TODAY I AM TACKLING A POEM USING THE ‘OTTAVA RIMA’ POETIC FORM.
Originally an Italian stanza of eight 11-syllable lines, with a rhyme scheme of ABABABCC. Sir Thomas Wyatt first introduced the form in English, and Lord Byron adapted it to a 10-syllable line for his mock-epic ‘Don Juan’. W.B.Yeatsnotably used it for his poems “Among Scool Children’and ‘Sailing to Byzantium.’
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
Sedate And ponderous He carries his weight lightly But without pace It is summer work Plying the bank Subject to the weather And his master Apparently contented But perhaps sad Would he rather be elsewhere But what would he know Of elsewhere This has been his life His only life Since brought into this world Delivered as a foal by a mother Who knew only this very same life Tutored on this very canal bank Learning the towpath’s bends Its tricky turns The track ruts to avoid The necessary manoeuvres When hitching up H is purpose in life Why else was he brought into this world He knows his master Trusts and Respects him Always by his side His every command Gentle but firm A tug on the lead A wary grunt They tread the canal bank The towpath to pleasure Other’s pleasure His Pilgrim’s Way The daily round His common task
Broken only at the terminus A half-way respite By the bridge A brief uncoupling A hay bag A nuzzle A few photographs Then the return The narrow boat his carriage Its passengers his charges He carries on Always carries on Trundling his life In peace In tranquillity His boat His harnessed heritage Disturbing the reeds And the ducks only Creating a minor slipstream Before the end Disembarkation Then a brief hiatus Before the ever echoing pattern Repeats itself As do the days And the months Until Darkness descends And time Ceases to exist
This canal ride is offered during the Summer months on one of the last Horse-Drawn Barges in Great Britain. Scheduled rides on the canal boat start and end from the point where the Great Western Canal commences, in Tiverton, East Devon. Details of what is on offer at this delightful site and timetable of the canal trips can be found on the website below . . .
I include below images of just a few of my pen and watercolour sketches of a variety of waterfront scenes in different parts of Europe to which I have travelled. Click on any one to view a slide show of all the images and locations in larger format . . .
In 2010, whilst visiting Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, the largest town (about 8,000 people) in the Outer Hebrides, I came across McNeill’s Bar, or, as it chose to describe itself at the time, ‘McNeill’s Husband Creche’.
I composed the following verse in recognition of the establishment’s attempt to provide succour and support for its wedded male population in their hours of need.