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My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Trouble with our planet

There are six of us that have met now for many years on a monthly basis to discuss and talk about a monthly book we set ourselves. Our last book was a huge anthology of poetry.* I balk at poetry because it is often impossibly obscure, or if not needs hard work and application to fully appreciate, but of course that is not always the caee. If anybody out there has any inclination whatsoever to look at poetry I would recommend this volume because it has a huge eclectic range and also it is divided into interesting vaguely related subjects which provides an opportunity to read contrasting views on a particular theme.

All this lead me to become more enthusiastic to the point where I thought I would have a go. I didn't want to have the difficulty of conforming to some specific poetic form or rhyming so favoured what might loosely be called Free Verse to satiate my enthusiasm to "get something down."

The first one relates partly to a recent TV mini series documentary on BBC 2 where an artist walks and talks - see my recent post, Taking a Break.

The second, just in case anybody from the other side of the world is not aware relates to our recent named storm Ciara which wreaked havoc all over the UK. This is a distillation of my most recent post: Following the Coast (6)

*Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times. Neil Astley

Global warming, species extinction,
Health threats and News conspire to depress.
Antidotes by donation and responsibility
Fail to assuage for not doing more.

Maybe the luxury of temporary denial?
An artist follows News at Ten
Carrying a friendly camera through limestone sublime.
No music, just footsteps crunching... and birdsong,
And the varying shush of the wind.

Occasional solicited greetings from passers by
And sparingly our artist's artist's thoughts.
And in between, silence…
Silence almost whispers so we absorb white stone,
Green pasture, blue sky and that river now rumbling
Then slowing, seducing like good brown ale
But still letting us see down down deep.


Ciara had me grounded?
No! Ciara forced offspring (both) to rule.
Not for me faint heart, but from respect
I postpone for a day.
Not fields to Cockersand but lakes,
Imposing a furtive stealthy farmyard sneak.
To the coast, a banking track exposed to Ciara’s anger,
I bend and head and waver blown on erratic course. A car.
Again another intrudes upon my will.
I’m forced to teater from the edge,
Unstable with the wind to steep and slippery grass.

Now a concrete path only a foot above the lashing tide,
Driven spray and I am drenched.
No sneak now but blatant retreat.
A benign deserted road, another squelchy plod.
The abbey of Cockersand more bedraggled than I - how long
I ask has it here endured?
A modest red stone cube tortured by nine hundred years
Of violent storm. The camera is too unsteady in the gale.
There is a kind of thrill, but this is no place to linger
As I turn to complete this rebellious forbidden day,
And refelct on those of stronger heart who here spent harder days
And many harder months and years.


  1. Better than many one reads in those seductive 'slim volumes' on the shallow shelves of dark inviting booksellers !
    Keep it going

  2. - actually, on second reading, very good : far better than the stuff one sees on the tube, although they are limited to four or at most six very short lines, almost ko-ans - you really do capture the essence not only the physical but the metaphysical also - which is and has been the duty of the poet down the ages.
    of course there are lines and constructions which jolt and jar a bit, but if these really are your first efforts, take a bow.

  3. gimmer - thanks for that. The lonely single comment!

    I know there are jagged sections but if one reads aloud placing emphasis appropriately a lot of that can be ironed out- after all this is the cop-out of Free Verse and whilst one tries to keep a rhythm and momentum it doesn't lend itself as easily as does adherence to a formula, but that for me at least would introduce more difficulty and for the moment I prefer to mess about like this and surprise myself with tricks and word usage that one wouldn't think of using in prose*. I think poetry should be read aloud to clarify devices that would not be used in normal speech and/or reading. Because everything is compressed certain words or groups need a different inflection to bring out more the meaning.

    * One example is where I tagged on "A car." at the end of a line which I know does jar, but it expresses the fact that this was an unwelcome interruption to my progress and if read aloud with strong emphasis I think my intention would be more obvious.

  4. Well I must say that your poetry is great to read. Well done. Have a go at writing a Haiku and lets see if we the readers can grasp what it means. Well done Conrad and keep it up.

  5. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
    As I have knowledge of your physical wanderings at Cockerham your poem is quite evocative. The same goes for the Yorkshire wanderings.
    Well done - I knew something would come out of your book club, do they know they have a budding Bard?
    With regard to your comment on reading out aloud, I expect an ongoing commentary in verse on our next trip out.

  6. Alan R - Thanks for the suggestion. For me I don't want my readers to feel they are trying to solve The Times crossword. My aim is to convey a sharp picture or atmosphere or point of view by hopefully skilful use of words clear enough for the reader to get the drift and at the same time be surprised or jolted perhaps into some interpretation that they hadn't previously considered. I have had alook at haikus and I wouldn't discount trying, but with all things artistic I find I can't start without a strong feeling for the subject and I therefore will have to wait until some strong idea jumps out at me.


    BC - With the current weather we may have to wait for that outing until:

    "Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,..."

  7. "...And summer’s lease hath all too short a date"

  8. Excellent Conrad. I failed to read your post thoroughly enough and thought you had selected poems from the anthology! I’m currently reading a different kind of poetry - Sean Carroll’s (Theoretical Physicist) “Something Deeply Hidden” - Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime. The main title is part of a quote from Einstein. So far it’s living up to the reviews, so worth a read even if physics is not your thing - though it helps. Meantime more of your poetry please.

  9. afoot - that sounds interesting. I enjoy science and take an interest but tend to struggle when it comes to the quantum theoryf when they are talking about stuff nobody can see. As for more poetry I am waiting for new inspiration - perhaps I could write one about not understanding quantum theory?

  10. You'll notice that the allusions all come from a sonnet (actually a Shakespearean sonnet, there are variants). Fourteen lines governed by tight rules: ABAB CDCD EFEF, ending with a rhyming couplet. If you are looking for your work to be quoted in three-hundred years, as with this author, disciplined formats may be the way to go. They are not necessarily the enemy of emotion:

    Diane: in hospital and later

    I would not have you prone, my dear, but up
    And wiping plates, sharp-tongued, close at my side,
    A kitchen critic, keen to laugh and slap
    My washing-up techniques with woe betide.