The Art exhibition of Ruth Koenigsberger at the Teatro Aracena has just finished this December. We were really fortunate to be in the Sierra for this and we have many memories of times spent with Ruth visiting the Donana Wetlands for bird watching and photography. For those who follow this blog closely Ruth has featured many times with her art and photography. She has also drawn some of the characters and places in my novel and then turned her creative talents to painting birds during these past pandemic years. I intend to show more of her Bird Art and talents in the year to come.
For now I will give you a poem I wrote for Christmas inspired by the paintings below by Ruth Koenisgsberger and the European Crane, (Grus grus). This incredibly large and beautiful bird migrates from the North of Europe to the South during the winter months. We heard a story of a Spanish writer who as a child looked out of his window and saw the cranes calling and flying in the moonlight. Childhood experiences of the beauty of nature can stay with us and inspire us.
A Child’s Christmas in Southern Spain
Stories are told of the olive and dove
While high in the sky in the dawn’s new light
The children look out to the sky above
To spot long necks and great wings in flight.
The Cranes are coming for Christmas
The Cranes are coming for Christmas
Fe Li Ci Da Des
Fe Li Ci Da Des
Na Vi Dad
Great bodies descend to the earthly ground
With wings outstretched they graciously land
Their calls sing out the most heavenly sound
Long legs extend to the beat of a band
The Cranes are marching for Christmas
The Cranes are marching for Peace
Gathered together on the rich wet earth
Their journey long to a climate more mild
In pairs they now dance for a special birth
A gift they bring to each precious child;
The wonder of the wild.
The Cranes are dancing for Christmas
The Cranes are dancing for Love.
Fe Li Ci Da Des
Fe Li Ci Da Des, Na Vi Dad –
Happiness, The Birth of Christ.
Wishing you all a very happy, peaceful and safe Christmas as we continue to live through these anxious times. I also feel inspired to continue in 2022 with more about Ruth’s exhibition, paintings and her flight into the light with such a variety of colours and different techniques inspired by birds and the beautiful nature in the South of Spain.
Here’s to 2022, Hope, Light and our dedication to nurturing nature in all its beauty and diversity.
I wrote a poem 10 years ago to this day to celebrate the wedding and life of my mother and father. Yes, it was the royal wedding of William and Kate and it was also the 10th anniversary of my mother’s death. I wanted to celebrate their lives as ordinary, but extraordinary working people. It was also quite hard to have a special remembrance on that day as there was so much wedding joy and fervour. The poem came to me and is for Dverse poets too who always inspire me.
I remembered the wedding of my mother and father in 1946. With all the hope of post war and darkness turning to light. Which maybe it did for some but gradually as there were some tough years in the 50s. My parents’ desire was to be able to move forward and have a family and so they did. My mother talked about her wartime experiences but my father spoke very little. He was a quiet man. They lived with little money to spare but we happily went on holidays camping all around England, Scotland, Cornwall, Wales and finally over the channel to Germany ( West, then) and the former Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary and France. Although there may be problems there has been a lot of reconciliation and there is more hope for cooperation.
This April 2021 we welcome three babies to three special families that we know. Lets hope we will all cooperate for the world all the young ones deserve.
A friend posted about what makes you proud of your country as she did not feel proud. I responded with the way my parents helped me love my country by being connected to people, places and nature but to be also aware of the wrongs done. Love does not need pride but honesty.
April 29th 2011
On this very special wedding day of Kate and Will
Where hope and joy draw in the crowds
I cannot help but feel so strangely still
As I remember 10 years ago to this day
The day you finally had to go from me.
But on this very special day
Another wedding comes to mind
Your wedding day when you were yours
And yours was George
In love through years of fear
The darkest hours of war
Calm, confident without your parents near
You made your vows to George forever.
June 1st 1947, another frugal time,
And if the knot was not of the sacred kind
Your true love echoed through my growing years
No rows were seemingly heard,
As you and Dad in worked hard without a word.
In closeness and in love without the tears
Worked for the common good.
You met dancing at the palais.
You met again and were serenaded,
His warmth and voice,
Accordion to entertain with,
Through those long dark, blackout hours.
