Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hedgerider's Lament~Part IV





The Hedgerider's Lament
Part IV: Samhain Sestina


The harvest grain is thin and sere, the barren cattle half dead
with want of it, shadows not meat hung on their poking bones.
The starving rat is under the straw. Two dogs meet it in the night;
one barks, the other silent grabs its neck and shakes out red.
The hollowed return hungry from the wars where they were lost,
trading bedlam's bright blood for pandemonium's gaudy hour.

Senses shun the hedgerow's bloom, calcified grey in a headstoned hour:
sandburr, bullnettle, goathead, thorns all sharper the longer they’re dead.
The crouched purple aster's maze unpurls to pad them in a battle lost
to puncturing, blue eyed tears disjected over the tracing of summer’s bones.
None can say who'll see the winter out or even one more sunset’s red
downbedded on the grass, when the sun’s head is spiked this night,

a jack o lantern by bonfires built to feed, to frighten night,
to burn the past and with its heat push back the cold coming hour.
Slaughter’s remains make spirit suppers, as hopes and sins flare red.
Bring out the warding masks, for we’re face to face with all our dead
searching in the circling, finding framed in flame the bloody bones
of that which dies for us; flowers, lovers, friendships,years and memories lost.

Every other fire now lies dead upon the hearth, heat and virtue lost
to be made anew. I tend the futile telling in the ghostdance parade of night
peeling the apples, watching the crows, rolling the knucklebones
to say how the favors will fall, what black or golden hour
stand bare, danced out before us on this night owned by the dead
and only borrowed, where every fortune told is washed in red.

All things in the flames fly up; the shadow finds us still in that red-
drench bath. Balefires burn high against the sum of all that’s lost;
I feel you push on the thinning skin with that crowd of grinning dead,
your barkbrown eyes black pits in a skull that prisons night.
I set candles in the west window at the witchwind's darkest hour
to burn, to beckon, and to grieve your moving bones.

So many times I’ve called but never do any tumbled bones
cross over, though your table’s set with summer wine red
in the cup, ringed with daisies. I’ve sat through the last ashen hour
playing your blue tune, danced an old dance over what can’t be lost.
From the corner a mummied cricket rubs its broken legs all night
in a threnody to send you back to the thankless work of being dead.

What is it you have to tell across the void in this hour of the lost?
Your disappearing bones are a scrawled sign, blood ink of deepest red
glowing against the scroll of night, read only by the dead.




 October 2011



Posted for    OpenLinkNIght   at dVerse Poets Pub

You can find the earlier poems in the Lament series, Parts I-III  here



Process Notes: Samhain (pronounced sau-win) is a Gaelic harvest festival and festival of the dead originating in pre-Christian Ireland, associated with the last harvest, the end of summer and the Celtic New Year, the slaughtering of livestock for winter, bonfires(balefires) both of purification and where the bones of the slaughtered cattle were burned, 'guising' in masks and costumes to mingle safely among the dead, who are said to be at their closest to the living world at this time, and divination for the upcoming year. It was and in some places still is celebrated on the last day of October and first of November, and is considered the progenitor of our present day Halloween.



41 comments:

  1. bale fires burn high against the sum of all that is lost...really nice line...some great textures to this hedge...i need to go back and reread all these together...the candles in the window to grieve your moving bones...shivers...ha...nicely played...

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  2. So many times I’ve called but never do any tumbled bones
    cross over.... what a great stanza...love the cricket again..the ashen hour, the blue tune and of course the summer wine and cup, ringed with daisies...powerful and bowing in honor for approaching another sestina...

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  3. Fantastic imagery abounds! Like Brian, to read them all in sync is the next goal. Also inspired within me a new appreciation of this rather difficult form as well. Once again, I leave inspired.

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  4. From the corner a mummied cricket rubs its broken legs all night...great imagery!

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  5. ...an interesting and multi-faceted vision of the many elements that make up your autumnal painting...wonderfully descriptive and artistic!

    Especially like the vivid imagery where you write, "a jack o lantern by bonfires built to feed, to frighten night, to burn the past and with its heat push back the cold coming hour."

