Night charm

And so it is and so it goes and so
The day goes down and down now goes the day.
And when the day goes down where does it go
To watch and wait, and will I find the way?
And this is this and that is that and there
The night comes in and in now comes the night;
And who is who and what is what and where
Are we in all of this? No sound, no sight.
But step by step and by and by it brings
A dream of then and now and yet to be;
And in that moment, suddenly all things
Are seen and comprehended perfectly.
And thus it ends and ends now thus my rhyme
Upon the brink of sleep, and edge of time.

Droighneach: Back on track

You have not changed: it’s me. I’ve been distracted
By events, become estranged from you: unlearning
All I knew and understood, my view refracted
Through dark prisms; all good things lost. But I’m returning.

I let myself be taken. Dumb and dutiful
I joined the fight. Chain yanked, cage shaken, I ignited;
Burned hot and strong awhile, but nothing beautiful
Formed in that flame; no song beguiled, no line delighted.

Please: show me all I’ve missed; the slow revolving
Of the seasons; days kissed by early snow, descending
Into winter’s night, rising to summer, dissolving
In fire and bright gold as the great wheel turns, unending.

By long ways round I stand back where my road divided.
A wrong turn? Perhaps: yet it showed my true endeavour
Is to be your voice, speak your truth. I have decided,
Made my choice. And so to work; today, and forever.

 
 

Continuing from yesterday’s post, I’m making a conscious return to the forms and themes I was exploring – and enjoying – before the events of 2016 and afterwards knocked me off course. I thought my duty as a writer was to join the war effort; but there are many, many others far better qualified who can make bigger and more meaningful contributions to those debates than I ever could. And it turns out I’m not a fighter anyway; it just makes me miserable.
One could argue (and I have told myself for years) that writing about the beauties of the world is pointless, frivolous and self-indulgent, when there is so much hard, real, dangerous stuff to deal with. But I’ve found that road, for me at least, leads nowhere good. It’s time to accept my purpose lies elsewhere and believe it has a value; somewhere, somehow.
Anyway. I felt the need to stretch my writing muscles again – and nothing stretches ’em like the droighneach. (Apart from the sestina, but that’s for another day.) I haven’t attempted this fiendish form for about five years, and now I know why: it is a refined and exquisite torment, made up of four-line stanzas (as many as you can stand) of nine to 13 syllables, with at least one cross-rhyme between the first and second line (eg long/wrong, road/showed) and third and fourth line (voice/choice) in each. Oh, and there’s the small matter of the ABAB rhyme scheme; AND that every line has to end on a three-syllable word. It was quite the tussle, and I’m still not sure who came out on top, but I feel SO much better for it! N.

Sonnet: Us and them

They’ve given all our money to the banks
Who take the bonuses but not the blame;
They’ve added tens of thousands to the ranks
Of unemployed without a hint of shame.
They’ve dragged us into one unwanted war
After another, claiming every time
To be the bringers of the rule of law,
As if expenses fraud is not a crime.
And now they want to slap me with a fine
If I am caught with my dog off his lead.
There’s precious little left I can call mine;
My wants are few; this much alone I need.
We’re all in this together, so they say;
From where I stand, it doesn’t look that way.

 

Our town council is proposing new bye-laws that would force dogs to be on leads at ALL times on ALL council-owned land, including the woods I’ve frequently written about here. As a responsible owner, I absolutely agree that fouling is a public nuisance and utterly unacceptable: that’s why we ALWAYS pick up after The Hunting Dog. I also believe it’s a problem caused (as is so often the case) by a small, thoughtless minority, and that these rules won’t change their behaviour. The council clearly isn’t enforcing its existing anti-fouling laws, so quite how it’ll enforce these new ones – and at what cost – is anyone’s guess. I know this is an unusual choice of form for a protest, but what’s a sonnet if not the expresion of life’s great emotions and passions? Rant over. N.

Parliament of owls

Now as the new moon rises, they convene
Deep in the wood. Dark shapes in noiseless flight
Alight to watch and wait. Others, unseen,
Announce their presence with their haunting calls.
And now the beech-branch-vaulted meeting halls
Stand ready for the business of the night.

For motions of great moment fill the hours
When day is done, away from watching eyes.
The statutes of these stern nocturnal powers
Are handed down to every mouse and vole
That shivers in its nest and hidden hole.
No clemency, appeal or compromise.

This legislature, old as life and time,
Serves its own interests, not some common good.
And at the distant church-clock’s plangent chime
They will divide and pass their savage law,
To be enforced by talon, beak and claw –
Just as their hapless subjects knew they would.

 

When the language hands you a collective noun like ‘a parliament of owls’ it seems a shame not to use it. I often hear the twany owls’ debates down in the woods when I’m walking the whippet at night; as a child, I was terrified by their hooting in the trees behind our house, but now it gives me a real thrill.

Rondeau: So tired

RONDEAU: So tired

I am so tired; my heart and head
Are empty now. A dragging dread
Engulfs me; my thoughts cease to flow.
I’m failing, all because, I know
                                                I am so tired.

My lust for life is all but dead.
Friends asked me out tonight; I said
I can’t; I’ll be no fun. You go:
                                                I am so tired

I wish that I could sleep, instead
Of lying, wakeful, in my bed
All night. I’m in a kind of slow
Decline, but must go on although
                                                I am so tired.

Don’t worry; it’s not that bad really. Just having one of my less-good days. And there’s nothing like working on a rondeau to take the mind off things.