Change (A Short Poem)

A little while ago, I posted a YouTube video alongside my poem, “The Dark Sea”, where I read my poem aloud. So, although I haven’t written a new poem, I decided to do the same thing with one of my older poems, “Change”.

This was the first real poem that I ever wrote, and although I don’t (by far) consider it my best writing, it holds a fair amount of sentimental value to me.

I hope you enjoy! You can thank my lovely boyfriend for the music.

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Blogging Schedule: Summer 2018

At the beginning of last week, I mentioned that I was going to attempt to keep to a rough schedule during the summer months. I now have this schedule finalised, and feel the need to share it with you. Remember, though, this is not a fixed schedule.

I may not always have a poem to post every Monday afternoon (such as this week), in which case I may not post anything at all. Equally, although I have listed some weekly writing prompts below, I might not always feel inspired by a particular prompt. Whenever this happens, I may post one of my The Very Short Story Starter prompts, so keep an eye out for them, too!

Blogging Schedule Summer 2018.jpg

Monday:

My Monday Message
&
A Poem.

Tuesday:

Fiction: Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers
&
Fiction: Ad Hoc Fiction.

Wednesday:

Non-Fiction*
&
Fiction: Friday Fictioneers.

Thursday:

Fiction: #writephoto.

Friday:

Fiction: Creative Writing Ink.

Saturday:

Non-Fiction*

Sunday:

Non-Fiction*
&
Fiction: Sunday Photo Fiction.


Thanks for reading! If there’s anything that you’d like me to do more of, let me know!

*Non-Fiction pieces may include anything from posts like these, to book reviews and poetry analyses. I hope that you’ll enjoy them!

The Liebster Award

Thank you so much to the very kind Sweeter than Nothing and Tales from the Mind of Kristian for nominating me for The Liebster Award. It’s so lovely to think that my work is being appreciated by other bloggers! Please do check out their lovely work!

liebster

Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their blog on your blog.
  2. Display the award on your blog by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or “gadget” (note: the best way to do this is to save the image to your computer, and then upload it to your blog post).
  3. Answer eleven questions about yourself (from the person who nominated you).
  4. Nominate five to eleven bloggers that you feel deserve the award, and who have fewer than 1000 followers.
  5. Write a new list of questions for your nominees to answer.
  6. Inform the people/blogs that you have nominated them for the Liebster award and provide them with a link to your post.

What is the Liebster Award?

The Liebster Award is an opportunity for bloggers to recognise and support other bloggers for their achievements. It’s available between January 1 and December 31, 2018. All nominations are voluntary and geared towards blogs with 1000 readers or less.

Sweeter than Nothing’s 11 Questions:

I have answered Sweeter than Nothing’s questions rather than those from Tales from the Mind of Kristian simply because Sweeter than Nothing was the first to nominate me.

1. What mythological creature would you have as a pet? Why?

There’s no competition here really; who wouldn’t want a pet who could send secret messages for you, heal your injuries and fly you around the sky with very little effort? Oh, and it’s reborn from its ashes, too. I’m thinking, of course, of the infamous pheonix. This fire-bird has existed in mythology for a long time, but if I could have any specific pet, then I would choose Fawkes from the Harry Potter franchise.

2. What is the silliest thing you’ve ever done?

This is a hard question because I seem to have deleted most of my silly mistakes from my memory; clearly, they were too mortifying for me to want to remember them. I’d probably have to say that the silliest thing that I have ever done was getting stung by a jellyfish. I had seen children picking jellyfish from the beach all day, but I hadn’t really registered the fact that there would still be some in the water. I was only a child, but I certainly did feel silly on the way to A&E!

3. What is the strangest dream you’ve ever had?

Perhaps it’s something to do with my over-active imagination, but I only ever seem to have strange dreams. I rarely even feature as characters in them; it is as though I am watching a scene from a play. The most memorable time that this happened, there was an old woman ill in bed and a man was knocking at her front door. She yelled to a younger woman (I have no idea who she was) to let him in. She kept yelling, over and over again, but as she yelled, her voice grew strangely hoarse and rather terrifying.

