Paintings and Flowers

I saw your paintings, and your flowers,

and I remembered when,

for just a second,

I had not lost hope.

When my long closed eyes

felt a hint of light,

when I felt at long last

my dreams could take flight,

no longer trapped in the past,

with me shrinking behind my disguise.

At times I feel I cannot cope,

yet I have always known, when troubles beckoned,

fresh hopes would follow them.

~

And I am lost

in the beauty

of the paintings

and the flowers.

~

Raindrops on petals, and

art in rusting metals,

fields bursting with colours, and

pictures of never heard album covers,

urban streets, and

tempting retreats,

solitary blooms, and

graffiti ravaged rooms,

the detail of an insect’s eyes, and

infinity found in starry skies,

peaceful scenes of quiet seas, and

poplars leaning in a breeze,

an instant of a bird in flight, and

eternity captured in the camera’s light.

~

And I am lifting in the wind, with the birds in the air,

slowly drifting, I let go, I am free of my care,

swirling through the colours as the land beneath me passes,

twirling with the swallows over fields of waving grasses,

turning to the treetops that look tiny from so high,

churning through the troubled air and spinning through the sky.

~

I cannot change the winds that blow,

to where they take me, I cannot know,

music seeps into my mind,

my worries now lie far behind.

~

I accept control

is beyond my powers.

~

And I dissolve

in the world

through the paintings

and the flowers.

Maybe We Are Alone

The sapphire sky above seems endless,

and sometimes we forget

the vast that lies beyond.

The atmosphere, a fragile film,

the skin upon our pond.

~

Lying still with open eyes,

in dark and windless nights

we listen to the silence.

Our earth is flinging through a void

of blackness, cold and violence.

~

Out there, we feel, we sense, some place,

gentle, warm, like here,

too far to contemplate.

A people there may also feel

alone to face their fate.

~

Are they just one more shining point

of glittering millions sprinkled

through the universe?

A fabric of emerging life,

the cosmos as it’s nurse?

~

We free our minds, and theorise,

we do some maths and, yes,

there must be many more?

It could be true, and yet we know,

we cannot be so sure.

~

Colossal space, of fleeting time,

we like to think is home

for others who we’ll find,

a seminal discovery

for all of humankind.

~

But in our shifting dreams, we change,

we wonder whether we

could be here on our own.

In fathomless space, we could really be

one light, of life, alone.

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Swept Away

I sometimes feel

swept away in a river,

arms flailing, trying to stay afloat,

drawn down and away

from the bank

where soft grasses

and small flowers

drift past, as my body passes

rolling gently,

impotent in its inundating powers.

~

I cannot see.

There could be a kindly tree

dipping a branch where my weak arms could catch it

and clasp, catching my breath,

ready to climb

up through the rushes

and fall on the ground.

Or, as evening hushes,

night sinking,

I may disappear in the widening water without a sound.

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The Bee

(A poem from childhood)

A mile from land, a mile at sea, with gently heaving sails,

a yacht sailed on with water trickling underneath the hull,

the water’s glare’s so strong it’s stronger than the sun at sea,

and in that lonely moment, suddenly, was it a gull?

Some wondering thing, a fragment from another world, a bee!

A mile from land, a mile at sea, sky streaming white mares’ tails,

a solemn, melancholy bee that followed unknown trails.

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‘Bubble, World’: An Adventure Exploring Poetic Technique!

Preamble

Welcome to the second post in the ‘adventures’ series where I discuss some of the techniques used in one of my poems.

If you enjoy the poem on first reading, I hope this will add interest and perhaps act as a catalyst to further enjoyment on subsequent readings. After all, I think if you do like a particular poem (no promises!), then the first reading will usually only give an initial hint of the appreciation and enjoyment you may find from revisiting it.

The post starts with a ‘First Reading’, then explores selected aspects. It does not aim to provide a complete analysis, but instead just to give a flavour. Its focus is on the concept of shape. It then finishes with a ‘Second Reading’ so you can (hopefully) enjoy the poem again, mull over the techniques discussed, think about others that were not, and see what if any feelings the poem invokes for you.

