On Writing Poetry

Catching Moments

Lean out the the window. Put your head and shoulders out. Smell the air – as deep as you can – try to get the smell into your soul. Now close your eyes, and think of what that smell reminds you of. Dwell on every memory, happy or sad, trivial or important. It might make you sad – but it is worth it, if you want to enjoy life to the full.

Everyone finds it sad to remember. Why? Because those times are past – and we cannot bring them back. Every sunshiny second of our lives is overhung by a shadow – we know that we cannot keep that second forever – even for an hour, even for a minute. It is gone now.

I believe poetry is about capturing those moments that go by so fast – and keeping them on paper. As Shakespeare said:

But thy eternal summer shall not fade

Nor loose possession of that fair thou ow’st

Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade

While in eternal lines to time thou grow’st.

So long as men can breathe and eyes can see

So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

You can perhaps capture a fraction of the moment in a photo, because the photo will remind you of the real time as it lives in your memory. But you can use poetry to give the moment a life of its own, a life that does not lean on your memory for support. To some extent you can use prose to do this, and painting too – but the perfect form is poetry. Poetry is a net for catching moments, carefully woven through history with threads of metre, rhyme and form.

I hate the notion that form somehow confines the mind and stops the poet from expressing their true and individual feelings. Quite the opposite – just as you cannot catch a butterfly in your bare hands, you cannot catch ideas without some sort of a net – if possible, a carefully designed net. I daresay that you could design a form for yourself, but it would be a long and laborious process, like weaving a butterfly net by hand. And why start from scratch, when poets from Ancient Greek times to today have been doing the work for you?

I believe it is not being cliched to use old forms. Because each captured moment is individual and different, your poems will be individual and different. Form only helps to bring out that individuality.

I an not yet well enough informed in the different modes of writing poetry myself to say any more here – so I will break off.

Only remember, form and metre – and poetry in general – are necessary tools in the larger and difficult process of catching moments.

A Poem

The First Sun of the New Year

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Not long ago the sun has risen

Late and unwilling from a dark bed,

All clothed in crimson cloud, to be wed

To the washed-out sky. And now, it is up.

First it touches the chimney, till it glows

Warm red against the pale, and now it’ll expose

By casting its slanting beams,

The grass that yet grows green

Beneath the stiff and silvery frost – and seen

And softly caressed by the sun is her child –

A lonely snowdrop bud, quite faint and mild

And the sun she thaws the frost and leaves her tears.

Sunset

Brightest was the horizon, where the far-off winter trees blended their thin charcoal lines into a black mesh, through which the seared sky was a deep, hot red like the lights that move through the black heart of a fire, and higher up the colour changed – it can hardly be said paled, for the new colour was just as vibrant as ever – to a bright orange-pink, quite startling in its richness, spreading up and up behind the arms of the beech.

The hard clearness of the black silhouettes melted into insignificance as her breath clouded the cold pane, and only the colours blazed through the mist. She was comparing it in her mind to another sunset, one Midsummer’s eve. In Summer, the inclosing trees, now bare and brittle-looking as skeletons, blocked any view of the sunset, and she had to go up'” the lane outside the house to get any view of it. The sky was pale, washed out pearly-grey, the colour of Athena’s eyes, she remembered thinking at the time, and there was no rich fiery glow, as now – but near the horizon the clouds were soft angel pink, spreading out like silken scarves in the wind, though there was no wind, only a perfect stillness, pervaded by the wafting sent of the sweet-chestnuts. Did she long for that Midsummer eve?

Only as the wanderer in a garden where the warm, close smell of roses fills the air longs for the clean scent and the pale foliage of the lavender-garden. Or as the watcher of the great, bold stretch of the eagle’s wings and the curve of the mighty beak longs for the gentle hopping of a little wren upon the doorstep.

Farewell to Autumn

The temperature has dropped with November,  and it is winter air that I step out into in the chilliness of the morning.

A flock of birds, their white under-wings catching the light, cross the expanse of the sky above me. A sky of piercing frosty blue, clear as a cold blade, tempered by the licking flames of the beech branches. Above the glorious radiance of that blaze, life-filled and warm against the coolness of the blue, the ghost of half-moon glides like a tattered piece of delicate tissue paper carried high by the autumn breeze.