The younger woman let the man inside and they both ran upstairs. There, instead of the old woman lying under her covers, was a skeleton, bright white and shining. From under her pillow, crawled a spider, and from somewhere within my dream-clogged mind, I named it the ‘old age bug’ as it had caused the woman to age so much that she had become a skeleton. Think what you will; my imagination can be a very strange place.

4. If you were queen of your own country, what would your first royal decree be?

I’d probably be quite radical; firstly, I’d make it a law that tuition fees could not exceed £3000 per year (£9250 is far too much to pay for a term and a half of university)! Then I’d probably put someone else in charge: someone who knows what they’re doing!

5. Given unlimited money, what would you spend your days doing?

Writing! If I had unlimited money, would be doing a whole lot of writing and not have to worry about anything else. I’d probably also be living in the country somewhere, cut off from the rest of the world, and would be able to visit all of those countries that I am yet to see (Italy is at the very top of my list).

6. What inanimate object do you think has the best life?

What a wonderful question! It seems as though we abuse most of our possessions, from books to smartphones. Perhaps it would be something quirky, such as a torch. It’s always there, right in the midst of the action, but is rarely used.

7. Where is your favourite place in the whole world?

I think I’m yet to find my favourite place. In terms of fictional favourite places, it’s got to be the library in Disney’s The Beauty and the Beast. I love the idea of rolling ladders leading to different layers of books, but whenever I have seen any places like this in the real world, they’re always full of people.

8. If you could only eat one ice cream flavour for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Controversial though this may seem, I have never tried any flavour of ice cream. I suffer from some serious circulation issues which means that, even when it is boiling hot outside, I can feel freezing. The thought of putting anything even colder into my body seems rather nonsensical, so I’d be happy with nothing.

9. What is your favourite dinosaur?

I mean… I’ve never actually met any…

Seriously, though, when I was a child, my favourite type of dinosaur always used to be the triceratops. It’s a classic, I know, but they’re just such wonderful creatures – powerful, but at the same time, strangely lovable.

10. If you could ask one question of anyone, living or dead, who and what would it be?

I would probably feel the need to talk to Shakespeare, although I’m not quite sure what I would ask him. Perhaps I would tell him that he is the most well-known writer of all time, even four hundred years after his death. Then, I would ask him how he feels.

11. Is it okay that I HAD to give 11 questions, even though it’s kinda long and I didn’t get 11 because the rules say to ask 11 and the obsessive/ compulsive traits I have are going crazy right now?

Yes. Yes, it is very much okay with me. Eleven is a massive number when you really think about it, especially when you are having to talk about yourself!

Questions for my Nominees:

  1. If could choose to live in any place (real or fictional), where would it be?
  2. If you could change lives with any person (real or fictional), who would it be?
  3. Do you have a favourite smell? What is it?
  4. Would you rather live in the country, or in the city?
  5. Are you more of a hot-weather person, or a cold-weather person?
  6. What was your greatest childhood fear?
  7. If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
  8. What’s your favourite book of all time?
  9. Do you have a favourite word? If so, what is it?
  10. What made you decide to start a blog?
  11. Do you have any advice for fellow bloggers?

My Nominees:

  1. Tidbits.
  2. Fingers to Sky.
  3. The Ceaseless Reader Writes.
  4. Curious Hart.
  5. Diary of a Bookfiend.
  6. Madame Writer.

Thanks for reading!

To my nominees: as always, there is no obligation to take part in this challenge – if nothing else, just see it as an appreciation of your work!

The Dark Sea

You’re too close to me,
Breathing my air,
Bringing despair.

For I long to flee,
Into the sunlight,
Out of your foresight.

Away from your ropes,
Keeping me drowned,
And tied to the ground.

For I can’t escape,
Not from the darkness,
And not from your harness.