First Reading

Milky cirrus slowly spoil the blue.
Beneath, a gentle, chill, foggy air,
Caressing breezes brush our concrete honeycomb.
Behind portrait windows, we forget our nature there.

Dazzling white, dull grey, and darker down,
Clouds falling weight toward the buzzing ground,
Branches lift upon the hills where horses stare.
Rectangles light our faces, a landscape without sound.

Light drops, sky darkens, soft, electric light,
An angry horn, a walker jumps and frowns,
Hardly reaching our muffled conscious, within our block,
A thousand workers, in a thousand buildings, in a thousand grotty towns.

With one dusty cider, beneath a distant tree,
A tired bike leaning in its mellow shade.
Soaking in a balmy air,
One man remembers, there,
As shadows fade.

Beneath the globe, a tropic night, a heavy ocean,
Where dark fish glide through swirling tides and shimmer
Briefly, slipping to the deep
Below, beyond the faint stars’ wavering glimmer,
Where mountains of water shift in cold and silent motion.

Morning. Light.
Shells. Crabs. Sand.
Warmth. Colours. Splendour. Blues.
Pacific waves, dark walls, white splashing hues.
Unseen? To come? Gone? Empty, empty land.

Towering clouds stretch to the stratosphere,
Where splashing rain has washed away the grey.
Drinking sunshine, touching wind, with watery eyes,
People laugh and shout, and are swept with the leaves in disarray.

Buildings proud, and clean, and strong, and tall,
Turning eyes see all, and all anew,
Fresh trees waving, waters dancing, voices sparkling,
A rainbow in a raindrop, iridescence in the dew.

Three hundred swimmers lined up on the sand,
The signal goes, we charge into the sea,
Thrumming voices, icy, scintillating high.
And as I drift upon my back, I gaze into the sky.
I know, when grey skies come, I’ll know it’s fine, no longer wondering why.

Shape

Metrical Shape

The poem has nine stanzas, and these really divide into three sections of three stanzas each.A structure is provided by the count of accented syllables in each line, which is as follows:

5566 5566 5567 65432 65456 23456 5567 5566 55679

The following is a graphical representation of this metrical shape:

The first two stanzas define a pattern of 5566 which is really an underlying pattern that the first and last three stanzas either conform to or deviate from.

The third stanza deviates by having one additional accented syllable in the last line. One effect of this is to help suggest a division before the next set of three stanzas.

The seventh stanza should have conformed, as the eighth does, to reintroduce the set pattern. However, the additional syllable in the last line emphasizes the ‘disarray’ it describes.

The last stanza initially has a the same metrical shape (in terms of accented syllables) as the third, defining the end of that set of three, but then adds an extra longer line to bring the poem to its reflective conclusion.

The middle three stanzas are all five lines long. The central stanza has a palindromic shape, as does the set of these three stanzas together.

End Rhyme Shape

The rhyming scheme is as follows:

ABCB ABCB ABCB ABCCB ABCBA ABCCB ABCB ABCB ABCCC

Again, this can be represented graphically:

This is a simple and pleasant rhyme scheme that flows through the poem. The ABCCB of the fourth and sixth stanzas is mainly just an extension of the rhyme scheme used in most stanzas, to cope with the extra line. However, a variation such as ABCDC or ABCDB could have been used, whereas this choice also adds an additional rhyme and more harmony.

The only real variations are that the poem ends with a CCC rhyme, and the central stanza has a palindromic rhyme shape (as well as a palindromic metrical shape).The following is a graphical representation of both rhyme (the lower line) and the metrical shape of accented syllables:

Narrative Shape of Imagery

The poem starts describing ‘Milky cirrus’ which can gradually transform a sky and may portend an approaching warm front. The clouds lower and light falls as the front approaches during the first three stanzas, which are set in the familiar surroundings that form the ‘Bubble’ in which we normally live and work. The light is falling both from the lowering darkening clouds but also as the day draws to a close, hence illumination from ‘soft electric light’.

