Blue Murder

This bit of writing is for Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt, which, this week, considers the theme of colours. My attempt at the prose challenge seems to have gone in the opposite direction to the light, happy thoughts that come to mind, though! Thanks for reading and enjoy.


Colours.jpg
Credit: Sammi Cox
She screamed blue murder when I told her.

I think she blames me; because I was his friend, but older and therefore surely more mature, it was apparently my responsibility. That wasn’t right, though; he was my friend, but that didn’t mean that I knew every, little thing about him. I didn’t know – I mean, how could I have known?

He should have told me that he couldn’t swim!

I sigh, my eyes falling on the colourful fields beyond the village. All I feel is guilt, and all I get is blame.

I hadn’t even had time to cry.

King Arthur: Ruthless Killer?

I’ve recently begun reading Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur, quite a long text from the 1600s that tells the tale of King Arthur Pendragon. I’m going to be doing a series of reviews for this book, simply because it’s so long – and also exceptionally interesting – but, before I get round to that, I had to address this issue.

NIGHT3435. "King Arthur vs Jaime Lannister". Comic Vine, 01 Apr. 2015. https://comicvine.gamespot.com/forums/battles-7/king-arthur-vs-jaime-lannister-1658795/
NIGHT3435. “King Arthur vs Jaime Lannister”. Comic Vine, 01 Apr. 2015.

We always seem to glorify King Arthur, thinking him the quintessence of the chivalric knight, always putting his people first and generally serving as the best king that we could possibly put into words.

Perhaps we favour him because we relate to some of the issues that he sought to solve; the general point of the round table, after all, was that all of King Arthur’s knights would be seen as equal, preventing him from having favourites in the court. As equality is now still such an enormous issue, we approve of how, even so long ago, Arthur was fighting for a fairer, more equal society.

But there’s a twist.

There are quite a lot of things in the myths of Arthur that don’t quite fit in with our image of the glorious, faultless king of Camelot.

Then King Arthur let send for all the children that were born on May-day, begotten of lords and born of ladies; for Merlin told King Arthur that he should destroy him and all the land should be born on May-day. Wherefore he sent for them all, on pain of death, and so there were found many lords’ sons and many knights’ sons, and all were sent unto the King. … and all were put in a ship to the sea, and some were four weeks old, and some less. And so by fortune the ship drove unto a castle and was all to-riven, and destroyed the most part.

I know this isn’t the easiest text to understand, so here’s a breakdown: Arthur has sent for all the children and babies in his court that were born on May Day, put them on a ship, and left them to drown.

He does have a reason for this, but that doesn’t redeem him much; Merlin has recently told Arthur that because he unknowingly slept with his sister (that was a surprise for me, too), he’d ensured his own destruction, for his sister had given birth to Mordred, the boy who would one day destroy Arthur.

Now, the kings had a habit in Arthur’s day of passing off their children onto their knights, so the queens wouldn’t have to mother the babies. So… Arthur doesn’t know where his son is, what he looks like, or what his name is. All he does know, is that he was born on May Day.

His solution: kill them all.

Le Morte Darthur.jpgI was absolutely horrified when I read this short paragraph somewhere near the end of part I of the book. I simply hadn’t expected such brutally to be passed off so casually, and, even though there is a reason for it, this Herod-like behaviour seems entirely unjustified.

I did some more reading, and found Marie Nelson’s narrative of the event. According to her, Arthur was still acting nobly, because “Merlin told him that the man who would destroy him “and all the lorde” would be born on May Day. The motive for Arthur’s act could have been a desire to preserve his own life and thus protect his kingdom” (Nelson 267). Now, the key bit to note here, is that Merlin told that Mordred would destroy “all the lorde”, not just Arthur.

Yet, at the same, it does stand to reason that Arthur cannot protect his kingdom from beyond the grave. In that sense, I can understand Nelson’s view, yet, at the same time, and perhaps I’m being pretty anachronistic here, but I don’t feel as though a good, strong king, who sought only to protect his kingdom, would want to murder babies!

Perhaps I’m wrong, but, either way, I can honestly say that Le Morte Darthur is proving itself to be a fascinating read.


Sources

Malory, Thomas. Le Morte Darthur. Edited by Helen Cooper, Oxford UP, 2008.

Nelson, Marie. “King Arthur and the Massacre of the May Day Babies: A Story Told by Sir Thomas Malory, Later Retold by John Steinbeck, Mary Stewart, and T. H. White.” Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, vol. 11, no. 3 (43), 2000, pp. 266-281. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/43308459.

