This is a poem about our pond which took a long time to create but now gives a lot of joy and a habitat for many and drinking water for the birds and bees. It is also inspired by Lilian’s haibun prompt for Dverse poets and for open link night. Hope all Dverse poets have a good summer break and a Happy Anniversary for July 13 th. Thanks for all the inspiration.
The thin walls of the old house crumbled as the digger gently pushed. Stronger wider ones needed to be built to hold up a new roof. The man with the digger was only hired for two days but he was willing to dig out a hole for a pond for an extra 80 euros. We jumped at the offer. We wanted a wildlife pond. There was no running stream here, all the water was underground, sinking fast through sandy soil in the torrential rains after months of Mediterranean drought. The pond was excavated and then I decided to dig, deeper and wider and bring wheelbarrows full of good deep soil to my new vegetable plot up the hill. An open air muscle building gym.
The pond was downhill but became an uphill struggle. For two years it filled with rain water and the second year was so full and overflowing in May but by September was drained and the lining destroyed. Wild boar had one too many mud baths with tusk marks slashed through plastic. A new plan was devised of a boarproof fence, similar to the one around my vegetable garden. There was also so much wild plum growing that without removal this area would become a dense thicket. We worked to clear and have been rewarded with a meadow of wild flowers and the beginnings of more life in the pond with its now very expensive aquatic liner. We hoped for the croak of frogs.
His joy this lockdown spring has been to walk down from the house to the pond. His walk now is slower, unsteady. A virus, some years back, perhaps produced this change. Or so the experts say, but they do not really know. Once able to walk far and work on our new roof, now, he struggles to walk any distance. But the pond beckons, and with binoculars and a fence to lean on, he looks intently around. First he spotted one frog and then another. They seemed to be keeping their distance. At last shining, shimmering in the light, perfectly camouflaged with their dark green back stripe, they have their moment, and we have ours.
Light falls on Lily
Bees buzz: slippery limbs
Entwine hold hope tight
I will include this in my 26 poetry poem as a habitat for a variety of species including the Iberian frog, plenty of pond skaters, beetles, a lily and other water plants, reeds, dragonflies and lots of bees. The pond has attracted the birds for water and baths, including a flycatcher or papamoscas in Spanish. Around the pond there is now a real variety of many wild flowers.
Thanks again to Dverse poets who reignited my love of writing and playing with poetry.
I am half way through my challenge and half way to my charity target. Please follow the Just giving link if you would like to sponsor me on behalf of a wildlife, nature charity. The RSPB and Birdlife International.
There are brown birds, blackbirds, multicoloured birds, white birds. Sometimes it is the brown birds that are easily overlooked, not colourful enough. But when you look closely, the browns are so varied and so beautifully marked, full of different tones and hues, perfectly adapted to their life in the woods.
This post is in memory of George Floyd who can no longer be with us to hear the winged creatures of our wounded world. May he be at rest and his family find solace in God, friendships, the beauty of nature and justice.
And there is a link to an article that I found very moving published in Sierra Club,an old established American conservation organisation. We have to understand and act against the kinds of thinking that allows our natural world to be destroyed and for many brown and black lives to not matter throughout the world. https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/racism-killing-planet
To the beauty of the brown bird whose name we do not know. A japanese style painting by Ruth Koenigsberger.
These are poems about some of our local birds seen from our porch. All woodland birds but very wild, cautious, shy perhaps and not easy to photo. The serin stayed just long enough balanced on a thin stem of wild cress that was left on our ‘lawn’ for pollinators to enjoy. And they did gather. We wish we saw more but we hear them and then they hide if we start to look for them. Wild birds do not seem to like eyes staring at them.
On Not seeing the birds for the trees
Somewhere in the woods
Behind a branch, beyond our gaze.
Birds are heard
If you dare to fix your eyes
Let the leaves dazzle your days.
9.Blue Tit or Herrerillo in Spanish, Parus caeruleus in latin
What’s in a name?
A titter or two?
But not in Spain
Where more rare
the tiny herrerillo
Is a sight to see.
