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Monday, 6 July 2009

A Love Poem


A Photograph

Torn from a Sunday Supplement,
The Cuckmere and its Haven by the sea.
The water calm, though not that day,
not where the three tides met
beyond the river's mouth.

More photo-fit than photograph:
features enough to recognise
(I recognised it straight away),
but not the essence of the place,
not as we knew it then.

So much was missing,
so much changed
(taken from above, you see):
the shady woods beyond the bridge,
the sea kale by the path -

Or was it? I was sure, but maybe not. -
you dressed to kill,
a splash of green -
all tucked away between the hills
and nowhere to be seen.

And so I wondered: what if we
could gain, from some high
point above, a bird's-eye view
of hills and valleys carved in us
by the torrential force of human love?

What would be there to see?
What would we recognise?
What would we not? That day
the sun-drenched cliffs and beach
unleashed a burn of feral beauty.

Off shore, the tides and river clashed,
canoes capsized, and men we'd lately
followed from the bridge
were stayed - like us, all balance lost -
bare inches from the water.

The gulls hung, poised like birds
of prey, on tiny cirrus threads;
the breakers froze, refused to break;
Creation seemed that it might take
a year to spend the day.

The sun poured wine upon the sea
as tides and Cuckmere whirled as one.
A silent and unmoving dance,
it seemed: one maelstrom,
one tranquity

My love, I saw this photograph
and heard, or so I thought,
our favourite song
as it might sound,
sung in a foreign language.

40 comments:

willow said...

Beautiful, Dave. I could feel that salty air on my face.

Zeba Talkhani said...

wow. i am going to read more of your posts now!! This was simply amazing, even though I am not much into poetry.

Loved it.

Rose Marie Raccioppi said...

"And so I wondered: what if we
could gain, from some high
point above, a bird's-eye view
of hills and valleys carved in us
by the torrential force of human love?"

And within the question the knowing...this a poem of reverence and beauty.

Tabor said...

The feelings this poem gave me melds with our 4th of July here in American.

John Hayes said...

There's a lot here-- beautifully described & imagined. The lines Rose Marie pointed to are quite an amazing place to come to, & the ending seems just about perfect.

Derrick said...

Hi Dave,

There are so many images that your words create in this. As well as the section picked out by Rose Marie, I also love:

"The gulls hung, poised like birds
of prey, on tiny cirrus threads;"

and

"The sun poured wine upon the sea"

It's all beautiful!

Meri said...

I was riveted by the same passages that Derrick points out.

Rose Marie Raccioppi said...

Well Dave - an inspired happening is certainly here... Yes, as Derrick stated, "It's all beautiful!"

Thank you for your visit to, "The Secret Tree." Would you be so kind as to indulge me in a visit to Sunday's post, "Albrecht Duer’s Melencolia." I so value your input. This particular writing holds deep significance for me. Thanks ever so much Dave, much appreciation.

The Weaver of Grass said...

This is a beautiful love poem, Dave - and so thoughtful. I am a little troubled by the last line - why a foreign language - are you saying that your feelings are different now (as they surely are as love matures and we age I suppose) or am I mis-reading it?
Or maybe it is just that you see the place as different from how it was all those years ago. It has certainly struck a chord with me.

Poetikat said...

This is definitely one of my favourites of yours, Dave. There were so many perfect images that I hardly know where to start.
"you dressed to kill ...all tucked away between the hills ..."

"burn of feral beauty"

(As others have remarked):
"the gulls ...", "the sun poured wine ..."

I really enjoyed the movement of the piece, mimicking the tide's ebb and flow.

I'm very curious about the origin of the name Cuckmere. I can only recall one word that has that first syllable and that is "cuckold", which would be rather ironic given the nature of this poem.

I enjoyed every word.

Kat

Dina said...

Hello Dave, glad to meet you.
I'll be back soon to see your serious-looking posts. :)
Shalom from Jerusalem.

readingsully2 said...

This is beautiful, Dave. Do you remember the program called Connections? It was kind of like that for me. One memory led to another. A lovely description of love too.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

A lovely verse of memory.

Aniket said...

I fell absolutely in love with the last lines. Getting that nostalgic lost in translation feeling.

Lucas said...

This is an excellent poems - works on two levels, The recreation of the place with its confusing tides, the frozen beauty of the sea - and the question you ask to create a metaphor of surface and depth, the experiences of love, and the real.
I enjoyed this, Dave.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Love the last stanza, Dave, it holds the juice of the poem.

lakeviewer said...

This is a keeper, beautiful.

Dave King said...

willow
Thanks for that. Much appreciated.

Zeba
Thanks very much. Appreciate your coming along.

Rose Marie
Reverence was indeed intended to be part of it. Thanks.

Tabor
Strangely, I felt an even greater sympathy to wards your 4th than usual this year. I wonder if there was a connection...

John
Thanks for a very useful comment, especially about the ending - of which I had been unsure.

Derrick
Thanks for yet another generous comment.

Meri
Hi, and many thanks for stopping off to comment. Good to have you.

Rose Marie
I have in fact visited the Durer which I found very rewarding. I seemed to have some technical problem and couldn't leave a comment, but will return and have another go.

The Weaver of Grass
Correct the second time around: I was merely saying that hearing our song sung in a foreign language might be roughly equivalent to seeing the scene from a different viewpoint, with all the significant detaile changed or absent. I also tried changing the meter at that point to emphasise the feeling of familiarity with difference.

