Elemental

mars

I’m finding it hard to ‘get going’ this New Year.  I managed to extend Christmas as far as possible with a gathering on Epiphany, the Night of Twelfth Night, Russian Orthodox Christmas Eve, before tidying away the Christmas paraphanelia yesterday and then failing to really tackle a list of tasks, many left-over from last year.

At 5am this morning, I woke with a familiar litany of regrets and failures going through my head, got up but then forced myself back to bed and was rewarded with a dream.  I ‘m writing a play about Bishop Benson of Truro, later Archbishop of Canterbury.  In my dream, I’m giving a party at a neighbour’s house.  My neighbour is being very understanding about the increasing number of friends of friends turning up, some rather disreputable, and we are cooking together.  Eventually, an old boyfriend of mine, unseen for decades, unexpectedly arrives – his surname is Benson.  In my dream, he’s dressed in women’s clothing and as he sits down to talk, in what’s now my house, it’s apparent he’s completely transvestite, spends all his waking hours wearing clothes in a style reminiscent of Mrs Thatcher, or the teachers at my old grammar school.  So far, I haven’t a clue about how this will inform my play but the dream is a gift in that it’s energised me and set me thinking.

Since my post that referred to ‘talking poems’, see here, I have been corresponding with poet David Hart who coined the phrase.  He sent me some examples including this extract from Ezra Pound’s version of The Seafarer.

May I for my own self song’s truth reckon,
Journey’s jargon, how I in harsh days
Hardship endured oft.
Bitter breast-cares have I abided,
Known on my keel many a care’s hold,
And dire sea-surge, and there I oft spent
Narrow nightwatch nigh the ship’s head
While she tossed close to cliffs. Coldly afflicted,
My feet were by frost benumbed.
Chill its chains are; chafing sighs
Hew my heart round and hunger begot
Mere-weary mood. Lest man know not
That he on dry land loveliest liveth,
List how I, care-wretched, on ice-cold sea,
Weathered the winter, wretched outcast
Deprived of my kinsmen;
Hung with hard ice-flakes, where hail-scur flew …

I re-read it this morning and it seemed, to borrow T.S. Eliot’s phrase, an objective correlative of my 5am thoughts.

Elements are powerful metaphors.  Certainly being ‘at sea’ is one we can all identify with and the list of sea-faring terms used in everyday language seems disproportionate to the role of the sea in most people’s lives.

One poem that never fails to open further and further avenues of thought in a group, is Robert Frost’s Fire and Ice.  It is ‘about’ so many things and every time I hear it discussed, I hear new insights.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Yesterday’s stasis felt like ice, I was moving slowly, expending a lot of effort to do small things and it was destructive.  I long for some fire in the belly today to cut through and create energy.  I read that the active planets at the moment are slow cold Saturn and fiery Mars – bring on some Mars please!

On another note entirely, I guest-blogged yesterday on Writers Retreat about a course, Introduction to Therapeutic Writing due to run at Falmouth University, 4th – 8th February, led by Anne Taylor and me.  We need a few more participants so please spread the word to anyone who might be interested.