Nameless

Here’s my attempt at the latest photo prompt challenge from Creative Writing Ink. With no word counts and no real guidelines, this has to be one of my favourite challenges. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy!


I didn’t know her name. She hadn’t told me, and I’d never thought to ask. There hadn’t been time, but now – well now – I regret it more than anything.

I’d only known her for five minutes. She’d been waiting in the back seat of my car when I finished work. I’d thought then that I was going to die; ironic, really.

Nameless
Credit: Kristina Flour

I remember how she’d jumped out at me and whispered in my ear,

“Don’t go into work tomorrow.” Then, with a delicate finger pressed against her lips, she’d slipped back into the darkness, and I’d never seen her again… not in the flesh, anyway.

I don’t know what had made me listen to her. I don’t know what had made me ring up sick, but I’d done it.

I’d been sitting at home with my son when the news article came on: 50 dead in office fire.

I would have been there, in the centre of it all, but I wasn’t. I’m here at home, sat at my kitchen table, when all my colleagues, my boss, the HR lady, the intern, the people who worked in the kitchen and that mysterious woman who’d saved my life, had been burned alive.

I don’t know who she was, and I don’t know why she’d been in that office block if she’d known what was going to happen – not that she could have. In my heart, I hope she was trying to get people out. I hope she was warning them, just like she warned me, but in my head, none of that makes sense. She couldn’t have known about the fire. It had been put down to a small kitchen fire that had just veered out of control.

How could she have known? Unless she was responsible.

I sigh, tossing the morning’s newspaper away from me.

They’d moved on from the fire already, those reporters. They’d forgotten about the HR lady and that nice intern. They didn’t care about those nameless, faceless workers, because they weren’t important anymore. They were gone.

I won’t ever move on.

I can’t move on, because, in the back of my mind, there are all those horrible thoughts. There are the voices that whisper at me when I’m trying to sleep, telling me that I’m supposed to be dead.

The one thing that I’ll never understand, though, is why it was me that the woman warned. Why wouldn’t she tell the boss or the boss’ boss? I’m no one important. I’m just another nameless, faceless worker.

Except I’m alive.

“On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer”: Analysis

The Poem

On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer

By John Keats

Much I have travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies,
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific – and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise-
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

The Message

Keats’ “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”, published in 1816, essentially tells the tale of his epiphanic revelation of George Chapman’s translations of the Homeric epic; although he was familiar with The Iliad and The Odyssey before this introduction, he feels as though he has never quite experienced Homer in this way before, comparing his discovery to an astronaut discovering a new planet, and to Cortez discovering the Pacific.

The Analysis

Metre & Structure

This is an example of a Petrarchan sonnet, its fourteen lines written in iambic pentameter. However, whilst the common Petrarchan sonnet is made up of an octave (8-line stanza) followed by a sestet (6-line stanza), Keats has kept this poem as one, unbroken poem, which perhaps reflects his excitement at this discovery. This poem nevertheless follows the rhyme pattern of the sonnet, with the first eight lines following an ABBA rhyme scheme, and the following six displaying a CD alternating pattern.

