depressed, is stirred.

In the first verse of the sextet, that stirring of heart then causes the worldly appearances that mask the glory of Christ to break (“buckle”); Christ’s “fire” then shines through into this heart. In other words, seeing the bird makes the poet look up, and in looking up sees beyond himself and the world into heavenly rapture. We know he’s talking about Christ because the poem is dedicated “to Christ our Lord” and the the poet uses this verse to directly address him — “the fire that breaks from thee … O my chevalier!”

The second verse of the sextet goes on to say that it’s no wonder that something as magnificent as the windhover should reveal a shining inner reality, because even something so humble as pushing a plough down a furrow makes the dull iron shine, and even dark embers falling and breaking open reveal a flash of intense light and colour. So why shouldn’t the poet also see Christ in “kingdom of daylight’s dauphin”?

Language and rhyme

This poem is a lesson in boldness in the use of language, rhyme and meter. He uses what’s known as “sprung” meter which counts beats in a line, but not syllables. He also uses accent marks (“shéer plód”) to make sure certain syllables receive emphasis.

He also finds necessary rhymes in the centre of phrases. So often you see budding poets ending each line in a phrase. The sign of a mature modern poet is running a phrase onto the next line. Hopkins even breaks a word to find a necessary rhyme in the very first line “king-/dom”. In fact, most of his lines break mid-phrase, with one or two exceptions. This gives a more natural language feeling to the poem.

Try reading it out loud – it’s superb to say the outrageous words he uses.  He loves alliteration, which adds a luxurious richness to the natural rhythms of the piece. It reads easily because of the sprung rhythm, but the choice of vocabulary makes it sing.

I’m giving meaningful presents this Christmas

paulmilnepoetry:

Sounds like a thoroughly decent idea.

Originally posted on ruleofstupid:

Hello folks.

I’ve been advised by my medical team that my Blog changes direction so often and so quickly that I should provide neck-braces! I can’t afford them, so I can only beg: please don’t sue me for whiplash. I am very poor!

Panda get's into the Christmas spirit

Panda get’s into the Christmas spirit

This is not love poetry, political spleen or ridiculous advice on writing, criminality or homelessness. This is my other arm (yes, I have unusual jumpers) known as Company for Christmas.

I’m trying to do something lovely for people who will find themselves alone this Christmas. It requires no money and only a fraction of your time! It may even earn you some Blog traffic.

You can help by simply reblogging this post. Job done.

If you want, you can also read this post and offer advice, thoughts or even volunteer to help out. No matter what, it can be as…

View original 452 more words

Staten Island – 34 Days After Sandy

paulmilnepoetry:

Just in case anyone thought Sandy was all over.

Originally posted on Jenna Pope Photography:

I have been following the cleanup of New Dorp Beach, Staten Island since about a week after Hurricane Sandy hit. I’ve seen this neighborhood transform since then. First there was piles of trash in the streets – people’s belongings that were ruined from the flooding – so much that you could barely walk down the street. The first piles of trash were cleaned up within a few days thanks to the hardworking department of sanitation workers and volunteers who came to help. Then people had time to sit back and assess the damage to their homes… after which many, if not most of them, began to gut their homes. Carpet, dry wall, insulation, everything is now being torn out of these homes due to flood damage and mold. Although power has been restored to the neighborhood and the street lights are back on, the homes now have to be inspected…

View original 631 more words

Pedantry

You know you are a pedant when you read blogs with poetry and prose of the utmost beauty but are still disappointed when someone misspells a pretty common word or uses “you’re” when they mean “your”.

I know I am not exempt. But please do let me know if I’ve done something incorrect, even if you think it’s petty. To me, it’s not.

paulmilnepoetry@gmail.com

What about you – would you like to be told (privately ideally to spare blushes) if I spot a boo-boo in your blog post?

I read your letters bound in box last night

I read your letters bound in box last night,
and charted empire’s rise and swift decline;
the first with purple ink and blinkered sight,
declaring all your futures to be mine.

So full of news, and views, and words of love,
with heady scent of lavender and rose,
our flag of love flew high in blue above,
in winds of poetry and deathless prose.

But how at last we weakened in the van,
as frontiers buckled, shattered, fell;
the horde of doubt grew strong, and over-ran
Abandoned heart, left empty lifeless shell.

These war dispatches, written long ago, grown cold:
where is that soldier now, once passionate and bold?