Leaf's wreaths

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Leaf

Leaf's wreaths

Post by Leaf » Sun Jul 28, 2019 6:10 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm not sure whether this will take off, but I thought I'd give it a go...

Welcome to 'Leaf's wreaths', a thread inspired by our David’s suggestion that we all write Norman MacCaig tribute poems; see http://poetsgraves.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=24045

Anyone may place a wreath here, for the poet/s of your choice. And, if you wish, you may say a few things about it :)


Starting with NM, I read a bit about this poet, finding out that he described his religious beliefs as 'Zen Calvinism'. I was going to research that, but I haven't had time, unfortunately. Anyway, in the meantime Elphin posted a poem called 'Zen Calvinism in the Farmyard' on the Dave's Faves thread, which is excellent :D

My poem isn't excellent, but I enjoyed writing it. As I read 'Summer Farm', I was reminded of happy outings to the Cotswold Farm Park. I've written about one of my favourite moments...


Learning Barn

Outside it’s hailing fast and thick
on grass and gravel, tarmac, brick;
a whiny windy final fling
before the milder days of Spring.

I shelter from this late-March storm
inside the Learning Barn. It’s warm;
my navy raincape’s almost dry.
I hold a chick; I’m feeling high.

The chick is yellow, fluffy, sweet;
its orange feet are very neat.
It seems to settle in my palm;
together we are very calm.

‘’E likes you,’ says the farmhand, Stan,
an easy-mannered kind of man.
The chick cheeps softly through its beak;
I smile, too full of love to speak.

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Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by Harbal » Sun Jul 28, 2019 8:00 pm

I won't embarrass you by gushing over your poetry yet again, Leaf. Suffice it to say that the usual magic is still there. :D

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Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by Perry » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:11 am

Since you did not post that poem in the usual critique forums, the question arises as to whether you want it critiqued. I think it's a fine poem, up to your high standards for natural and pleasing language, until the final stanza, when it gets a little syrupy and trite. But again, I'm not sure I should be saying this.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

Leaf

Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by Leaf » Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:26 pm

Harbal wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 8:00 pm
I won't embarrass you by gushing over your poetry yet again, Leaf. Suffice it to say that the usual magic is still there. :D
Welcome, Harbal; it's good to see you here again! Many thanks for reading and enjoying the poem. Any magic you discern is due to the magic of the dear chick :>)

Leaf

Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by Leaf » Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:31 pm

Perry wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:11 am
Since you did not post that poem in the usual critique forums, the question arises as to whether you want it critiqued. I think it's a fine poem, up to your high standards for natural and pleasing language, until the final stanza, when it gets a little syrupy and trite. But again, I'm not sure I should be saying this.
Well, Perry, I'm not adverse to receiving critique here, unless there are rules I haven't come across yet about what should and shouldn't be posted in the Discussion section. Unfortunately I don't have time to workshop properly at the moment, hence my absence from the Workshop zone. However, I might take the approach that any feedback I receive could be taken forwards to my next attempt. So in this instance, I could try to preserve the things you and Harbal like about my writing while being less 'syrupy and trite', as you describe it. I have a lot of love for little creatures, and this tends to overcome my brain :lol:

Leaf

Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by Leaf » Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:39 pm

PS: By 'next attempt', I mean 'next new poem'. The next wreath I lay might be for Eiluned Lewis, with thanks to mac :)

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Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by David » Mon Jul 29, 2019 7:07 pm

This is a nice idea, Leaf.

I thought you might have followed the form of MacCaig's poem, but you haven't. In form, and tone, it is a very different thing. You - or, I suppose, I - put down his poem thinking "Wow, what just happened there?" With your poem I think "Aah. A little yellow chick. Cute."

However, it is quite sweet, if a little over-iambic for my taste. (You need to mix things up a bit, to keep them interesting.) And I honour the impulse.