Line by Line

  • “Travell’d” – It’s interesting that this one of the few truncated words in the poem, and may represent how, at twenty years old, Keats hasn’t actually been anywhere yet; he’s only travelled via his beloved literature, such as the works of Homer.
  • “Realms of gold” – Keats refers to literature and the arts, illustrating the value in the written word; this is important as he sees his discovery of this particular translation as a realm of gold in itself. However, this reference can also be applied to travel and the physical “gold” encountered in Homer’s works.
  • “Western islands” – On the surface, it would seem that Keats is referring to the islands travelled by Odysseus in the Homeric epic, where he witnessed creatures such as the Cyclops and the witch, Circe. However, these Aegean islands would have been considered eastern, not western; so, in this clever reference, Keats simultaneously refers to the explorers that were setting out during the early 1800s to explore the new world and the west indies.
  • “That deep-brow’d Homer” – Keats not only explicitly relates these first eight lines with Homer through references to Apollo, as well as to bards (this was supposed to be Homer’s role during his lifetime), but uses Homer’s own writing style to describe the poet; Homer was famous for his epithets, which are short phrases accompanying a character’s name that critics believed were a way of helping Homer to remember the story, as Homer’s works would have been performed orally. Common epithets are “pallas Athene” and “cunning Odysseus”, but “deep brow’d Homer” certainly fits the mould.
  • “Yet did I never breathe” – This line is ironic as Keats includes enjambment in this line, following into the final line of the octave. It represents his own excitement at this discovery.
  • “Then” – This “then” marks the end of the octave and beginning of the sestet, but also a change in time. I only emphasise the importance of the octave and sestet as they really are quite different. In the first eight lines, Keats is telling us everything he knows about Homer. He’s telling us how he’s travelled through the works and appreciated the stories, but the final six are the actual revelation, verbalising how Keats feels once he’s read Chapman’s translation. This is emphasised by the increase in enjambment in this final sestet.
  • “Watcher of the skies” / “Eagle eyes” – Keats seems to praise himself for finding Chapman’s translation, suggesting that it was his own prowess at finding the work, but, in reality, he’s alluding to his astronaut metaphor and thus heightening the feeling of discovery in the poem (Keats didn’t discover Chapman’s translation at all; it was introduced to him by his friend Charles Cowden Clarke).
  • “Stout Cortez” – One point here is that Keats has put in another epithet, linking himself further to Homer, but the other is that he has made a slight error here; it seems that the poet confused Cortez, the conqueror of Mexico, with Balboa, who discovered the Pacific from a summit in Central America. Some critics have excused this error, however, Jerome McGann suggesting that “the image is at once ludicrous and wonderful, like everything else in the poem … The poem transports us to the most forbidden world of all the Rosebud world of adolescence, barred out more securely by adult consciousness” (McGann 122). Perhaps what Keats meant by this error, then, was to suppose that Cortez could rediscover Balboa’s work, just as he, himself, experienced Chapman’s translations after many others had already discovered it.
  • “Silent, upon a peak in Darien” – This final line of the poem concludes Keats’ excitement over the translation. The caesura following “Silent”, not only disrupts the sonnet’s iambic meter, but, along with the final end stop, accentuates the wonder that Keats experience as he is rendered mute, his dialogue disrupted by the power of Chapman’s writing.

Overview

homer
My original analysis of this poem
Like all the Romantic poets, Keats liked to make his writing very personal. He isn’t talking about the external world at all in disconnection to himself; he only refers to the external as a way of describing his own feelings. It is therefore important to remember that “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer” is the embodiment of Keats’ own experience; after all, it’s written in first person, and whilst this doesn’t always mean that the narrator of the poem is the poet, themselves, in this case, I think it’s fair to say that we’re listening to Keats’ own voice.

It’s a clever poem, and acts as a way of, not only embodying Keats’ thoughts, but also as a way for him to sort through them. It has been noted by Coleridge, another of the Romantics, that one of the best ways of exploring emotion is to write short poems that conform to a strict rhyme and metre structure. This, perhaps, may explain the rigidity of the poem, for, despite Keats’ excitement, he never misses a single rhyme.


Sources

McGann, Jerome J. “Sentimental Grounds: Schiller, Wordsworth, Bernardin, Shelley, Keats.” The Poetics of Sensibility: A Revolution in Literary Style. Clarendon Press, 1998, pp. 119-126.

Sky Waltz

Here’s another bit of creative writing for Sue Vincent’s #writephoto challenge! Every week, Sue provides one of her own photos to inspire writers. This is an excellent challenge and a good opportunity to strengthen your writing skills!


wisp
Credit: Sue Vincent

Their whispers are distant at first. They barely carry over the harsh whipping of the wind. As the gale strengthens, though, so do their voices; as it batters against them, whipping their hair into their faces and forcing tears from the corners of their eyes, their throats grow hoarse from their shouts.

Then, far above them, the clouds begin to shift over each other, as though they’re engaged in some great waltz. They twist together, unfurling and tumbling over each other.

One of the men in the front row throws a grin behind him at his youngest daughter, whose eyes are wide as she stares skyward, mouth slightly open and hands outreached, desperate to join the dance up above them. The father grins again, his chanting growing louder still, until, at last, the rain begins to fall.

Guarded – Part One

I’ve decided to start up a series of blog posts that tell the tale of “Guarded”, a story that I started writing a little while ago. As ever, I will try to illustrate the story with my own pictures; thanks for reading and enjoy!


Fireflies danced through the half-light, their wings an endless rush of colour and sound. They lit up the lake, making it dance and shimmer, as if it, too, was trembling in anticipation. The first firework rocketed upwards, and the fireflies darted into the bushes all around, fleeing as far greater colours and sounds cascaded around them. The night was instantly awash with cheers from the surrounding villagers, laughing whilst their children gasped in awe at the beauty of the celebrations.

fireworksAmata turned to her brother, a grin stretched across her face. When he didn’t look at her, she reached for his hand, childish desperation fuelling her plight. When Jesse shook her hand away, however, Amata stepped back in defeat, head low, despite the excitement all around her. Her brother still did not speak, but when, at last, she let out a small sob under her breath, he withdrew his dark eyes from the skyline to gaze at her, instead.