The faint silveriness of frost pales the lawn, melting in the long streaks of morning sunshine. A grey squirrel hurries here and there in the leaves, and up above, a little movement that might have been made by falling leaves show themselves, to a close observer, to be made by little tits, darting here and there in the frosty air, in between the golden foliage.

Closer to me, the autumn crocuses are flattened against the grass on which the frost has already melted into clear sparkling droplets, and to my left, the red berries are bright on the yet green foliage of yew and holly (our holly trees always have ripe berries early).All the leaves are gone from the little cherry, except for one or two of speckled yellow, that even now spiral down. In the flowerbeds the flowers and their green leaves have fallen back, leaving only their seed-heads, which stand erect and delicate. And the foliage that remains, the tall purple loosestrife and the ferny leaves of the incense rose on their rich brown stalks, is dappled red and yellow like the trees. In the big bushes of garden cranesbill, a deep blue bloom can yet be sometimes found, hiding under the withering leaves, with a spider’s web suspended from its stalk. Those flowers are some of the last to survive. But over the dried desolation spreads a new growths – some starry flowers, some like red flames and others with pale pink blooms, remembering their native home where it is always summer, spring up in bright clouds of colour.

‘Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,-‘

 

 

 

 

Autumn: Warm Sunlight, Cold Air

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day

 And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

Among the river sallows, borne aloft

Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;

Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft

And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

From Keats,

To Autumn

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Out of our French-doors I can see the spread of the garden – the leaves of the little wild cherry in the foreground glowing powerfully golden-green in the fast dying magic of the late sunshine, and behind it, after the sweep of the green lawn, thinly spotted with the first fallen leaves, the same golden light kindles the branches of the huge Copper Beach, the glorious framing backdrop of our garden.

Only now and then, the light falls so that a string of spider’s web, streaming out in the gentle breeze, becomes visible, shining like a fairy-rope, and likewise the gauze wings of the flying insects that float, dreaming in the beams.

The feeling of the evening is warm and drowsy, so much so that, lulled with the golden light, I am startled by the feeling of the air as I step out onto the warm-coloured stone, patterned with the long shadows of grasses.

For me, the first sign of autumn is the change in the air. Many times, when officially it is still summer, and the leaves cling still to the branch, and look still fresh and green, I only have known that beneath the blanket Autumn stirs.

Because the pastel-soft warmth of the air has changed to a clean-cut, earthy crispness, a well recognized, but yet, I think, under-expressed smell, a smell that, like so many smells, brings back a rush of memories.

Today I have smelt it.

Today I salute Autumn.

How can I wait? How can I wait for Halloween and leaf-fall and the Autumn magic?

Home Again

 

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Me and my brother at the pillars

Hello Everybody,

I am so sorry for the terrible lack of posting during the last few months. I have some excuse – I have been on holiday in Sardinia for a couple of weeks – though that does not really excuse my not posting for a month or so before that.

It does mean, however, that my posts about the holiday – the white sand, rich turquoise water beaches where we spent most of our time, the dry pine forests and green romantic crags, the flapping palms, views of a silver sea, and my being stung by a Mauve Stinger jellyfish! – will now be coming thick and fast.

Today, I am posting about a twilight swim I went on on a beach  next to a roman granite quarry. As the ancient romans loaded the pillars and things they’d carved out of the quarry onto the ship to be taken to Rome, they’d sort them through, and if they found one they’d got wrong they’d just dump it on the beach, so there’s loads of Roman columns just hanging about on the beach!

 

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Those tremendous blocks will never stand on end, tall, tall, as the pillars of heaven, as they were meant to do, never watch the sacrificial service, or hear the bleating cry of the goat killed on the altar, their fate determined by one slip of the sculpture’s hand. Now the years pass by and by, and Rome no longer needs their service, no longer wants their strength, to uphold the great and gilded roof.

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Now, themselves half sunken into waters still and glassy as a temple’s polished floor, rings round them, echoing off again and again from the granite, not hymns to Neptune, but Neptune’s own music, lapping, lapping, forever lapping. No priestess’s skirt shall swish against their hardness, only water, water, ever water.

