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Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Sleep of Winter

Yin and Yang (summer is yang and winter yin)

Yes another blog title that may become a poem!  I read today on a facebook status update that during this time of year the margin between Here and There wears thin and the life dreamed is blended with the life lived.  Where exactly is There you might find yourself asking?  Ah who knows but the sage or the shaman, isn't this the great mystery? 

While driving slowly into town I thought of Susan Connolly's concept of winterlight, of course I cannot find her collection of poems now that I am looking for it, maybe it's under the bed, or in the car or hiding away under some books.  The light in winter can be spectacular, the sunsets especially in December have taken my fancy in the past few years.  Now I feel the oppressing presence of winter on my mind at times but according to the Chinese winter is a time when we should slow down and nourish our inner selves, just as the animals hibernate perhaps so should we.  When we are at peace with ourselves there is nothing we cannot conquer.  Again I am amazed by nature and how everything we need to learn may already be woven within its divine tapestry for us to discover and interpret.   I feel a bit frustrated as I know I could describe these concepts better if I understood them more.  While I have always seen spring as the time to create and start anew now I can sense that these dark months can be used to plant seeds and create as roots sleep in the earth surely they must dream of the life to come?

"Water element represent the most extreme Yin state. It is the phase when the energy is stored, awaiting a time to explode outward, initiating a new life cycle. Winter is the season associated with Water. If the energy of water can be retained, it will provide strength through the life cycle. If the energy is wanted, the remainder of the cycle will be weakened. Deficiency of water manifests in fear, paranoia, poor resistance, cold, lower back and knee pain and general bodily weakness." from

I think that if I have learned anything from today it is not to forget the beauty of poetry and to remember why I write at all, or ever wrote, which is because life is so beautiful sometimes that it cannot be contained but must find a medium of expression. 

Death of a Season

(translated by Catherine O'Brien)

All night long it rained
on the memories of summer.

We went out in the dark
between the dismal thundering of stones,
standing on the brink with outstretched lanterns
to explore the danger of the bridges.

Pale at dawn we saw the swallows
drenched and motionless on the wires
looking out for secret signals to depart -

and on the ground they were reflected
in the defeated faces of the fountains.

Antonia Pozzi

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Mordred by Kamille Freske

Sir Mordred has held my interest for a couple of weeks and I wanted to write my next sonnet about him.  I didn't find much out about him online.  He was the bastard son of Arthur by Morgause (some say by Morgan le Fay).  Morgause was Arthur's half sister.  It is unclear whether the King raped Morgause or whether she mistook him for her husband or enchanted him.

I found it interesting to try and play devil's advocate by understanding how Mordred might have felt growing up and how he became the villain of the tales.  In pursuing this vein of thought I discovered that Rosemary Sutcliff wrote some books on Arthurian legend (which I have ordered a trilogy of) and another she wrote is called Sword at Sunset.  Hint hint, if anyone wants to get me a Christmas present I'd love this book!  I was a huge fan of Sutcliff when I was 11 and 12 and The Eagle of the Ninth left a lasting and good impression on me.

It's been another productive week for me as I finished a different poem I have been working on since Sunday tonight too.   I think I'll move onto Lancelot next maybe. 


Child you are learning to detest this world,
roaming the forests alone and forming
a genesis from rumour and half told
truths. I sigh to see you old becoming.
With a heart full of negativity
you are lost in the flames of revenge, fate,
despair and self loathing. Depravity
would seem to be an inherited trait.
This land will one day be yours to govern
and you will take a queen that is not yours
to hold when Arthur is on soil foreign;
your father and uncle by ill powers.
Still now a boy for your mother to mould,
if only innocence could hate unfold!

Orla Fay

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson

The first part of the final installment in the Harry Potter series has hit our screens and it makes for a fine and well made movie with good performances from the cast.

Harry, Hermione and Ron find themselves on the run and in a desperate search for the horcruxes that when destroyed will end Voldemort's reign of current terror.  Dumbledore the wizard is dead and Voldemort is an evil sorcerer who wants to kill Harry Potter.  His band of followers are called Death Eaters.  Helena Bonham Carter stars as the cruel Bellatrix Lestange and is wonderfully insane at times in the film.  Watch out also for Nagini (shudder), the snake of he who shall not be named.

There is lovely scenery on display in the form of the English countryside and even London itself looks great (I want to go there again, *pine). 

One part of the movie that is excellent is the animated enactment of the story of The Deathly Hallows.  These comprise the most powerful wand ever made; the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility. 

Harry Potter was written by some woman called J.K. Rowling, never heard of her before! Lol

Thursday, November 18, 2010

November's Boyne Readings and Open Mic

Grainne Toher, Frank Murphy

I'm just home from the latest open mic session in the village hall in Knightsbridge in Trim.  The reading took place in the library of the venue which was full to capacity.  I found myself seated beside the lovely Frank Murphy of The Meath Writers Circle (who has advised me to find a poem about Sir Galahad) and the equally charming Michael Farry.  Michael read his poem My Interest in Polish Poetry had been Aroused which has been published in The Shop magazine. 

