One of the blogs I follow is KK’s Yard Sale of Thoughts, and the other day she posted a response to a prompt. I didn’t take part in the prompt, it seemed to be a “serious poet’s” prompt and that’s about the last way I would describe myself, but it was a thoughtful concept.
They started with an established, published poem. I’m not sure if it specifically had to be a poem, but that’s what KK chose. And just to use that as the inspiration for something of their own. Again, not sure if the output was specified, but she wrote a poem. The poem she chose as her inspiration was written by Walt Whitman.
I’m not very good on literature. I have maybe had a stable of authors like Orwell or Dumas or Dostoyevsky, and I’ve read pretty much everything they wrote. But there are also many authors I don’t know, but feel they might have been rewarding. Whitman falls into that category. KK provided a link to the poem so I took the opportunity. I’ll put the link at the base of my post – it’s a lovely poem but beware, it is a fifteen-minute read.
It’s basically praising the human body. I’m sure I caught “sacred” in there, think I caught “reverence”, so you get the picture. It is certainly reverential.
But I don’t agree. Just for the hell of it, I came up with a response of my own.
Their crumpled bodies, once so strong, Now shrivelled up in fear, I pass among their shellshocked souls, And grieve with hidden tears.
My eyes look on a lady, At one time, better bred, Reliant on her husband, She cannot leave her bed.
“She does herself no favours”, Says doctor with blank stare, In hospital, discharged herself, The clatter could not bear.
He walks with drunken stagger, His neighbours point and gawk, But little do they know the man Has not long learned to walk.
No answer from the old man, His silence is devout, But clearly he is lucid, His words just won’t spill out.
We hail our modern treatments, Survival rates the drive, We miracles of science, Still breathing, yet deprived.
We blindly fund our research, I pain to reconcile, Just how much function must we lose, Before life’s not worthwhile?
This is just my experience, visiting stroke survivors on the hospital ward. All of these people I met; one of them is me. It’s one of the things that bugs me, that a doctor will see a heap-of-jelly stroke survivor, possibly unable to look after themselves, possibly unable to speak, and hail it as a success. I become incredibly sad that once-proud, strong, athletic people are left with bodies that fail them, kept breathing by medication.
I’m very clear that by the time all this happens, we have discovered our finity, so to try to turn that into something infinite, I think, is just cruel.
Patrick McGinty, an Irishman of note, Fell in for a fortune and thought he’d have a goat, Said Paddy, “Now of goat’s milk, I will have me fill”, But when he got the nanny home, he found it was a bill.
Straight away, this is not mine. This is part of an Irish folk song I learned as a boy. Here it is, the best audio version I could find, performed by a superb Irish performer, the late, great Val Doonican.
They say, restore the railways, I say, that would be hard, My house was built in ’67, Upon an old coal yard.
I walk down to the river, Once bridged to span the gap, No way to cross the river now, Bridge melted down for scrap.
Next village had a station, A bustled throng implied, But platforms now stand silent, There, someone now resides.
I’m sorry, this didn’t feel like a limerick day today.
The birthplace of the railway, they grew somewhat organically in the UK. As rail travel declined, however, the process of nationalisation effectively saved many of these railways from bankruptcy.
But even this takeover could not stop the rot, and the Sixties saw swingeing cuts, with many routes axed. Track, infrastructure was torn up, old stations sold off.
Today, well-meaning people, wanting to address the issue of getting people out of their cars, back onto public transport, somewhat naively suggest restoring the railways to their former glory. At the same time, they forget that this was real estate, and was mostly sold off in order to pay the bills. Especially in the south-east, where land commands a premium.
There must be thousands of people, like me, whose houses stand on former-railway property. With a housing shortage too, do they really want to be throwing people onto the streets?
For KK’s Flashback Track Friday prompt. Her music was A Whiter Shade of Pale and she was thinking along the lines of forming a new colour from an existing colour..
I went a few places on this one. My idea straight away was the sea, the sky, the beach, and the million different colours that we collectively label “blue”. Then, the weather changes slightly and we have a million more.
So I wrote a few lines very much as a work in progress. So much has been written about the sea that there is no way I could hope to come up with anything decent in the time available. But I did start off with a clear image in my head.
The waves lap gently on the reef, From strand, a whitish hue, They proffer not the world beneath, Composed of deepest blue.
A paradise, a gently breeze, Light foam upon the shore, But change the weather, and observe, Chastisement lies in store.
The fish abate, the mermaids flee, seek shelter from the eye, The secrets of foreboding sea, Beneath an ashen sky
In 2003 we had a week’s vacation down deep in the south of France. We gained respite from the soaring temperatures by at least being on the shores of the Mediterranean. We were right on the Bassin de Thau, which is essentially an enormous lagoon. Outside, you have open sea. Inside, it is sufficiently tranquil that all you see is row upon row of oysters being farmed.
I’ve kinda got into the habit of posting a song when I complete this post, and this week shall be no different. A famous French song, reputedly written in 10 minutes flat, by a young entertainer, Charles Trenet, as he skirted the Bassin de Thau by train, in wartime France.
This song is famous and has been covered in English, but I’ll link to the original today. The English translation can be found here.