Ancient ice

‘The Ice Fiord’ – Greenland Photo: WHB …2008

ancient ice
increasingly
encircles
as we move
silently
with stealth
into the ice fiord
hesitantly making a
zig-zag passage
towards the unstable
terminus
of the glacier
as it erodes
into the ocean’s edge

increasingly
smotheringly
enclosed by
walls of white and blue
immense
ridge-flanked
jagged-backed
menacingly still
a maze through which
the miniscule craft
threads a passage
towards the minotaur
the glacier’s lowering face
as it crumbles
tumbles
its fronting phalanx
fragmenting
with the occasional
sudden grinding cracking
turmoil
of yet another frozen offshoot
adding to the welter
the crowded pack of
new-born creatures
as the ice mass breaks and
calves
to join the myriad
of off-spring
in the ice ocean

Tu Fu

Tu Fu ( or Du Fu), who was born in Gongyi in 712 A.D., was one of the foremost poets of the Chinese Tang dynasty. He and Li Bai, are normally thought of as the greatest of all Chinese poets. He died in Changsha, China, in 770 A.D.

I print below, two of his poems, both, as the majority of his poems,  exemplify his intense relationship with nature, wildlife, and with the seasons, even amidst the turmoil of the times in which he lived.

(Both designs are my own pen and wash drawings in an attempt at capturing a Chinese style.)

A Spring View

Though a country be sundered, hills and rivers endure;
And spring comes green again to trees and grasses
Where petals have been shed like tears
And lonely birds have sung their grief.
… After the war-fires of three months,
One message from home is worth a ton of gold.
… I stroke my white hair. It has grown too thin
To hold the hairpins any more.

A View of Taishan

What shall I say of the Great Peak? –
The ancient dukedoms are everywhere green,
Inspired and stirred by the breath of creation,
With the Twin Forces balancing day and night.
…I bare my breast toward opening clouds,
I strain my sight after birds flying home.
When shall I reach the top and hold
All mountains in a single glance?

The HARE

‘The Hare’ . . . Watercolour – WHB : 1987

In his refuge

As the sun sets

The hare

Waits;

Dusk

Is its hour, 

Its time to brave

The beagle’s

Bark and

Bitter bite

To leave his form

And risk

Life again –

For

Continuity. 

The Morning Sun

 
Morning Sun’ … Pen & Wash – WHB. 2017

When the morning sun

Burns through the dusk

Of the night’s demise

And at last

The backside of the night

Is breached

A new day is born

And morning introduces its prospects

Promising a fresh start

A renewal of hope

Countermanding

Yesterday’s disappointments

And the night’s terrors

Now bringing a sense of peace

A stillness

Allowing strength to gather

And defy the uncertainties

Of a new day.

THE LYNX

‘The Lynx’ … Pen & Wash – WHB 1992

THE LYNX

A wildcat
bobcat
Canadian Lynx;
hungry
luminescent eyes
pierce the grasses
as,
crouched in the undergrowth,
I stalk my prey.

Throbbing,
from black-tipped
triangular ears
to black-tipped
stubby tail,
with the
intensity of my need.

Prowling,
seeking hares,
favourites,
but any small mammal,
a life for a life
to keep me alive.

Will it happen tonight?
will my own world end first?
either way
a solution.
Nature’s resolution.

.Lynx … Pen – WHB: 1983

NORTH CAPE … A Cinquain

The steep cliff of  NORTH  CAPE  (or Nord Kapp), in Norway, is often referred to as the northernmost point of Europe. There is some contention about this, according to how this is defined.  However, the North Cape is the point where the Norwegian Sea, part of the Atlantic Ocean, meets the Barents Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean.  The midnight sun can be seen here from 14 May to the 31st of July. The sun reaches its lowest point here from 12:14 – 12:24 a.m. during those days.

North Cape is inside the Arctic Circle.  On a visit there in 2002, I took the photograph below of a Mother and Child statue, where the child is pointing Northwards towards the Pole, still over 1000 miles away.

Based on this scene, I wrote the following verse, in the poetic format of a cinquain.

REACH OUT
AT THE NORTH CAPE.
POINTING THE WAY HOMEWARD?
NO; HE’S POINTING TO THE NORTH POLE;
WORLD’S END.

Cinquain: a short, usually unrhymed, poem consisting of twenty-two syllables distributed as 2, 4, 6, 8, 2, in five lines. It was developed by the Imagist poet, Adelaide Crapsey, who was born in 1878, the third child of an Episcopal clergyman. She graduated from Vassar College, returning to her high school boarding school, Kemper Hall, to teach literature and history. A few years later, while teaching a course entitled, “Poetics: A Critical Study of Verse Forms” at Smith College, she began a study of metrics which led to her invention of the cinquain as we know it.