Cheers

David

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Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by Perry » Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:42 am

Leaf wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:31 pm
Well, Perry, I'm not adverse to receiving critique here, unless there are rules I haven't come across yet about what should and shouldn't be posted in the Discussion section. Unfortunately I don't have time to workshop properly at the moment, hence my absence from the Workshop zone. However, I might take the approach that any feedback I receive could be taken forwards to my next attempt. So in this instance, I could try to preserve the things you and Harbal like about my writing while being less 'syrupy and trite', as you describe it. I have a lot of love for little creatures, and this tends to overcome my brain :lol:
My apologies. My impression is that you don't really want critique on this thread, so I won't offer any in the future.

I have written trite and syrupy things myself, so I didn't think I was being too bold by saying that. As I said, I do like most of the poem. It would seem I've put my foot in my mouth.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

Leaf

Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by Leaf » Tue Jul 30, 2019 6:49 pm

David wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 7:07 pm
This is a nice idea, Leaf.

I thought you might have followed the form of MacCaig's poem, but you haven't. In form, and tone, it is a very different thing. You - or, I suppose, I - put down his poem thinking "Wow, what just happened there?" With your poem I think "Aah. A little yellow chick. Cute."

However, it is quite sweet, if a little over-iambic for my taste. (You need to mix things up a bit, to keep them interesting.) And I honour the impulse.

Cheers

David
Thanks, David :-)

Yes, at some stage I thought I might follow the form of Norman MacCaig's poem, but I lost that thought once the chick turned up. So I might write another wreath, this time trying to follow the form and perhaps seeing where the grasshopper takes me. I'm very intrigued by the grasshopper. I really like 'plated face'.

In the meantime, today an American friend introduced me to NM's 'By Achmelvich Bridge'. I enjoyed reading that too. It includes 'A floating owl' :>)

Best wishes,
Leaf

Leaf

Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by Leaf » Tue Jul 30, 2019 6:50 pm

Perry wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:42 am
Leaf wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:31 pm
Well, Perry, I'm not adverse to receiving critique here, unless there are rules I haven't come across yet about what should and shouldn't be posted in the Discussion section. Unfortunately I don't have time to workshop properly at the moment, hence my absence from the Workshop zone. However, I might take the approach that any feedback I receive could be taken forwards to my next attempt. So in this instance, I could try to preserve the things you and Harbal like about my writing while being less 'syrupy and trite', as you describe it. I have a lot of love for little creatures, and this tends to overcome my brain :lol:
My apologies. My impression is that you don't really want critique on this thread, so I won't offer any in the future.

I have written trite and syrupy things myself, so I didn't think I was being too bold by saying that. As I said, I do like most of the poem. It would seem I've put my foot in my mouth.
There's no need to apologise, Perry :-)

I wasn't offended by 'syrupy and trite', and you're welcome to continue critiquing on this thread if you'd like to. I genuinely didn't know whether this would be allowed, but David has provided a couple of notes today so it's okay. Perhaps we could think in terms of providing 'notes' rather than 'critique', as that seems more in keeping with a thread posted in Discussion. I do value the notes you've provided so far!

By the way, I like your website, having accessed it through the link you posted on mac's thread. There's a lot of interesting content there :-)

Best wishes,
Leaf

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Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by David » Tue Jul 30, 2019 6:53 pm

Leaf wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 6:49 pm
In the meantime, today an American friend introduced me to NM's 'By Achmelvich Bridge'. I enjoyed reading that too. It includes 'A floating owl' :>)

Best wishes,
Leaf
Yes! Another excellent one, which I have just discovered too, as I make my way slowly - and haphazardly - through the Collected Poems.

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Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by Elphin » Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:56 pm

As a lifelong MacCaig fan... he came to our school to talk poetry sometime around 1976 (ish) I am enjoying these tributes

One of my favourites

[url]https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poem/aunt-julia/[/url]

Also worth a read by Andrew Greig is a wonderful book At the Loch of the Green Corrie... a fine MacCaif tribute.