You waited till the war was ended.
Your hope was for a world mended.
You lived in peace for the common good
With friends and family to surround you
Cycling away for your honeymoon
To the hills and vales near Ifracombe.
You made me love the countryside.
Leading on Harley D for Sunday rides
With Stan and Muriel to Polesden Lacey
West Wittering for breakfast by the sea
Riding the bike through wind and rain
Putting up the tent with its old A frame.
Nights alone when children came
And George went off to Drury Lane
But you were never one to complain
You lived your life through love and pain
You lived your life adventurously
You walked through life most cheerfully.
I was teaching at the time and all my classes had a go at love and hope poems. We had a day off for the wedding so I felt I should write a poem too. Perhaps it helped me get back into my own creativity as the study of major poets could be overwhelming. We were studying at A level the likes of TS Eliot and Chaucer! If we look at their different poems with April as the focus we gain different perspectives for this most changeable month. It has also been a very changeable month for those suffering from the pandemic. Some countries emerging from a tough lockdown and others suddenly hit hard with more tragic deaths. It is also a very difficult month for breeding birds and other creatures. The weather can change from icy to heat and back with deadly consequences.
‘April is the cruellest month’ is the first line of T S Eliot’s The Waste Land. But it is clipped and should be*
‘April is the cruellest month for breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
And we finally come to the end of the sentence meaning with a full stop and some enigmatic use of enjambement or run on lines. T S Eliot’s poem is a powerful reflection of a society broken by war and religion. When studying this poem at a much younger age I was told it was about the feelings of alienation in modern society. A society just over 100 years ago. But TS Eliot also knew his Chaucer and the welcome refresh of April showers
‘Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote’
Droughts in March in Chaucer’s time? In the UK April has been one of the driest and I think warmest in this part of Europe. Just now we have been blessed with some rain but certainly April has been changeable as there was snow at the beginning and lots of cold frosty mornings.
If you have written any April poems do comment and give me a link or ping back and I will visit and look at the ways we have all been reflecting on April 2021. Or write one as if being caught between the softness of Chaucer’s April and the harshness of TS Eliot’s Waste Land. Change I feel is key to both and to April. Or just the mix of memory and desire.
Down by the Navasola well and blessed with water in April, ready for the dry drought months ahead.
At the turning of 2019 to 2020 there was hope. For so many it has been a life changing year and with challenges for all of us. January 2020 was a milestone as my younger daughter turned 30 and celebrated in style with many friends. She was one of the lucky ones of her 1990 compatriots. Then in March, all changed and she was sent her shielding letter. In many ways she has been isolating since but with the good fortune of her wonderful partner and their dogs.
I was going to write a post about pre lockdown at Navasola. We had two very full months with our visit to the wetlands of Doñana and walks around our local villages.
My plan was to post on each of the villages of the Sierra Aracena. It was soon too eerie to do that and no walking outside was allowed under the very strict Spanish lockdown. I was fortunate to have acres to work in and clear new paths like a wild bison and and to have an indoor sanctuary for writing.
I was also ready to post about the art classes our friend Ruth Koenigsberger started for her friends. We were first learning about how to use light and shade. We went and sat by the marble rocks of a disused quarry. There were some worrying news items but at the time in Andalucia there were few cases and all seemed contained. Then it seemed sudden as we were all put into ‘confinamiento’. The photos are from the post I never posted at the time! We have been fortunate that Ruth has continued to share her skills with us and her latest paintings.
I worried about family in the UK. My older daughter was pregnant and a nurse. We talked and agreed how many close family and friends had health issues that made them more vulnerable to this virus. She came through a more anxious pregnancy than in normal times. We were blessed with a beautiful baby girl in October.
From March to May we followed from a distance a very personal and difficult encounter with this virus. My close friend’s husband became ill. At first perhaps, it was like a flu and shingles but it changed to terrible difficulty in breathing. He did not want to go into hospital but was encouraged to by all, including my older daughter who knew him well. We were relieved he was in the best place. He was helped with oxygen for his breathing and he never really lost consciousness but his lungs were severely damaged. Two weeks after his 70 th birthday on VE Day he passed from this life. This leaves that unfathomable loss of a close partner and soul mate for my friend but his work as a writer and academic, his astute wry understandings, friendship and warm hospitality are a loss to us all.