The featured reader tonight was Grainne Toher who has published her novel Comings and Goings.  She read three chapters from her book and the author was very well received.  Congratulations to her.

Also present were Tom Dredge, reading Shapes and James Linnane, reading The Hospital.  These were some of the highlights of the night for me.  I read three poems, Fulcrum for Lauren and Aoife, The Once and Future King and finally The Weight of the Wind.  The Boyne Writers Group were well represented by the excellent chairman Paddy Smith, reading a quirky poem, Caroline Carey Finn, Ann Crinion, Barbara Flood, Jenny Ansersson and Maria Durnin.

from Sir Galahad by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

The clouds are broken in the sky,

And thro' the mountain-walls
A rolling organ-harmony
Swells up, and shakes and falls.
Then move the trees, the copses nod,
Wings flutter, voices hover clear:
"O just and faithful knight of God!
Ride on! the prize is near."
So pass I hostel, hall, and grange;
By bridge and ford, by park and pale,
All-arm'd I ride, whate'er betide,
Until I find the holy Grail.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Morning Miscellany

It looks like it does in the picture in my previous blog outside this morning.  Winter is truly arrived.  Over coffee, brown bread and jam I listened to some of Sunday Miscellany.  The last story was about Alexander Selkirk and was written and read by Vona Groake.  It was really well told over the radio.  Selkirk features in Kavanagh's poem Inniskeen Road:July Evening

Oh, Alexander Selkirk knew the plight

Of being king and government and nation.
A road, a mile of kingdom, I am king
Of banks and stones and every blooming thing.

Selkirk's abandonment on the island of Juan Fernandez off the coast of Chile is thought to have inspired Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.  Vona Groake is a well known poet published by Gallery Press.  Her collections include Other People's Houses and Spindrift.  You can listen to the story here

I also listened to my parents discuss the economy and what's happening in the country.  When will the general election occur and who would you vote for?  What will the budget have in store?  How are we going to cope with what's ahead?  News just broken is that Jerry Adams is going up for election in Louth. 

And I sewed a button in my work trousers.  The three poems I was working on are finished though I might look at them again later.  What's next, another Arthurian sonnet, and?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My November Guest

 Trees in the Mist, Sheila Curzon

Last night I was trying to create the atmosphere of the dreary world outside for a poem I'm writing when I remembered Frost's poem.  I went to read it again and thoroughly enjoyed it. Is The Road Not Taken his most famous poem?  Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening must come in close second to it.  He lived to the great age of 88 and was awarded four Pulitzer Prizes for his work. He recited a poem at JFK's inauguration in 1961.

I was thinking today that I am a mirror of the seasons sometimes in my writing.  I suppose we must relay what is happening about us, what is pressing on us and causing impressions, aside from flights of pure imagination which can be difficult.  Is the poet addressing himself here or is he talking about a specific person, or?

Anyway here it is...

My November Guest

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walked the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.

Robert Frost

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

I'm back to finishing another sonnet on Arthurian Legend.  This next poem has taken me to reading about King Arthur himself.  The purpose of the shape of the round table was that everyone was equal and that no one, not even the King, could sit at its head.  Arthur presided over the table.   On the marker to Arthur's grave

Hīc iacet Arthūrus, rex quondam, rexque futūrus — "Here lies Arthur, formerly king, and king to be." is said to be inscribed. 

I wonder is chivalry dead or is it just an old fashioned idea?  The code of chivalry which the knights adopted according to Giovanni Boccaccio in "De Casibus Virorum Illlustrium" is as follows:

The Knights of the Round Table Code of Chivalry
  • To never lay down arms
  • To seek after wonders
  • When called upon, to defend the rights of the weak with all one's strength
  • To injure no one
  • Not to attack one another
  • To fight for the safety of one's country
  • To give one's life for one's country
  • To seek nothing before honour
  • Never to break faith for any reason
  • To practice religion most diligently
  • To grant hospitality to anyone, each according to his ability
  • Whether in honour or disgrace, to make a report with the greatest fidelity to truth to those who keep the annals 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

November Sunrise in Salthill

I know this could be the title of a poem and I have some quick lines jotted down in my notebook from this morning after I had taken a stroll along the prom, but they're classified for now! 

A storm had been forecast to hit Galway but it was calm over the weekend.  Perhaps it will come later.  I'm now working on three poems.  Two are two thirds of the way through and one has just begun, or dawned on me obviously!

I came across this quote in a book in Navan library:

"The kingdom of Shambala exists only within your own heart."

Shambala is a Sankrit word which means a place of peace, happiness and tranquility.

As I finish editing this even the wind has risen and the rain is driving against the window eek!