November Yeats challenge: Day One

November is the month when those of us who write are encouraged (or goaded) to finish or start that manuscript, to take that brilliant idea and give it life. It’s a challenge I’ve accepted on previous years and have written, if not the full 50,000 words of the challenge, a goodly chunk.

This finishing off of great ideas though inevitably poses the question of what next. For writers, the answer is always, to get it published. That, dear reader, is easier to rattle off than to do, and there is nothing more depressing than having a beautiful story that nobody wants to read.

So, this year, instead of continuing my alternate history/parallel universe story—a lonely boy discovers how to get his nose out of his navel and let himself be rescued by an Iron Age girl with attitude, who also happens to be the girl in his class who is missing and feared murdered by her violent step-father—I’m going to write poetry instead.

I like my story and have enjoyed plotting it out, but I dread finishing it and having to put it on the pile with my other unsung masterpieces. There are no expectations with poetry. It’s a personal effort, written for personal reasons, and I certainly don’t feel compelled to see my  efforts in print.

For each day of this month of frenzied novel scribbling, I am going to post a quote, a handfull of words from a poem by Yeats, and let his magic inspire a poem. Limiting the prompt to just a line of poetry has been hard, as Yeats often spins a single image across half a poem, and I might have been a bit cack-handed with the cut-off point.

Anyone who cares to join me is very welcome. Just leave a link to your poem in the comments or do a pingback so I can read it. May all the saints and all the old gods inspire you 🙂

“they will ride the North when the ger-eagle flies,

With heavy whitening wings, and a heart fallen cold:” —W. B. Yeats


This is my first Yeats-inspired poem.

The dark half of the year


The dark half of the year’s upon us

Galloping with the sound of the wind

That pours from the north, cold as hunger.

The dark half of the year’s upon us

And the moon has horns of silver light

That mask the starry host from sight.

The dark half of the year comes swift

But draws on slow as a hag’s shambling

On the rocky cliff road.

In the darker part of the year I creep

Beneath the bare oak with the hare

And wait for the sharp bright sun of spring.