I found myself with very ‘tight’ finances and some loss of income. I reluctantly cancelled some charity giving. But in April I responded to the London Marathon Charities appeal. So instead of running 26 miles I decided to write 26 poems for Nature and fundraiser for the birds whose songs brought a lot of joy to folk in lockdown. I have been fortunate to have many fellow bloggers, friends and family contribute to this. I will keep the link open a bit longer as ever in hope of more contributions to the much needed restoration of our natural world. This challenge certainly kept me blogging and writing poetry when I was not fully minded to write much.
Ruth allowed me to use some of her paintings which also inspired poems. Nick and Trevor also gave much information on many of the plants and creatures around us in the Sierra.
As the year ends we can look back and we do miss seeing and being in close contact with all our friends. Perhaps we have made more phone calls and zoomed but we do look forward to hugs, bear hugs and lots of real reunions. Thank you all who follow me in the virtual world and for all your inspiring posts, photographs and creativity.
I have spent a long time trawling through photos and trying to save those on Whats App. I also looked at drafts on my blog and was surprised by many I forgot to post or it was well past the post it date. The memorial writing below comes from a draft post in 2015. It was about our Quaker wedding and the different perspectives on the Quaker ideas of Light, God and Love. I also listened to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi speak about light and love being increased within us when we expand our conscious mind by transcending in meditation. I was thinking about a more philosophical blog at the time and then started on writing a novel.
One close friend was absent from our wedding. She was a devout catholic who died from leukaemia within a week of her 60 th birthday. This was on her memorial card and I love the way it makes the connections between light and love. In a very divided and wounded world we hope to find ways to restoring health for all life through love and understanding our complex world. Enlightening ourselves. Or as Quakers say ‘holding each other in the light’.
Greetings to all and to Dverse Poets on their 8th anniversary. Am linking this to open link night with Mish; https://dversepoets.com/ And really pleased to find Earthweal and their challenges with a nature focus; https://earthweal.com/
Life coming out of lockdown in Spain has been interesting and busy in many ways as we can now decide to go out more and visit friends and family. Some normality but also it is very strange and strained too. We hope all is going well for so many of you in many different places.
There has also been more work to do on the finca as we finally been able to have help from others. There have been some blessings in our retreat from society but sadness too as we are personally touched by loss and at another loss as we watch and read too much incompetent managing of a health crisis.
.This poem on my 26 poem challenge is structured around my form of 26 lines, 12 for the tree and 12 for the butterfly and two finishing lines to comment on both. It is based on our experience of having to cut back some trees from the house and knowledge of butterfly habitats and the plants and trees they need.
The Madroño Tree and the Two Tail Pasha
Arbutus Unedo, Strawberry tree, Madroño
Today is trim time for trees
But not scissor light snips
More motor power and deep cuts
Ear muffs on for heavy chain whirs
If you could only keep your fine fans
Of branches away from our earth tiled roof
I would not feel the hurt of habitat loss
The screams of the leaves as they dash
Against the cool cement white rendered walls
The birds will not be pleased
Nor the butterfly that some call
The foxy emperor or Pasha.
Two Tail Pasha, Charaxes jasius, El Baja or Cuatro Colas. ( 4 tails!)
Here you must lay your eggs
To hatch into the worm with two horns.
How do you know this tree is best?
You do not need a nest
To carefully care as each of yours
Must hatch alone. Make its own munch
Through tough leaves.
Tough lives taken at the point of a beak
Or hang cocooned for days
Till horns transform, two tails of wings emerge.
So bright, so fair, move me to gasp
At change so rare.
From dark places, burst leaves, break wings.
Reach out for life, lived briefly, in the light.
As for the ongoing climate crisis my poetry challenge is to help conservation charities restore nature and prevent biodiversity loss. We must have more trees and wild places. It will help us too.
I know there are a lot of struggling charities at the moment but if you can support my efforts I and theRSPB/BirdLife International would be grateful. I am halfway through now and every little helps me write more!
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.
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.