To paint perhaps.
10. Redstart, Colirojo real in Spanish, Phoenicurus phoenicurus in latin
Not seen for so long
You fly into our life for water.
Fresh feathers feel cleansed.
Dash of red dips and dives.
Stay a moment more.
11. Goldfinch, Jilguero in Spanish, Carduelis carduelis in latin
Gilded gloss on olive trunk
I see you for the first time.
Once you lived in pines
By graves of the long dead
In a far off place.
12.Firecrest, Reyezuelo in Spanish, Regulus ignicapilus in latin
Slow flight up each branch
Of the young cork you dart
Looking for something
That you will find
And I will not.
13. Serin, Verdecillo in Spanish Serinus serinus in latin
Hello, who are you?
Upon the fine stem
How do you pose,
unswaying, long enough?
Camera shaken, book taken
To discover the name
You already knew.
If you would like to sponsor me on this 26 poem challenge the link is below and on the previous poems too. These poems are all written in my 26 word format. This time more freestyle than haiku and other Japanese forms with certain syllables to each line.
Was from a rickshaw, bald heads gathering around a corpse
A photo taken, a memory forgotten, no remorse
Until those eyes met mine and I finally heard.
Perfectly poised to penetrate death
A holy land where human harm leaves only dog
To scavenge the remains of a very manmade mess
The vultures gone to save the sacred cows distress
Slow painful death by inner unknown toxic smog.
Perfectly poisoned by human kind
And then a vulture of a different kind arose
Above the canyons of an ancient world made new
Condors with wingspans lifting in the thermal flows
Photos to remind us that now they too are few.
Perfect flight, sight, smell to search out death
Within a classroom Africa’s vultures I undermine.
Love of a feathered mate counts the human cost
To pass exams, context, effect, unthread that line
Where one key word shouts out what has been lost.
Perfect partners raising young
Here, the vultures rise again in Spanish skies
Mostly griffon with pointed feathered wings
Black, maybe, if really large, the vulture kings
Alive, hanging on that human thread that tries.
Love protecting life
This poem is about my own encounters with vultures, from my early years in India, where I took many sights for granted as vultures were so common then and such perfect scavengers. In my middle years I had a wonderful trip with my daughters to Peru where we saw condors in the Colca Canyon. In my teaching years the poem Vultures by Chinua Achebe would haunt me, not because of the vultures but because of the concentration camp name which none of our students had heard of. English lessons then would become history lessons too.
Vultures are endangered and face many threats, electrocution, poisoning, loss of habitat, and in India because there was no awareness why the vulture population was dying off until the link bewtween drugs given to sacred cows was found to be lethal for vultures.
Here in our Andalucian skies we can see vultures above our house. Some may be the very endangered black vultures from the Aroche colony, or more likely the griffon vultures, which from one of the links seems to suggest there has been some conservation success because of the joint efforts of different groups and laws to protect these amazing birds.
The poem has been constructed according to my 26 poem challenge for the conservation charity the RSPB who also support Birdlife International. There are 26 lines but the italicised lines are also 26 words in praise of the important place vultures have in nature and in human lives. The feral dogs in India that have moved in to take over the place of vultures are more dangerous to humans than vultures have ever been.
If you wish to donate to my challenge the link is below.
Here are the latest poems for my 26 poem challenge to cover 26 different species found at Navasola in Southern Spain. These particular wild flowers are now fading as their time for flowering is over and a new wave of wild spring flowers have arrived. In nature so much seems transient but all the flowers have been waiting and preparing for their moments of glory all through the year or longer. They have been in long preparation to ensure their species survive.
And so I have a rather religious or spiritual link for them all. Some inspiration comes from the candle like shapes as in Jewish tradition and symbols for the creation story and the very special day of rest. The common names of some of the flowers provide links to God and the bible too. All these flowers are such incredibly evolved species in their own right and show the wonder of nature or God’s creation.
Comments on the ‘form’ of poetry I am trying to create are at the end.
4. Tassel Hyacinth
You capture light with blue
Radiating calm, candles curved
Upward to a lost God
We searched for in dark places
You found in your seed’s desire.
