The Borderlands of POETRY – 5

PART THE FIFTH

 

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Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

Poetry As Religion

 

Poetry has become my religion
My faith lies in belief
Belief that my words convey my feelings
Express my thoughts
In a way that my actions are unable to do
And while I write
While I construct my idolatrous icons
I am worshipping at the altar of my muse
And offering penance for my frailties.

 

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A GLIMPSE OF PARADISE

 

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A GLIMPSE OF PARADISE

 

The back of midnight’s moon

Is gifted me

Bringing a still

And total beauty

In its light across the calm waters

The path to it calls me

And I know

With an unfamiliar certainty

My faith can bear me to it

To that paradise in the sky

Heaven’s haven

Realised in this

So delicate a moment

My life transmuted

Into one of peace and serenity

The death of life

Discovers

Meaningful rebirth

But even as I watch

The golden glow diminishes

   The pull of the pellucid path

Slowly fades behind the clouds

The chance is gone

For now

But I feel an assurance

That another day

It will be offered me again

And

with open arms

I will grasp it

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Photographs:  WHB   ©

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Collaborative poem – written by WHB, based on a prose description by Canadian artist, Alma Kerr, of an experience when looking, at evening time, across the waters of the Pacific, off the western coast of British Columbia . . .

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Churchyard Blues– Five HAIKU

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Haworth Churchyard, Yorkshire.  The Brontes are buried in a vault inside the church , except Anne who was buried at Scarborough.   Pen & Ink Sketch – WHB, 1983    ©

 

CHURCHYARD BLUES – Five HAIKU

 

ACCEPTANCE:

Cradle of their births,
Shrouds for their future demise;
A place to belong. 

  

BELIEF:

To those with belief
Death does not come as an end;
With faith no one dies.

 

 HOPE:

Stay, hear, be silent;
Listen to the song thrush bring
Hope to the living

 

OPTIMISM:

Know, amongst these stones,
That life always precedes death;
Make the most of it.

 

 DOUBT:

If only God’s faith
Would strike my doubt ridden soul
I would die content.

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Aysgarth Churchyard, Yorkshire – Pen & Ink Sketch – WHB, 1981   ©

 

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Death Is An Unmapped Sea

IntoTheUnknown

Photo:  ‘On Chesil Beach’ by WHB – 2007   ©

 

Death is an Unmapped Sea

Day dawns and life now reasserts its sway;
Sleep ends and dreams now slowly fade away,
Leaving behind the gains which I thought real.
Reality and the sun the truth reveal,
That time has shattered youth and brought old age.
Shall I depart midst over-arching rage,
Those aspirations which I held most dear,
Abandoned now as hope gives way to fear?
Now that I’m hurt, unheard and unfulfilled,
Can I refute those truths my life distilled,
And face what unmapped seas fate holds in store,
Without a faith to bear me to the shore?

 

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We Mourn With MANCHESTER

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William Morris/Burne-Jones …  ‘The Angel Of Sorrow’ – Stained Glass, Christchurch, Oxford

WE MOURN WITH MANCHESTER

So sad the sound
Of wailing
Searching

voices
Blooded by fate
Taut and tense
Exuding fear
Dread and anguish
In frantic response to
Vile and cowardly acts of
The deranged
Our response can only be
Love for life
For those distressed
And retribution
In whatever hereafter
For the perpetrators
Their hatred

Forever condemned

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To Absent Friends

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Newton-under-Roseberry Churchyard … Photo Collage – WHB Oct.2016

TO ABSENT FRIENDS

As the distended rollers break
Upon that ocean shore
I think of all the hearts that beat
But now will beat no more.

Friends who were once so close to me
Whose lives with me were one
Who now have lost their lust for life
Lost it, and have gone.

Sadness is no gift to sorrow
But memories linger on
It’s when I watch the ocean’s waves
It’s them I think upon.

Why this should be I do not know
For me there’s no release
It is the breathing of the waves
Confirms our own will cease.

Perhaps it is their constancy,
Their never ending thrust
Confirms our own ephemeral lives
Will end soon, as they must.

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St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Isles of Orkney

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St.Magnus Cathedral, Kirlwall, Orkney Isles … Photo – WHB, 2010

 

 

 

The northernmost cathedral in the British Isles is dedicated to St. Magnus.  It holds a dominant position overlooking the Orkney capital of Kirkwall.   The building of this magnificent cathedral, was commenced in 1137 at a time when Orkney was ruled by the Vikings.  Masons who had helped build Durham Cathedral came north to build the magnificently stout Norman pillars and arches which remain today.  Originally under Norwegian jurisdiction, the cathedral became a possession of the people of Orkney, not of the church, following a decree of King James III of Scotland in 1486.

