Pilgrim's Journal

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Magpie Jane
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Pilgrim's Journal

Post by Magpie Jane » Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:19 pm

Pilgrim's Journal

On the forty-first day of the nineteenth month
I pack up my bags and tiptoe down
the long spiral ladder from the Baybell tower.

Up the ginnel I go, through the snicket,
past the stubborn skerry where ships come to grief.
The morning is cool and vague,
every bird's cry muted, weighty and symbolic:
weeka weeka weeka fen fen fen fenugreek.

I follow the directions I've been given,
confident of their importance, their cants divine;
they lead me down the cove to the boatshed,
its door sagging on old leather hinges.

There, in a metal chest lies a hidebound book, big,
black enough and heavy enough to sink a clipper.
I don't want to wake it up. I leave it alone.

Out of another chest comes the little skiff.
I take it to the water. Its banyan sail blows me
across Octopus Bay, towards Funnel Island.

Wavelets cluck me on. I rehearse passwords
and signs, and sayings that have power and effect:
weeka weeka weeka fen fen fenugreek.

When at last I tumble out of my leaky coracle, tired,
thirsty, more dead than alive, I have the good luck
to join a small band of Zogairy pilgrims.

We proceed to the Temple Pit. We strike camp
and worship. We burrow into the red sand, meditate,
sacrifice, count to ten, or fourteen, or a hundred,
and worship some more: weeka weeka weeka fen.

Soon the place is filling up with preachers,
griffers, and devouties. The slopes settle so smoothly
around them. Yet they're becoming restless,
crazed eyes swishing back and forth, excess arms
flailing like mobs of giant squid.

The bottom-feeders will want their sacraments.
As I leave, the sky begins to redden.

All the long way home I'm being stalked
by a travelling prophet known as The Unsleeping Eye.
Unredeemed, I stick to the towpath as far as I can.
Weeka weeka weeka fen fen fen fenugreek.

*
Last edited by Magpie Jane on Mon Jul 30, 2012 9:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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ray miller
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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by ray miller » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:18 pm

Enjoyed the journey, though I don't know where we've been. A humorous take on a genre?

There, in a metal chest lies a hidebound book, big,
black enough and heavy enough to sink a clipper.
I don't want to wake it up. I leave it alone. - I love this line.

devouties is a marvellous word. Is it a real one?

their cants divine - cants as in?

I think the Armageddon line is sadly out of place.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

Nash

Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by Nash » Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:08 am

Magnificent!

Your poems are always like going on a mystery tour, Jane. You've got no idea where you're being taken so all you can do is sit back and enjoy the view. And that view is always spectacular.

I love the unabashed playfulness with words here, ginnel, snicket, skerry, etc. And that bizarre refrain! Just lovely.

I certainly agree with Ray about the 'armegeddon' line, a bad pun that spoils that a great poem.

Cheers,
Nash.

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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by David » Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:25 am

Nash wrote:Magnificent!
I agree! I love the genre fun, and if this were, in some way, the start of a novel, I'd carry on reading.

I also love the outing you give to some of my favourite words.

I do agree with Ray and Nash about Armageddon. Spike Milligan made the same joke years ago, in one of his WW2 memoirs, and it didn't seem so out of place there.

But, all in all, terrific.

Cheers

David

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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by Antcliff » Sun Jul 29, 2012 3:35 pm

Hi,
I love snickets+ginnels.
(Laughed at the Armageddon line..the clue that I should not be taking things too seriously.)

But I cannot continue atm because I am still stuck in the mysterious dating of the first line. Hmm. What is going on here I wonder?
41st day of the month.

Seth
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by Wilcken » Sun Jul 29, 2012 4:24 pm

"Armageddon out of here."

!

This is whimsical and funny and I agree with David , I would love to keep reading...

I also want to look up a bunch of the words, devouties I'm quite sure I will not find (but I will do my best to spread its usage in the great midwest)

Bit o' Lewis Carroll coming to mind for me, but easier to stay with it as the surreal bits are well grounded.

Wilcken

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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by Antcliff » Sun Jul 29, 2012 10:05 pm

And who is this Unsleeping Eye person? Curiouser and curiouser..
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by Suzanne » Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:53 pm

What an experience.
It felt like having a shower in whimsical words. I loved snicket. I could have stopped right there and held it on my tongue for a long time.
Wonderful word, whatever it meant.. I didn't really care.

I think that the vagueness of the narrative lets the thing down more than it intrigues though.
It is just my opinion but I think it would be better if it were a tad shorter in journey. It had the feeling of a labyrinth that was slightly too complex.

But I did enjoy its language and playfulness of tale. I would love it if you'd tighten it up and make it slightly more accessible... but how? lol. I don't know!

Enjoyed X
Suzanne

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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by Magpie Jane » Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:46 pm

Thank you so very much, everyone. :D

Ray, this is just a simple little story, a scrap from an imaginary journal, as naïve as they come. Ach, no clever pastiche here.
I'm glad you pointed out that particular bit about the black book; I'm rather pleased with it myself, and trying to write a separate poem about that book and its history.
"Devouties" is a real word; I made it up myself. And "cants" . . . as in jargon, argot - and a wee bit of charlatanry.
You are perfectly right about the Armageddon line. I have kicked it out of the poem.