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It was that hour of evening that goes on from just before sundown, and then from between sundown and dark-fall, when laughter and wind and noise all melt down into a hush.

As the fiery blaze of radiance, seared by the setting sun, subsides to a tender pink in the sky, the elements fall silent, as we fall silent just after something glorious has passed before us.

Whatever the cause, there is a gentleness, subtle but firm, in the air at twilight, and we mortals feel it, and cease our laughter and play in awe. Certainly, I do.

This evening, the sea had fallen still as lake-water about the great blocks of white solidity, so that their reflections are clear as crystal; fallen still over the granite sea-bottom, changing now to fine sand as I come out of the rocks and pillars onto the main beach, smooth and reflective almost as the water where the waves had dampened it, but ruffled beyond by the tracks of the people, nearly all gone now, leaving the beach. Though they were in dry sand and would have been easily smoothed into nothing by one gust of wind, they looked strangely permanent in the stillness of the hour. Yet nothing made by man is permanent – not even those great, forgotten granite pillars. Already the sea is ever wearing them away. Only the awe that they inspire in our hearts is permanent.

As I walked by the last pillar, I broke the mirror-reflection into ripples, rising to catch colour from the pink glow in the sky. There was no sound but the slow, calm liquid noise of my wading. Then, instead of walking along the beach, I began to walk out to see, and, eyes of the last of the pillars, plunged softly into the water, and swam away, the pillars fading into the haze of evening calm.

 

 

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(Note: I just created a new page: My (winning) entry for the Alan Garner Writing Competition of 2016)

My stay in ‘Mona’

Hello!

Sorry I haven’t posted for a while – but luckily it means that there is a series of especially good posts to come – as the reason for it is that I have been on holiday to Anglesey with my parents for a few days, there collecting descriptions for my first proper novel, Speedwell, which is set on Anglesey. I hope soon to create a page on my blog where you can read it. This entry, though, is an account of something which happened on Anglesey.

Eased Heart 

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The untouched sand is dazzlingly smooth – whiter than the sand of the beach behind it, and shaped by the wind unto gentle ripples reflecting the waves of the sea. Somewhere, a sky-lark was singing – and the sound echoed gurgling round the smooth sandhills, seeming all-about and everywhere.

A figure, outlined delicately against the bright paleness of the sand was walking past, her bare feet leaving faint imprints on the light-smoothness. She felt as if, in that moment, she had passed into another unknown world, vast in it curiosities. She stoops to put on her shoes, in readiness for climbing the huge dune that rises ahead – and is not soft with sand, wind-swept, but now unearthly still, like the others, but all a’green with marram grass, and sheets of herb and weed. And the ground about it is green too, for some little space. And all amid the greenery there peeps out a clump of one, two, three little heartsease, smiling up with their little bright faces at the girl. She smiles back, delighted, and stoops to pick one of the heartsease. She then notices other clumps are scattered all about. Some of the laughing, smiling little flowers are of many different shades of yellow – others different shades of blue or of purple, some are of purple, blue and yellow together, arranged in a different way on each flower. There were some that were yellow with a dapple dark purple splash upon each petal. 

She climbs on, panting, up the green slopes of the dune, till she comes to the top, and looks down at a world of dryness, dappled with greenness and patches of sand, marvelling at the whole. The marram grass gave way a little here, baring a crumbling, winding precipice of loose sand on the other side. She flung herself down it, rolling and tumbling amongst the sand, came to a stop at the bottom, and lay looking at the sky, in which floated by, soft and pure white as swan’s down. She felt bright and cheerful – but not as bright and cheerful as the smiling heartsease.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faded Silk

She rose up, and walked, with a tear-stained face toward the cabinet. She lent against it, closing her eyes and letting out long, quavering breaths. Then she ceased to lean, and stood, trembling, while she pulled out a drawer of the cabinet. She reached in, and drew it out, springs of thyme and other herbs falling away as she did so. It was a dress – long and silken, of colours that had clearly once been bright and shimmering – changing in the different lights from green to turquoise to blue – but now it was very faded. She smoothed the folds of silk and felt the gown, reverently, against her cheek. Then she took off her white nightgown, and, as though indulging in a great pleasure, slipped into the faded gown. It was of a soft silk balmy on the skin, and it fitted her perfectly – or almost perfectly – it was perhaps a shade small. The sleeves made her slender arms and waist seem slenderer still, and it hung down in graceful waves from the latter.

