Friday, 15 July 2016

The Republic of Yeah (Revised)

In April/May 2013 I wrote three poems on ‘the way things are’ – ‘A Biedermeir Age,’ ‘The Anthropological Turn’ and ‘The Republic of Yeah’ and posted them August-October 2014. I have come to think that the rhythms in all three were too rugged, even jagged, and have revised them for easier reading. The revised ‘A Biedermeir Age’ can be read here ; the revised ‘The Anthropological Turn’ can be read here
   The third poem, 'The Republic of Yeah' was posted on 11 October 2014 and like the others I have quietly amended it in situ. This cost me more hair-pulling than the others put together. The poem uses a complex stanza and rhyme scheme adapted from models in W.B. Yeats and that most-interesting Cornish poet, Jack Clemo. Hence, hemmed in by line and rhyme restraints, trying to rewrite was mind-boggling work. I suspect that rather than finishing the poem I've abandoned it as the best I can do. The revised 'The Republic of Yeah' can be read here

Friday, 8 July 2016

A Blackbird After Rain

The bird books tell you blackbirds stop singing after July until the following spring; although many may continue singing quietly to themselves in a sub-song or under-song, as if practising. However, where I was living at the time, one or two blackbirds would often launch into full song right up until November, usually in the late afternoon or after heavy rain.
   The poem is in blank verse.


Suddenly, after filthy rain a blackbird,
Lodged in a drooping-fingered cherry tree,
Launched into song, rebrightening the dank
And mud-besmirched November afternoon.
For weeks from the same perch this bird at dusk
Had fretted at the cherry leaves’ decay
And the chill unfriendliness of thinning air
With his persistent “jag-jag-jag” hurled at 
The fading lemon-green sky of evening. 
But now in thanks that the roaring welter had  
Declined it threw out loudly thrills of sound,
Sharp-toned and fluted, clear and perfectly
In pitch, with which on summer afternoons
It had made light liquid and stirred up heat
Into a wide-beaked incandescence of
Plangent beauty and frank incontinence.
In silhouette against the indigo
And slatey cloud-sheet, moving off to leave
Cold skies and a muddle-misted quarter moon, 
The blackbird sang its alto-treble descants,
Whooping ebulliently – his trademark since  
Claiming his ground in spring. But something cracked,
And clattering into a warning yell
He arrowed to a distant tree from which,
Reperched, he gruffly spat his “jag-jag-jag”
Again. Soon, spotting rain and thickened dusk,
Impenetrable as treacle, smothered him 
And shut him up for the night’s tense endurance. 
Unheard the last few days, it proved at least
He still subsisted now that food and warmth
Were scanting: may he still subsist come winter’s  
Open-vista’d blasts, rattling his feathers, 
So that mist-enshrouded on Christmas Day,
He’ll chorus in the snow-piled cherry tree 
Commending birth and the holly’s rich red berries, 
And then endure the famished ice-lands of
January’s neutered stillness, baleful through
February, March, until spring’s boiling blood
Urges him a’back his hen, begetting there 
New life, and harshly-proud he reascends 
His cherry bough, there to sing on, sing on. 

© November 2013