5. Star of Bethlehem
Each pointed point prepares
The Way from birth to Heaven
White beauty shines bright
A flower’s time is but a breath
Of hope above our Earth.
6. Solomon’s Seal
Did all on earth agree
To learn the ways of the wise
Praise the life of Spring
With heads hung low
Close to the living earth?
7. The Wild Peony
I wrote about you once
Your wild genes, your pink beauty,
Ready to receive
So many into your pollen filled heart
There is nectar for all.
8. The Palmate Anenome
Once I drew your curves
To find my hesitant lines
Gave me silent joy.
Your flower held high
By stronger forces than I could ever know.
The form of these poems is a mix of haiku extended into my own 26 word form. I begin with the pattern of haiku of 17 syllables or words and then put in the extra to make up 26 words. Although short it still takes time for the poem to evolve and to be a tribute to each flower as well as any other meaning.
I have been thinking about different approaches to writing poetry and in particular as to what makes a poem and what also makes a good poem, and when is a poem finished. I wished to go back and change some words on the last poem haiku at the end, I wanted the more evocative kiss rather than love .
How do poems make us feel something differently, a new perspective perhaps is important, a new way of looking at our world, and for me ‘The sound must echo the sense’ from TS Eliot. I like a lyrical feel but think I must try a different approach soon and some humour! Well, TS Eliot ranged from The Four Quartets to Cats.
If you wish to sponsor me in this challenge here is the link.
Here is poem no 3 of my charity challenge and with thanks and links to Dverse poets that inspired my poetry path and gave knowledge of many different forms of poetry. The prompt is open link night but will be interesting as there is the idea to share about our lives and what we may depend on in this crisis. There is also a beautiful Mary Oliver poem on their post. Their link is below.
This is my attempt at a haibun. A Japanese form of descriptive prose ending with a haiku. My format for my challenge is 26 lines. Please don’t count! There were 26 in pages. Word press changes too much for me when writing lines! It describes my conservation dilemmas and good fortune to be outside in our woodland home where we are both well but the sadness of others loss is real and close. Stay safe, protect your health workers and protect the natural world so much depends on.
Haibun Prose Poem In Honour of Hawthorn Trees on whose lives so much depends.
The hawthorn tree stands near our Navasola house. It is rooted within the granite rocks of a ridge along the eastern valley slopes and must be decades old, young in comparison to the century old chestnuts and olives but wild and has freely chosen its niche. I once sat beneath it, in its shade to meditate. I heard a slight fluttering and dared to leave the peace inside to look out and see a tiny mother wren and her even tinier young spaced outa along a branch. My stillness and her quietness crossed a gap. I was in her home. The hawthorn tree is a special tree for it profits many. It may defend itself with sharp thorns but for hundreds of others it protects and nourishes while it propagates itself.
Time is being spent for me between the inside and outside of this virus ridden spring. Outside I follow the wild boar paths and become like the wild bison clearing a greater space. I hope the destruction I create will make way for the more vulnerable species that need more light, or that’s my plan, like my fire plan. I clear away a lot of life in hope of more. But I always leave the young hawthorn trees that break out amid a stranglehold of bramble and undergrowth of viburnum that becomes impenetrable canopy with woven strands of sarsaparilla. Dead bramble poles still reach up surrounding their young with protective thorns. Not much can enter, not much can grow here. My desire to protect the hawthorn seems to combine some vague awareness of its fairy connections to other worlds. In fairy and folklore, I later read it is sacred and if cut down, there will be some price to pay. So much depends on a hawthorn tree. So many species.
I was scrambling up the rocky path in a tired bramble scratched frenzy and a spiky branch was in my way, in my face, on my path. I was about to chop. I stared, not recognising the blossom heavy branch, each flower packed with deep vibrant pink.
This was the first time ever I saw so close the hawthorn flower, with its anther caps on, waiting for the right time to dust the insects, blow the pollen to the wind, and then look worn out, brown and wispy thin.