Poetikat
Thanks for all those remarks. The generally accepted explanation of the derivation of Cuckmere is that it is Old English for fast-flowing. (The river is a very short one, but with lots of tributaries and initially it falls over 100m in 6.4km, though the stretch described in the poem is broader and shallower, meanders a great deal and has created numerous ox-bow lakes. However there are a couple of small towns Uckfield and Cuckfield close by, so I suppose there might be other explanations.)

Dina
Welcome and thans for calling by.

readingsully2
Alas, I don't think I knew that programme. Wish I had. Thanks for the comment.

Pamela Terry and Edward
Very many thanks.

Aniket
That's a useful comment about a passage that hadn't convinced me. Thanks.

Lucas
That, too, is a really useful response. Many thanks.

Totalfeckineejit
Useful, many thanks.

lakeviewer
If that's a metaphor from the waves, I'm glad you didn't say stopper! Thanks very much.

Karen said...

Dave, I'm a fan of your blog and find your posts interesting and thought-provoking, but it's your poetry that moves me every time. Excellent!

Shadow said...

what memories, what a poem!

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

"That day the sun-drenched cliffs and beach unleashed a burn of feral beauty." and "The gulls hung, poised like birds of prey, on tiny cirrus threads;..." may be my two favorite lines. Beautifully written with such depth & meaning.

Friko said...

Hi Dave, I've read this poem three times now and each time I get more out of it - just as it should be.
Each image is a little poem all by itself. I'll stop this comment now and read the poem all over again. Makes much more sense.

David Cranmer said...

Everyone already beat me to the punch but I'll say it anyway: Outstanding,beautiful prose.

Mark Kerstetter said...

The final stanza is a lovely cap to a beautiful poem.

Gwei Mui said...

Hello David, what an beautiful piece. I feel a bit of a fraud having read your latest post! Thank you for your very kind comment. I'll be following you from now on
Kind regards
GM

Nadesh said...

Thought provoking!!

Madame DeFarge said...

Dave - I continue to be envious of your abilities in verse. Always something that escapes me. This reminds me of walking along the coast by Whitby and feeling that life was just perfect. Loved it.

Rose Marie Raccioppi said...

Dave, the beauty about a return visit to your post is the second bout of pleasure that awaits. A second, third, reading of your poem is indeed an extra helping of delight - and serves to have,
'unleashed a burn of feral beauty.'

Thank you for planning once again to drop in on, "Albrecht Duer’s Melencolia."

A Cuban In London said...

'My love, I saw this photograph
and heard, or so I thought,
our favourite song
as it might sound,
sung in a foreign language'

What a perfect finish. It happens to all of us, doesn't it? We return to the place where we kissed that person that first time, or we held her/his hand, with the wind caressing our face. We usually come back to places expecting them to remain unchanged, but life moves on.

Your poem also triggers off other readings: is recognition the true aspiration in human beings? The mere fact that we want to be remembered, acknowledged.

This was a great poem, especially these two stanzas:

'So much was missing,
so much changed
(taken from above, you see):
the shady woods beyond the bridge,
the sea kale by the path'

(...)

'And so I wondered: what if we
could gain, from some high
point above, a bird's-eye view
of hills and valleys carved in us
by the torrential force of human love?'

Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Dave King said...

Karen
Always thrilled to find I have a fan - and thanks for being so complimentary about the poems.

Shadow
Amen to the first, thanks for the second.

Lizzy
Much appreciated comments. Thanks.

Friko
Glad you are enjoying it - that, too, is as it should be. Very grateful for the feedback.

David
I can stand any amount of repetition like that! Much thanks.

Mark
Again, a very useful comment, much appreciated.

Gwei
No fraud involved. Welcome to the blog. Good to have you aboard.

Nadesh
Welcome and many thanks.

Madame DeFarge
Thanks. It is of a time when I felt life was just perfect.

Rose Marie
Thanks - and no problem!

A Cuban in London
Many thanks for the appreciative and thought-provoking comments. This sort of feedback is so useful - and encouraging!

Jessica said...

Hi Dave,
Thanks for stopping by my blog!

I LOVE this poem. It's amazing.

Dave King said...

Jessica
Thanks for that and welcome to the blog.

James Oh said...

Another beautiful piece of your work again. Thanks for sharing, Dave King

Gwei Mui said...

Hello David,
Thanks for taking a peek at my other blog - sorry I'm having to contact you this way but don't seem to be able to send you an email direct keep getting a bounce back.
Best wishes
GM

Tressa Bailey said...

That was just beautiful... A poem I could feel on my skin....

You have a way about you.

The Green Stone Woman said...

This is my first time here and your first poem I read and I have to tell you that I'm so impressed, especially with the last line, because I know so well how that sounds.

You sir, are indeed a poet and not s fly by night one, you are a great one, although I judge it from this poem only, but I read your last piece about the Tollund Man and was impressed with your way with words. So clear and concise, even I could follow you.

I added you to my reader so I'll be updated all the time.

't Was a pleasure!

Mary Paquet said...

Beautiful, Dave! You create such lovely pictures and emotions with words.

jinksy said...

I'm so glad I had a wander this morning that lead me to this. I was working my way backwards from your latest post, and there was this gem, waiting to great me! Thanks for Seamus, too...

Jacob G. Kucinic said...

This is a really good poem. I am currently releasing some of my works on a weekly basis. Feel free to check it out. I would be honored if you did so.

http://weeklylovesonnets.blogspot.com/

-Jacob

George said...

Interesting post... I can see that you put a lot of hard work on your blog. I'm sure I'd visit here more often. George from love poem.