Tag Archives: poetry

Fallen at the 26th Hurdle

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…

Twenty six days into my hundred day blogging challenge and I fell asleep in front of the TV. That’s not unsual. Unfortunately Julia had gone to bed after a hard day in the Mencap Garden and I slept, undisturbed for several hours.

That took me through until the early hours on Saturday morning, missing my midnight deadline.

Ah well, it’s annoying but it’s a target rather than a deadline. Nothing bad will happen as a result of missing it and I will just potter on. The new target is to do 100 posts in 100 non-consecutive days. I’m on 32 posts in 25 days so far.

The challenge was about self-discipline and regularity and 25 consecutive days isn’t bad compared to the erratic posting I was managing.  It may be a failure in terms of falling short of the target by 75 days, but it shows what can be done and, like all failures, is best seen as a foundation for future success.

This is a huge subject. I’ve seen adults paralysed by the idea of failure. I’m sure it prevents many people being happy and successful. All I do is smile sweetly, apologise and move on to Plan B.

As I may have said, the challenge doesn’t help with the quality of writing. It may help fluency and speed but I’m not sure it helps anything else. I really want to be a writer of posts on important, serious and thought-provoking issues. Instead I’m not sure what I really am, though current possibilities for subjects include waking up with a nosebleed, the poetry of Les Barker and curry for breakfast.

Which reminds me, I’m peckish and there’s a large pot of curry on the stove top.

Time to move on and read a very fine comic poem.

Lack of Sleep and an Accidental Poem

After rising at 4.40 am yesterday I expected to sleep well last night. I didn’t.

First waking at 3am I was up again at 4.30, 5.30 and 7.30. Good bit of planning there – I missed 6.30 and slept through the alarm.

You’d have thought that after 60 years I’d have got the hang of sleeping, but it appears not.

As part of my cruise through poetry I now know that if I add a haiku to this post (and grandiloquently call the post an essay) it becomes a Japanese-style poem called a haibun.

Following on from yesterday’s condensed sonnet I’m going to condense another well known poem into haiku form. I originally tried to condense Daffodils, but it kept trying to turn itself into a Limerick. This one worked better. If I acknowledge a debt to John Keats it will reveal the base poem, even if the first line doesn’t.

mist and fruitfulness

poppies and the cider press

swallows gathering

It even falls into 5-7-5 format, even though I wasn’t aiming for it.

 

And Another Clerihew

When I checked after posting yesterday I still need to use the word canicular in a poem. And yes, I use term loosely – it’s the clerihew again.  Here goes.

George Croydon Marks 

Designed railways for parks

And the famous Saltburn funicular,

which is fun on days canicular

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Clerihew, it’s OK to be bad, in fact it’s almost a feature of the form.

Having said that, this is definitely taking us into William McGonagall territory. Do I dare hope that one day I will be elevated to the status of The Great McGonagall and Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings?

 

A Lack of Undiscovered Places

What happened today? Ate bacon, eggs and sausage, couldn’t park outside the shop, packed parcels, sorted coins and saw customers. Not a bad day but not exactly adventurous. It’s the sort of day that used to get explorers in the mood for travel. Thanks to generations of bored explorers there are now no things left to discover, so I needed something different to do.

I thought I’d try feeding poems into on-line translators and see what happened. I used Tall Nettles by Edward Thomas as it’s quite short and he’s been dead for a hundred years so it’s out of copywright.

TALL nettles cover up, as they have done 
These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plough 
Long worn out, and the roller made of stone: 
Only the elm butt tops the nettles now. 

This corner of the farmyard I like most: 
As well as any bloom upon a flower 
I like the dust on the nettles, never lost 
Except to prove the sweetness of a shower. 

I translated it into Welsh, because it’s quite a poetic language. Then I translated it back.

TALL BALLS pay for a length, as they have done

these in many wells, the rusty oblique,

the Long digestion curve, and the roller make of stone:

Only the lamb stomach is at the top of the breathe now.

The corner of the yard I like most:

As well as any flowering on a flower

I like the dust of the flame,

never losing exclusion to experience shower mimster.

No, I couldn’t find “mimster” in the dictionary either. Next I tried Italian.

TALL nettles cover, as they did
These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plow
Long worn and stone roll:
Only the bottom of the elm is on top of the nettles.

I like this corner of the farm:
As well as any flower on a flower
I like dust on nettles, I’ve never lost
Except to prove the sweetness of a shower.

It seems to have stayed closer to the original.

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Nettles in the Woods

 

Then, of course, I had to try Xhosa. For a language that includes a lot of clicks it stayed reasonably close to the original.

