Monday, December 03, 2007

Layers of History

The prompt over at read.write.poem this week was to "play with your parts". That is, to take three different parts of our lives - three towns, or three hobbies, or three jobs, or three people, and mix them up in one poem.

I have had some ideas but none of them have made them to a finished poem yet (or even a first draft). However, I realised that this poem which I wrote recently does mix up a number of different periods in history, so I thought it was at least partly relevant to the prompt to share it here.

And yes, it is a first draft, so suggestions will be considered.

The Crows at Stirling Castle

All afternoon the crows have been casting themselves
off the castle walls into the air. The tourists below
group in small knots around tartaned guides,
look down the steep cliffs but not up
to where the crows hover in dynamic stillness.
They are surfing the wind.

They are heedless of our attention,
they are heedless of the ox carts
that trundle up the steep slopes
with ale and salt herring,
of the bakers in the kitchen,
of the weavers in the tapestry workshop.

They hover above royal baptisms
and coronations, they scatter only briefly
when cannons hammer the castle walls.
A white feathered figure leaps to join them,
and plummets in a scatter of feathers
They disperse and regroup.

It is not “murder, murder” that they cry
as dark cloaked figures conspire in corners.
The crows have their own business to attend to,
hanging motionless in the updrafts
above the cliffs.


gautami tripathy said...

I love crows. I liked the way it goes. I could see them hovering.


Jo said...

Catherine this is beautiful, so very well done.

fuquinay said...

I am a huge fan of the crow and had to read because of your title. I wasn't disappointed, but I'm disappointed in humans.

I would be looking up. I wouldn't be able to look away. Crows have a spell on me.

Good writing, good story.

paisley said...

what a lovely reminder,, of not only the crows,, but all of the amazing things we learn to overlook or take for granted...

Linda Jacobs said...

"tartaned guides", 'surfing the wind", "cannons hammer the castle walls" I'm sitting here chewing on these delicious images! Thank you!

sister AE said...

You made the crows as ageless and nearly unchanging as the castle itself. I saw them surfing time itself.

Christine Swint said...

i like the idea of crows going about their business. Human associations really have nothing to do with them. And what's more interesting is how times have changed since the period in which this poem is set, yet some humans still think about the crows in the same way, and crows continue with their own lives.

Anonymous said...

Wow. A really stunning piece.

Carolee said...

crows and a castle -- while this scene is real and vivid and clearly right in front of the poet/narrator, it has a fairy tale fear. i don't mean the happily-ever-after fairy tale ... i just mean the lore and stories of common folks and kings.

Andy Sewina said...

Yeah, you've got to look up to see the crows. It's like the crows know something. Stone the crows! I like the image 'surfing the wind'

chicklegirl said...

This was so vivid, I was there. And I loved the wordplay of the murder of crows not crying "murder, murder".

Unknown said...

Beautifully written. Great imagery. Wonder if you write some more. Add some more verses to it.

Jan said...

Lovely pictures, glimpses.
I shall be looking out for crows...

Anonymous said...

A fine representation of the endurance of nature over time & during change.

m said...

Catherine ! just to let you know the calendar was waiting for me on my return from London.Thank you! I shall enjoy looking at it as the year turns.