Elph

Leaf

Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by Leaf » Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:34 pm

David wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 6:53 pm
Leaf wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 6:49 pm
In the meantime, today an American friend introduced me to NM's 'By Achmelvich Bridge'. I enjoyed reading that too. It includes 'A floating owl' :>)

Best wishes,
Leaf
Yes! Another excellent one, which I have just discovered too, as I make my way slowly - and haphazardly - through the Collected Poems.
David, is that the expanded edition from Chatto & Windus? I read that it contains nearly 700 poems! Slowly and haphazardly sounds like the way to go :-)

Leaf

Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by Leaf » Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:36 pm

Elphin wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:56 pm
As a lifelong MacCaig fan... he came to our school to talk poetry sometime around 1976 (ish) I am enjoying these tributes

One of my favourites

[url]https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poem/aunt-julia/[/url]

Also worth a read by Andrew Greig is a wonderful book At the Loch of the Green Corrie... a fine MacCaif tribute.

Elph
Thanks for 'Aunt Julia', Elph. I do like a portrait poem (if that's the right term). There seems to be a lot of movement in the poem, and also a lot of humour. I love the sound of 'yarn / marvellously' and the way in which Aunt Julia and aspects of her environment merge in S4. It gets a bit poignant in the last verse, but 'a seagull's voice' makes me smile again. This inspires me to write a poem too, in free verse and perhaps about my Irish Granny, also a character in her way :-)

I'll also take a look at Greig's book; thank you!

Best wishes,
Leaf

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Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by David » Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:28 pm

Leaf wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:34 pm
David wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 6:53 pm
Leaf wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 6:49 pm
In the meantime, today an American friend introduced me to NM's 'By Achmelvich Bridge'. I enjoyed reading that too. It includes 'A floating owl' :>)

Best wishes,
Leaf
Yes! Another excellent one, which I have just discovered too, as I make my way slowly - and haphazardly - through the Collected Poems.
David, is that the expanded edition from Chatto & Windus? I read that it contains nearly 700 poems! Slowly and haphazardly sounds like the way to go :-)
I think it is! An old paperback I must have bought back in the wonderful (late) 80s. I think that - although he is great, a major, major poet, if you want to look at things in those terms - I'd be happier with a good Selected. An annotated one, ideally.

Leaf

Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by Leaf » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:39 pm

Yes, annotations would be very useful :)

In the late '80s, I was getting into pop music, particularly the 'Hit Factory' of Stock Aitken Waterman. In fact, I still listen to this sort of thing sometimes, to keep me awake while formatting, for example :lol: :oops:

However, between work tasks today I managed to look at 'Summer Farm' again, trying to work out the meter. It seems that the first, second, and fourth lines of each stanza have five beats, while the third has... four? :? (not sure)

Any guidance on meter will be gratefully received!
Leaf

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Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by David » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:49 pm

Leaf wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:39 pm
However, between work tasks today I managed to look at 'Summer Farm' again, trying to work out the meter. It seems that the first, second, and fourth lines of each stanza have five beats, while the third has... four? :? (not sure)

Any guidance on meter will be gratefully received!
Leaf
Yes, exactly, Leaf. Except for one line into which he slips a sneaky extra beat - can you see it?

And there's also one other very tricky line, metrically speaking - I think, anyway.

(For beat, people often say foot.)

Perry has written at length about metre somewhere on here. You might find a perusal of that helpful.

David

Leaf

Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by Leaf » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:54 pm

Erm… S1 L4?