She took the band off her soft dark hair so it fell about her, and stepped out into the light of the early morning. The air was cool and dewy, and balmy as the silk of the gown, and her misery was soothed a little by its calmness.

The dew was still upon the shrubs – and she shook some drops onto her hand – dipped a finger in it and spread it, sparingly, upon her face as though it was some rich perfume. She thought of the countless mornings when, as a child, she had risen at about this time or earlier, and come into the garden to bathe her face in the dew and gain beauty for the coming year. She considered how little beauty would do for her now – and thought her child-self foolish in wanting to attain it. Beauty was a poisonous thing – she knew that now. Again she sighed – and little stronger than she had done earlier. Perhaps she would not do what she had come out to do – or not yet.

 

This entry was inspired by the Tennyson poem, Enid – especially the lines;

‘Then she bethought her of a faded silk,

A faded mantle and a faded veil,

And moving toward cedarn cabinet,

Wherein she kept them folded reverently,

With springs of Summer laid between the folds,

She took them, and array’d herself therein,

Remembering when first he came on her,

Dress in that dress, and how he loved her in it … ‘

 

– and also a detail of a picture in my copy of the book.

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Breaking Sorrow 

 

She sat, her legs tucked under her, wrapping her cream-coloured cashmere blanket tightly about her. The trees branched over her, dark in the shadows, but glinting white with frost when a beam of moonlight fell from behind the many enclosing clouds. Tears, inside which seemed to lie worlds – worlds of silver and dark reflected from the real world, but looking different when they lay in those tiny shining drops, fell from behind her closed eye-lids, pale as the frost. Her hair fell in soft waves of shadow about her shoulders and trailed down her back. She sobbed – quietly, but audibly because of the softness all about. She idly picked up a pebble from the ground, and threw it, bitterly, into the pond or small lake the banks of which she was sitting upon. The surface of the water was stilled by shining ice, cold and brittle as the girl’s heart – it cracked into pieces, with a sharp sound that echoed round the clearing and came back to her again. ‘Good, you are broken.’ said the girl ‘Like me.’ she added, softly, lying her head upon the ground with the shivers running through her and looking up at the sky. Clouds hid the moon, and most of the stars likewise – the sky was an abyss of darkness – rarely broken up by any beam of light. She closed her eyes once more, and once more, cried.

The girl awoke to a peculiar yet familiar feeling of – happiness. She opened her eyes – the sunlight was dancing on a surface of  water rippled by a gentle breeze. The air was chill and bracing, but clear. A swan, with soft, pure plumage of a far happier white than the night’s silver frost, by now all gone from the trees, glowed in the brightness. Brightness. Brightness was all around, it filled her soul, her heart – nature’s beauty, nature’s joy – it can put happiness into those most forlorn, most forgotten. She looked about her at the dancing sunlight, at the few pale green leaves that had come on the bare branches of the trees, through which the light shined like stain glass. She had sensed it was the right thing to do, to go out on that night, and to stay there till morning. She was proved right. 

 

 

 

Random writing inspired by pre-Raphaelite paintings

Other bloggers I’ve noticed do this thing of getting random photos off Pinintrest  and writing about them. I love the  idea but have two reasons for not being able to do exactly that – one is that I have no idea how to use Pinintrest  – two, that it is illegal to use other people’s photos. But I have always loved paintings, and felt inspired by them, and I have   e decided to do the same as them but using paintings instead of photographs. I may start to do this all the time and use all sorts of paintings – but this first day I am using pre-raphaelites – there are so many of them and they have inspired me since I was very young. You will find a lot of these ones are John William Waterhouse – and I know the real story behind almost all of them. 

