Category Archives: Poetry

Loving and leaving Andalusian blue skies. A Ghazal poem for Al Andaluz, land of light

Church and plaza bajo in the village of Valdelarco in the Sierra Aracena

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.

 

Arbutus Unedo berries.

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.

winter trees by the ivy perimeter wall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am posting late but will do my best to read more ghazals on the Dverse Mr Linky links.

 

A Magical Encounter with a Frog and Snake.

 

My task for this month of May for Dverse Poets is the ‘lai’ form. https://dversepoets.com/2019/05/09/more-lai-and-lai-nouveau/

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.

Quivers

With those legs so long

To those depths belong

Shivers

Of cold without sun.

Before the day’s done

The birds still their song.

A snake creeps along.

Shivers

Back and forth darts tongue.

Where is right and wrong?

Quivers

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.

Tap till

All follow the trend

To share without end.

Keep still

Watch life learn to fend

For food not a friend.

Who will?

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!

Frog on lily pad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Daffodils In a Garden for Peace

I have spent this last weekend of March in the UK at Woodbrooke Quaker College Birmingham, and I wandered around the garden of many acres to find the different types of daffodils. I gave up counting. Some were very different, some differences were very subtle. Some were fading away or being eaten. Some were in their full glory. I was bounded by time and the need to return to the conference talks. Perhaps the daffodils reflected the topic of our weekend about Unity, Diversity and Boundaries. Although there were many different points of view as there are often are within Quakers there was a unity and peacefulness in the stillness of Meeting, Woodbrooke and its Quaker history.

On return I thought the daffodils and stillness should inspire some writing and Dverse poets hosted by Sarah are working on the Villanelle form. So I have given it a go. More on the form and the links to past poets at end of poem.

 

 

 

 

An Infinity of Daffodils

(Woodbrooke Quaker Garden, March 2019)

What are words worth when silence calls?

Too many views but 22 types of daffodil flower,

Pensive thoughts when a pale petal falls.

The worm that wriggles deep within us all.

Now frays the edges of the yellow cloud shower.

What are words worth when silence calls?

We gather together to tear down walls.

Dare we dare  discern eternity within one hour?.

Pensive thoughts when a pale petal falls.

Bright orange clothes a host of petals small.

Elegant trumpets ready to hide the pollen’s power.

What are words worth when the bees need to call?

To live in a way that no longer appals.

To hold in the light the insects’ last hour.

Pensive thoughts when a pale petal falls.

Is it God calls or some wormlike fear?

The fall of a tear, the lost peace of a flower.

Pensive thoughts when a pale petal falls.

What are words worth when silence calls?

 

 

 

 

 

https://dversepoets.com/  For  Dverse poets  this month there is the opportunity to try out the Villanelle form and read a range of these written by the many talented poets who frequent this very convivial and poetic meeting place. Why not have a go? Check on the link and then on Mr Linky at the end of the post.

Note the villanelle form has to have 19 lines with 5×3 line stanzas, finishing with a quatrain, all  with repeating lines and a rhyme scheme to keep to.

Past poets referred to of course are William Wordsworth and his daffodils and ‘pensive eye’ and William Blake with ‘O sick rose’ and the worm and ‘ to hold infinity in the palm of your hand, eternity in an hour.’

Daffodil Notes

As for daffodils, well the number of varieties that have been cultivated seems to be about 13,000. And the number of wild species from 40 to 60. But it seems this depends on how daffodils are categorised and there are different sources for this information. Still a staggering number as there are also so many hybrids too.

 

 

 

Daffodils are from the Amaryllidacae family, think lilies and one of the old names for daffodil is Lent Lily. These beauties seem to like to lighten up lent as the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter is when they are in bloom. It is thought daffodils are a mispronunciation of Asphodels, see those in a previous post. Perhaps also the English made a play on words with daffadowndilly. Narcissus of course is a name given to this range of species and Linnaeus decided on Narcissus poeticus when he began to classify them. They seem to be the poet’s flower.