Storm clouds dark spring skies
My eyes caress your burst buds
Pink lips love propose.
This link shows some close up photography of hawthorns and was the closest I got to understanding what may be happening with those sexy lipped anthers. Hawthorns are also known for herbal remedies that improve the functioning of the heart!
The other link is for anyone who would like to sponsor me writing 26 poems for a well known nature charity, the RSPB. All charities are struggling with loss of income now so this is a small way I am encouraging myself and others to help. I also hope my poems can inspire and inform about 26 of our species here at Navasola.
The poem of William Carlos Williams that begins with ‘ So much depends’ comes sadly to my mind this week. I discovered it first in a wonderful book called ‘ Love That Dog’ by Sharon Creech. A beautifully simple book for young and old about poetry and loss with the young boy finally being able to express happier feelings and memories of a loved dog. I have also just finished listening to Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible, a long but well worth the listen or read. ‘So much depends.’..is quoted and used by one of the characters who also becomes a poet and doctor studying disease outbreaks after growing up in the Congo. She bears witness to the struggle of ordinary people there to survive in a country being exploited by outside interests and also suffers her own tragic loss.
So much has happened within a few months that is life changing for so many and for a close friend. We will have to learn to live within an uncertain world as many already do in parts of Africa, give support to each other and ensure we look after the natural world on whose healthy state we depend.
This poem was written about the same time as the blackbird poem and for my charity challenge of 26 poems. Each verse is 26 words! Please don’t count them. I have several times. The illustration is by another good friend and neighbour who is a a botanist, naturalist and was a conservation specialist in a previous life in Africa and many other parts of the world. Thank you to Nick Clarke for allowing me to use your drawing. Here in the Sierra there are many wood mice, with slightly larger ears than the house mouse. But similar enough if they come in the house or as some of my close friends and followers know even take a car ride.
A Wood Mouse Mother; so much depends on where you make your nest.
You come so close to us.
You leave your trail of our
Chestnuts, quickly nibbled,
But really, yours.
As these are from your woods
You make your nest within our car,
Well under the bonnet.
You leave your naked new born
Deep within the engine fold
For just a minute.
While you forage
Your nurtured nest has gone.
Just a space under the tree.
Will you know to wait
Within the bramble bush
For our return?
If you would like to help me sponsor the restoration of nature through the RSPB here is the link and on the previous post on the blackbird.
I enjoyed reading Lillian’s experiences and video of the whales off Cape Cod’ with her grandson. It reminded me of my first experience of seeing a whale, 20 years ago, in San Francisco Bay. It was also my first trip to the USA. I wrote a poem for Dverse on this 3 years ago with the prompt of ‘ a first ever experience. After that the next whale watching was in the middle of the Atlantic off the Azores.
Today is the 20th September 2019 and young people have asked adults to join them on demonstrations and strikes for climate action. There will be a UN summit and all the different nations have been asked to bring solutions. All I can offer today is a poem as if I were 20 today.
Same Old: Born in 1999
I am 20 years old, or older today.
So please don’t give me more of your
You tell me you first saw your first whale
20 years ago from today,
In San Francisco Bay.
You tell me you partied with
An 80 year old,
You tell me you cried over
A library full of books and blood.
20 years ago
Before you were mine.
So don’t give me
The Same Old
Weapons are MAD
But we must defend our dreams,
Whales are factory processed meat,
But all must be free to eat
Whatever they want.
We need the wood not the trees.
Because we DON’T.
I want to grow old with
Whales in the waves,
Wolves in wild woods,
Birds flying safe and free
Above children with a future
And Elephants in Africa.
I do not want to grow old
In a world worn out by
20 years ago
You saw a grey whale
In San Francisco.
20 years before that
You sung of the flowers.
Where have they all gone?
I do not want to dream
When I am old,
Of a past world where
Whales breached the waves
Wolves wandered in woods
Diverse birds flew in great flocks,
Elephants roamed in Africa.
Children unsafe without a future.
How long do you need,
To solve the suffering
Working yourself to the bone,
To give me
The Same Old
Future you said I deserved.