 

Listening

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She laid her head against the crack in the plaster, and listened. Her dark, sleek hair, tied into a silken bunch, was pushed to one side – the lines about her mouth spoke hatred – her brows were drawn together in a slow frown, a realisation, half an acceptance and half a resistance, of sorrow – and all was contorted with regret, bitterness. She averted those eyes, full of a dark flame, which hitherto had been fixed upon the crack – and glanced with coldness, with disbelief, with incredulous bitterness, at a necklace, all freshwater pearls, with little silver balls and pieces of lapis-lazuli between, hanging upon the door. Something in her gaze, her posture, shrunk away. From love? From a knowledge of what she did not want to have a knowledge of? She was intent – unable to draw herself away from the crack. There was determination in her face – in her chin that was slightly put forward – and yet there was hopelessness.

 

A Blue Glass Bowl

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She looked at him, as she raised the bowl to her lips – her gaze pointed and serious – Really? Should I do this? Remember this moment – are you sure we want to go through with this? He nodded slowly. Once more she raised the glass dish – once more she gazed into his face, questioning. Do your realise what we are doing? 

‘I realise,’ he replied – out-loud, unlike her – she had spoken with looks. She glanced at the sea out of the large, rounded window beside her – as though asking the waves what to do. They rolled on, steady, the first like the next. She glanced at the wood of the window pane – it was steady also, and still – of course, it was wood. She glanced down at the liquid in the bowl – it was clear as crystal – from it, unlike from the waves, unlike from the wood, came an opinion. There is was, so clear, so tempting, calling her. She sipped.

 

Wilted

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It was twilight. The last rays of the sun fell dim and golden about – the shadows in the trees were growing darker. Light and shadow made the scene.

In a clearing in the forest, one birch tree shot up, silvery, from a ground scattered with the bright faces of flowers. Beside the birch was a girl. She was dressed in robes as white as the moon, which rose now, thin and fragile looking, for as yet day remained and it had not yet earned full shimmering power over the forest. Her feet were bare upon the flowery turf – a trail of ragged brown hair once soft, hung down her back, and her head was wreathed with a wilted crown of leaves. Her hands were tied tightly to the lower half of the tree, forcing her to bend uncomfortably low. Her eyes were shut – it was as if she wanted to shun the last rays of sunlight, and the brightness of the flowers below – because for her they held no pleasure – for her, a dim veil seemed to hang over all, and to see them there, glinting faintly from behind the darkness, bright and smiling for others to see, but offering no comfort for her, made them seem mocking – and she shut them out. There was suffering in her face – not suffering from the hurting tightness of the chains, nor from the un-comfort of bending low, but from inside. And yet, she seemed resigned to that suffering, as the sun was resigned to its fate of drawing back every night to shadow – and she trusted, not to hope, for hope, like white figures in the distance, had left her – but to sorrow, and put herself in his hands.

Regal Haughtiness

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All turned to the lady. She was standing, richly dressed, in the darkest corner of the room – she stepped forward now. A light smile – more like a mere hint that she was smiling in the inside, than a real smile on the outside, hung about her faintly pouted lips, red as pomegranate jewels. Her eyebrows, light gold as the hair that hung, wispy as faint strips of cloud at sunset, were raised above her pale, smooth eyelids, hiding eyes regally and haughtily cast down. The opal fixed on her high forehead by a black silken string glinted tauntingly. Her expression seemed to say – now, finally, I am looked at – what will they say now? I have not been consulted so far, though all of what they have said depends on me. It is now that my turn to have some power comes. But I will not speak – they may be in suspense a moment longer – t’will do them good. 

‘My Lady -‘ she turned toward him, revealing blue eyes savoured at this moment with a sharpness.

‘Yes,’

‘What do you say?’

The hinting of enjoyment about the corners of her mouth widened. ‘Yes, you are wanting to know that, aren’t you. And I will tell you, by and by.’

The Letter 26eba848dcffcd4236dd993eaa8a923a.jpg

A small voice called – she looked round. In a little brick alcove, sparsely grown with ivy, stood a little girl. She was dressed in a frilled frock covered with tiny rosebuds, and she had curls as bright as the sun and blue eyes. She was wearing a necklace of pale green stones; round her face and her frizzy gold curls was an overly large dairymaid’s bonnet. She held a letter in her hand.