Wild daffodils originate from the Mediterranean region and  there is a wild one we saw near our Navasola home in the south of Spain; the wild hooped daffodil. There is also a wild species in the U.K. that can still be found growing wild. The Wildlife Trusts have this link as to where to go. There may not be  the ‘ hosts of golden daffodils’ that Wordsworth saw in the  Lake District but it is good to know that the wild species can still be found.

Wild daffodils in the U.K. https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/where-see-wildlife/where-see-spring-wildlife/wild-daffodils
P1010076 Small Wild daffodil, hooped daffodil,in Southern Spain in  early April2018

My outcome for the weekend was ….to enjoy: swinging high, walking and watching the geese on the labyrinth, a visit to Cadbury’s Bournville village and watching an amazing woman play the carillon bells. And the conference….threw some light on what unites us.

 

 

Lets hope Spring is not blown away by another cold spell and possible snow.

And let’s hope with so much political turmoil the beauty of nature can unite us and the stillness we can find within bring peaceful and positive outcomes.

Poetry Pantoum for Dverse. Childhood Memories Revised

Here is my revised version for the Pantoum following Gina’s suggestions to include interlocking rhyme. Am not sure if I lose some spontaneity or if the poem or is just different. However the aim of these month long attempts at different forms is to try and revise based on helpful comments. I have always been a strong advocate for the redrafting process and have many revisions of my novel too. This was interesting to try out so feel I should now update. It has also been an interesting journey into memory and childhood. I am perhaps reliving some of this as I watch my granddaughter, now 18 months.

The former post is below this one with more comments on the Pantoum form and links to Dverse.

A The sounds of childhood reverberate, 1

B The love, the loss of carefree years. 2

A The young child needs to stay awake, to wait, 3

B So she may sleep without those fears. 4

Stanza 2

B The love, the loss of carefree years. 1

C A black cat purring comfort on the bed.2

B So I may sleep without those fears,3

C The deep Harley revs reverse the dread. 4

Stanza 3

C A black cat purring comfort on the bed, 1/2

D Fear of loss no longer forms a tear 2

C The deep Harley revs reverse the dread 3/4

D My father’s voice, my mother’s near. 4

Stanza 4

D Fears of loss no longer form a tear 1 /2

A No need now to stay awake, to wait. 2. /

D My mother’s voice, my father’s near. 3

A The sounds of childhood reverberate. 4

Reflection

E The lilac tree in bloom in Spring.

B The love, the laughter of childhood years,

E In the garden of games with songs to sing.

B But sadness for some just bring back tears.

B The love, the loss of childhood, fears.

A Learning to be awake to patiently wait.

B With the past in its place without the tears

A The sounds of childhood reverberate.

Comment from Gina ‘your interlocking lines worked, rhyming would give you better flow, you can chose to do the traditional abab or try aabb or abba’

If anyone is still reading I am happy to read any comments and will respond in kind as soon as I can. ( Not on wifi till beginning of April)

Former Version below

Dverse poets are exploring different forms of poetry each month and my challenge is to try and write one. I missed the sonnet but managed the Rubaiyat and now for March the Pantoum.This form originated from Malaysia and was used by famous French poets e.g. Victor Hugo and Baudelaire and in current years the Flower Drum Song is an example! This form has an interlocking and repeated line scheme. 

https://dversepoets.com/2019/02/28/18102/  link to Dversepoets.

Gina presents for Dverse  about the form and gave us some line schemes which I decided to keep in but have have still managed to get confused by. But I have tried to interlock.

‘The interweaving of repeated lines in a pantoum suits the poem particularly well to ruminations on the past, circling around a memory or a mystery to tease out implications and meanings. The change in context that arises from the addition of two new lines in each stanza changes the significance of each repeated line on its second appearance. This gentle back-and-forth motion gives the effect of a series of small waves lapping on a beach, each advancing a bit farther up the sand until the tide turns, and the pantoum wraps back around itself.’  By Gina for the Dverse prompt. Gina’s blog is https://alifelesslivedblog.wordpress.com

I also read a few from the early posts of others and loved the nature one by Kim at writinginnorthnorfolk.com. This was certainly evocative with images of waves lapping, sanderlings feeding  at the edges of the sea and the mystery of migrating birds.