In its simplest dictionary definition, a cinquain is a poem of five lines. Crapsey’s cinquain was more specific, a poem of five lines with a specific syllable count of 2-4-6-8-2, usually iambic. The ideal cinquain for Crapsey was one that worked up to a turn or climax, and then fell back. Similar to the “twist” that often occurs in the final couplet of a sonnet, a cinquain’s “turn” usually occurs during the final, shorter fifth line or immediately before it. Thus, the momentum of a cinquain grows with each subsequent line as another two syllables, usually an iambic foot, is added bringing the poem to a climax at the fourth line, falling back to a two syllable “punch line”.

There are several different forms of the Cinquain.    For more information on this, see the ‘Shadow Poetry’ website at:  Cinquain

The Great Orme

‘Dawn on the Great Orme’ … Pen & Wash – WHB – 2017

THE GREAT ORME

In the dewy dawn
Atop the Orme
Pen y Gogarth
Viking Sea Monster
Proud promontory
Welsh trees

Swept
By Irish winds
Farmer
And sheepdogs
Treading
The Trust’s territory
Toiling to
Keep faith with
Our heritage
Husbanding
The headland
Midst these
Stalwart
Tenacious
Welsh warriors
Bowed
But not defeated
Forever
Battling
Tempting
The wind’s torment
All
Inherent
Parts of
This heroic

The Great Orme (Pen y Goggarth in Wesh), named originally by the Vikings as ‘Sea Monster’, is a massive limestone headland which dominates the view from Llandudno on the North Wales coastline.  It is a wildlife paradise, now designated as a National Country Park and as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Heritage Coast Its varied features include rich heathland, limestone grassland and woodland, sheer sea cliffs, habitats which support flora and fauna unique to this area.  Rarely seen choughs . and the very rare spiked speedwell are found here, as well as the silver-studded butterflies, which can be found only here on the Great Orme.  It is the home also to the fearsomely-horned wild Kashmir goat, as well as a large flock of sheep.

The National Trust has recently acquired Parc Farm here and its grazing rights across the headland.  A tenant farmer has now been installed here to oversee the protection of the Great Orme’s fragile landscape and the threatened rare plants, insects and wildlife for the future.

Thoughts on a Dead Leaf

It fell
Green life
Extinguished
Time passed
Slowly
It diminished
To its scaffolding
Intact beauty still
New life
Surviving
In the skeleton
Beneath the skin
Revealing the grace
Which had upheld
Its existence
Its structure
Naked now
Spine-bold
Ram-rod straight
Not dead now
Nor even dying
Instead
Skin shed
A statement
Of creation’s power
Holding its tendrils
Steady
In firm formation
Awaiting its
Next chapter

Not yet shredded
Not yet dust
This tomography
Call it a CAT scan
Delving into
Nature’s
secret world
Revealing
The truth
Of whence
Its green strength
Derived

Thus
As our own surface
Erodes
Do we achieve
The same beauty?
Do we secrete
Analogous
New life
Beneath the old?
We leaves
Fallen from life’s tree
Shrivelled
Our essence revealed
In our skeletal remains
Proud-structured
Until
The next stage
And eventual
Severance
From what we have been
Transmogrified
To further service
In replenishing
New life forms
Our fruition in
The new spring’s bloom
Blossom and leaves

There has to be beauty
In death
As in life
Decay
Does not doom us to death
Rather
There is a beauty in death
The leaf ceased to be
A leaf
But became
Something else
And its beauty remained
It merely
Continued
Into a transmuted life
Its fate
As our own
To be
Continued existence

For death is but a metaphor
For new life

All photographs . . .  by WHB – 2016

‘CAGED’ – William Blake … 1757-1827

‘Caged Beauty’ … Pen&Ink – WHB – 1981

FROM: ‘ Auguries of Innocence’

BY . . . William Blake

“ . . . A Robin Redbreast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
A dove house fill’d with doves and pigeons
Shudders Hell thro’ all its regions.
A Dog starv’d at his Master’s Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State.
A Horse misus’d upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fiber from the Brain does tear . . . ”

William Blake … Poet & Artist  … 1757-1827

LANGUOR

Bruton, Somerset . . .  Pen & Wash – WHB – 2016

Contentment suffuses the scene
And peace lies softly on the land
Life languishes in its grip
Labour held in thrall to lassitude
Neglectful now of endeavour.

In the calm
Of the midday sun
The farm sleeps on
Parading its contentment
Revealing its accord
With its heritage
By just being there
Seemingly throughout time
Amid the rolling fields
Savouring
The languor of a lazy day
The serenity
Of a sublime summer

The quiet joy of existence
Tells more of peace
Than a thousand pacts
Life lived
In alliance with nature
Endowing us with serenity.