"Life is a journey, not a destination" (Ralph W. Emerson)
Runaway, escape the grey mass. The bewildered tundra of boiling rust, soaring over, cutting through the canopies while stuck in comfort of nothingness, with everything. Anonymous futures loom ahead, sprinting past with flailing stamina. Anything goes.
July 25th 2013
I wrote this poem on one of many poignant journeys as I crossed the border from the Welsh to English countryside. The seamless speed of trains never cease to mesmerise me, giving me the opportunity to reflect on all walks of life. I find I am most inspired whilst using public transport for the variety of people, places and lives that I cross on my travels. I have also recently re-read 'The Necropolis Railway' (by Andrew Martin), emphasising the importance of a reliable national infrastructure. The focus of this poem is on the looming and completely unknown or 'anonymous' future. Anything goes...
Jamrach’s Lover’s Lost
The grey sea and the long black landmerge into the distance. A heaving breast is thrown upon the waves, the beast; persistent. Urgent cries are lost; no sounds remain beyond the border, Spittle sprays the darkness as the dirty wash ebbs ever closer.
Spectral, in mist, of a wreck at sea The floundering souls cast out away from life. A dream of ghostly bodies; ethereal, without strife. Weary of the haunting moon, consuming space too soon.
I cannot rest from travel as the danger draws me close, My dearest must be saved from knowing Darkness, enclose the sanctuary from swelling wind at most, Speckled Lowry becomes the safer sewing.
Wives, sisters, parents, wave white hands and smile, As if they knew not that they weep the while. A desolate haze over their tiny eyes Foreshadowing what the future lies.
The quay recedes. Hurrah! Ahead we go! She’s waving from the wharfside, palely grieving. Our futures lie unknown to either party, still, The ship sets sail with laughter and goodwill.
Trecherous in calm, and terrible in storm, She rocked, she murmured, then cried before A creak of pain, the whole flat sphere Confused away, fell on her shoulders.
I held the vessel to rinse in the fall, Where it slipped, and it sank, and was past recall. To watch the rusting mass elude and sink Into the thrash of grey tumultuous power At once becomes the heartless grave
Are souls drowned and destroyed so? Is only matter triumphant? Which evil earth affords her go Memories left with but an ice plant.
I shall come back; I have beforebut now, A power of monstrosity in vain The dragon haunts to take its claim The ship pulled down beneath the bow.
But I am hungry for brave souls; I crave Their warmth and passion through my chilling tides; As called the mighty ocean swallowing Lysander’s cries, Just as Titanic later fell, so others caved for the sea to sip
The dust and din and steam of town. Inundated stalls weighing down Cobbled alleys, to occupy and fill The hands of paupers below the hill.
I wander thro' each charter'd street, Unaware the lives of those I meet. The strain of smog consumes our breath This pain unlikened, close to death.
A bird, came down the walk - we spoke As misty lovers’ spirits choke Histories of townsfolk gone afar Across the style as close you are.
I tell you, hopeless grief is passionless, as infinity seeks to end My vision, grasping for those eyes; shape, love, nothing. Monotonous tears etch out their mark prevailing as each tide, drawn In and out and in and out and in and out…
Deep-hearted (wo)man, express…Grief for thy dead in silence like to death Uttering self-same sounds once pierced through the winds. Glistening tears drop through my chest As like Miss Havisham forever pines, My heart cannot be laid to rest.
Let Love clasp Grief lest both be drown’d. Soul birds will soar for liberty. And as New Women clear the path, its walk, For you and I alike will quicken, The pace exceeding 4 knots to listen.
When I am dead, my dearest, Sing no sad songs for me. Hold the silence claim the years, Take your bow away from cheers The audience dislike your cries of hurt Remember, ever after I am never to return.
Better by far you should forget and smile Than that you should remember and be sad, why, Hopes hold close but fain, Clear lives of slumber, do not keep pain But rather serve the people than the water The pig bears little for the slaughter.
Fly with delight, fly hence!they say, Not to tarry of fearful history. I cannot be free, for each weary day Holds unforgettable misery.
Sweet Love of youth, forgive, if I forget thee Oh Jaffy hurry home and sail away from sea To live, to dream in the menagerie Of feathers so light, adorning the harsh black London town.
Into the living sea of waking dream… The grass below; above the vaulted sky Caress the stars upon clouded light Where hopes lay on the unsweetened clod.
I wrote this poem as part of an English Literature module studying the theme of neo-Victorians, how contemporary writers envisage the Victorian Era. This poem is based on the novel Jamrach's Menagerie (2011) by Carol Birch, the story of a whaling disaster, 19th Century London, and two adolescents finding their way in the world together. Each verse begins with a quote from a Victorian poem. Please email me a comment on the last page for details about the poets I've included and how I structured the narrative. By Jeny Nevard 30/12/2012