You’re pushing me –
Into the debris,
Into that dark sea…

That’s forming around me.

IMG_2100.jpg

It was recently suggested to me by the very kind Poetically Yours that I should speak some of my poems aloud, so have set up my own YouTube channel for this very purpose. You can listen to my reading of this poem here.



Thank you so much for reading! I hope that you enjoyed this little poem. If you have the time, do leave me a comment – it’ll make my day!

“Vertue”: Analysis

The Poem

Vertue

By George Herbert

Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridall of the earth and skie:
The dew shall weep thy fall to-night;
For thou must die.

Sweet rose, whose hue angrie and brave
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,
Thy root is ever in its grave,
And thou must die.

Sweet spring, full of sweet dayes and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie,
My musick shows ye have your closes,
And all must die.

Onely a sweet and vertuous soul,
Like season’d timber, never gives;
But though the whole world turn to coal,
Then chiefly lives.

The Message

“Vertue”, modernly referred to as ‘Virtue’, is a deceptive poem. Although it is, to an extent, about the importance of virtue, it spends a lot of time considering death and the temporarily of the physical world. The first three stanzas don’t actually consider the concept of virtue at all. Instead, they describe how all things and, in particular, nature, are shadowed by the constant presence of death. Then, in the final stanza, Herbert suggests that the only thing not to be limited by death is the virtuous soul. Such religious individuals are made eternal through their relationship with God.

The Analysis

Metre & Structure

This poem is written in a very constant iambic tetrameter that only deviates from this rhythm a few times, including the switch to iambic dimeter at the end of each stanza. These shorter lines arguably emphasise the theme of death in this poem as the long lines are brought to a short, abrupt halt. There is also the occasional switch to trochaic meter in this poem that helps emphasise certain words and lines.

The rhyme pattern in this poem is even more constant. It is made up of alternating rhymes, yet its more interesting feature is the repeated rhyme for “skie”, made throughout the various stanzas. This emphasises the “die”, making it sound more effective, and also making its absence in the final stanza all the more noticeable. There are also a lot of oppositions in this poem that can be linked through their rhymes. For example, “bright” rhymes with “night”, an opposite that emphasises the sense of darkening and growing loss and sadness as the poem progresses.