RULE is issuing sticks, as it does
These many sources, the riding horse, the farmer
Long term, and stone roller:
Only elm butt elevates fat now.

This farmhouse is my favorite:
Together with any bloom of flowers
I like dust in the ministry, never lost
Besides showing the enjoyment of a couple.

I know what some of you are thinking…

TALL is cut short, as it does
The many creams, the rusty crest, wing
Long-term value and stone:
Communication is too late.

This clogfe bag would like more:
Add any flower to the flower
I love the dust with fat, and I do not lose it
In addition to trying to eat food.

Yes, it’s Welsh, Italian and Xhosa, and no, I can’t find “clogfe” in the dictionary, which is a shame.

So, apart from teaching us to ignore exercises in poetry books, what does this tell us about the nature of poetry?

Let’s be honest – nothing.

It does, however, give a possible insight into the difficult nature of international politics and the role of translators.

And it’s a good argument for keeping computers out of the hands of men with time on their hands.

 

Trivialities

The big news of the day is that I completed my poetry challenge, with 200 written in a fortnight. Very few of them are any good, but it was meant as a writing exercise rather than anything else so that doesn’t really matter. It seems to have worked, though there were days that it seemed to be working as aversion therapy rather than a writing exercise.

It’s only 14 a day when you work it out and if you stick to haiku that’s only 42 lines. it hardly seems like much of a challenge does it?

Or so I thought…

I then went to Sheffield to pick up Number Two Son.

That took more time than I thought, and gave me a few photo opportunities.

 

Butterflies, Curries and Clerihews

We went to Derbyshire today. Despite  being a Bank Holiday it wasn’t crowded and we managed to buy Julia the shoes she needed for the Maltese trip. We also bought some books and ice-cream.

We saw half a dozen Orange Tips and a pair of Brimstones. It really is looking like a good year for both species – I don’t remember seeing as many as this before.

On our return home we scurried round, changed and went for a birthday curry with my fellow shop workers and a few customers. It was a good night, and unlike last time, I was on time (just!), parked across the road and didn’t get rained on.

Yes, for those of you who may be wondering, I am now 60. That’s the “three score years” done with – just the next ten to worry about now.

I’m now going to write some poetry as part of my 200 poems in a fortnight challenge. Don’t worry, I won’t be subjecting you to my efforts, unless I write more limericks or clerihews. I seem to remember I was supposed to be writing more clerihews.

Stop All The Clocks (Part 3)

Sorry, it’s been a while since Part 1 and Part 2, which covered making my own funeral arrangements. I had meant to keep them closer together but, as you know, I’ve not been very industrious lately.

The funeral is going to be non-religious, cheap and hot, with a cardboard coffin and informal dispersal of the remains. Let “economic dignity” be the theme.

That leaves the catering and the music.

The music is a problem, as I’m very limited in my musical taste, and a lot of it has been done before. On top of that is the problem that the music isn’t really for my amusement and going through the curtains to The Crazy World of Arthur Brown may not meet with Julia’s approval. In fact I know it doesn’t as we’ve discussed it before.

Being serious for a moment, my funeral isn’t really about me. Yes, I’ve no doubt that they will talk about me, share a few memories and, if honest, agree that I did have a few imperfections. Really, though, it’s for the people who are left behind, and planning all the details seems a bit presumptuous. After all, I’m not the one who is going to have to sit through it all.

There’s a site with some favourite songs but most of them are either a bit over-used or too sad for funerals or, let’s be honest, rubbish. I’m not going to set myself up as a music critic, but I will be leaving a list of songs not to play at my funeral.

I quite like Banks of Green Willow, though I also like the theme from The Outlaw Josie Wales. Not saying anyone should play them, but there are worse songs to go out to. When the Angels Sing sounds like it should be suitable, but despite my love of the track it doesn’t really fit with my dull suburban life.

One of the things I’ve been meaning to do is write some better funeral poetry as most of it is fairly dreary. We read one of my father-in-law’s poems at his funeral – a short light verse about senior moments and that was good. One of my cousins had one of his own poems at his funeral, which was a bit more serious, but still better than anything you find by Googling funeral poems, apart from Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.

Anything that talks about meeting later or, even worse, being in another room, is definitely out. So is anything claiming I am like wind beneath your wings, or anything else. The word wind, when linked to me, does not, I confess, lead to thoughts on a higher plane. It’s meant to be a dignified occasion and I don’t want any sniggering during the eulogy.

That’s enough for now, we’ll have to cover catering in another installment as I get nervous when a post gets close to 500 words. I’m a blogger, not a novelist.