I very rarely write poetry, not really feeling I have a propensity for it. Every once in a while, however, a novel requires that one of my characters does so and I find myself stepping into their skin and doing the job for them. It’s always a fascinating experience — another way of understanding a character.
And sometimes — just occasionally — I find myself wondering if, perhaps, I should write verse more often. I enjoy the discipline, but whether that’s because it’s always something of a novelty, I don’t know. I’m not even sure how effective the pieces themselves are.
With this in mind, I thought I’d share something I wrote — quite quickly — for the novel I’ll soon be starting, As Morning Shows the Day. It’s a short piece entitled Forbidden and it’s written from the perspective of a girl in her late teens. I won’t tell you anything more about it (it gives away something pretty vital to the novel.)
Let me know what you think of it if you have time.
They touch me in unknown places,
caressing and ashamed.
Secret dreams and longing –
forever driven, forever bereft.
counting the times that never can be.
His eyes upon me
all I can ever know.
By way of a tribute to John Updike, who died yesterday, an interview from 1995.
All text © 2009 Gary William Murning
Whilst researching, earlier today, the soundtrack for “something” I won’t be mentioning or sharing in any real detail for quite a while, I stumbled across a song that fitted my requirements perfectly. Already very familiar with it, I was again struck by just how powerful it is in its original form.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Jacques Brel, be warned — he isn’t very pretty. But as a poet and performer, he truly was magnificent.
All text © 2008 Gary William Murning
“A poet once said “The whole universe is in a glass of wine.” We will probably never know in what sense he meant that, for poets do not write to be understood. But it is true that if we look at a glass closely enough we see the entire universe. There are the things of physics: the twisting liquid which evaporates depending on the wind and weather, the reflections in the glass, and our imaginations adds the atoms. The glass is a distillation of the Earth’s rocks, and in its composition we see the secret of the universe’s age, and the evolution of the stars. What strange array of chemicals are there in the wine? How did they come to be? There are the ferments, the enzymes, the substrates, and the products. There in wine is found the great generalization: all life is fermentation. Nobody can discover the chemistry of wine without discovering, as did Louis Pasteur, the cause of much disease. How vivid is the claret, pressing its existence into the consciousness that watches it! If our small minds, for some convenience, divide this glass of wine, this universe, into parts — physics, biology, geology, astronomy, psychology, and so on — remember that Nature does not know it! So let us put it all back together, not forgetting ultimately what it is for. Let it give us one more final pleasure: drink it and forget it all!”
The New Quantum Universe (2003) by Tony Hey and Patrick Walters; Epilogue. (Originally, from “The Feynman Lectures on Physics,” by Feynman, Leighton and Sands.)
A favourite poem for this time of year…
Now winter nights enlarge
The number of their hours,
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers.
Let now the chimneys blaze,
And cups o’erflow with wine;
Let well-tuned words amaze
With harmony divine.
Now yellow waxen lights
Shall wait on honey love,
While youthful revels, masques, and courtly sights
Sleep’s leaden spells remove.
This time doth well dispense
With lovers’ long discourse;
Much speech hath some defence,
Though beauty no remorse.
All do not all things well;
Some measures comely tread,
Some knotted riddles tell,
Some poems smoothly read.
The summer hath his joys
And winter his delights;
Though love and all his pleasures are but toys,
They shorten tedious nights.