Letter from a Poet. . .
I have read so many poems by famous poets long dead, but their art is lifelong and it speaks to me. I read when I am alone. Did the poet wonder who would read that work? What did the poet try to convey? Oh so much to wonder.
Thoughts turn to childhood. Was there one particular poem or perhaps several to have had a lasting thought?
Walter de la Mare comes to mind whispering magic, nature as well as mystery. "Someone" sets a scene: Who knocked at the 'wee small door' – the small door in the brain, tiny sounds 'the cricket whistling', the 'busy beetle' tapping, the 'wind'. All these lists point to something of mystery and Walter de la Mare leaves this to our thoughts, adding 'I know not who came knocking.'
What advice would Walter de la Mare give to a poet? Would he say to value the past, hold the present and look to the future?
The past – how worldwide or personal thoughts turn and turn everlastingly and through the silence comes a sound.
I love writing letters – emails are not my favourite – the written and spoken word are in my heart.
If I could write to Walter de la Mare and he could reply – what would be his advice? (Means straining the imagination, but here goes. . .)
Thank you for your charming letter. I am so pleased that you mention "Someone". You tuned in well to that. Yes, it is a short poem, but the length is immaterial. When you write, write from your heart: These are your thoughts and usually triggered off by something which has activated one of the senses or your embracing mood.
Do not be tied to poetic form. The heart speaks to the brain; the brain controls your hand holding your pen; and the pen moves to depict the words.
Never be afraid to pause. This may be short or long, and after a long pause it is well to re-read what is written. That may be the time to change words or create a form. Often I write and re-write several times – even over months. Do not be deterred. Many poets write, correct and re-write their work. Sometimes no change is needed.
Read as much as you can from a variety of writers. Sharpen your observation. Poets need to observe minutely and that is put into your memory store.
It was good to have your letter from the future.
My sincere wishes
Walter de la Mare
a jig-saw piece
designed to interact
with other pieces
no smooth edges
to show shapes or colours
it takes an age
to find the measured fit;
a lifetime gathering ideas
which are the colours
adding to the shape.
as years pass
the pattern will
complete the plan of life.
the gathered picture will
not be seen upon this earth.
a dark place
The silence of the soul
to a welcome light
(after St Juan de la croix)
A tiny word
which captures minute moments
in our lives.
A sudden lifting of the heart,
a surge of blood
prompts a pervasive thrill.
Can we recall
these supreme moments?
Recall but not recapture
that tender, tiny moment,
that tiny word
Look to the Phoenix
White pages, blank, surrounded him.
Words swirled around in nightmare
but expressed no thought.
In desperate dream he climbed
a mountain, mystical and steep.
This was Parnassus where the Muses dwell
Euterpe welcomed him and bade him think
about the Phoenix – also in despair –
who built a nest of spices sweet and sang
while the gold sun arose and fired the nest!
This was not he Phoenix´ end, for from the ash
arose a worm from which another Phoenix gradually grew.
The poet wakened, felt a ray of sunshine on the page
and welcome words returned into his soul.
His writer´s woe had gone, the worms of words grew on the page.
Remembrance (1914 – 1918)
How do we remember?
How should we remember?
The poet Thomas wrote of countryside
and songs of birds, with flowers and peace
without the horrors, hardship and the noise –
all things that men were fighting for
and preservation of God-given gifts.
Sassoon and Owen faced reality
presenting gas and guns and death
with words to shock heroistic brave ideals
imagined by a mass of those at home;
if not, a white feather was sent
to shame them into involvement overseas.
Involvement was in trenches, mud and gas
and seeing many of their comrades killed.
and yet the birds still sang
the poppies bloomed
there still was life
that Thomas had no doubt.
Letter to be written:
sympathy of loss
sadness, pen, notepaper
looking at address book
having lost their lifespan.
Stop the tears,
smile and take a deep breath.
Challenge: new address book
many friends to imprint.
Long life means gifts
of so much:
past, present, now future
all to greet life's challenge.
The swell of the music
the beat of the feet
the swirl of the skirts
graceful twirl of the hands
the face enigmatic
the movement intense
the drama is heightened
by handclaps and voice
guitar leads the motion
for the dancer's display
with verve and with grace
to the final Stamp! Clap!
Through Field Glasses
Someone said, "What's done is done, forget it." Were they right? From my high pinnacle I set my field-glasses to remember all – as one never truly forgets.
I try to hone in with my mother's past thoughts. Don't misunderstand, I loved my mother, but often wondered why she seemed so much to take the opposite view to mine. Mother, Why?
You were my longed-for child – a disappointment that I did not produce a boy – but you were precious and I needed you to stay forever.
In your teens, you tried to show your character – I suppose you felt a little constrained, but you were still my daughter. When we looked at Central School, then based in London at the Albert Hall, I felt that I might lose you. So I decided that you would turn down the place they offered. London was too far away from home, from me.
In Glasgow you won honours in some exams, to enable you to teach Speech and Drama. I loved to hear your voice on the air in plays, poetry and stories, but then you wanted to pursue a stage career. When you auditioned for the Scottish National Players I did not think that the Director would phone to offer you the lead role, one Eileen Herlighy had before going on to fame. So I spoke to the gentleman saying that you were too young and under my supervision, so the answer was a firm 'NO!'
He told me that you would make a name for yourself, but I won that argument. I saw you were disappointed, so said you could audition for the local semi-professional repertory where you were accepted and did well, and did not leave home.
You went to London temporarily one summer to study and sit an exam. I booked you in at the Y.W.C.A. in Great Russell St. which I thought was safe, but there you met that man who would be your husband. I remember saying to your father on the ever of your wedding, 'At least you will never leave me. I never thought she would.'
Field-glasses are now put away and I go through what I felt at the times, remembered:
When we visited London, and the Royal Albert Hall, I was almost trembling with anticipation. I would be here for the next three years, so much was ahead of me and it was an honour to be offered a place. London to me was Wonderland – my Mum had lived there and I knew of all the wonderful, wonderful places, theatres, people. Joy was uppermost. And then my heart and soul flipped. I was not allowed to leave home. Why? I felt sick, angry, bewildered. I hated my Mum for saying 'No.'
Home we went. I, scarcely speaking. Mother saying, "Better to study and act at home; and you have a lovely room."
I joined Rutherglen Rep and had much experience of acting and stage management. I auditioned for Scottish National Players and read the part played by an Irish/Scottish actress who went on to be famous. Next day, the phone rang. The Director offered me the part – most unexpected! Mother took the phone from me and I heard her say that I was much too young and she would not allow me to accept! Again, I hated her; I wanted the part! Anger, bewilderment again took over. I was shackled!!
Later I visited London and Mother booked me in at the Y.W.C.A. as I had lessons with a tutor to lose my slight accent, and a little coaching before my teacher's exam. BUT I met someone who was later to become my husband, and fell in love!
On the eve of my wedding I heard my Mum saying to my father, "At least you'll never leave me. She doesn't care!"
It has now made me aware that my Mum loved me, but wanted my companionship forever. All the No's were from love, but love should never be overpowering. Now I can understand her side of things; and I remember that just a few weeks before she died, we had a long talk, some laughs and the realization that I had never really left her.
What is failure?
Does one sink or swim?
Acceptance has to be,
but there's a learning curve:
some failures give a strength
and understanding of some others' needs
for every person has at least
encountered one failure
Reflect and learn.