 

The building of the cathedral continued for approximately 300 years from 1137.  It is built largely of yellow and red sandstone.  It was dedicated to Magnus Erlendsson, Earl of Orkney who, as a result of greed and jealousy engendered by his cousin, Haakon, was  martyred on the island of Egilsay in 1117.   Magnus was later canonised and his remains brought to Kirkwall from Birsay and interred in a column of the cathedral now dedicated to him.

Orkney-Scotland Map

Map of Scotland – Orkney Isles & Kirkwall at the top

I publish below just a few of my photographs taken in the cathedral when I visited in 2010.  They are in the form of a slide show, the picture changing every few seconds.

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Easter, Love & Cricket

Three RICTAMETERS

A Rictameter is a fixed-syllabic poetry form, similar to the Haiku and the Cinquain   ( Click here See my own cinquain in an earlier blog.  ).  The rictameter starts with a two-syllable word as the first line.  Then the line length in syllables is consecutively increased by two, i.e. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10.  Then down again, from 8, 6, 4, 2.   The final of the 9 lines is required to be the same two syllable word as in the opening line.

The format was created in the early 1990s by two cousins, Jason Wilkins and Richard Lunsford, for a poetry contest that was held as a weekly practice of their self-invented order, ‘The Brotherhood of the Amarantos Mystery’, which was apparently inspired by the Robin Williams film ‘Dead Poet’s Society’.

I have attempted three versions of this format below . . .


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EASTER

Absolve
The human race
Release them from their sins
Forgive them their indiscretions
Instead torment me on that cruel cross
That I might thus remind them all
That God our father loves
And all our sins
Absolves.

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LOVE

Love hurts
It burns the soul
From lust to jealousy
It does not let up from that pain
So put alongside with its times of bliss
The memories of anguished dread
When all seemed to be dead
All reason says
Love hurts.

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straight bat

CRICKET

Cricket
Keep a straight bat
All that they throw at you
Face up to it with fortitude
Don’t be average be an all-rounder
And when it’s time to pull up stumps
Try to carry your bat
Don’t declare, that’s
Cricket.

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Snowdrops

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SNOWDROPS

The snowdrops are alive beside the dead,
In the midst of death they are in dazzling bloom,
Whilst he whose grave they now with grace adorn
Feeds on their sweetness from his long-time tomb.

They in their turn have derived life from him,
Their vibrance and their colour owe him much.
His bones, his ashes now repay their debt,
As death withdraws its unremitting touch.

And thus his ancient decomposed remains
Return to life as snowdrops in due time,
And seek to adorn my table once again,
As beauteous now as he was in his prime.

And when those snowdrops fade away and die
Their wholesome goodness will my soil replenish;
Then once again the cycle will repeat,

Nature affirming life will never perish.

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Both photographs taken in a Surrey churchyard . . . WHB – Jan.2017

Caedmon’s Hymn

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Caedmon remained, throughout his life, unable to record his own verse in writing.  This many others did for him and these were collected and published for others to read, sing and recite. However, it is not possible to be certain of how authentic many of these are, chiefly because Caedmon’s original poems may well have suffered in their many translations, some being from the Latin, which were themselves translations of Caedmon’s Old English.

In fact only one short nine-line verse remains which, because it is given to us by Bede, we can be certain was Caedmon’s creation.  This is the hymn which he first wrote, and which came to him in his inspirational dream.  I give this below, both in its original Old English and in its translation into modern English . . .

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Caedmon’s Hymn in Old English and its modern translation (excerpt from The Earliest English Poems, Third Edition, Penguin Books, 1991):

Nu sculon herigean heofonrices Weard,
Meotodes meahte ond his modgeþanc,
weorc Wuldorfæder; swa he wundra gehwæs
ece Drihten, or onstealde.
He ærest sceop eorðan bearnum
heofon to hrofe, halig Scyppend:
þa middangeard moncynnes Weard,
ece Drihten, æfter teode
firum foldan, Frea ælmihtig.

Praise now to the keeper of the kingdom of heaven,

the power of the Creator, the profound mind

of the glorious Father, who fashioned the beginning

of every wonder, the eternal Lord.

For the children of men he made first

heaven as a roof, the holy Creator.

Then the Lord of mankind, the everlasting Shepherd,

ordained in the midst as a dwelling place,

Almighty Lord, the earth for men.

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Caedmon’s Hymn is the oldest recorded poem in Old English, and illustrates, though so not clearly in translation, an example of Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse.  Seventeen manuscripts still exist with copies of this hymn, with minor variations, some in a variety of different Old English dialects, others in Caedmon’s own Northumbrian dialect.   These verses in fact established the methodology for most poets who followed him and powerfully exemplify the whole art of Anglo-Saxon poetry.bar152

This final passage I quote from:  http://www.encyclopedia.com/

‘All of his poetry was on sacred themes, and its unvarying aim was to turn men from sin to righteousness. In spite of all the poetic renderings that Caedmon supposedly made, however, it is only the original dream hymn of nine historically precious, but poetically uninspired, lines that can be attributed to him with confidence.’

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