    Roger ☺

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  6. A fine, fine conclusion to the round, H - Lament iII found a way to dance over the spoils of winter; IV here finds it tough going with a hard summer's harrows that is more than hot sunlight. The language here is honed to your finest and brews something that goes down like fire and manages somehow to put out the worst of it. Like cures like, I think. Wondering what next year's cycle will invoke ... Brendan

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  7. All things in flames do fly up. A dark piece and wonderful,classical..now go out and see some sunshine!

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  8. Every part of this is consistent and eloquent. This is one of those things that just had to be written and in just this way. Very powerful and resonant. I enjoyed this visit a great deal and admire what you've put together. I'll be re-reading it.

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  9. Wow! dark & intense, but centred, i found the rat, & dogs just the right side of frightening..'in a skull that prisons night' is great...really enjoyed this, amazing imagery...

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  10. Senses shun the hedgerow's bloom, calcified grey in a headstoned hour:sandburr, bullnettle, goathead, thorns all sharper the longer they’re dead.

    Hey Hedge

    These lines work so well, word play was awesome as ever.

    A total immersion in this world is possible and enjoyable as your affection paints poetryscapes that are so well drawn. I can inhabit and rome and smell the rats

    "your barkbrown eyes black pits in a skull that prisons night"

    What a line!

    "Mummied cricket rubs its broken legs" - rich imagery

    Top to bottom you caught my imagination

    Cheers Hedge

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  11. You make my blood
    curdle,
    Myrtle,
    so slip out
    of your girdle!

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  12. Thanks all. About to start the rounds.

    @Natasha--it's a great form, though demanding--it just pulls words out of you, not enough form to be an iron maiden, just enough to make you suck in your breath. ;-)

    @B; Yeesh--don't even be thinking about another round of these..unless I might do a myth cycle...hmmmm...ACK. Get thee behind me, spirit!

    @Arron: I'm always happy when I can engage your insane mind, my friend. And welcome to Rats R Us.

    @Timo: The world is so not ready.

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  13. Absolutely spectacular imagery and wicked wordplay... "trading bedlam's bright blood for pandemonium's gaudy hour." I was there in spirit amidst the cacophony, bleeding with the bonfire as it licked my long dead bones...

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  14. There's that unfortunate cricket again, and the last of your seasonal sestinas, yes? It's a truly fine collection of related pieces you've poured yourself into, collectively unlike anything else I have read.

    There are so many bits here that I love...

    "pandemonium's gaudy hour", "thorns all sharper the longer they're dead.", and the penultimate stanza in its entirety.

    It's a stunning series of sestinas you've created, and our privelege to read them. They richly deserve publishing together.

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  15. I read this three or four times. From the first read I thought the first stanza alone was as good a poem as any I've ever read, perhaps the best. The miracle of the poem is that the elevation set in the first stanza was sustained through to the end. The challenge in making it a perfect sestina met well and surmounted by the finest usage of words to stack the images. These differing in each stanza, creating a truly magical, transcending poem that speaks across cultures, across time, hinting at reasons without ever being didactic. This is poetry in its very highest form. You amaze me!

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  16. @Gay: Gosh, thanks. High praise indeed. Makes the blood sweat and tears all well worth it to hear such kind words from you.

    @FB: Many thanks. You picked my favorite stanza also--glad it all finds favor with the witch of fire.

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  17. Joy - if you haven't already seen this, you should pursue it. If anything or anyone deserves a book of published poetry and a prize, it's you! I believe your work should shelf next to the greats!

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  18. http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/110

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  19. Thank you Gay. I'll take a look.

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  20. Wow... very atmospheric, dark and, full of bones.
    The poor rat that fed one of the starving dogs got me, from then on I was hooked.
    A fabulous write.

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  21. Yes, these should definitely be published. I love your final foray into the Hedgerider's Lament. This last installment is perfection. Picking it apart would be a disservice so I'll just commend your great talent and sit here in awe :).

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  22. The thankless task of being dead. Wonderful witchery here. (And hedgeriding.) K.

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  23. Now, this is a work of art. I can the time that must have gone into this creation. Makes me want to be a better writer for sure. And, I second what others have said. Publish, publish, publish!