“It’s not your fault,” he whispered, and gave her hand a quick squeeze, before he turned his head back to the sky, once more. Amata sniffed slightly, glancing towards the masked Guardian who stood behind them. His featureless face was not looking up at the sky, as all as the villagers’ were; it was gazing straight back at her, head tilted slightly to the side.

Amata whipped back around and forced her head upwards, but her eyes were closed. She could still here the gasps and cheers of amazement all around her, but they suddenly sounded hollow. Her eyes remained firmly shut for the rest of the show, only one question filling her mind: how long had He been watching?

When at last there were no more fireworks to let loose, the villagers’ necks drooped slowly back to the dusty earth at their feet, waiting for The Verdict that they knew was to come.

The Guardians, surrounding the villagers on every side, drew slowly in, brushing past adult and child alike as they crossed the old bridge to the centre of the lake. There they gazed out at their captives, masks shielding their greedy expressions.

11240697_889816434390710_701256414_nThere was silence for a few seconds, and then a great orb of light shot out from the midst of the Guardians’ cloaks. It rose up, much like the fireworks had only minutes before, and split into five smaller orbs of fire. As they began to drift slowly towards the villagers, not a single head was lowered.

Amata wanted to reach for Jesse’s hand again, but she knew better. If they escaped with no reprimand tonight, then she knew that she could not make a mistake like that again. It was not only her own life that she was putting on her line; it was Jesse’s too, and she would do anything, rather than having to see him hurt.

Her eyes were fixed on the nearest orb of light, as it drifted lazily over its spectators. Over on the far side of the lake, one of the orbs had already found its destination: the resultant screams piercing into the night were enough to tell her that.

The orb was directly above her head now, its head burning her skin even as she gazed up at it. She’d never been as close as this to an orb before, and she hadn’t realised how strangely mesmerising they were. She felt the strangest urge to touch it rise up inside of her, but then another scream from across the lake jerked her back to reality. The orbs were dangerous.

Jesse was watching the orb, too, his thick brows furrowed as he watched it hover directly above them. Amata had just processed the horrific thought that the orb might have stopped moving, when Jesse grabbed it from mid-air.

Amata’s world froze. She watched as if she was a stranger to the boy who had just plucked the fiery mass from the air. It wrapped its snake-like tendrils about his wrists and ankles, binding him even as it burned him, and then whisked him away, dragging him to the circle of Guardians who stood, waiting.

She needed to scream, but she knew that she couldn’t. She only watched helplessly as her brother floated eerily in the air, his beautiful face alight with the pain he supressed. He and his four fellow captives, all floating beside each other, looked like every other captive of every other Verdict that there ever had been since the Guardians had first arrived at the village, yet this was so wrong. It wasn’t a stranger that Amata was watching suffer: it was her brother. It was Jesse.

Author Spotlight: Terry Pratchett

Author Spotlight

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015)

Appreciating literature in the modern age can sometimes be difficult. Jacobean and Victorian works may always draw more attention to themselves, for literature appears to gather more importance with age. However, this does not mean that modern authors should be neglected, particularly when their books convey the power and magic of Terry Pratchett.

Preachin’ Pratchett

Sir Terence David John “Terry” Pratchett was known for his fantasy works in the Discworld series. These forty-one novels, starting with “The Colour of Magic” in 1983, and ending with “The Shepherd’s Crown” in 2015, have spanned over thirty-two years. Their influences range from J. R. R. Tolkien, to Charles Dickens and Shakespeare. This diversity is reflected in Pratchett’s world, which is a flat disc, balanced on the back of four elephants, who stand on the back of the infamous Giant Star Turtle.

Some Inspirational Quotes

“Real Stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.” / “I’d rather be a rising ape than a falling angel.” / “Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.” / “Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.” / “It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done.” / “There are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this.” / “The entire universe has been nearly divided into things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks.” / “The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head.” / “Goodness is what you do. Not who you pray to.”

The Joy of Writing

Arguably one of Pratchett’s greatest traits was the genuine love he had for writing. He is famously known for having said that monetary rewards were “an unavoidable consequence”, rather than a reason for doing something.

