Tag 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.

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.

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The Ravens’ Call.

I have been a bit absent from blogging due to the good weather and the need to get the land and house a bit more sorted before it gets toooo hot. I am also researching aspects of nature in Sweden and Norway for part of my novel. This has been fascinating.
Spring has started here and there are lots of bluebells out on the Finca. I will post soon on the wild flowers too.

There was a wonderful prompt from Dverse poets based on collective terms for birds e.g. a murmuration of starlings. There has been some striking and original poetry based on this and worth visiting the different posts on Mr.Linky for that post. As I missed it I will try Open link night for the one I wrote last week. This is another opportunity to discover lots of innovative poetry.

Recently Becky from Hidden Delights of the Algarve posted photographs of large groups of Avocets. The group name is ‘an orchestra of Avocets’. We recently saw a large group of ravens fly over our roof at Navasola. Usually there is a pair that flies but one evening I was called out to see a very large number together. On reading the term for this ‘an unkindness of Ravens’ on the Dverse prompts I didn’t think it was quite fair!

The Call of the Raven

Once I measured my life with sonic booms
Each day at 6 the great white bird
From Manhattan to Heathrow flew.
We heard, we looked, we never knew
There could ever be
A nevermore of Concordes.

Now I measure my life with the Ravens’ call.
Often about the time when night does fall,
Two fly over the roof towards the West.
To roost perhaps, to find some rest.
Lifelong mates speak together.
A chattercroak of Ravens

Once there were much louder cries.
So high above in fading skies,
20 to 30 together they flew
We looked above but never knew,
The name to call them.
An unkindness of Ravens.

Can such birds be more unkind than human kind?
Can talk, use tools, and a loyal mate they find.
They do not kill but pick at death,
To clean the earth from rotting flesh.
Unkindness seems unkind for clearing mess.
A cleansing of Ravens!

Where that great flock of ravens went
And why so many in such numbers spent
The early evening time together.
We will never know for sure.
Do such birds fear changing weather?
A warning of Ravens.

A pair are kept within Old London’s tower
Must never leave as there is fear
Of a fallen King and loss of power.
A kind old Raven sheds a tear.
For human heads upon a spear.
A kingdom of Ravens may be more fair.

Thanks to Dverse poets, yet again for inspiration and to TS Eliot whose Mr Prufock ‘measured out his life in coffee spoons’ I feel fortunate to be able to measure mine with birds and not aeroplanes these days.( although just recently tins of paint too!)

 

 

(photo courtesy of Wikicommons and taken at the Tower of London, UK)
bl 1London_tower_ravens

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.

Quote Challenge 1: No man is an Island

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.

It has taken me over a week to get round to this quote challenge and it has challenged me. Any advice on quick ways to make links to other blogs would be helpful. I was thinking about how to have links to some of the key nature blogs I follow around the world and to those who have inspired me so much when I first started blogging. Jenny in New Zealand has nominated me and it is interesting to find out so much about nature and the lives of others around the world. I first fell in love with this quote and John Donne’s poem when I was at secondary school and we had an assembly on the United Nations. It resonates with me still and the whole poem is at the bottom of this post. It also seems to speak to me about the UK referendum on  being a part of the European Union. I would rather see joined up thinking on a planet that needs some drastic action to improve the environment for all species.

The weather here in Navasola is still wintry but can be quite warm when the sun comes out. There are a few flowers about but it is the tree shapes which are so fascinating. So I am featuring some photographs taken by my friend and artist Ruth Koenigsberger. I have put my own haiku underneath as a response. I have been quite inspired to write poetry again because of DVerse poets very original ideas of a poetry bar where we can all have a poem together.

 

 

Peep through my inner trunk, all hollowed out with age Adorned with velvet
Peep through my inner
trunk, all hollowed out with age
Adorned with velvet

Young pines tall and straight Old arms embrace with kali Hug the earth with wood

Young pines tall and straight.
Old arms embrace with Kali,
Hug the earth with wood.

 

 

For this quote challenge I am going to focus on nature blogs that I like to follow . There is no compulsion to accept the challenge if I have nominated  a blog. I hope though that others might be able to explore those they haven’t come across.  There are also so many good blogs out there that I love that it is difficult to choose.  I have not chosen the ones that first inspired me but will mention these now: Donna at gardenwalkgardentalkCindy Knoke and  Steve  Schwartzman.  He has very good photographic tips and botanical skills but also has another blog on Spanish/ English etymology. Having studied linguistics and now living in Spain that find was a double treasure.

The Quote Challenge

Thank you Jenny for nominating me and we seem to be on similar journeys finding out more about the natural world but on the opposite sides of this globe!

jennylitchfield.wordpress.com

I will try and run the challenge for three days. So for this first day challenge I nominate the three blogs below from three different parts of this planet. This is all just part of a fun challenge which may bring to our attention more interesting blogs. Nominees should feel no pressure to create their own quote challenge. I have nominated them because they all have wonderful ways of exploring this wonderful world.

  • Post for three consecutive days
  • Posts can be one or three quotes per day
  • Nominate three different blogs per day

 

Sarah                                    AWildflowermelody

Julie                                       Frogpondfarm

Morgan                                Thereremouse

 

John Donne

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

Peep through my inner trunk, all hollowed out with age Adorned with velvet

Ruth Koenigsberger is currently exhibiting some of her art at the ARCO  event in Madrid. She is involved in the alternative way to show art: Room Art.  Some of her art is also on the November 2015 archive on the virtual gallery Artagora. Our friend and nature artist is also currently being shown on there. Soledad Fenandez Coll.

A Room to Breathe In. My inner sanctuary at Navasola.

Here I am sitting in my sun room
Retreating from the unforgiving,
Too much heat at times.
Now too cold, wet and windy.
But always I can see the rocks,
The tiny path leading to the Era.
The trees, the trees, the trees.
Outside, Outside, Outside.

A room to feel at home in
A room to be quite quiet in
A room to retreat into.
White walls, less clutter
Clears the mind, Warms the heart.
Away from the building work,
Away from the rush of life.
Inside, Inside, Inside.

I have been fond of all my rooms
Some for sleep, some for work
Some for all the family.
This room is for me a sanctuary
To write in, be silent in.
A welcome break from the
Busyness of life,
Where now I have a chance
To breathe in the rocks.
Breath out the words.
From Outside to Inside
And Inside to Out.

This has been inspired by another Dverse Prompt night  dverse website and an interesting post on examples of poems about rooms. I was so relieved to create this space for myself in the middle of an ongoing building project as we reform the house at Navasola.

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Outside the window. Wild and not so wild flowers.
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My favourite view from the window of my room.
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Natural tree sculpture seen from my room!
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Inside the room with my friend’s dog Lotti, mirror made in an old Castano tree frame.