‘Please m’am, here is a letter for you.’ Her blue eyes were trusting and expectant.

The tall girl took the letter out of her hand, and looked it over.

‘For you,’ said the girl ‘read it.’

‘Who sent it? My mother.’

‘I see. Have you anything sharp about you?’

The little girl took off her green glass bead necklace, and handed it to the taller girl.

‘It fastens with a hook,’. The girl stripped the envelope open, and took out the contents. The little one stood on tiptoe in her brown boots to read it. The taller girl nodded, and then took her hand.

‘Come along then.’

 

Cold Glass      72ee88ed72111e3d319f4df0f0fda231

The marble floors were cool beneath her bare feet as she walked down, and the pattern of black and white made her head spin slightly. She moved along softly and noiselessly, through the half light of the hall, and dropped down before the great shiny mirror that stood there, her soft white silks spreading on the floor, showing up snowy against the white check parts of the tiling – and she had thought a moment ago nothing could be whiter than that. Throwing back her head, she ran her fingers through the sweep of ebony black hair that hung down her back, glinting even in that dimness. The air was perfectly still; the only sounds or breaths of breeze were caused by her skirts – but they was icy sounds, icy movements, like the floor, like the cold smooth glass of the mirror. She looked at her reflection; a face of fair skin, with dark eyes beautiful behind half-closed lids, and she sighed, remembering one day. A tear glistened on her cheek – she made no attempt to brush it away, and it fell warm and wet upon her skirts, and she felt glad of its melting warmness. She looked harder at the reflection – one seeing it without knowledge of what it had seen – and endured – would have thought it fair – thought, like her one day, that the owner of it would live to have a true love, one who, perhaps, when lured by her beauty, would notice elegancies of mind also, and for this reason their love would be true. But that reflection would be deceiving them – as it had deceived her so many times.

 

Sea Spray

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She stood, and the wind whirled her dusk blue skirts, shaggy as the waves ahead of her, sending them whipping, wet with spray, against her – her hair red as timber twirled round her head and blew over her face, and she peeped out from between the strands and watched the green-blue waves smash themselves against the sharp cliffs of rock, bringing a great ship with them. She half feared for a moment that the wetness on her face was tears – she could not, would not weep for him – but it was sea spray only, and she gathered her skirts about her and stood shivering against the gail, watching the ship break to pieces in the ragged torrent of waves and sea. ‘Yes, break it,’ she whispered, and felt calm – calm and ready to watch – calmer than the waves, though her heart broke inside her even as they broke against the beach and the rocks – even as the ship splintered in the water. The sea came up and drenched her leather slippers – she pulled them off and stood barefoot on the stones, some rounded, others deadly sharp. ‘I will not shed a tear for him,’ she told herself. A piece of timber washed up on the beach beside her – she grabbed it, and breaking off a piece, enclosed it in the leather purse at her waist. Then, she began to walk out – out into the lashing, thrashing water, boiling with spray and foam, and her skirts were drenched with the straggly slashes of rain and sea. She walked on till she was near the sinking ship, and she called through the noise of the gale. A man steering looked down at her through the spray – and she looked at him, a meaning glance, as the waves crashed down over her. Then the tears fell – and fast.

 

The Taste of Primroses

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He thought back to the days when she had been a young, flower-decked girl, coming with the others to laugh and sing and worship the gods in the forest clearings. He remembered the day he met her – on just one of those rampages with the other girls – he had come with  them being new to the town and wishing to get to know some of the girls.

She turned her fair, blooming face toward him, putting her hands to her head almost protectively, and fingering her soft, thick dark hair adorned with poppies, and the eyes green as the shaded olive leaves of the forest looked seriously and questioningly – a little nervously – into his. She was wearing a loose purple garment that enhanced the faint, delicate pinkness of her cheeks – the expression of her mouth was frail, graceful, quavering; sweet – like the taste of the primroses that grew by the stream. Her voice was like that too. So faint and delicate and sweet.