Take my hand
Before we both grow too weary.
Let’s bite the bullets.
Finish with the fumes.
Grow the forest.
So I can grow old
And watch with wonder,
My children’s children,
Wonder at whales in the waves,
Wolves in wild woods,
Birds flying safe across borders,
Elephants in Africa,
Children with a future.
Having been a little quiet here through the heat of August I did think the sestina form offered by Victoria Slotto for Dverse Poets (://dversepoets.com/2019/08/29/) form challenge would suit a historical occasion. Finally, this year in Manchester centre there is a memorial with the names of all those who died there, in St Peter’s Fields 200 years ago, August 16 th.
I’m a little late on posting this but have been busy with a ‘deep’ revision of my novel and enjoying summer nights of music and fiesta here in our rather dry Sierra. There has been a fire about 10 km away from us and my thoughts are also with the Amazon forests. The Brexit mess deepens and darkens and our British Parliament struggles to understand the ‘mythical’ will of the people. There is still deep division. I truly wish we grew up knowing more about working lives and the struggles of our ancestors. Peterloo had become a ‘lost’ story until recently.
August 1819, Manchester, England.
In the August of 1819 the people came
By foot, with bands, with songs of ways to change
The way their lives were bound by others power.
Today, was the day, to make the point and strike.
Starved by the corn tax, not paid for each hour
Spinning cotton,not stopping, till the dark of day.
Under summer’s brightest skies, this was their day.
To St Peters Field, our working families came.
Thousands gathering peacefully until the hour
When Speaker Hunt cried out the need to change.
But the mill owners, the gentry did not like this strike.
And gathered too, together in fear, of working power
The government gave the right to unleash power.
This talk of votes for all must end this day.
How dare these upstarts profits lose by strike.
The police would not control a mob, the cavalry came.
Poor families now would see a darker change,
Struck down by sabres, dead or wounded within an hour.
Who can report and tell the truth about this hour,
When lies are told of violent mobs by those with power?
A newsman’s voice brought forth the truth to change
The way that facts be twisted, turned unto this day.
And with the clarion call for truth to power came,
A guardian rising to fend off the lies that strike
Deep, denial to protect from hurt can strike
200 years and tears ago, until this hour.
We were led to forget the names that came,
To ask for the right to be a part of the power.
They asked for a vote on a bright summer day.
Their loss brought us here but took years to change.
Today our scientists tell us our climate will change.
And children gather in peace, for a future they strike,
For our lives to be green means miss a school day
Do we live near a time of democracy’s dark hour?
While fossil fuels burn they still have the power.
Was it just to extinguish our lives, the cavalry came?
Change is the way as the clock strikes the hour.
Strike like the flash of thunder’s own power.
Or lose all to that day when the cavalry came.
This is my first attempt at a Sestina….Thank you dVerse for the challenge! And thank you Victoria Slotto for your very clear guidelines. It may have been a bit like sudoku but once I had chosen the end words that could work it slotted into place.
I used notes from Victoriahttps://dversepoets.com/2019/08/15/poetry-form-sestina/
and then below is my working out to fit the form.
A 12th century form consisting of 6 stanzas, each having 6 lines; followed by one tercet (3 line stanza).
The end-words of the first stanza’s six lines, must appear as end words in each line of the following stanzas, in a particular prescribed order:
I decided to brainstorm some words about Peterloo and then look at the order scheme to see how to make the story fit. I left out Byron and his poem. This was not printed for fear of a backlash of treason.
But I brought in the Manchester Guardian as this newspaper arose from the tragedy and the attempts to manipulate or deny the truth of witnesses that day.
Manchester…St Peters Fields, protest against corn tax, need for representation, vote,
Strike, gathering of masses, family, child, boys and girls, men and women, working folk, rights,
March, walk, from villages, afar, distance,
Peaceful, listen, cavalry, horses, trample, strike down with sabres, august day, summer, 1819,
200 tears ago, years, dark, injured, maimed
Summer 2019 fires, floods, drip feed apocalypse,
Democracy, divided, power, news, facts
Stanza 1: End-words: Line 1 – change . Line 2 – change Line 3 – power. Line 4 – strike
Line 5 – hourLine 6 – day.