Line by Line

  • “Sweet”, “so” – The constant sibilance in this poem is emphasised through the repeated word, “Sweet”. This sibilance creates a relaxed, melancholy tone.
  • “The bridall of the earth and skie” – This allusion to marriage relates to the sense of harmony within the poem. At the same time, however, it indicates a link between “earth” and “skie” that is indicative of death. The “earth” represents the mortal human world while the “skie” indicates the Christian heaven that Herbert, as a devout Christian and priest, valued.
  • “The dew shall weep” – The personification here indicates the power of nature as well as emphasising the poem’s sense of melancholy.
  • “Thy fall” – This alludes not only to a physical fall or even a death, but also to humankind’s Fall through the Original Sin and thus suggests that Herbert’s audience has committed a sin – as if they are somehow at fault.
  • “To-night” – The plentitude of natural imagery in this opening stanza hints towards the sublime (the idea of being overwhelmed and overpowered by nature). The darkness of night gives a similar impression of powerlessness.
  • “For thou must die” / “And thou must die” / “And all must die” – There is a sense of an imperative command within this final, rather ominous line of the stanza. It is almost as though Herbert is telling his audience that they have no choice but to die. This point is emphasised by the abrupt nature of the monosyllabic “die”, as well as by the shorter line that forms the conclusion to this stanza. The repetition of this line throughout the poem reminds us that death is a constant theme, overshadowing the natural beauty Herbert describes. It also progresses from “thou must die” to “all must die”, this progression revealing the power of death.
  • “Angrie and brave” – The harsh sounds and meanings of these words contradict with the relaxed, melancholy tone of the poem. This indicates a change of the poem’s mood as its relaxed tone becomes more aggressive.
  • “Bids” – The change of tone in the poem is emphasised by this plosive “Bids” which also causes a break in the iambic meter (it momentarily switches to a trochaic meter at the start of this line).
  • “Rash” – This again hints to the theme of sin as Herbert suggests that his audience is somehow at fault for staring at the “rose”. This is perhaps due to their ignorance as they didn’t expect to find any “angrie” tones within the natural world that is ordinarily associated, as in the first stanza, with peace and tranquility.
  • “Root” / “Grave” – This earthly imagery emphasises the theme of death and suggests that the reason the “rose” is “angrie” is because the natural peace of nature is continually disturbed by the knowledge that its beauty is only temporary; the “rose”, like humanity, “must die”.
  • “A box” – This “box” may indicate a collection of flowers, yet it also alludes to coffins and death; in this poem, the positives are always shadowed by the ominous and constant presence of death.
  • “Sweets compacted lie” – Again, “compacted” may allude to the beauty of flowers all growing close together, yet it may also be a reference to the multitude of dead flowers nourishing the ground from which they grow. In the same way, “lie” may refer to the physical action of lying down, or to deception, and thus also the double meanings alluded to throughout this poem.
  • “Musick” – This probably alludes to Herbert’s own poetry but also indicates the beauty that is at least conveyed on the surface of this poem. It is also possible that the “box” from the previous line may be referring to a music box, which highlights this sense of beauty through its connection to a melodic charm.
  • “A sweet and vertuous soul” – Like the natural world, the soul Herbert considers is “sweet”. Yet what separates it from the temporality of nature is that it is “vertuous”. This is Herbert’s main point as he finally refers to the poem’s title.
  • “Season’d timber” – Nature is again being presented as temporary, yet here it is made temporary through purposeful destruction. The wood is not dying naturally, but being converted to timber, cut down by human hands for the sake of industry.
  • “The whole world turns to coal” – This again hints towards humankind’s purposeful destruction of nature. Herbert thus emphasises a political message within this poem as industry is polarised to virtue. This presents it as in some way immoral, which comes back to the “angrie” references made earlier. Herbert may be indicating that he does not agree with this destruction of nature, perhaps due to the Christian concept of human stewardship over nature.
  • “Then chiefly lives” – It is only really in this final line that the primary message of this poem is conveyed. Herbert is saying that whilst most things, such as the average person and much of the natural world, are temporary, the virtuous person will live forever through their connection to God and the idea of an afterlife.

Overview

Vertue, Herbert.jpg“Vertue” is all about the importance of Christian values. It promotes Christianity through the idea that a true, virtuous Christian will be made eternal in God’s afterlife. Yet even as an atheist, I am able to appreciate the message in this poem. There’s something really quite beautiful about Herbert’s descriptions of the natural world, contrasted to the ever-constant presence of the death that works to reveal Herbert’s main point in this poem. This is that there are many beautiful or “sweet” things in this world, and we can appreciate that beauty, yet no matter how beautiful they are, they cannot champion virtue, which allows such “sweet” things to be preserved eternally. So, whilst it is a Christian poem, it’s not inaccessible to the average reader. I often find religious poems quite difficult to appreciate as they are packed with biblical allusions, yet this poem isn’t like that. It is complex, but not in the sense that you need an in-depth understanding of the Bible to access it. In fact, if it wasn’t for the last stanza, this poem couldn’t be called a religious poem at all.

Zeugma #AtoZChallenge

Zeugma

What is it?
Zeugma is a figure of speech that plays with the meanings of words. Sometimes, a word can mean more than one thing at once; when these different meanings are drawn upon through only one use of the word, zeugma is in use.

Z.pngA Literary Example:
This is where I would normally share a literary example of zeugma, but I can’t think of one, so here are a few examples of zeugma that have come from various places around the internet:

  • “The farmers in the valley grew potatoes, peanuts, and bored.”
  • “He lost his coat and his temper.”
  • “You are free to execute your laws, and your citizens, as you see fit.”