The Clock of Tides and Stars (revised)

I wanted to try a nature poem but the page was blank and I began to think about childhood memories and the page began its first line. The memory has been triggered also by some discussion with my daughter about leaving my granddaughter with me for a few days this summer. We both discussed some of the anxieties felt as a child when parents are not nearby! I would lie awake waiting for my parents to return with our wonderful family cat on the bed, always purring. From the first stanza the second and fourth lines became first and third in following stanza. The penultimate or fourth stanza reuses lines from the first. The last stanza seems extra and in couplets but perhaps is the reflection or not needed. Any comments greatly appreciated.

Childhood Fears

The sounds of childhood reverberate, A

The love, the loss of carefree years.      B

How long will I stay awake to wait,       A

So I can sleep without those fears?               B

Stanza 2

The love, the loss of carefree years.     B

A black cat purring comfort on the bed.  C

So I could sleep without those fears,         B

The deep Harley revs brrrm loud and clear.   D

Stanza 3

A black cat purring comfort on the bed,    C

Those fears of loss are put to rest.                           E

The deep Harley revs brrrm loud and clear.  D

My father’s  voice my father’s near.             D

Stanza 4

Those fears of loss are put to rest,                          E

No need now to stay awake, to wait.            A

My mother’s voice my mother’s near,           D

The sounds of childhood reverberate.          A

Stanza 5

A lilac tree smells sweet in Spring

In the garden of games with songs to sing.

The love, the laughter of childhood years,

For some those years bring back the tears.

The memory and writng the poem has made me reflect on childhood memories and how the feelings created can still impact on us as adults. Sometimes we refuse to remember but I think it is important to understand our childhood as a child and from a more understanding and healing adult perspective. I was fortunate to have many positive memories but we all have to come to terms with our negative experiences.

Below is one of the early motorbikes my father had after the Second World War. The one I remember more is the ex Belgium police bikeHarley Davidson, with Surrey sidecar to fit all the family( and dogs) in! 444DXB registration, imprinted somewhere in my brain, along with all the trips to the countryside on Sundays. This with camping holidays and pets were the foundations for my love of nature.

IMG_8682

Rhodes; a walking haibun tour!

I am in Rhodes with a longstanding friend who loves the island and visits regularly. More will follow on this beautiful place but I am prompted by Dverse poets to write a haibun about walking.  A haibun is poetic prose followed by a haiku. My friend and I have been fortunate to do a lot of walking together.

In youth, we walked and walked, together. Teenage talks and teenage walks to Barnes pond, along the towpath of the river Thames, across Hammersmith Bridge. We walked our children too into Manchester’s many parks and out to the moors of Derbyshire. We’ve walked in friendship for more than 40 years. And now I finally walk with her in her beloved Rhodes. And we walk and walk.

Walking the past. In the present. Future thoughts.

Feet walk over cobbled stones in narrow streets. Above, the eyes take in medieval arches. Thoughts of knights and maybe horses along the wider streets leading to the Grand Palace of the Masters. Castle turrets protected the Order of St John. Stones in piles from pillars fallen. Many battles fought, won, lost. Bright bougainvillea flowers adorn walled gardens within ancient fortress walls. Scents of jasmine waft with sounds of many voices from many places. Scooters dodge the wandering tourists. Greek homes still within the sturdy old town walls from where the deep blue of the sea separates the isle from the mainland mountains of the Turkish coast. So near. So far. Empires have come, empires have gone. This small island a jewel to hold.

