Day 23 — Bill & his posse of Nature Poets

Shakespeare’s birthday/deathday. Each year I try to write something Bill-affiliated. This can be made harder by having a theme superimposed over the top of it (ie, like pandemics or climate change) but at least it forces me to think outside a few boxes for some green inspiration. Which is always a good thing. Need to apologise in advance for the long pome, I didn’t have the time to write a short poem.

If only poets had the power that multinational corporations have to effect change in the world.

*****

Bill S & his posse of Nature Poets

Bill being a country boy born & bred
was a big lover of nature
dropping dozens of wildflowers
animals, trees, natural events
63 birds, & more into his plays ;
with whimsical abandon
he set them in forests, on coasts, 
on rugged heaths
— if he were writing today
climate change would be his bent

so too Bill Blake’s rage
against dark Satanic Mills
which were pumping his pristine
English skies full of black soot 
& were, after all, the beginning 
of man-made climate change

the posse is being assembled

Lawrence & his dark forest soul 
would definitely be there …
with his animalistic magic 
of snakes & bats & pansies 

a third Bill, Wordsworth
knew nature was divine
& believed true happiness 
was achieved when existing 
in harmony with it, always happy 
to wax lyrical about daffodils, 
clouds, & Tintern Abbey

youthful firebrand Keats
loved nature’s vibrant scents 
& colours & cool calming water
a man who happily sang odes 
to Nightingales, Autumn, & the Sea
would get in on this action

although somewhat simpler 
in scope another John (Clare)
less complex & less well known
marvellously describes the natural 
world & rural life in affectionate
vignettes of Winter Evening,
Wood Pictures in Summer,
& the Little Trotty Wagtail

Emerson’s belief that we understand 
truth only by studying the song of nature
& Humblebees & Snow Storms

& Shelley’s awareness she destroys 
as well as creates; singing odes 
to the West Wind, Skylarks & Mont Blanc

& Dickinson finding awe in everything
Light Existing In Spring
Birds coming down the Walk

& Frost whose name suggests he should be
though not a pure nature poet loved
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

many modern poets too are in the posse

the marvellous Mary Oliver who instills 
poems with wonder-filled images 
drawn from daily walks near her home
Wild Geese & Journeys on Summer Days

& Gary Snyder an activist who speaks 
with an ancient voice but modern tongue
of fertile soil, animal magic, 
the power of solitude, rebirth; 
the love & ecstasy of the dance
& Mountains and Rivers Without End

but as wonderful as all these 
nature loving poets are
what we really need
is for everyone to remember
they too are poets, alive in this bleak
eternal universe only because
our home is a delicately crafted
paean to life

Day 27 – April Twenty Seven: “Sunday Sillies” (sort of) Part 3 – poetry reincarnations

Played around with a series of things today, but most of them serious. Remembered (after forgetting last week) that I was going to use Sundays as a play day for silly experiments & games.  The first two weeks were attempts at humour (limericks & a caricature poem). This one is a crossbreeding of the poet’s game Golden Shovel invented by Terrance Hayes where the last word of each line of your poem is a word from another poem & a “found poem” I made by abridging one of my absolute favourite poems of all time: D.H. Lawrence’s “The Ship of Death”.

I allowed myself up to four words from each of his lines. They appear in the same verse structure as his poem.

There is precedent for this as Lawrence himself edited the poem before his death so there are two versions: a longer one which I believe is the superior & the one I used for this game, & a second shorter version, which lacks much of the longer poem’s emotive power.  My version is midway in length between the two, & apart from one or two clunky lines, still works pretty well I think.

The Ship of Death (Reader’s Digest abridged version)

I
falling fruit
journey towards oblivion.

drops of dew
exit from themselves.

bid farewell
exit
the fallen self.

II
you
will need it.
apples will fall
on the hardened earth.

a smell of ashes!
smell it?

the frightened soul
wincing from the cold
through the orifices.

III
quietus make
a bare bodkin?

man can make
exit for his life
is it quietus?

even self-murder
make?

IV
we know,
deep and lovely quiet
heart at peace!

quietus, make?

V
you must take
journey, to oblivion.

painful death
the new.

bruised, badly bruised,
oozing through the exit
the cruel bruise.

ocean of the end
of our wounds,
flood is upon us.

your little ark
little cakes, and wine
oblivion.

VI
the timid soul
the dark flood rises.

all of us dying
death-flood rising within us
on the outside world.

our bodies are dying
our strength leaves us,
rain over the flood,
our life.

VII
all we can do
build the ship
the longest journey.

with oars and food
accoutrements
for the departing soul.

as the body dies
out, the fragile soul
the ark of faith
pans
clothes,
black waste
waters of the end
where still we sail
and have no port.

nowhere to go
deepening black darkening still
the soundless, ungurgling flood
darkness, up and down
no direction any more
she is gone.
see her by.
gone! gone! and yet
somewhere she is there.
Nowhere!

VIII
the body is gone
gone, entirely gone.
heavy as the lower,
the little ship
is gone
gone.

end, it is oblivion.

IX
of eternity a thread
on the blackness,
a horizontal thread
pallor upon the dark.

does the pallor fume
higher?
there’s the dawn,
coming back to life
out of oblivion.

the little ship
the deathly ashy grey
flood-dawn.

a flush of yellow
a flush of rose.

whole thing starts again.

X
like a worn sea-shell
emerges strange and lovely.
home, faltering and lapsing
on the pink flood,
into the house again
with peace.

heart renewed with peace
even of oblivion.

build it!
you will need it.
oblivion awaits you.

*****

 2014-04-27 14.18.17