The central section transports the observer far away in the world, first to the scene beneath a ‘distant tree’, then further to the Southern Hemisphere (‘Beneath the globe’), at sea, at night and indeed deep beneath the ocean. I appreciate that the particular concept of the Southern Hemisphere being further works more naturally for Northern Hemisphere residents! However, if you are resident, or like me have enjoyed spending time and living in the Southern Hemisphere in the past, you might still connect to the sense I sometimes had of feeling at the same time at home but also in a place more distant and remote than the typically more populated land masses of the Northern Hemisphere.

The imagery of transitioning to evening then night continues, and generally of increasing darkness which is greatest at night and in the ocean depths in the centre of the poem. The sixth stanza introduces morning and a return to light, in a beautiful location but with no one there, and in some ways may be one of the more mysterious stanzas, which is how I shall leave it.

The seventh stanza returns to familiar surroundings, but a cold front has now passed through (while we were away on an imaginary journey), and that same familiar world is now seen from a very different perspective; a fresh, invigorating and collective appreciation of, well, our ‘Bubble’, in contrast to the distant places we may dream of, may one day visit, or may have seen long in the past.

Through this narrative journey, the poem both explores the sense of possibilities of the rest of the world when we are spending our time in one place, but also the possibilities from looking at our home turf in a new light; in short, by shifting our perspectives rather than necessarily our location. There are of course parallels that could be explored; from being someone else or like someone else to new appreciation of self, or from the possibilities of the future or lost times of the past to appreciation of, and not always looking passed, the present.

The final stanza ends very reflectively with a great sense of peace and acceptance, as well as being simultaneously alone in one’s mind but still feeling very much a part of a community. There is a happiness in just being part of that community, not fighting to belong or stay in it, but just being there and being accepted.

Second Reading

Milky cirrus slowly spoil the blue.
Beneath, a gentle, chill, foggy air,
Caressing breezes brush our concrete honeycomb.
Behind portrait windows, we forget our nature there.

Dazzling white, dull grey, and darker down,
Clouds falling weight toward the buzzing ground,
Branches lift upon the hills where horses stare.
Rectangles light our faces, a landscape without sound.

Light drops, sky darkens, soft, electric light,
An angry horn, a walker jumps and frowns,
Hardly reaching our muffled conscious, within our block,
A thousand workers, in a thousand buildings, in a thousand grotty towns.

With one dusty cider, beneath a distant tree,
A tired bike leaning in its mellow shade.
Soaking in a balmy air,
One man remembers, there,
As shadows fade.

Beneath the globe, a tropic night, a heavy ocean,
Where dark fish glide through swirling tides and shimmer
Briefly, slipping to the deep
Below, beyond the faint stars’ wavering glimmer,
Where mountains of water shift in cold and silent motion.

Morning. Light.
Shells. Crabs. Sand.
Warmth. Colours. Splendour. Blues.
Pacific waves, dark walls, white splashing hues.
Unseen? To come? Gone? Empty, empty land.

Towering clouds stretch to the stratosphere,
Where splashing rain has washed away the grey.
Drinking sunshine, touching wind, with watery eyes,
People laugh and shout, and are swept with the leaves in disarray.

Buildings proud, and clean, and strong, and tall,
Turning eyes see all, and all anew,
Fresh trees waving, waters dancing, voices sparkling,
A rainbow in a raindrop, iridescence in the dew.

Three hundred swimmers lined up on the sand,
The signal goes, we charge into the sea,
Thrumming voices, icy, scintillating high.
And as I drift upon my back, I gaze into the sky.
I know, when grey skies come, I’ll know it’s fine, no longer wondering why.

Final Note

I hope you enjoyed this post?

I enjoy writing and sharing each poem, and that is an objective and destination in itself, but also appreciate any feedback you are happy to provide.

I currently have three ideas circulating as potential next poems, so I’ll be exploring those and hope to have one ready to publish later this month. 🙂

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