Pratchett even went as far as to discredit the works of J. K. Rowling and J. R. R. Tolkien, claiming, whilst alluding to the Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings series, “fantasy isn’t just about wizards ans silly wands. It’s about seeing the world from new directions”.

Although this may have horrified many of Pratchett’s fans, he remained honest, adding that he owed “a debt to the science fiction/fantasy genre which he grew up out of”, writing because it was what he loved doing, and writing about what he felt needed to be demonstrated and emphasised.

Pratchett’s Passing

On the 12th March 2015, Sir Terry Pratchett died “with his cat sleeping on his bed, surrounded by his family” (Larry Finlay, Pratchett’s publisher). At sixty-six years old, the author had lost his battle to Alzheimer’s disease and produced his very last book. Yet although his friends, family and supporters throughout the world mourned the loss of Pratchett, he, himself, retained the humour that he’d had throughout his life.

On the very day of his death, Pratchett had a friend access his twitter account, and tweet three things: “AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER”; “Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night”; and, finally, “The End”.

Whether Terry truly believed in his own characterisation of Death that he made throughout his novels, we will never know, but it is clear that he did not fear death, perhaps because he had written of it for such a long time.

It is also true that his death was a beginning as much as an end, as he tasked his daughter, Rhianna, with continuing to write his books after his death. Although Rhianna has since said that she cannot do as her father wished, she has revealed that she will be working on separate, add-on additions to the series, even if they cannot touch the excellence of her fathers’ works.

author-spotlight-april
My original article, published in “The Sixth Sense”

This article was originally published for a school newspaper that I established when I was in Sixth Form. You can check out my other Author Spotlight pages here.

“The Wild Swans at Coole”: Analysis

The Poem

The Wild Swans at Coole

By W. B. Yeats

The trees are in their autumn beauty
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

The Message

The Wild Swans at Coole basically finds Yeats contemplating a game of swans (apparently “game” refers to a group of swans when they’re sitting or swimming, and “wedge” refers to them when they’re in the air). The poem has a lot of external references, from Yeats’ Irish nationalism, to his unrequited love of Maud Gonne, but, on the surface, it shows Yeats watching the swans that he has watched for many years, and, as he watches, they all take off into the air, leaving him to contemplate what he will do when they are no longer around.

The Analysis

Metre & Structure

The poem is written in a balladic style, echoing how Yeats is reflecting on the past, glorifying nature and love through this style’s connection to tradition and romance.

The Title

Coole Park was the home of Lady Gregory, a patron of the arts and Yeats’ close friend. Yeats must have watched the swans when he wandered the park on his visits to Lady Gregory.

Line by Line

  • “The trees are in their autumn beauty, / The woodland paths are dry,” – Ireland, Yeats’ home, is thought to be a place of peace and serenity, filled with nature and beauty. These lines may also, however, reference Maud Gonne and how she is in her “autumn beauty”, her veins “dry”, due to her lack of passion for Yeats.
  • “Autumn” / “Twilight” – Yeats considers time a lot in this poem; he thinks of Autumn, which marks the beginning of the end of a year, and twilight, the beginning of the end of a day. This demonstrates how he is considering the end of his life, as he does in other poems such as “The Cold Heaven“. It may also reference the end of nature, however, relevant considering the changes that were beginning to happen in Ireland during Yeats’ lifetime.
  • “Mirrors a still sky” – This poem was published in 1917, a year after the Easter Risings of 1916, suggesting that Yeats may be reflecting on his peaceful Ireland before the chaos broke out.
  • “Among the stones / Are nine-and-fifty swans” – The swans surround the “stones” – inanimate objects that may represent the dead Irish from the Easter Risings. This is particularly notable as, whilst the last two lines of each stanza generally rhyme in a ballad, Yeats only offers a half-rhyme here, which emphasises the discord in the serene setting – all is not as peaceful as it seems! The swans, however, offer a stark contrast to this eerie setting, as they provide the imagery of elegance and serenity. They could perhaps represent the spirits of those who died, linking the ideas together.
  • “Suddenly mount” – “Suddenly” represents the changing pace of Ireland, a contrast to how the word is used in “The Cold Heaven” to represent the explosion of Yeats’ inner turmoil. “Mount”, meanwhile, conveys sexual connotations that link the poem to the myth, put into poem by Yeats, of “Leda and the Swan”, where Zeus impregnates the girl, Leda, whilst in the guise of a swan.
  • “And scatter wheeling in great broken rings / Upon their clamorous wings” – The plosive language of “great broken rings” demonstrates Yeats’ resentment at being rejected by Gonne and his anger at having his traditional, romantic Ireland, essentially taken away from him. The peace is broken by the swans, echoing how the Easter Risings broke Irish peace.
  • “My heart is sore” – Yeats’ mental frustration at losing Ireland is causing him physical pain, too. This passion and association with the heart not only links back to Maud Gonne, but also demonstrates just how much love Yeats has for Ireland.
  • “All’s changed since I” – Ireland’s changing around Yeats; the structure of this sentence also suggests that it’s leaving him behind, as the personal pronoun “I” comes after the changing process considered in “all’s changed”.
  • “The bell-beat of their wings above my head” – The “bell-beat” could represent the end of a life, perhaps Yeats’, as he considers this, or perhaps the Nationalist heroes’, which were lost in the previous year.
  • “Unwearied still, lover by lover” – Swans mate for life, and this line reveals just how much they are “unwearied” by each other’s company. Yeats resents this as he compares it to his relationship with Gonne.
  • “Their hearts have not grown old” – Reference to how the Nationalist heroes died young, or perhaps a reference to how Yeats is ageing.
  • “Passion or conquest – Perhaps again linking to the myth of “Leda and the Swan”, and Zeus’ mysterious reasons behind it.
  • “But now they drift on the still water” – The swans came back to Yeats, suggesting that his traditional Ireland has not quite come to an end, and that there is still hope for it. From a more eerie interpretation, the fact that the swans “drift” and the water is “still” gives the impression of a lack of movement, and therefore also perhaps a lack of life.
  • “Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day / To find they have flown away?” – Yeats realises that his life will have very little value after Gonne is dead and his beloved Ireland is changed forever. Both his poetry and his actual life will have no purpose without either of these great loves. The conclusive question mark represents Yeats’ overall confusion – how can he live when he’s lost so much?