My Example:
He’d drawn a castle, a roaring dragon, and his own blood.


square1A quick and easy “Z” post from me today, which concludes the A to Z challenge for April 2018! I cannot claim to have “completed” it exactly as, during this latter part of the alphabet, I have failed to find poetic devices for quite a few letters. It’s been fun, though!

I hope you’ve enjoyed these posts!

#AtoZChallenge

Imagination in Keats’ “Lamia”

I have recently been reviewing and analysing a few short poems by John Keats. It seems that one of his biggest concerns was the imagination, and how it could offer an escape from reality; Keats believed in the raw power of our imagination but accepted that it came from our minds, which are confined to a temporary existence in the world. These ideas are considered quite fully in some of his longer poems, so I thought that it would be interesting to review them in one of my favourite poems, “Lamia”.

Plot Overview

Keats wrote “Lamia” in 1819, the same year that he wrote many of his famous Odes. It is a tricky poem with lots of references to classical mythology, so let me give you a (brief) overview of the main events taking place in the poem.

IMG-3135.jpg“Lamia” tells the story of a serpent who claims to have once been a woman called Lamia. She makes a deal with the god, Hermes, and he turns her into a woman. She then meets with a man named Lycius, who she claims to love.

The couple move to a beautiful mansion together and before long, they decide to marry. Despite Lamia’s protests, Lycius insists on hosting a large marriage festival so that he could celebrate the engagement with his friends and family. During the celebrations, a philosopher fixes his eyes on Lamia and announces that she is really a serpent in disguise. As soon as this happens, Lamia disappears from sight. Devastated, Lycius dies of heartbreak soon after.

Going Deeper into the Poem…

The first thing that’s interesting about this poem is that Lamia calls Lycius’ name as soon as she is turned into a woman. As a serpent, she would have been unable to meet Lycius, yet she claims to love him. Keats explains that this is because “she could muse / And dream, when in the serpent prison-house”. Basically, her spirit was able to leave her physical body and seek out Lycius, which enabled her to fall in love with him.

“Where she will’d her spirit went”  –  “Lamia” by John Keats.

This in itself links to the imagination, for although Lamia does seem to actually meet Lycius through this spiritual connection, her escape from “the serpent prison-house” reflects how our imagination can allow us to escape from our “prison-house” (our bodies) and offer some relief from the struggles of everyday life.

IMG-3136.jpgIn a way, Lamia’s life with Lycius also links to her imaginative powers. After their engagement, Lamia occupies herself with decorating their home for the marriage festival, yet Keats notes that “’tis doubtful how and whence / Came, and who were her subtle servitors.” The sibilance in this phrase reminds readers of Lamia’s serpentine form and the spiritual powers that she then exhibited. She decorated the hall with unknown “servitors”, which may suggest that either the decorations were an illusion constructed by Lamia’s powers, or that she imagined helpers as she worked.

This idea of imagination being able to alter the physical world is also prevalent later on in the poem. The entire time that Lamia is with Lycius, they are alone, but once guests arrive, she disappears. This may indicate that her entire physicality existed only in Lycius’ mind; perhaps she was never turned into a woman but, as a snake, was able to form images in his imagination. This is particularly interesting as their guests may represent reality breaking their imaginative trance, disturbing the vision and bringing Lycius back to reality. The shock – or perhaps horror – of reality then kills him.


Obviously, there’s a lot more going on in “Lamia” than its references to the imagination, and if you’re interested, there are plenty of readable versions of the text available online. I really just wanted to focus on the imagination today because Keats’ thoughts about it are so interesting. He views it as powerful, but, like Lamia, it is also temporary.

Anyway, it’s a great poem, and if you get a chance, do read it. When I say that it is a long poem, it is nothing on Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, but it is too long for me to want to write about each individual line, which is why I have chosen to analyse it like this, instead. I hope you enjoyed this post, and thank you very much for reading!