“Oft, in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me,
Fond Memory brings the light
Of other days around me…”
This month in the UK we celebrate Guy Fawkes night when we remember the (failed) 1605 Catholic plot to blow up Parliament. Politics aside, we would light bonfires, burning up garden and household waste along with a straw effigy of Guy. Today health and safety fears, along with climate change concerns has more or less put a dampener on this but I have fond memories of burnt sausages, gloved hands, cold feet, fearful of the loud cracker-jack bangers, awestruck by sky glitter from rockets and roman candles etc .
And within a week we move into the very sombre Remembrance Day,
“…For our tomorrows their today they gave,
And simply asked that in our hearts they’d live.
We heed their call and pledge ourselves again,
At dusk and dawn – we will remember them!”
~ Charles Henrywood
Thus right from the start, November sets itself up as one in which we peruse memory and who better than the Bard to set the theme in his Sonnet 30:.
“When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancelled woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanished sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor’d and sorrows end.”
Childhood is often the nub of memory as D. H. Lawrence exemplifies, recalling his mother playing “Piano”:
“Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;
Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see
A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings
And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.
In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song
Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong
To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside
And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.“
In “There is a Boat Down on the Quay” Brian Patten’s memories are stirred by the sight of an old boat on the Mersey:
“…I knew its crew once,
Those boys manacled to freedom
Who set sail over half a century ago,
And were like giants to me.
A solitary child in awe of oceans
I saw them peel their shadows from the land
And watched as they departed.
What did they think when they peered
Over the rim of the world,
Where Time roared and bubbled
And angels swooped like swallows?…”
It is more than halfway through the long poem “Birches” before Robert Frost includes his own memories though preceding it one wonders if the third person is in fact, himself:
“…One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. …
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.…”
For today’s Poetics the challenge is simple:
Write a poem recalling some specific thing or things from the past
more generally about what evokes a memory or memories in you
- It can be recent, or as far back as childhood.
- It can be true or fictional
- It can incorporate persons, places or events/happenings
- It is NOT a mournful remembrance as in elegy!
For an extra optional challenge write it in the ten-syllable or blank verse line (to give the sensation of actual speech, engaging others).
Note: In March this year Lilian’s prompt was to let an untold, fresh memory flood into a “Walk with me down memory lane” Haibun and back in 2013 Karin Gustafson’s (Manicddaily) Poetics was “I remember”
NB Thursday (11th) Open Link Night is LIVE – a time to connect names with faces and poems with voices! (Lilian explains the hows and wherefore’s HERE)
And Finally – so that others can find you, add your poem to the Mr Linky below and go visiting others as that is half the fun of our dVerse gatherings.