Overview

The Wild Swans at Coole.JPG
My original analysis of this poem

The Wild Swans at Coole is one of Yeats’ poems that most aligns him to the Romantic poets. Yeats himself, of course, is never labelled a Romantic poet in the same way that people like William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and Percy Shelley (1792-1822) are, simply because Yeats (1865-1939) was too late. Yet the Romantics were clearly a strong influence in some of Yeats’ poems, particularly those, such as The Wild Swans at Coole, where he romanticises nature.

This poem demonstrates Yeats’ nationalism and loyalty to Ireland, along with his sadness at how, essentially, time has changed things. It has changed things for Yeats on a personal basis, but it has also changed things for Ireland. Yeats doesn’t want to imagine what might happen in Ireland’s future; he doesn’t want to imagine an Ireland where his swans don’t exist anymore. So, essentially, this is a poem about reflecting on the past, the future, and fearing the loss of natural beauty and tradition. It’s also one of Yeats’ more political poems, if only in how it links to the Easter Risings of 1916.

The Unwelcome Shadow

Here’s my attempt at the Sunday Scrawl prompt challenge, which I recently begun myself; it runs from Sunday on a weekly basis (so you still have all week to enter)! If you want to know more about this challenge, click here.


Seven o’clock has been and gone; that huge clock tower at the riverfront informed me several minutes ago. England, it was so obvious about everything. There was no secrecy – no discretion.

He had discretion, though, and a lot of it, too. Perhaps that’s why he was late; perhaps he thought to trick me somehow. I couldn’t think why, though. Why would he, my – was client the right word? Why would he want to attack me? I was the one getting the job done.

13768373_1752273815042908_764435473_nUnless he’d turned me over to the authorities already.

I cast a furtive look about me, eyes narrowed. It’s risky business, meeting beforehand, but he insisted. Was that his plan – to turn me in? To make me appear the crook? No doubt he’d want to get in their good books, thinking it good insurance for the next stunt he tried to pull.

I should have known. He didn’t have the guts for this. All along, he was just a coward – a waste of my time and energy.

The bells about the clock tower ring again, telling me it’s quarter past. I sigh, looking towards the Palace of Westminster. They’re in there now, I think, with all their big words and opinions. They feel so safe – so protected – in their big building with all those guards outside. They think they’re keeping us all out, I think, smirking.

Then I sigh, turning back to the riverfront, only to jump back slightly. He’d arrived, his hat slanted to one side slightly, and the flicker of a smile playing about his lips.

“You’re in trouble,” he wheezed, and I turned back around once more to see the Palace of Westminster blocked out by the unwelcome shadow of our mother.

“Sneaking into Westminster for a stink bomb!” she cried. “What next?”