Every show seventy beeswax candles
flicker and burn in the iron chandeliers.
The player’s breath writhes in the flames
a handful of minutes is all it takes
to tell the best and the worst of us
love and betrayal blazes in the eyes
of the crowd. They go home to their own
story, the players wipe their faces clean.
Alone on the darkening stage
a single figure lowers each chandelier
snuffs out the remaining light.
What Happened on St. David’s Day
In school, we sang:
“Oh, great St David, still we hear thee call us,
unto a life that knows no fear of death”.
It was a life which celebrated song, music, dance
and above all the power and the art of poetry.
Poems were written to exacting form
and the best awarded the highest of honours.
They were learnt by heart by children
who recited them in unison in front of an audience.
We sang about the mountains and the rivers
of the land we loved,
of the blackbird, the thrush, and the cuckoo,
of David of the White Rock,
of idle days in summertime
that lovers spent together,
and lullabies for babies.
We even celebrated the privy at the end of the garden
where the wind blew cold through the cracks,
every morning. ‘The little house ‘we called it.
We sang about loving and living life to the full
and the sound of the Golden Harp
that would sweeten our deaths.
We surrounded ourselves with daffodils
and we laughed a lot.
I’m struck by the stones
not pebbles smooth rounded stones.
The deserted cove I’ve come across
is filled with millions of them
from the foot of the cliff to where
they disappear beneath the waves.
Stones small medium large
every shade of grey.
I pick up a few of these ovoids
weighing them in my palm.
Balance ones of decreasing size
on top of each other constructing
a watchtower in the face of
the tide that foams ever closer.
Next day I return to contemplate
such ruins as remain.
St David’s Day. Ah, where can we go from here?
David…whose popularity in Wales is shown by the Armes Prydein, a popular poem which prophesied that in the future, when all might seem lost, the Cymry (Welsh people) would unite behind the standard of David to defeat the English. So maybe could write a poem about nationalism.. or something of the sort. Here’s ‘Blues’ by Derek Walcott: http://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/blues
Or maybe we could think about David’s life and teachings which have inspired a choral work by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins, Dewi Sant, and an oratorio by another Welsh composer, Arwel Hughes, also entitled Dewi Sant. And in this Dylan Thomas poem the original version had line 17 reading “But for St David, his arms” http://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/my-craft-or-sullen-art.
No it didn’t, I made that up.
On the other hand we could go with his association with corpse candles, lights that warn of the imminent death of a member of the community. The story goes that David prayed for his people to have some warning of their death, so that they could prepare themselves. Here’s a poem about candles for the dead by Bernard O’Donoghue: http://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/candle-dolly-duggan
So there you have it – St David’s Day. Nationalism, inspiration, candles. What does it mean to you – if anything?
nope – it’s nothing to do with geography but more history …
men in green jumpers are easy to spot
when the summer is warm
when the flagstones are hot
with their own set of wheels they cruised down our street
giving the women an afternoon treat
practical chaps who had brought their own tools
we watched how they worked from our paddling pools
they melted the tarmac wherever they stood
bubbled the paint and started a flood
of housewives in slippers who queued for a chance
to fill up their buckets and have a quick glance
at the men in green jumpers who were easy to spot
when the summer was warm
and the flagstone got hot
A good day, today.
Sun high in the sky,
not a cloud in sight.
Air brisk as a whisk,
mind so bright.
An up and away day, today.
St David’s Day.
Here’s a poem by Felix Dennis about a perfect day: http://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/perfect-day
It’s a long time since I posted anything here, largely because most of my brainpower since last August has been devoted to writing an app for the iPad. So… I thought I’d share this with you.
He sees the day
A poem beginning with a line by Dylan Thomas
Especially when the autumn wind
whistles its sad song and brings the dampers down
on summer, then will be the time to find
some way to snap out of this black beat and clown
around a while, go singing in the rain
in patent leather shoes, leave no reason
to let the grieving age prolong the pain
by stamping winter on its season.
Stretch out summer bunting in the autumn sun —
all time, past and future, is best timed out
of mind. Time now is all that matters here.
O forget the grave, the crystal ball, go have some fun.
Think what follows carpe diem about:
trust little in the future
The hump-backed bridge
with its reflection
in the still waters
of the canal
forms a perfect circle
through which I pass.
I emerge to witness
a conjuring trick
as a kingfisher
appears and disappears
in a single blue flash
just like that.