Pastiche Poems #1

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A pastiche, created in PRISMA, of a painting of my own of Venice

PASTICHE POETRY

Following on from my opening outline of Pastiche Poetry (see my blog yesterday titled ‘Pastiche Poetry’ ), here are some of my own efforts (you may call them concoctions or confections if you’d rather) which I have based on the well-known opening lines of six different poets  . . .

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‘Home Thoughts, From Abroad’, Robert Browning …

Oh to be in England
Now that April’s there; 
Whate’er the goddamn weather
It’s March I just can’t bear.


 

‘If’, Rudyard Kipling …

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
Then you’re a very special person
And I’m another bloody cockatoo.


 

‘This be The verse’, Philip Larkin …

They tuck you up your mum and dad,
Make sure you go to sleep, 
And then they get the cards out
While from you there’s not a peep.


 

‘Casablanca’, Felicia Dorothea Hemans …

The boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but he had fled.
He couldn’t help but think ‘By heck! 
Those clods left me for dead.’


 

‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’, William Wordsworth …

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vale and hill,
When all at once I saw a shroud,
It made my very heart standstill.


 

‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’, W.B.Yeats …

I will arise and go now
And go to Innisfree;
I need to meet my muse there,
Commune with Calliope.

 

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Coleridge At Watchet

[  Photograph Gallery # 69  ]

Watchet-Map

The harbour town of Watchet lies on the North Somerset coast of England, between the Quantock Hills and the Brendon Hills on the Eastern edge of Exmoor.

The harbour at Watchet is said to have been the inspiration for Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous epic poem ‘The Ancient Mariner’.  Whilst on a walk with his friends, William and Dorothy Wordsworth, over the Quantock Hills in 1797 from his home in nearby Nether Stowey, they came upon Watchet.  It has been said that looking down at the town from St. Decuman’s Church in the town gave him the idea for his poem.

‘The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared, 
Merrily did we drop 
Below the kirk, below the hill, 
Below the lighthouse top.’
In 2002 the Watchet Market House Museum Society decided to commemorate the town’s important link with Coleridge by commissioning a statue. A seven-foot high effigy of the mariner was designed and created by sculptor Alan B. Herriot, of Penicuik, Scotland, cast by Powderhall Fine Art Foundries in Edinburgh and unveiled by Dr. Katherine Wyndham in 2003.  This statue now stands overlooking the marina on Watchet Esplanade.
There is now a designated ‘Coleridge Way’ walk of 51 miles through the landscape that inspired Coleridge to produce some of his best known work.  It takes an east to west path from Nether Stowey to Lynmouth through the lovely Somerset countryside of the Quantock Hills, the Brendon Hills and Exmoor – or obviously, in the reverse direction.

My photographs below were taken on a visit to the area in and around Watchet in 2007.

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Watchet 01

Watchet – Harbour & Marina

 

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Looking north-east from Watchet harbour across the Bristol Channel to the island of Steep Holm

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Coleridge’s ‘Ancient Mariner’. created by the Scottish sculptor, Alan Herriot

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‘God save thee, ancient Mariner! 
From the fiends, that plague thee thus! — 
Why look’st thou so?’ — With my cross-bow 
I shot the ALBATROSS..

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(Coleridge) … this renowned poet resided for some years at the nearby village of Nether Stowey.  In 1797, while on a walking tour, Coleridge visited Watchet.  On seeing the harbour he was inspired to compose one of the best known poems in English literature, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’

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While the black-backed gulls keep an eye on events

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Coastal rock striations near Watchet 

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Dead, or just over-wintering?

WORDSWORTH: ‘A Slumber did my Spirit Seal’

(Poem No.40 of my favourite short poems)

I posted Wordsworth’s poem   ‘She dwelt among the untrodden ways’ on the 1st August 2016.   Wordsworth’s ‘Lucy’ poems are laden with wistfulness and melancholy, but the simplicity and delicacy of their language, and the directness and aptness of their rhyme, have always touched me with their beauty and tenderness.  Below I print another of these short poems from the ‘Lucy’ series, usually known by their first line …  ‘A Slumber did my Spirit Seal’

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Burne-Jones … ‘Sleeping Beauty’

A Slumber did my Spirit Seal

A slumber did my spirit seal;
I had no human fears:
She seemed a thing that could not feel
The touch of earthly years. 

No motion has she now, no force;
She neither hears nor sees;
Rolled round in earth’s diurnal course,
With rocks, and stones, and trees. 

By:  William Wordsworth

 

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In Memoriam – D.A.K. #2

I follow up my blog of yesterday, remembering that outstanding poetic blogger, David Alexander King (DAK), with a further personal reminiscence of him.

DAK always had a great sense of both the profound and the ridiculous.  He was a great teller of stories from his past and he loved the banter of everyday conversation.

In 2010 whilst holidaying together in Somerset, I (almost) managed to persuade a hapless passer-by to take a photograph of DAK and Yours Truly, Roland, masquerading as two distinguished-looking and mature Asian matrons in the grounds of Wells Cathedral.

If  DAK had not been beaten to it by a certain workaday northern nature poet called Wordsworth, I know he would have penned something like the following lines to describe the scene . . .

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty: 

 I publish the resulting photograph below . . .

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OK, I own up, the above photographic study was photoshopped by me from 3 of my own photographs, all taken on the same day in 2010 in the grounds of Wells Cathedral, Somerset..

