Gravity

The ship is falling into Jupiter

The planet’s pull’s too strong for all our engines

I cannot impress too strongly upon you

The gravity of the situation.

 

This very short poem (or maybe it’s just comic verse) allows me to do something I’ve been thinking  about for a while – to re-feature some earlier poems I posted with some additional comment. I’m dubious about talking about a poem before people can encounter it for themselves, but these poems have been on the blog for months now and some friendly commenters have encouraged me to talk more about my poems. So I’ll do this with just a selection of poems about which I have a fair amount to say and make a start here with just two – Spirit Mountain and Knight at Arms.

 

SPIRIT MOUNTAIN

 

“Said to be haunted”

“Source of strength and madness”

Alone on the night mountain

I wait, curious.

 

Screeches and groans

Tear the night, only I

Know they’re ravens

Not demons.

 

Harbour lights, town lights, wandering

Headlights shine and

Are gloved into mist

 

Pale flame of sunrise

Seascape afire

Ghosts? Then within us

 

But a trickle of

Welsh blood speaking:

Perhaps in the soil

Out of time, sleeping.

 

This describes a night I spent on the Welsh mountain of Cader Idris (Cadair Idriss). There is an old myth that if you spend the night on Cader Idris, the next day you’re either mad or a poet (bard). It was also, in old Welsh poetry, a place of spirits.

 

I’d wanted for some time to spend a night on a mountain. This one is not too inaccessible or hard to climb and has or had a refuge hut (but no door, beds, windows etc) on top. I was intrigued by the mountain’s reputation and, while not expecting anything supernatural, did not rule it out.

 

Nothing strange happened. Ravens were flying about making their strange cries before dark, but they continued after dark, suggesting what might have led to some of the stories. The sunset was incredibly beautiful over the distant Cardigan Bay. The night started clear but fog came in and rolled in and out so that I could see town lights or the lights of vehicles, but suddenly they’d disappear. Next morning the dawn was as savagely beautiful as the sunset.

 

That pretty much gives a prose description of what I describe in the poem – except that when I first wrote it, it did not have the current last verse. I weighed the poem up in my mind and felt uncomfortable with the ending, which for me too strongly suggested that ghosts and the like were within us only – so I added the doubt-making last verse. The “trickle of Welsh blood” is my own 25% of Welshness.

 

KNIGHT AT ARMS

 

Riding a jet-black steed

In snow-white armour clad

He aims for noble deed

In war of good on bad

 

He seeks the Holy Grail

In purity of thought

No failing on the trail

Will have him lured and caught

 

He’ll sacrifice his life

Or any other’s too

The outcome of the strife

Depends on being true

 

And noticing the stain

From some unlucky beast

Or villager’s loud pain

Would shamefully have creased

 

His shining banner and cause

So quickly he rides on

Ruled by his Order’s laws

But where the light has shone

 

It travels not with him

And all his noble death

It stays on blood and skin

Impure and loving breath

 

I suppose it’s fairly clear this is about the fanaticism of purity. The knight is a genuine idealist who believes in a pure ideal and kills or turns away from suffering without remorse because of that ideal. There were plenty of such people among the knights of Western Christendom, as also in Islam, but  had particularly in mind the Nazis (who were obsessed with purity), since Himmler was fascinated by the Arthurian legends and saw the SS as a recreation of the knights of the round table! He also saw the creation of a higher morality and type of human precisely in the ability of SS concentration camp guards to see and cause incredible suffering and mass death without feeling human sympathy or remorse. Let us say that although in some ways I am an idealist, I find myself on the other side from Himmler’s beliefs.

 

Deliberately, the poem starts out as if praising the knight: the ambush is in the second line of the third verse.

 

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7 Comments

  1. Caddo Veil

     /  March 16, 2012

    I, for one, really appreciate the commentary, Simon!! Thank you, and God bless you abundantly.

    Reply
  2. I’m off the spirit mountain of my soul!!!!! Thank you Simon…

    Reply
  3. off to…pardon me…

    Reply
    • I did wonder. I thought your first comment must be very deep and poetic, because I didn’t understand it. Cheers!

      Reply
  4. Your commentary adds deeper meaning to your poems. I could see why you did not post the additional lines when you first posted the poems as I also like to let the readers come up with their own perceptions and meaning for the poems. I did enjoy learning more about you and the circumstances under which the poems were created. Thank-you.

    Reply

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