I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Longest Day

You’ve reached your zenith. Now it’s my turn to shine,
Smudging your halo, nudging you to a fall.
Please don’t begrudge this swelling heart of mine
Harvesting darkness. This is my time.

I stretch my sinews like an alley cat.
Flexing my claws, I stalk the empty streets
In growing shadows under a Hunter’s Moon.
This is my time. Your time will return soon.

Look at it this way. You’re the loyal wife,
And I’m the necessary concubine.
Brother and sister, we. The yang and yin.
A chiaroscuro painting by design.

8 comments:

jen revved said...

Gorgeous poem-- rich, tender! xxxj

The Weaver of Grass said...

Hm Robert. Food for thought here.

Ruth said...

I agree with The Weaver of Grass. I want to think about this, there's a lot here to contemplate. That "Harvesting darkness" is chilling, but in my mind also necessary.

The Solitary Walker said...

Candidly, I was worried about this poem, as others have also found it rather chilling. Another concern I had was the ending, which seems a little abrupt, seems to hang, to be unfinished. However, I think, on balance, that the ending may be okay, and the 'hanging' fits the tension.

I started out with the idea of the summer solstice, the longest day, and how from that day until the next equinox the daylight decreases and the hours of darkness increase. And then it turned out to be more sinister than I consciously intended – kind of subverting the feel-good 'brother sun, sister moon' of St Francis. Part of my own unconscious came to the fore, and surprised, even shocked me.

There is always both a harmony and a tension between day and night, light and darkness, sun and moon – however you want to put it. The 'I' in the poem is not me – but who knows all our constituent parts? Is the darkness, the prowling cat, telling the real truth about the equality and complementarity of day and night, or the truth as the cat sees it, or is the cat being devilish, cunning and duplicitous?

It's true we are not always in the sun, and the midday sun can sometimes look naive, innocent, obvious, without shadows. But the darkness need not be this clawed, feline thing, it's true, and I know I haven't emphasised the nurturing, subtle, imaginative, positive side of night.

Perhaps the poem is too chilling, too unredemptive, I don't know.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Jen! Though a claw-in-a-velevet-glove tenderness?

Dominic Rivron said...

I like it. And I think it works musically - it's not too short (as you say you worried it might be). Were you expecting it to be a sonnet? I rather like the way it affirms the way one can write verse like this without those two extra lines.

dritanje said...

I like this very much solitary walker and even more so after reading your thoughts, the way you did not intend to write what you did and it surprised and even shocked you. I think it's wonderful when our unconscious or 'different conscious' comes up with surprising things like that. Night brims with the unknown, in itself it's - well who knows what it is in itself, but it's more open to be peopled with what our imagination puts into it perhaps. Daylight focuses on what is there and can be clearly seen, whereas night is not so much day's complement I don't think, but another order or consciousness altogether. And that's what I like about it and this poem. Let's not court safeness at least not in what we write. Climbing a mountain, maybe!

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks Dominic and Dritanje!

Dritanje – I was doubting this poem, and nearly pulled it, but your comment has renewed my belief in it. The unconscious (or 'different conscious' as you subtly and beautifully put it) can be a dangerous place, but it's there, and it's a fact that art could not exist without it and whatever it throws up. I appreciate your idea about night not being the complement of day but being a different order of consciousness. I felt quite uncomfortable with this poem after I'd published it on the blog, but I know I could not have written it in any other way at the time I was writing it.