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  24. That was supposed to say, I can see the time that must have gone into this creation. Oops! :)

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  25. shadows not meat . . . The starving rat is under the straw . . . sandbur, bullnettle, goathead — how well your horticulture serves your poet self! You harvest strange fruits that become alive under your pen! But I know that it is not only your knowledge of flora that enriches your writing. It’s your love of the grinning dead . . . and flaming and the hallows of the hollows (or is it hollows of the hallows) that brings out your very best (everything you write is very good, but this is stellar). Those daisies are not a happy sight! And there is that raspy cricket again, I love him.

    By the way, two of my friends, one a photographer of tintypes and another a writer, are presenting a gallery show on Bedlam starting this weekend. The photos by Robert are self portraits, imagining himself as a patient there. They are incredible, and eerie. Amazing what an artist can do with imagination. Like you.

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  26. Fascinating read. I really must read the other poems in this series in order. I have really been missing out!

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  27. This lurid lament has tormented me since I read it yesterday - restlessly tossing through the night. Your craft is truly exquisite and awe-inspiring. I bow down before you.This is the best offering I have read in some years.

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  28. Joy, I cringe when you round off 'reds' and 'deads' almost in unison. 'Rats shaken red, sunset's red, sin's flare red plus 4 more 'reds' and also corresponding 'deads' situations. A bit eerie!
    Great verse!

    Hank

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  29. And a lovely series it is...I don't even know where to begin, my friend. A marvelous ode, surging with the atmospheric imagery and skill that is your hallmark. A wicked and intense showing of your craft - another work that leaves me knowing what a true poet looks like!

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  30. Very into the specificities of your "sandburr, bullnettle, goathead" and the evaporating acid feel of their "thorns all sharper the longer they’re dead". "Downbedded" was a lovely word flip, full of feathers and a hard push down.

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  31. wow - very impressive. I will have to try something of length such as this. I am a bit intimidated, however.

    the other silent grabs its neck and shakes out red - this line got my full attention and I was entranced the rest of the read through. a thrilling tale perfect for the season.

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  32. So many great images woven into this piece. Love it! You are a wonderful weaver of words.

    Probably my favorite part...but then again so much to like:
    "Slaughter’s remains make spirit suppers, as hopes and sins flare red. Bring out the warding masks, for we’re face to face with all our dead searching in the circling, finding framed in flame the bloody bones of that which dies for us; flowers, lovers, friendships,years and memories lost."

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  33. Fantastic work in this Sestina. Brooding with great word selection and too many great images to cite. I got so engrossed with this. Must go read the other parts. Thanks for writing.

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  34. I can't even get my head into a place where I can entertain the fantasy of writing a sestina. But to read one like this - I'm blown away. Each instant of the end words, especially "red" keep the poem at a fever pitch where, as Gay said, it came blazing out. I really love that first stanza, but its desperate cry is heard to the end note. I think you've given words to the paintings of Breugel or Bosch.

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  35. Wondrous strange and in formal form, too! Reminded me of the night we had tea with Bridgit and William Butler Yeats, a kind of candlelit seance. This is much darker, of course. Though I kept wondering about the blood -- congealed, it is so much darker than mere red...Blessed Hallows!

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  36. Dense with allusion and potent atmospheres, this yet opens out to be read... thickly applied oils that wink and reveal... those last two stanzas just superb... threnody rhapsody... :)

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  37. So much here to absorb and reflect upon. Intense and compelling.

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  38. You write a wonderful sestina Hedge, I sit in awe. I have read this several times over and am still swimming in the imagery. Wonderfully penned! ~ Rose

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  39. despite all... peeling apples... and life goes on... great effort in this piece

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  40. Dear Hedgewitch

    I could relate to it so much.. as I am from the land of stories, spirits and ghosts... as well as re-birth, re-incarnation, I could believe it all... and the powerful way you have portrayed it, makes me see it happening all in front of me... We have some rituals in India like this too...
    Loved your lines...
    'though your table’s set with summer wine red
    in the cup, ringed with daisies. I’ve sat through the last ashen hour
    playing your blue tune, danced an old dance over what can’t be lost.'

    Perfect. Thanks for sharing...

    Shashi
    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya
    http://shadowdancingwithmind.blogspot.com/2011/11/whispers-fire-faayar-faayaar-dedicated.html
    At Twitter @VerseEveryDay

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  41. face to face with all our dead was one of those lines that made me slow down and drink the rest of this poem in slowly. mysterious stuff you write, like peering through a wine glass.

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg