#AtoZChallenge ‘N’ #NationalPoetryMonth ‘Noon Walk on the Asylum Lawn’ by Anne Sexton #MondayBlogs

This year to celebrate National Poetry Month and to take part in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, I’ll be posting two poems a day, one written by me and another poem written by one of my favourite poets. The title or first word of both poems will begin with the corresponding letter in the Blogging Challenge.

Today I offer you two poems on desperation, depression and death. Noon Walk On The Asylum Lawn by Anne Sexton and No Safe Place, by Luccia Gray.

****

Noon Walk On The Asylum Lawn – Poem by Anne Sexton

The summer sun ray
shifts through a suspicious tree.
though I walk through the valley of the shadow
It sucks the air
and looks around for me.

The grass speaks.
I hear green chanting all day.
I will fear no evil, fear no evil
The blades extend
and reach my way.

The sky breaks.
It sags and breathes upon my face.
In the presence of mine enemies, mine enemies
The world is full of enemies.
There is no safe place. 

From to Bedlam and partway back by Anne Sexton published in 1960. It was the first book of poetry she published.

****

Anne Sexton by Elsa Dorfman

****

The poet is o the lawn at the asylum. She’s looking for comfort in doctors, in medicine, in nature, and in religion, but there’s no hope. None of them can help her leave the land of shadows in which she’s immersed. She cannot see the light.

Emotionally the poet is in the valley of the shadow of death, and ‘it’, death, is chasing her, by using everything in his power to do so. The trees take up the air choking her, the chant of the grass which becomes long blades, likes knives attacking her, the clouds, causing the shadows, are also her enemy.

This poem is a description of her lonely and desperate emotional situation. It’s all the more desperate because it’s not even a cry for help. She knows there will be no escape, because there is no safe place.

In this sense, it’s also an existentialist reflection on the human condition. We are all born, live, and die; all three events are inevitable, and in between we’re not even happy. As Camus’ tells us the reason for Caligula’s unhappiness: “Men die and they are not happy.

If this poem were a painting, it would be Munch’s The Scream.

The Scream by Eduard Munch (1893)

Her situation is hopeless. Everything and everyone is against her. She can’t escape. No one and nothing can save her.

But the poem is even more devastating, because it is not only a personal reflection, we have all been there, and we all go back there on occasions, until death finally wins the battle, because there is no escape from death. It will creep up on us all.

Lines 3, 8, and 13 are taken from Psalm 23, which is famous for being most commonly used at funerals or to comfort those approaching death. The message is that believers should not fear death because God’s presence and strength will guide them to the next world.

More about Anne Sexton here links

I’ve also found these fabulous videos on you tube of Anne reading her own poems. Check them out.

****

Now for my own poem.

This is one of the hardest poems I’ve written this month. I’ve had my low moments of depression, and who hasn’t after almost six decades of life? Nevertheless I try to be an optimistic person, who encourages students, colleagues, friends, family and anyone who’s listening or reading!

The poem about my sister’s death, for example, There’s Still Joy, was hard, and yet I didn’t feel desperate or depressed when I’d written it. In fact I felt relief in writing the poem.

As T. S, Eliot said, ‘The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink.’ In that case, it should have had a therapeutic and liberating effect, shouldn’t it? That was initially Anne Sexton’s aim in writing poetry, as therapy, and yet, her poem has no hope, just a description of desperation.

Anne Sexton’s poem has pushed me way out of my comfort zone today.

Here’s my own desperate plea.

****

No Safe Place (After Anne Sexton) by Luccia Gray

The shadow stalks me,

Seeping through the trees.

The leaves, they whisper,

‘We’ve come to take her.’

‘Fear no evil,’ they repeat,

But I can hear the devil’s feet.

The grass is screaming,

The clouds are crashing,

The Lord is waiting.

I’m at their mercy.

They’ve called back my enemy.

It’s time now, he’s come for me.

He’s breathing in my face.

There is no safe place.

****

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

#NationalPoetryMonth ‘Let it Flow’ #inspiration #amwriting #poem

Today I offer you a poem I’ve written for one of my best friends, artist Anna Overbury Sujar. We were recently sitting by the beach, chatting about inspiration and the process of creating a picture or a poem.

When I returned home, I wrote this poem for her, for me, for you, for everyone who creates art.

I hope you enjoy it!

Anna Overbury Sujar, in her studio.

****

Let it Flow by Luccia Gray.

Push away your fear,

Ignore your doubts,

Let it flow.

Loosen your arms,

Relax your hand,

Let it flow.

Capture the moment

You saw the light,

Let it flow.

Feel the grandeur,

Bathed in gratitude,

Let it flow.

Channel your magic,

Connect with the awe,

Let it flow.

Pick up your brush,

Awaken the fairy,

Let it flow.

Let the brush slide,

Over your canvas,

Let it flow.

Blend the colours into sound,

Melt the music into movement,

Let it flow.

For Anna Overbury Sujar.

****

Anna Overbury Sujar at home with one of her beautiful mosaics.

****

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

#AtoZChallenge ‘M’ #NationalPoetryMonth ‘My Mistress’ Eyes’ #NPM17 #amwriting #Sonnet #Poetry #Shakespeare

This year to celebrate National Poetry Month and to take part in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, I’ll be posting two poems a day, one written by me and another poem written by one of my favourite poets. The title or first word of both poems will begin with the corresponding letter in the Blogging Challenge.

Today I offer you one of Shakespeare’s most irreverent sonnets, My Mistress’ Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun (Sonnet 130) and another irreverent sonnet by Luccia Gray, My Master’s Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun.

I hope you enjoy!

 

My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like The Sun (Sonnet 130) by William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616).

 

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damasked, red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound;

I grant I never saw a goddess go;

My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare

As any she belied with false compare.

****
I love this sonnet. It’s one of my favourites for two reasons. Firstly, I admire Shakespeare’s lack of conventionalism or snobbery, and his use of typical metaphors against themselves. In this case, he parodies conventional love sonnets made popular by Petrarch, and written by his contemporaries, such as Sidney, which idealised their love interest.

Secondly, I love the way he presents a flawed and imperfect woman as his mistress. He says, ‘you’re not perfect, you’re not a goddess, but who cares, I love you because you’re real and in spite of your imperfections.’ Well said!

****

My sonnet also presents an imperfect lover, although in this case he’s male.

It also has a light and mocking tone, poking fun at celebrities and those who imitate them.

****

My Master’s Eyes

 

My master’s eyes are nothing like the sun,

They’re black as coal, deep and often wary.

If hairs be messy, then he has almost none,

If skin be soft and smooth, his is hairy.

I’ve seen George Clooney dressed up in a tux,

Brad Pitt prefers Channel scents, it would seem,

But he smells like showers and a touch of musk,

And he looks his best in navy blue jeans.

I love to watch his lips while he’s talking,

Although his voice is gruff and sometimes raw.

I never saw David Beckham walking,

But my master, when he walks, treads on the floor,

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare,

As any superstar you can compare.

****

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

 

 

 

#AtoZChallenge ‘L’ #NationalPoetryMonth ‘The Lightest Touch’ #NPM17 #amwriting #poem #inspiration

This year to celebrate National Poetry Month and to take part in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, I’ll be posting two poems a day, one written by me and another poem written by one of my favourite poets. The title or first word of both poems will begin with the corresponding letter in the Blogging Challenge.

Today I offer you two poems about poetic inspiration. The Lightest Touch by David Whyte, which has in turn inspired me to write a poem with the same name about the same subject, The Lightest Touch by Luccia Gray

****

 THE LIGHTEST TOUCH by David Whyte

Good poetry begins with

the lightest touch,

a breeze arriving from nowhere,

a whispered healing arrival,

a word in your ear,

a settling into things,

then, like a hand in the dark,

it arrests the whole body,

steeling you for revelation.

*

In the silence that follows

a great line,

you can feel Lazarus,

deep inside

even the laziest, most deathly afraid

part of you,

lift up his hands and walk toward the light.

– from EVERYTHING IS WAITING FOR YOU and RIVER FLOW

David Whyte in 2009 by Eugene Kim

David Whyte, of Anglo-Irish origins, was born and brought up in the UK. He was a marine zoologist, before he started writing poetry.

The lightest Touch is a beautiful poem which aims to identify the fleeting and magical moment of inspiration or revelation, before a poem is written.

More about David and his poetry here.

****

I’ve used the same title in my poem and tied to identify the same moment.

The Lightest Touch by Luccia Gray (inspired by David Whyte)

A whisper in my dream,

A fading ripple in the sea,

A breeze when your eyes open,

A trembling leaf just fallen.

A bolt of lightning,

A shadow sliding

Over the waning sun.

The lightest touch,

Like a distant hum

Has finally come.

A sudden surge of light,

Which starts so slight,

Yet grows and grows

‘Till it explodes,

Into words and lines

And other signs,

Later a poem,

Just for them.

****

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

 

#AtoZChallenge ‘K’ #NationalPoetryMonth ‘Kiss’ #NPM17 #amwriting #poem

This year to celebrate National Poetry Month and to take part in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, I’ll be posting two poems a day, one written by me and another poem written by one of my favourite poets. The title or first word of both poems will begin with the corresponding letter in the Blogging Challenge.

Today I offer you a brutal war poem by Siegfried Sassoon, The Kiss,  and a sensual love poem by Luccia Gray, Kiss Me

****

The Kiss BY SIEGFRIED SASSOON

 

To these I turn, in these I trust—

Brother Lead and Sister Steel.

To his blind power I make appeal,

I guard her beauty clean from rust.

 

He spins and burns and loves the air,

And splits a skull to win my praise;

But up the nobly marching days

She glitters naked, cold and fair.

 

Sweet Sister, grant your soldier this:

That in good fury he may feel

The body where he sets his heel

Quail from your downward darting kiss.

(c) The Fitzwilliam Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation. Siegfried Sassoon by Glyn Warren Philpot 1917

Sassoon said this poem was inspired by a lecture on the use of the bayonet in which the lecturer, compared the bullet and bayonet to a brother and sister. The sister/bayonet’s penetration is disturbingly compared to a fatal kiss.

Siegfried Sassoon (1886 – 1967) was an English poet, writer, and soldier. Decorated for bravery on the Western Front, he became one of the leading poets of the First World War, describing the horrors of the trenches.

****

From a devastating war poem, to a sensual poem by Luccia Gray, Kiss me.

Kiss Me

Soft, supple lips,

Kiss me.

Breath, life, lips,

Kiss me.

Warm, moist lips,

Kiss me.

Arms, legs, lips,

Kiss me.

Breathless, panting lips,

Kiss me.

Release, ecstasy, lips,

Kiss me.

Rest, sleep, lips,

Kiss me.

****

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

#AtoZChallenge ‘J’ #NationalPoetryMonth ‘Joy’ #NPM17 #amwriting #poem

This year to celebrate National Poetry Month and to take part in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, I’ll be posting two poems a day, one written by me and another poem written by one of my favourite poets. The title or first word of both poems will begin with the corresponding letter in the Blogging Challenge.

Today I offer you two poems, On the Death of Anne Brontë BY CHARLOTTE BRONTË, ‘There’s little joy in life for me’, and ‘There’s Still Joy’ by Luccia Gray- 

****

There’s little joy in life for me,

   And little terror in the grave;

I ‘ve lived the parting hour to see

 Of one I would have died to save.

****

Calmly to watch the failing breath,

Wishing each sigh might be the last;

Longing to see the shade of death

O’er those belovèd features cast.

****

The cloud, the stillness that must part

The darling of my life from me;

And then to thank God from my heart,

To thank Him well and fervently;

****

Although I knew that we had lost

The hope and glory of our life;

And now, benighted, tempest-tossed,

 Must bear alone the weary strife.

****

More about Charlotte Bronte here

This poem was written in response the death of Charlotte Bronte’s sister Anne Brontë, in 1849. Anne’s death was sudden and although all the Brone siblings had ill health, Anne’s death was unexpected and Charlotte was clearly devastated. Charlotte was the eldest of the four surviving Bronte siblings. In 1848 her brother Branwell Bonte died, shortly after, Emily became seriously ill and died of tuberculosis, in December 1848, and Anne died of the same disease in May 1849. I can only imagine how Charlotte must have felt, after her mother and all her siblings had died. In her poem, we can feel her desolation and loneliness.

****

I also know what it means to lose your only surviving sister. I’ve written other poems to my sister, this one is inspired by Charlotte Bronte’s poem to Anne Bronte. 

****

There’s Still Joy

 

I always knew you’d be a girl.

I heard your cry and ran to see

Your puffed red face and cute fair curls.

At last someone to play with me.

****

Too soon you left. No parting kiss,

No words to say our last farewell.

Your hugs forever I will miss,

Your virtues to everyone I’ll tell.

****

I wish you could have fought harder.

You gave up your last breath too soon.

Why couldn’t you have spoken louder

The night you saw the last full moon?

****

There’s still joy in remembering,

Your face, your voice, your laugh.

But it’s a temporary parting,

Many waters cannot quench love.

****

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

 

#AtoZChallenge ‘I’ #NationalPoetryMonth ‘I, Too’ #NPM17 #amwriting #poem

This year to celebrate National Poetry Month and to take part in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, I’ll be posting two poems a day, one written by me and another poem written by one of my favourite poets. The title or first word of both poems will begin with the corresponding letter in the Blogging Challenge.

Today I offer you, I Too, by the great Langton Hughes, and ‘I am the One’ by Luccia Gray.

****

I, Too BY LANGSTON HUGHES

I, too, sing America. 

I am the darker brother. 

They send me to eat in the kitchen 

When company comes, 

But I laugh, 

And eat well, 

And grow strong. 

Tomorrow, 

I’ll be at the table 

When company comes. 

Nobody’ll dare 

Say to me, 

“Eat in the kitchen,” 

Then. 

Besides, 

They’ll see how beautiful I am 

And be ashamed— 

I, too, am America.

****

Langston Hughes photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1936.

Such a powerful poem, so concisely and clearly expressed. There’s contained rage, assertiveness, self respect and faith in a just future.

We’ve all come a long way, but it’s an ongoing process.

****

My poem is more intimate. It’s also about being assertive and trusting your imagination and creativity to lead you to the right words to express yourself.

I am the One

I am the one

Who watches you smile,

Whose voice you hear sing,

Whose strong words you crave.

I am the one

Who sees your eyes burning,

Who spurs on your yearning,

Whose words you desire.

I am the one

Who holds your slow pen,

Who writes on your blank page,

Whose brave words will save you.

I am the one.

If you find me,

Hold onto my words,

As you fall

Into

The

Abyss.   

****

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

 

 

#AtoZChallenge ‘H’ #NationalPoetryMonth ‘Husband’ #NPM17 #CarrotRanch #FlashFiction

This year to celebrate National Poetry Month and to take part in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, I’ll be posting two poems a day, one written by me and another poem written by one of my favourite poets. The title or first word of both poems will begin with the corresponding letter in the Blogging Challenge.

Today I offer you, To My Dear and Loving Husband by Anne Bradstreet.

****

If ever two were one, then surely we.

If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;

If ever wife was happy in a man,

Compare with me ye women if you can.

I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,

Or all the riches that the East doth hold.

My love is such that rivers cannot quench,

Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.

Thy love is such I can no way repay;      

The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.

Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,

That when we live no more we may live ever.

****

I’ve always felt Anne Bradstreet, 1612 – 1672, probably the first published poet, writing in English, who lived in the American colonies, has been largely undervalued and even ignored in literary histories.

This is one of her loveliest poems, which takes the form of rhyming couplets, neatly representing the married couple’s love and symbiosis right from the first two lines by rhyming ‘we’ with ‘thee’.

The poem has many modern aspects. For example, their love comes across as a joint endeavour, in which neither are subservient and each have their role. The idea that money isn’t everything and it can never replace love and happiness is refreshing and shared by most 21st century citizens. I think it’s amazing that it was written 400 years ago. Priceless.

More on Anne Bradstreet here 

****

 

For my own poem, today I’ve also added a third challenge, Carrot Ranch, weekly Flash Fiction Challenge based on a 99 word prompt. My contribution to this Flash fiction challenge, organised by the wonderfully supportive and inspiring Charli Mills. is based on today’s prompt, the creation myth, which in my case, also deals with ‘husbands’.

A lighthearted look at creation and the roles assigned to men and women, or husbands and wives. Sadly, not a lot has changed since ‘Adam and Eve’. ‘Eve’s Husband’, by Luccia Gray.

****

Eve’s Husband

God created Adam, first,

‘Twas Eve’s fault that they were cursed.

Her search for knowledge paid the price

Of ousting them from paradise.

Adam did as he was told,

While Eve, she was very bold.

The husband obedient and good,

The wife complained as ever she could.

Man acted like a demigod,

Made in likeness to his only God.

While his wife was the family builder,

Her husband became the tribal leader,

Pillaging the earth and devastating

What God took six days in creating.

In spite of this some still believe

It’s women’s fault that man doth grieve.

****

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

 

 

Thursday Photo Prompt #WritePhoto #NationalPoetryMonth The Haunted Castle #amwriting #poem

This poem was written in response to Sue Vincent’s weekly Thursday Photo Prompt. Check out Sue’s wonderful blog for more information.

The Haunted Castle

She stood the test of time,

Towering proudly on the summit,

Watching over the raging sea,

Howling in the wind, ‘Come back!’

Convinced he must obey her,

The Queen of the haunted castle,

Terrified the travellers who dared

To venture through the ancient arch.

‘I’ll stay in my mighty castle,

Till the stones have ground to dust,

And the seas have all gang dry,

My love, I’ll wait till the end of time.’

****

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

 

#AtoZChallenge ‘G’ #NationalPoetryMonth ‘The Gift’ #NPM17 #SOCS #amwriting #poem

This year to celebrate National Poetry Month and to take part in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, I’ll be posting two poems a day, one written by me and another poem written by one of my favourite poets. The title or first word of both poems will begin with the corresponding letter in the Blogging Challenge.

Today, I’m adding a third challenge, The first part of today’s post is stream of consciousness, following Linda G. Hill’s weekly prompt, using the word “give/given/giving.”  Following part is a beautiful poem about giving gifts, called A Blade of Grass, by Brian Patten, and the final part is a poem I wrote recently but I’ve tweaked for this post, called The Gift.

Giving a gift is a privilege. It means you have someone you love to give the present to and a special occasion to celebrate. I love giving and receiving gifts. The whole process of giving is special, choosing, buying or preparing, and finding the perfect moment to give the special present we have bought.

Every time I think of gifts, I think of the beautiful poem by Brian Patten about how difficult it can become to give and receive simple, inexpensive gifts.

A Blade of Grass

You ask for a poem.

I offer you a blade of grass.

You say it is not good enough.

You ask for a poem.

I say this blade of grass will do.

It has dressed itself in frost,

It is more immediate

Than any image of my making.

You say it is not a poem,

It is a blade of grass and grass

Is not quite good enough.

I offer you a blade of grass.

You are indignant.

You say it is too easy to offer grass.

It is absurd.

Anyone can offer a blade of grass.

You ask for a poem.

And so I write you a tragedy about

How a blade of grass

Becomes more and more difficult to offer,

And about how as you grow older

A blade of grass

Becomes more difficult to accept.

****

As I often do, I’ve credited and reworked an original work of art, to express what I’m feeling at this moment.

The Gift

You ask for a star

I offer you a flower.

You say it’s not enough.

I say this flower will do.

It’s unique, perfect for you.

You say it is too easy

To offer a flower.

So I write you a poem

About how a flower

Is so easy to give

And so hard to accept.

****

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon