A Dream Enriched

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Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones: ‘The Love Song’

A DREAM ENRICHED

 She came to me
A dream enriched
When I was most in need.
Long summers passed
And she was there
She held my hand
Until with time
My troubles did recede

 And then
When age had bitten back
She gave her love to me
Without a qualm
She took my arm
For she was Spring
As Autumn came
And I was home at last.

 

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RYE, East Sussex, England

[ Photo Gallery # 90 ]

RYE is an English town near the coast in East Sussex.  It was one of the original Cinque Ports and parts of the original walls and town gates, once built to guard against invasions from the French, still remain.  Over the centuries, however, the sea has receded leaving Rye Harbour and the coast of the English Channel about 2 miles (3.2 km) downriver from the town.  In the town centre, cobbled lanes like Mermaid Street still exist lined with medieval, half-timbered houses. The redbrick Lamb House was once owned by writer Henry James. Nearby, the tower of the Norman St. Mary’s Church overlooks the town. 

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Low tide on the River Rother at Rye

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Ancient Rye Mill, reconstructed in 1932 after a fire destroyed much of the superstructure

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Fascinating weather-worn textures in part of the ancient town walls

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Looking uphill along the cobbled Mermaid Street to Lamb House at the top right

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View across the roofs of the town from the roof of St. Mary’s Church tower

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Another view across the roofs of the town from the roof of St. Mary’s Church tower

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View towards the River Rother from the roof of St. Mary’s Church tower

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A Burne-Jones stained-glass window in St.Mary’s Church

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A lovely corner window in the town

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House front near St.Mary’s Church

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One of the ancient town entry gates

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The green plaque is inscribed ‘Radclyffe Hall (1880 – 1943), Novelist, lived here.’

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Death’s Calling Card

A Verse in Spenserian Stanza:

In a Spenserian Stanza each verse contains nine lines in total: eight lines in iambic pentameter followed by a single ‘alexandrine’ line in iambic hexameter. The rhyme scheme of these lines is “ababbcbcc.”  Somewhat morbid, but my own composition in this form is offered below . . . 

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Burne-Jones – ‘Merlin & Nimue’ – detail

Death’s Calling Card

In summer time when light is long to last
And evening stretches far into the night,
Then I am wont to think of times gone past
When life was dear and death was out of sight;
But autumn has arrived and dimmed the light,
That short time left to me now presses hard;
Have I done all the planning that I might,
Allowed myself my faults to disregard,
Updated my résumé, my next life’s calling card?

 

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Penelope Fitzgerald – The Kitchen Drawer Poem

 (Poem No.50 of my favourite short poems)

Kitchen Drawer

‘The Kitchen Drawer’ – Penelope Fitzgerald

THE KITCHEN DRAWER POEM

The nutcracker, the skewer, the knife,

are doomed to share this drawer for life.

You cannot pierce, the skewer says,

or cause the pain of in one place.

You cannot grind, you do not know,

says nutcracker, the pain of slow.

You don’t know what it is to slice.

to both of them the knife replies,

with pain so fine it is not pain

to part what cannot join again.

The skewer, nutcracker, and knife

are well adapted to their life.

They calculate efficiency

By what the others cannot be

and power by the pain they cause

and that is life in kitchen drawers.

By Penelope Fitzgerald

 Printed in @London Review of Books’ – 3rd October, 2002.

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Penelope Fitzgerald (1916 – 2000) was an English Booker Prize-winning novelist, poet, essayist and biographer.  In 2008, The Times included her in a list of “the 50 greatest British writers since 1945”. In 2012, The Observer named her final novel, ‘The Blue Flower‘, one of “the ten best historical novels”.  She also wrote a splendid biography of the Victorian artist Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones.

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The Torch I Carry

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‘The Depths Of The Sea’ (The Lure Of The Sirens’) … Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1881)

THE TORCH I CARRY

I carry a torch for the ocean,
In her relentless swell I am held;
My light will see me to the foreshore
Where vast wave and mild ripple meld.

For though my love’s unrequited,
As I walk on the shore by the sea,
The sight and the sound of her motion
Bring solace and hope back to me.

For when I watch her crescendo
Its beauty and force I admire;
The sigh and the roar of her surges
Are those of a celestial choir.

My heart is in thrall to her passion,
Her awesome breakers I ride;
White horses call me ever forward
To meet the turn of the tide.

And when she is still as a millpond
My senses respond in repose;
My life consummates in devotion,
All yearning brought to a close.

Yes, the lure of the Siren defeats me;
I am snared by her destructive song.

I have given my all to her beauty;
Now only to her I belong.

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Larkin – ‘Love Songs In Age’

(Poem No.36 of my favourite short poems)

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Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones … ‘Chant d’Amour’ Oil on canvas – 1868-87

LOVE SONGS IN AGE

She kept her songs, they kept so little space,
      The covers pleased her:
One bleached from lying in a sunny place,
One marked in circles by a vase of water,
One mended, when a tidy fit had seized her,
       And coloured, by her daughter –
So they had waited, till, in widowhood
She found them, looking for something else, and stood 

Relearning how each frank submissive chord
      Had ushered in
Word after sprawling hyphenated word,
And the unfailing sense of being young
Spread out like a spring-woken tree, wherein
      That hidden freshness sung,
That certainty of time laid up in store
As when she played them first. But, even more,

The glare of that much-mentioned brilliance, love,
      Broke out, to show
Its bright incipience sailing above,
Still promising to solve, and satisfy,
And set unchangeably in order. So
      To pile them back, to cry,
Was hard, without lamely admitting how
It had not done so then, and could not now.

By Philip Larkin

Re-printed from:  ‘Everyman’s Poetry’

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Then Will I Sing

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Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898) … St.Cecilia – Stained Glass – 2nd Presbyterian Church, Chicago

 

When time at last has caught its fearful breath
And I have cause to think again of you,
I will return to our far distant past
And then relive those old desires anew.

For when in trepidation I now pray
For health and strength in my remaining years,
Memories flood back of youthful days
When you and I brushed eyes and shed some tears.

Now, when hearts may meet and lips may touch,
And old less supple bodies bond in bliss,
Now, when you give to me your self in love,
Then will I sing and long remember this.

That youth and age together make a life,
Related sides of but a single page.
This truth becomes at last to us apparent,
Allows our hearts in love to re-engage.

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Stay With Me … A VILLANELLE

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‘The Heart Of The Rose’ … Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones … Oil on canvas – 1889

A  VALENTINE  VILLANELLE

Stay with me to the end of time
Relive with me those joys now past
I want you always to be mine

To be together is no crime
It’s not for nothing I have asked
Stay with me to the end of time

You are my life’s eternal sunshine
To you I will remain steadfast
I want you always to be mine

This poetry for you I rhyme
With you alone I’m not downcast
Stay with me to the end of time

For you alone I give a lifetime
Our love will life itself outlast
I want you always to be mine

To heights of wonder we will climb
And when we reach the top I ask
Stay with me to the end of time
I want you always to be mine

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VILLANELLE

A Villanelle is a nineteen-line poem, usually pastoral or lyrical in content, with only two rhymes throughout, consisting of a very specific rhyming scheme:
 aba      aba      aba      aba      aba      abaa.

The poem’s format is also strictly regulated.  The first and the third lines in the first stanza are repeated in alternating order throughout the poem, and appear together in the last couplet as the last two lines.    

One of the most famous Villanelles is “Do not go Gentle into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas

Notes quoted from:  ‘SHADOW POETRY’ @ . . .   SHADOW POETRY

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A 19th Century Victorian Valentine  – Photo: WHB

DREAMLAND

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Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones … ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ 1871

DREAMLAND

My mind
enfranchised in sleep
liberated from rationality
my unconscious
set free to roam my history.

The blurred narrative
picks and chooses
what it wants to portray
to examine
to reconnoitre.

Personae and locale
juxtaposed
regardless of sequence
of time and of place

A current friend
a past acquaintance
someone who is no one
brought together
and the scene is set.

I wander amongst its passage ways
through its disjointed scenery
meeting both friends and strangers
so unclarified
and yet telling a minimal story
its sequence uncontrolled
unfettered by personal decision
moving on at leisured pace
subject it seems to no control
seemingly governed solely
by its own momentum
no decisions involved in the flow of events
linked by no conscious reason
aware of scenery
of being somewhere half-known
but insensate
unaware of how I feel towards it.

Then,
an arbitrary end
to these inconclusive series of events;
sometimes just a fading;
but at other times
an abrupt cessation
of the out-of-focus story’s flow
an abrupt end
often in mid event.

And I am left with traces
vague recollections of where
indistinct awareness of who
no understanding of why
no connection to past
no sense of a future

Just dreamland
half-remembered
soon forgotten altogether
lost in another time
another life
a parallel reality
or even outside reality
but it must be my reality.

My mind
enfranchised in sleep
liberated from rationality
and conscious executive decision

My unconscious
set free to roam my history.
How that happens to be
to me that remains a mystery.

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The End Of The Line

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Burne-Jones … ‘The Beguiling of Merlin – detail

The End Of The Line

I would say that this is it now
As far as we can go

There never was a future in our love.
I needed you so deeply; it was not the same for you;
With half a heart did you your love bestow.

When I reach out to hold you
Do you welcome my advance?
Do you give to me a sign you understand
How much I need your presence to accept me as I am?
Oh, no! You judge me with that withering glance?

When I say I want you
Do you offer up to me
Your honest love and deepest feelings too?
No, you falter once again in opening up your heart
You hesitate, and claim you must be free?

So with all our quarrels over
Instead of settling down
To that ever loving state that we once shared
We will never have a future when there is no give and take
It’s not worth it just for your enduring frown.

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‘The Beguiling Of Merlin’ by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones … painted 1872-1877 … now in the Lady Lever At Gallery, Liverpool.  The scene is from Arthurian legend, depicting the infatuation of Merlin with  Nimue, the Lady of the Lake.

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