We walk along the ancient stadium of ancient Greeks. As women we wonder on the nakedness of men running fast, in the past! No women allowed then. Except for one. The mother of a hero. The broken Acropolis with scaffolding speaks of the need to respect the past but greatness goes. We walk around the ruins of men and there lies the small dragon lizard, still and basking in the warmth of ancient stones. We walk through the streets of modern Greece, the new town, coloured by blooms. Concrete sore we reach a deep valley park. Rodini. A jewel from the Italian rule. Now forgotten, neglected but it’s streams flow with life. Small turtles, egrets, giant carp and butterflies. We cross broken bridges, pass by young lovers. Here the world of green enjoys the lack of human tramping unlike the famous butterfly valley walked through by the multitudes who yearn for green and to see  some wild thing ; the beleaguered tiger moth.

We walk over more pebbled mosaic floors into holy places. Two headed eagles symbols for the Eastern Church. The frankincense and gold of icon painting fill the spaces with a silent sacredness. Behind a city wall a gate opens up into the Jewish synagogue. We walk through this with silent acknowledgement of a persecuted past. Spanish sounds sing songs of their Sephardic roots from Andalucia; my home now.  We walk to connect. So few returned to their island home. Down by the harbour in an old Islamic building we walk past the hopes of new refugees from not so far but far enough across the gleaming blue and treacherous depths. Later, we walk high up a hill, along a path with stations of the cross. From the giant cross, we walk no more but watch Apollo’s sun being guided down to rest beyond the horizon of the west. How long have we got left?

Broken bridges show
The eternal flow below
Walk the heart to know

image image image

Sonnet to the Island of San Miguel, The Azores, The Atlantic.

It’s Open Link night at Dverse Poets and a chance to share some of our own poetry. I have been trying to develop my skills at sonnets and odes ever since attending a poetry workshop run by the poet Daljit Nagra at Keat’s House, London.

On our way back from our adventures in the Azores I thought  I should write my own sonnet sequence to a country I love. Portugal!  I have three under way but the sonnet form does require steady concentration and still needs to capture my true intentions.  We watched some children playing with a dog when they should be at school and saw another side to an island paradise of poverty in a fishing town. We also discovered how much of the original forest has been lost and the threats to nature there. San/ Sao Miguel in the Azores is a microcosm reflecting our macrocosm of Planet Earth. Inside the core is violent heat ready to burst out through volcanic eruptions.

Islands like San/Sao Miguel have been formed by volcanoes and over millennia slowly bloomed into vibrant life.

Sonnet 1

To Sao Miguel

O mild isle wherein hides hidden heat

From deep within your cratered core

Volcanic lava could spit more

But Furness folk stew pots for us to eat

For tourists need to taste a special treat

Or poise on whaling boats awash off shore

Where from calm sea we can say we saw

The ones that fathom deep in 20 thousand feet.

O living sea, a vast unknown, give us a sign

That whales, free from pain can roam to Arctic North.

Darkening beaches, black basalt, glossed with brine

Greet birds flying from the cold Antarctic south

And on shore too, may San Miguel protect its own,

From fisher folk to tiny bird, keep vibrant green on red hot mouth.

 

Georgina Wright  January 2016

Bubbling hot geysers from volcanic activity. You can have a stew cooked inside one of those holes!
Bubbling hot geysers from volcanic activity. You can have a stew cooked inside one of those holes!

 

More of the waterfall valley
More of the waterfall valley
The glossy black basalt rocks with tears of brine. See image poem!
The glossy black basalt rocks with tears of brine. See image poem!

Poetry, Travel Memories; The first time ever I…. Whale Watching

This poem and memory is in response to a post from  dverse poetry prompts . It is about remembering a journey or place visited and trying to recreate the experience.  This is about the first time I visited America and where I saw a whale for the first time. It’s also about the mix of media messages, memories, feeling the fear, seeing the contrasts and learning about the biodiversity of living things.

The First Time Ever

 Gray Whale in San Francisco Bay    May 1999

The first time ever I travelled to those United States

Where star spangled banners show off diverse places.