Working out Stanza 1 was the most important as these words will now have to form the following patterns for next 6 stanzas. And the ending three lines of the 7 th which must use all. Below is how I used numbers to guide me through this.
Stanza 2. 6,1,5,2,4,3
6.Under summer’s brightest skies, this was their day.
1.To St Peters Field, our working families came.
5. Thousands gathering peacefully until the hour
2. When Speaker Hunt cried out the need to change.
4. But the mill owners, the gentry did not like this strike.
3. And gathered too, together in fear, of working power.
Stanza 3Stanza 3: 3, 6, 4, 1, 2, 5
3. The government gave the right to unleash power.
6. This talk of votes for all must end this day.
4. How dare these upstarts profits lose by strike.
1.The police would not control a mob, the cavalry came.
2. Poor families now would see a darker change,
5 Struck down by sabres, dead or wounded within an hour.
Stanza 4 Stanza 4: 5, 3, 2, 6, 1, 4
5. Who can report and tell the truth about this hour,
3. When lies are told of violent mobs by those with power?
2 A newsman’s voice brought forth the truth to change
6 The way that facts be twisted, turned unto this day.
1 And with the clarion call for truth to power came,
4 A guardian rising to fend off the lies that strike
Stanza 5Stanza 5: 4, 5, 1, 3, 6, 2
4.Deep, denial to protect from hurt can strike
5 200 years and tears ago, until this hour.
1 We were led to forget the names that came,
3To ask for the right to be a part of the power.
6They asked for a vote on a bright summer day.
2 Their loss brought us here but took years to change.
2 Today our scientists tell us our climate will change.
4.And children gather in peace, for a future they strike,
6 For our lives to be green means miss a school day
5 Do we live near a time of democracy’s dark hour?
3 While fossil fuels burn they still have the power.
1 Was it just to extinguish our lives, the cavalry came?
Line 1…2, 5 Change….hour….
Change is the way as the clock strikes the hour.
Strike like the flash of thunder’s own power.
Or lose all to that day when the cavalry came.
I have lost track of time with the wonders of spring back in Spain. Lots of time spent walking, talking, working the land, making cheese, yoga and Tai Chi. There has been little time for writing as I rush to get an irrigation system working before my return to family and wedding bells for my older daughter.
I was introduced to ghazals and the poet Ghalib from my sojourns in India and Pakistan. That was some years ago now and I remember the time when all the Pakistani newspapers on the front page honoured a well loved poet and throngs of people came out to mourn the loss of this important poet. A ghazal is to be heard, sung and responded to immediately by an audience. It is often about love, loss, longing for an earthly delight or the sacred.
Now I live in Andalucia, famed for its light and clear blue skies but also its history of many conquests and settlers: Roman, Visigoth, Islamic, Sephardic Jews, Christian and many others. All with songs and poetry of loving this land of light! And for many the sorrow of being forced to leave.
This is an attempt of writing a ghazal for the Dverse poetry form challenge. Notes on the Ghazal form traditional and contemporary can be found at Dverse.
Ghazal for Al Andaluz
Andalusian sky, land of light, with bright songs of deep blue.
On leaving I wonder how long will I long for my return to you?
Remains of roman towns remind us of our constant defeat by time.
Wild wolves that roamed far extinct but all we do is long for you.
Passion tempered by conquest built on stones from the past.
Sevilla, Granada, fortresses that fight for me to stay with you.
Night brown hues touch the flesh of delight. What will tear us apart?
Defend this land of light, for so long as I can be here with you.
Poems for paradise, gardens to die in, tall palms shade intense light.
Rare richness of water, fountains for life, we long to return to you.
Foliage to ferment in, fronds to fan breezes, scents to seduce,
Water to soothe the smooth skinned sadness of life without you.
Calls from the minaret fade in the falling of the soft glow of light.
Ojala, obrigada, al andaluz, may we not be long away from you.