And now? Where was she now – who was she now? What now were her feelings toward him? He knew the answer to that question – but he would speak it, not even in his own mind – it was too painful a knowledge to be acknowledged as a knowledge – he could not bear to think it. How soft a young creature she had been then – incapable of any hard feelings. And so she might have been still – had not – he slammed his hand onto the table and sighed.

 

Empty

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One by one they came – one by one the golden vases were emptied. Each time, the bearer felt as though her soul was emptied. There were girls in muslins the colour of sea depths – others wore garments of the colour of the olive leaves – others wore mulberry red – some were red haired, other dark haired or gold haired – but yet, all felt the same as the clear water felt into the pot. Then they walked away, carrying the vases upon their heads or shoulders, or in their hands – silent, excepting what must come, and would come.

Till the last approached. She had auburn hair tied loosely up behind her head, and she wore a cloth the colour of woody shadows, hanging gracefully in loose waves about her. She came to the edge of the pot, holding the golden jar ready for pouring – and then, something in her face changed – and she lowered the pot and set it, steadily, upon the floor. The other girls gazed at her, astounded.

‘Desdemona – aren’t you going to put in your share?’

‘No,’ the girl replied, simply. ‘And you are not going to put in yours either,’ seizing the other girl’s water container and pouring the content onto the floor.

‘Desdemona!’

‘Yes.’

‘Why? You know we all have to,’.

‘Why do we have to? Look at that fearful face – those gaping jaws, and through them the water flows, down, down. And likewise will flow your courage, your self-respect. Will you let it happen?’

‘It has to happen.’

Wildflowers

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She was the daughter of the meadow and the countryside. Her hair was the sunlight that streams through the trees, and the darker patches were of the shadows in the forest, and of that substance also were her eyes – dark and flashing as the river waters. Her skin was of the wild roses that tangled her skirts. Her lips were the rose hips that come afterward upon the prickling briar. She was born of nature and she lived by nature. She cared for nobody but the wild animal and the rambling plants. To others she was heartless – she had no heart but what she found in the wild grass of the plains and the soil of the forest. But she was honey sweet as those wild roses – and she had an edge as sharp as the thorns growing upon them.

Guarding her Own

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There she will sit ’till time and time are done’ and there the waves will lap, softly, drawing back to leave the pebbles glistening and shining like unearthly jewels. There ever will she sit, looking out with sea blue eyes tinged with a faint longing, through the smoothed archways in the rock, toward the horizon. The she will sit, guarding what is her own. There she will sit, a’coming of her long, sea-smooth red hair, and singing, with a sound like the whispering waves, and the pebbles, drawn back, and flung, with a sound of thousands, of millions, of eternities. And she wraps it about her – that of the many changing colours of the sea, that that shimmers like the pebbles, and like what is in the silver bowl that she guards for her own – down there, she sits.

Sympathy

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She sits there, upon the harsh rock, because it is what They always expected her to do. She plucks the harpstrings because it is what They always wanted her to do. And ever since she was pearl and coral, lying at the bottom of the ocean, Their wish has been her command. She is one of Them now – and cannot escape, has never wanted to escape. She is a Siren – must be a Siren – alway has been a Siren. She cannot escape now.

She saw the ship smash against the rocks and sink, slowly – what was left of it. And she saw him fall, splashing and tossing into the waves, and come toward her. Still she plucked, and she had always been taught to do – until he grasped the rock, and looked up, hollow eyed, pleading and desperate into her face. He did not know who she was – but he saw her, and knew it was she who had wrecked his companion and the only thing that bore him on and gave him life. And he knew, too, that she could save him, by only reaching out one slender hand, white as sea froth, and pulling him up – and he asked her with his eyes, pleaded with her. She looked down at him, and tasted, as she did so, something she had never tasted before – and she felt as though her heartstrings – something she had never known she had before, would be plucked if she plucked the instrument any more – so she set it to rest on the rock, and gazed down, bewildered, sympathetic. Sympathy did not belong to a Siren, and she could not bear it. She shook her head – she could not. They did not want her to.

(Note: 

The background with the arch in the rock is the same in this picture as in the one before. That is interesting – perhaps it was a real spot which the artist was fond of painting.)

 

Tell me whether you think posts like this should become a regular thing!