Archive for July, 2012

24/07/2012

The Song of Ondine (Completed)

Poems of the water elemental

The Song of Ondine (Poems for Oxfam)

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24/07/2012

The Song of Ondine (Water’s Song)

 

The song of blood, the song of snow.

In cliffs are waves on ocean shores.

The rain on moorland flows as streams

A thousand generations hence.

 

The song of forests, song of caves.

A home you made, a love you built.

The questions you forgot to ask.

The truth of birds which sing at dawn.

 

The song of stories, song of hearts.

The boat which drifts, the sadness born.

A simple meal in alpine fields.

The door which you have left unlocked.

 

The song she sang when she was free:

The song of rivers, lakes and seas.

24/07/2012

The Song of Ondine (The Cost)

 

She wasn’t singing for the Earth,

She wasn’t singing for the Air,

She wasn’t singing for our lives,

So no, we didn’t hear the song.

 

But villages were swept away,

And islands sank beneath the waves,

And deltas spread and countries shrank,

And still we didn’t hear the song.

 

And drinking water filled with salt,

And wars were fought for muddy wells,

And millions were left to rot,

And still we didn’t hear the song.

 

Our links have broken, language lost,

Without the song we count the cost.

23/07/2012

The Song of Ondine (Limestone Dales)

 

In waterfalls she tuned her voice,

In shallows rippled hymns of time.

She reeled through centuries of song,

Her verses passed like drops of rain.

 

Around the foss her singing hung:

In spray and ramsons, sun and moss.

Her music saturated rock,

And flowed in watercress and fern.

 

Her songs were drawn from morning mists,

And dreaming states which swirl at dawn,

From deep in limestone birthing streams,

From ancient rains, forgotten tones.

 

In fluid walls and melting stones,

In liquid landscapes she still flows.

21/07/2012

The Song of Ondine (City in the Rain)

 

The pavements rippled in the rain,

And lonely figures rushed on by,

All hunched and desperate to escape.

She sat and watched and wondered why.

 

Their eyes were focussed on themselves.

They drowned her music with their thoughts.

They lived as if they were alone:

Detached and silent in this world.

 

The grey of asphalt, sounds of spray,

The glowing shop fronts, merging streams.

There could be beauty in a town,

There could be wonder in the crowd.

 

As one with others, one with rain,

She softly sang her song for all.

21/07/2012

The Song of Ondine (Migration)

 

She flew alongside Sahel birds,

Migrating from their summer sedge.

She saw her ocean waves at work,

As autumn surges shaped the coast.

 

She saw the spread of lights at night,

And scars where scrubland disappeared.

The Sahel cuckoos held their calls.

They saw the marshlands drained and dried.

 

And further south the deserts spread

With sandstorms burning ever on.

She whirled in dust as dry as death.

Some birds pressed on while others fell.

 

The deserts scarified their tongues,

They looked to her to flow with song.

20/07/2012

The Song of Ondine (River Wharfe)

 

On rocks the minnow rapids dance,

And dippers walk beneath the play.

In silver skins of feathered air,

They take the sky and make it swim.

 

Between the flits of wide and shallow,

The river digs in deep and settles.

Its banks are full of martins’ burrows.

Its calms are ancient, cool and still.

 

And that’s the point where waters white

Are sucked into the mouths of trout,

Which hang, then turn and dart, then hang:

A momentary flash, then gone.

 

And through them all her singing flows:

The dipper, trout, the clouds, and time.

19/07/2012

The Song of Ondine (The Soulless)

 

Her soul was water flowing bright.

Her soul was seeping through the marsh.

Her soul was mist in morning light.

Her soul was surf on shingle beach.

 

The men believed she had no soul.

They spoke her, wrote her, sold their tales.

They choked the water, dammed and stole.

They tried to fix her into deals.

 

Her song was creeping through their homes.

Her song was undermining pasts.

Her song was eating at their bones.

Her song was first, her song was last.

 

The men believed in distant souls.

They didn’t hear her song as theirs.

18/07/2012

The Song of Ondine (Tundra Swans)

 

She called them down, the winter swans,

To gather on her flooded fields.

The final touch of Autumn sun

Made strings of pearls from lines of birds.

 

She whispered knowledge through the flocks:

A dew as soft as cotton grass,

She brought the sound of distant waves,

And samphire scented morning mists.

 

The fields spread out from hills to sea,

And on each field a thousand swans,

A thousand tundra tales to tell,

And with each tale she made a song.

 

They stayed through snows the Winter long,

Lamenting wilderness and sun.

17/07/2012

The Song of Ondine (Parts I – V)

The Song of Ondine

The first five poems of the series The Song of Ondine (for Oxfam, Skipton)

16/07/2012

The Song of Ondine (Northlands)

 

From life to life they shift and change

These generations of the land.

But in her song they stay the same:

Their faces, passions, fears and dreams.

 

She heard them in the Northern lands.

They sang an echo to her song:

A stone that skimmed across a lake

Becomes a pike that took the bait.

 

And further on, within the song,

Their stories told of ancient days:

Of when the pike itself could sing,

Of when the Earth became a lake.

 

She heard them try to sing her song:

Each generation one verse on.

14/07/2012

The Song of Ondine (The Gift)

 

She gave her songs to forest lakes,

Where autumn larch in echoes sang.

The golden tremors of the fall

Went rippling through her melodies.

 

She gave her songs to crumbling walls,

Where hoopoes nest and stonechats chack.

And ancient stonework melts in rain

As surely as the spring brings change.

 

She gave her song to English parks,

To channelled streams and sculpted weirs,

To jackdaw nests in roofless naves,

And drips from leaves of tulip trees.

 

She gave her songs to form and shape,

As gifts of love we always take.

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13/07/2012

The Song of Ondine (Desolation)

 

In fields where rivers used to flow

She lay and watched the emptied skies,

As year on year the drought stretched on,

As lives around her faded out.

 

The tree in which the roller sat,

The grass in which the cobra coiled,

The fertile soil which fed them all:

As dust they scattered, memories lost.

 

She lay in desiccated lands,

And watched them try to fix their pumps,

And watched them try to live their lives.

She watched their cultures blown apart.

 

A desolation took her song:

Its rocks and bones and endless sun.

10/07/2012

The Song of Ondine (Amvrakikos Gulf)

 

She used to sing her richest songs

To fishermen who’d lay their traps,

And buffalo who’d turn the swamps,

And bitterns who would stalk the reeds.

 

The warm lagoons would take her voice

And echo back the melodies:

The tone of sedge, of wave, of scrub,

The cleanest, purest, wash of sound.

 

She’d breathe her charms beyond the reach,

Where pelicans would clack their beaks.

This paradise between our worlds,

Between the water, land and greed.

 

What’s lost is truth beyond our plans,

The fragile phrases she once sang.

08/07/2012

The Song of Ondine (Part 1)

 

Beneath the surface of our time

The water works and spreads her song:

In patterned carpets, drifted, dripped,

In crumbled brickwork, lyrics worn.

 

She lives outside the centuries –

The business hours, the closing times.

The lives just pass her by like drips,

As moments in a steady fall.

 

The questions that she sings for us:

Renewal from the slow decay,

The dampness in the air which hangs,

Will last beyond the building’s walls.

 

The steady tap of rain on glass:

The song of lives, the song of pasts.