What dreams, what failures slip without sense from our sight.
Beauty of blue, land of sharp light, we must not betray you.
Inshallah, with God’s gift we will return to your light.
Dark is the earth we till as we gaze right into the blue to see you.
The associations came to me on a bus travelling from Aracena, our town in the mountains, to Sevilla, city of beautiful gardens! These were then put into couplets and the first two lines chosen to repeat in some way. In the last couplet there is reference to my first name Georgina which has connections with the earth and farming, a tiller of the soil and my second name Jane, gift of God! And ‘right’ of course.
I always feel a sense of loss when leaving and wonder about when we will return, Inshallah, God Willing we keep healthy and young at heart and can ‘rage against the dying of the light’ so we can enjoy more time in our own wild woodland in Andalusia, land of light.
I am posting late but will do my best to read more ghazals on the Dverse Mr Linky links.
This is derived from French poetry and involves a tight rhyme and syllable scheme. I also wanted to write about my encounter with a frog and snake when waiting by a friend’s pond while the car was being repaired. Would this form work for this wild encounter?
On time well spent ( Nouveau Lai)
Stay still by the pond
Only time has gone.
With those legs so long
To those depths belong
Of cold without sun.
Before the day’s done
The birds still their song.
A snake creeps along.
Back and forth darts tongue.
Where is right and wrong?
Only time has gone
Stay still by the pond.
Frog on phone in May ( Lai Form)
This frog could be friend
So photo must send.
All follow the trend
To share without end.
Watch life learn to fend
For food not a friend.
I had been quite transfixed by this wonderful wild encounter and lost in time and also knew I wanted to write about the experience. As it involves a frog and snake it brought to mind D.H. Lawrence’s poem ‘The Snake’. I thought free verse, with one thought or impression to each line might be worth trying. We were also at a recent talk at the Alajar Renaissance Festival listening to some local poets. One topic was about Magia, the magic philosophies that brought about the renaissance and liberation from religious thought to scientific discovery. The talk was about the unifying power of ‘poesia’or poetry within nature.
I was inspired by Frank Hubeny’s poem https://frankhubeny.blog/author/frankhubeny/ because my encounter was in the soft light by a pond and these were mysterious things. The snake did not eat the frog but was perhaps on the look out for reasonable sized fish. It was not interested in insects, tiddlers and tadpoles which were all in abundance. Both animals remained so still for so long and so did I! Were we all watching each other?Perhaps a lot is scientifically known about frogs and snakes and a lot of animal stories have made characters of these creatures,but being so close to both these wild animals accentuated for me their mysteriousness and evoked that sense of wonder if not awe with the evolutionary magic of the natural world. We do not know everything about their worlds and we cannot capture everything on photo on our phones.
After desperately trying to clear the memory of my phone for a photo of this frog so close by it moved away.Of course! A bit later the frog came back onto one of the lily pads. And then the snake began its arrival, slithering so easily, then vertically down into the water and then swimming really fast. It didn’t seem to catch anything but perhaps it did and was then still when digesting it. I have to admit to being a little nervous but identification suggested a harmless grass snake. By that time my phone was dying so I had to sit and just watch. It became a competition of who was going to keep still the longest. Frog, snake or me! This became a much deeper experience and observation rather than trying to take endless photos which get lost in clouds!
Notes on the Form
The Nouveau Lai is a five syllabled couplet followed by a two syllable line. The number of lines in each stanza is fixed at nine and the couplets must rhyme with each other, as the two syllable lines must also rhyme. In English this line is probably the most difficult part of the poem. French is also a syllable timed language unlike English which has stress/accent on certain syllables and many words can also be unstressed eg prepositions.
The Lai is a very old French form and tradition states that the short line must not be indented, it must be left dressed to the poem. This is known as Arbre Fourchu (Forked Tree) there is a pattern meant to be set up as a tree.
The number of lines in each stanza is fixed at nine. The number of stanzas is not fixed and each stanza has its own rhyme pattern. The rhyme pattern is… a. a. b. a. a. b. a. a. b.