A winter symphony


With all the beauties of the morning
I composed a symphony
To strum the swallows balanced in the whispering breeze
With the music of what you meant to me.
I hummed the bee-strung spires of buddleia
Nodding from ruined windows emptied of their glass,
Sung the river water dimpled by the wind
And dappled shadows shifting on the grass.
I wove the warbler’s rippling song
And the sound of shimmering silver light
Pouring from the poplars’ wind-turned leaves
With the shrill glissando of the falcon’s plunging flight.
I brushed it with the scent of roses
And abandoned garden walls all overgrown,
The dark, damp smell of riverbanks,
The lizard-golden pulse of sunny stone.
I gathered a chorus in the dawn’s pale light
From the far off woods where the blackbird sings
And filled the silences between the beats
With the fragile fluttering of butterfly wings.
I make the music swell until it almost drowns
The echoes bouncing hollow back and forth
Cold enough to crack the stones
And break the bones of the frozen arctic north.
But winter words slip wrapped in rags of night’s indifference
Between the chords of sunbeams rippling from a mocking sky,
And rumbling low beneath the beat of purple spires
The single word that you had left to say—Goodbye.

Sea pictures

This painting is by Feike de Vries who was kind enough to give me permission to reproduce it here. You can see more of his excellent work on his website, inspired by the immense waterscapes of the North Sea coast.
The picture was sent to me by Peter Bouchier who loves seascapes and broad skies. Being Dutch I suppose it’s in the blood. Visit his blog if you also love the sight of tall ships and the open sea.

Wijde Aa Feike de Vries

I told Peter that if the painting inspired a poem I would post it so here it is. To my mind, the great, awe-inspiring scenery of Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, the Himalayas, even the Amazon rainforest, is magnificent but ephemeral. Mountains are eroded by the wind and the sun, cracked by ice; the forests are cut down and despoiled. But there is something completely timeless about the flat land and seascapes of northern Europe, Le Plat Pays, where the sea and sky stretch from horizon to horizon. Here there is nothing but eternity.

Pale curtains of light
Fall through the cloud that
Stretches, a jostling ocean that
Presses down on the heaving sea that
Rolls ceaselessly against the shore that
Hangs to the water’s edge
Raked by watery fingers that
Claw back borrowed stone and sand.
Land crouches
Pressed between relentless sea and sky
Beetling into elemental insignificance.

I thought I’d add a musical bonus: Jacques Brel’s Plat Pays. I usually find Brel a bit hard to take, verging on the histrionic, but here, singing about ce pays qui est le sien, he comes over more passionate than hysterical.