 

‘The Calm That Nature Breathes’

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The Calm That Nature Breathes

Such beauty was a wondrous sight to see;
It held my gaze for many a moment then.
A burst of autumn colours and a view,
Exquisite as a verse from Nature’s pen.

It told of Wordsworth’s Lakeland in its glory,
Of luscious greens and tranquil lake so still;
While purpure mountains in the distance loom
And to the mellow view great calm instil.

A murmur in the breeze adorned the scene,
A susurrus in a silent land of ease.
It brought to me a sense of peace and love
Amidst those waters, hills and ancient trees.

The stillness and the quiet of evening time,
The colours then displayed before my sight,
Feelings of calm, of peace, and lasting love,
All came together then for my delight.


 

I shall remember this view for ever.  I holidayed in 2001 at the Nannybrow , just north of Windermere and a few miles west of Ambleside in The Lake District, Cumbria.

One September day, still and fine, the water levels higher than usual after a period of prolonged rain, I captured the view from the terrace.  I was transfixed for a long time, allowing the serenity and brilliance of the view to embed.  To me it was an absolutely stunning  experience.  The panorama from my viewpoint gives majestic views down the beautiful Brathay Valley and towards the stunning scenery of the Langdales on the horizon.   The photograph I took then introduces my poem.  The scene gave me a sense of the powerful effect which the Lakeland scenery had on William Wordsworth.   In particular it reminded me of the brief quotations below . . .


“A foretaste, a dim earnest, of the calm
That Nature breathes among the hills and groves.”

“. . . the sun in heaven  . . .  Beheld not vales more beautiful than ours”

From:   ‘The Prelude: Book 1″:


The earth and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparell’d in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.

From:  “Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”


“Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!”

From:   Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802


I have used a quotation from ‘The Preludes’ as the title of my own short poem, written in the same pentameter structure as Wordsworth used in many of his poems.

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Langdale Pikes – drawing by Arthur Wainwright


THE MIST OF LOVE

Hawsker Church

THE  MIST  OF  LOVE

I fell for a ghost,
A spectre, a wraith,
I grappled to win her
In a wrestle with faith.

A wondrous creature,
A vision in white.
I knew I should leave her,
Beware of her bite.

Her present and past
I struggled to find;
Whatever her story –
I was out of my mind.

I knew nothing of her,
Nor she of me;
So however I tried
It just wasn’t to be.

She sighed with delight
As I caught her sweet breath,
And I knew with a shudder
She’d never trounce death.

For death had imbibed her,
Had taken her in
To its cold winter grasp,
And I never could win.

But her passion was endless.
It left me in dread
Of an endless uncoupling –
A  gift to the dead.

So I severed my heart strings
– Futile to resist.
Yes, my dream was a mirage
… What is love but a mist?

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I n an earlier blog of mine (No.6. published on 1st August, 2016), I mentioned my love of William Wordsworth’s ‘Lucy’ poems. In another of his poems in similar tender vein, which has also long been a favourite of mine, he begins with the line, which has become the poem’s title, ‘She was a phantom of delight’.  The poem was written about his first meeting with, Mary Hutchinson, a pupil at the same school as William, who eventually became his wife.

The first stanza depicts the woman not as a creature of flesh and blood but as a phantom or an insubstantial being. He calls her an “apparition” that can “haunt, startle and waylay”.

For no particular reason that I am aware of, this set in motion a train of thought suggesting a liaison with a more genuine ‘phantom’, a wraith. The verses above were the result – in no way comparable with the subtleties and delights of Wordsworth’s poem.


The lead-in photograph at the top was taken by me on a foggy day at the ancient cliff-top church and churchyard of Hawser, near Whitby, on the North Yorkshire coast.  Some adaptations have been made to the photograph.


Wordsworth’s Lucy

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From time to time, I will reproduce one of my favourite poems.  Wordsworth’s ‘Lucy’ poems are laden with wistfulness and melancholy, but the simplicity and delicacy of their language, and the directness and aptness of their rhyme, have always touched me with their beauty and tenderness.  The simply expressed emotion in all five of the poems is poignant. I include just one of them below, the last two lines of which are, for me, among the most plaintive in the whole of English Literature . . .

Lucy

She dwelt among the untrodden ways

Beside the springs of Dove,

A Maid whom there were none to praise

And very few to love:

 

A violet by a mossy stone

Half hidden from the eye!

Fair as a star, when only one

Is shining in the sky. 

 

She lived unknown, and few could know

When Lucy ceased to be;

But she is in her grave, and oh,

The difference to me!

 

“The Lucy Poems”, of which the above is the second, were composed between 1798 and 1801,  by  the English Romantic poet, William Wordsworth, in his ‘Lyrical Ballads’.   In these poems, Wordsworth tried to write simple English verse on the themes of love, longing, beauty, nature and death.  The five poems, generally known by their opening lines, are . . .

  • Strange fits of passion I have known
  • She dwelt among the untrodden ways
  • I travelled among unknown men
  • Three years she grew in sun and shower
  • A slumber did my spirit seal

One source of these poems can be found at:   http://www.poetry-archive.com/w/lucy.html

N.B.  Wordsworth’s poem, “Lucy Gray”, was written at about the same time, but is not normally thought of as one of his ‘Lucy’ poems because the traditional “Lucy” poems are not at all specific about the age of Lucy and her actual relationship with the narrator, whereas ‘Lucy Gray’ is a narrative re-telling of an actual event related to him by his sister, Dorothy.