Sorry if that's wrong, David; I'm a bit hungry at the moment and I'm losing my wits, such as they are. Once refuelled, I'll try to find the tricky line too. And I'll take a look at Perry's thread tomorrow :D

Leaf

Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by Leaf » Sun Aug 04, 2019 6:39 pm

…and I'm back :)

Unfortunately, poetry time has been rather limited over the weekend, so the wreaths I'm about to lay are fairly small :lol:

Today I tried to write a second wreath for Norman MacCaig ('Summer Farm'), and due to lack of time I settled on composing a little postscript. It's performed by the grasshopper. I think NM would like this approach, as he had a sense of humour. Here's the original poem and the grasshopper's bit at the end:


Summer Farm

NM
Straws like tame lightnings lie about the grass
And hang zigzag on hedges. Green as glass
The water in the horse-trough shines.
Nine ducks go wobbling by in two straight lines.

A hen stares at nothing with one eye,
Then picks it up. Out of an empty sky
A swallow falls and, flickering through
The barn, dives up again into the dizzy blue.

I lie, not thinking, in the cool, soft grass,
Afraid of where a thought might take me—as
This grasshopper with plated face
Unfolds his legs and finds himself in space.

Self under self, a pile of selves I stand
Threaded on time, and with metaphysic hand
Lift the farm like a lid and see
Farm within farm, and in the centre, me.

Grasshopper
The selves console, for they eschew an end
To time—there is no death. My human friend
Has written quite the poem-balm
In which he is immortalised in Farm.

- - -
Well, after that I compiled another wreath for NM, this time after 'Aunt Julia' (thanks again to Elph for that one). I'm not really used to this style, so I thought I'd start small. This makes for a much smaller poem in many ways, but I'm hoping I'll become more confident with practice :)


Irish Granny

Granny wore her greying hair
in a bun at the base of her head,
tied with black velvet ribbon

and her hazel eyes
didn’t smile, but were full of laughter –
even while she washed dishes
or made the tea.

I heard her laugh loudest
during ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’
as sung by my older brother,
who had just joined the church choir
aged 11 or so.

Having asked him to sing for her,
Granny started tickling his tummy
and his immaculate treble
turned to godless shrieking
while her laughter pealed like bells.

I was 14 when she died
following rapid dementia –
and as the funeral bell tolled, solemn,
I heard her laughter in my mind.

- - -
Finally, here's a wreath for Eiluned Lewis, composed after reading her 'We Who Were Born'. I decided to focus on one of the 'lordly things' :>)


King Curlew

Come, I’ll show you
A lordly thing,
The realm of marshes,
Its splendid king;
He wears a robe
Of grey and gold,
His nose is keen,
His eyes are bold.

By day he wades
The marshland dregs
On long-toed feet
Below slim legs;
He spears a crab
Within the mud
And has his feast
Of flesh and blood.

His bed is bare
Till February,
That’s when he calls
Cur-lee! Cur-lee!
He lures a lady
Through the gloam;
They’ll raise four heirs
In richest loam.

- - -
Thanks for reading!
Leaf

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Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by bjondon » Sun Aug 18, 2019 12:28 pm

Hi Leaf, I really enjoyed the gentle meandering and inspiring words of this thread.
I'm afraid I'm stuck in crit mode and just can't resist saying that I think S3 of your curlew poem has room for improvement . . . my principle motivation for saying that being that the other two stanzas are so brilliant :)
Regards,
Jules

Leaf

Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by Leaf » Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:50 pm

Hi Jules,

Thanks for enjoying the wreaths :)

I haven't had time to write any poetry for four weeks, I've just realised. My energy's been particularly low lately and most of it has to go into work, unfortunately. 'Needs must,' as people say. But I've been snatching a few minutes here and there to revise a first draft of a book I wrote during the 2011 Great Convalescence, so that's fun, in its way :D

Best wishes,
Leaf

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Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by NotQuiteSure » Thu Sep 05, 2019 11:31 am

.
Hi Leaf,
just to add my voice to Jules, re Curlew. Nice work.

Regards, Not


.

Leaf

Re: Leaf's wreaths

Post by Leaf » Sun Sep 15, 2019 6:17 pm

Thank you, Wayne :)

I've been working on my book again today, having recently completed a big copyediting project :D

Best wishes,
Leaf

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