Where the cavalry comes and sort things out

With guns n’ horses and Rin Tin Tin.

Why was this a place I feared to go

For an eightieth birthday of

California dreamin’

In San Francisco Bay.

Lew’s life work listening with compassion

Sharing and trusting we are loved.

So why the fears and why not go?

 

A friend and colleague frowned and said.

You won’t be going to any schools. Instead,

You are going to San Francisco

Where you can wear flowers in your hair

If you dare.

 

I leave a library full of well-placed books.

And think of a library with half written pages

Of young ones’ dreams and parents’ screams.

Columbine and eglantine in Shakespeare’s dingly dell

Of murder most foul where books lay strewn

budlike withering, wandering worlds, unworn.

 

We arrive and meet with love, forgiveness, fun.

A birthday to unite all States.

Where are you from? Your accent is so quaint.

London? What state’s that in? New England?

Oh across the pond, that England.

Islands within a continent of

Many smiles, many good days.

 

On a cold and blustery day in May

We boarded a boat in the drizzly dawn

To go far out to watch for whales.

We float about and see our first great Gray,

Between the rocks of Alcatraz and the Golden Bridge.

Directions called and Whale ahoy he stays or she

To show how whales can spout their shout.

Spots of barnacles for years within the sea

Ancient being with a peerless eye, explores

Within the bay, between the rocks of Alcatraz

And the Golden bridge. Why did we not stay?

But went out further seeking more

To see upon the sea.

 

It was a whaleless, grey and dismal day.

Cold crept in with oceanic spray.

No more giants but squawking gulls

And deep within, the stomach pitches.

Smells of vomit, fear of lurching overboard.

If there could be calm could I walk back

Like Jesus to the shore?

The waves they pounded.

 

The gulls cried out and followed on this hopeless tour.

All had been seen within the bay, no more.

We learn that seagulls do not exist.

Only gulls of many different kinds.

Oh Jonathan Livingston Seagull if only I had known,

Your flight beyond the realms of gulls so sure.

But now I do not know which gull you were.

And all I want is to return to shore.

Between the Golden Bridge and Rocks of Alcatraz

Was a Gray whale, the first I’d ever saw.

No need for more.

 

I am not sure whether my experience might encourage others to go whale watching. I had also never visited the USA but felt wary of the statistics and media messages on violence.  April 1999 was the time of the tragic shooting at Columbine School. As a teacher and in charge of our school library  we all felt very shocked and concerned about the loss of such young lives.

I am very glad I spent a week in San Francisco for Lew Epstein’s eightieth birthday. We were well loved by our American friends and we visited many places, near and far from San Francisco.  The Redwoods, Yosemite, Monterey Bay and of course the city itself. The whale watching was to be a highlight!

Post Script. We have planned another trip to the Azores, to Faiai where we hope to go out on a boat as there are many different kinds of whales off the deep sea bed surrounding the Azores. We will hope for a good day.

Dedicated to the too many young lives lost to violence and abuse. And to leave an ocean full of life for youngsters not only to read about but see and wonder. Travel in Peace. Gray Whales do.

OPHELIA   ( Hamlet)   Her garland of flowers and her deep sadness.

There’s fennel for you, and columbines.—There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me. We may call it “herb of grace” o’ Sundays.—Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference.
 GRAY WHALES

Gray whales can live up to 70 years. Barnacles attach easily to them as they swim slowly in nutrient rich oceans. The barnacles leave rings and thse give  individual markings to each whale. They migrate and can be seen along the Mexican and Californian coast at certain times.

Gulls and birds of the sea and shore

{ Larus} Heermann’s Gull, Ring billed gull, California gull, Western Gull, Laucous winged Gull,   and many varieties of tern, elegant, royal and least,  and from my poem on the biodiversity of birds, american  versions of plovers, sandpipers, curlews, whimbrel, dunlins, sanderlings, are but a few of sea bird variety on the Californian shores of the Pacific.

Link to beach guide for California

Thanks for reading and I do appreciate comments.