Nash, that is a wonderful compliment, which I'm very happy to receive. :D
Glad you like my play with those words; landscape descriptors never cease to enchant me. So many fine words so rarely seen anywhere.
And the abominable Armageddon line -- yes of course. It was triggered by the "sky begins to redden" rhyme, and I never could resist a bait like that. (One of my worst weaknesses is Bad Taste.) Armageddon has left the building.

David, as a matter of fact I started this one as a little short story, fairytale or whatever; but it insisted on being a poem, so I let it have its way. I may still rearrange and reconvert it at some point. I have a feeling that too many of my prose pieces end up as poems.
It's good to see that you, too, have some favourite words appearing here.

Seth, yes, those are Good Words, aren't they?
And the Armageddon line . . . it was just too too utterly abominable, and I decided to put it out of its misery. In retrospect I can't see why I didn't do it much earlier. Never mind. It's gone now.
The date and month are meant as clues to the "not taking things too seriously" that you mentioned.
What's going on is what happens behind the eyes of the beholder.

Wilcken, I do appreciate your kind offer to spread my home-brewed vocab in the great midwest!
And I'm glad you enjoyed the whimsical mood in the midst of the sinister goings-on.
Yes, Lewis Carroll is one of the absolute masters in this genre. (You know the Hunting of the Snark?)

Seth once more (yay!), I have no idea whatsoever who that person is. Maybe I'm lucky I don't know him. Imagine.

Suzanne, I know that feeling about particular words. Sometimes I just fall in love with a word I've never seen and whose meaning I don't know, and I want to use it all over the place . . . but after a few embarassing incidents I've made it a rule to look it up before I use it in public. "Snicket" is perfectly innocuous, though. As far as I remember.
You may be right about the tightening-up bit; I'll give it a serious thought.
I'm glad you enjoyed the pilgrimage!

Thanks again, all of you!

Jane
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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by Antcliff » Thu Aug 02, 2012 7:42 pm

I have no idea whatsoever who that person is. Maybe I'm lucky I don't know him. Imagine.

The All Seeing Eye Sees Her

I saw the Magpie
by my
all seeing eye,

spied her with her spider
as she dangled
ghosts of filtered flies.

Beside her
was the rider
she’d trapped inside her acre

and wrapped in xmas paper
to cook in sonnet pies.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

Magpie Jane
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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by Magpie Jane » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:42 pm

Seth . . . . . Oh!

So that means I don't have to be paranoid in order to imagine I'm being watched?
Wondrous, cool and lovely it is. Wow, O how I love it, spider and all!
Thank you so awfy much, kind sir.
Chacka chacka -

Jane

:D
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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by herbert » Wed Aug 08, 2012 3:03 pm

I like the way this poem seems to walk out of the back of a wardrobe . . . It starts with a few northern slang terms and if it wasn't for the first line (which is great as it forces the reader to suspend their disbelief) I would think it was set on some Northumbrian beach.

One of the lines reminded me of a poem by Norman Nicholson:

"Lie quarter of a century dead; but out on the stubborn skerry,"

Then we're transported out onto islands - and there are references to tropical places, peoples, reading almost like a 19th century tale of colonial adventure. But then the word coracle turns up and that takes us (well me) to welsh rivers.

And finally the unsleeping eye - which I can't disassociate from Tolkein's Sauron.

I think if I have a criticism it is that some of the terms are very place and culture specific, and mixing them with purely invented words throws (this reader) occasionally.

Having said that there's a lot of invention here and its good to read something that is so playful with images, rhythms and words.

Finally I love this line - oystercatchers?

"Weeka weeka weeka fen fen fen fenugreek."

Magpie Jane
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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by Magpie Jane » Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:45 pm

Hi James -- and a clipper's hold full of thanks for your great comment!
I'm mighty pleased you enjoyed the strange journey. You are spot-on with the 19th century adventure-tale; I never could resist those. But - as you also noticed - I'm not sticking to any particular location or culture: this is nothing but free-wheeling fantasy.
The mysterious Unsleeping Eye is surely a much less powerful character than Sauron; more like a seedy private detective in a ragtag Bulgarian film noir.
And the refrain line . . . ah! I had the chaffinch in mind, but given the marine context, the oystercatcher is all right with me.
Thanks again, and cheers -

Jane
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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by David » Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:29 pm

Magpie Jane wrote:a seedy private detective in a ragtag Bulgarian film noir
I'd like to see that film. Ideally starring Akim Tamiroff.

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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by Magpie Jane » Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:02 pm

So would I, David.
Or . . . what about Akim Tamiroff starring as a travelling prophet? (now it's beginning to look like something by Tarkovsky)

:mrgreen:
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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by R Stinson » Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:46 pm

Jane,

What a wonderful poem! It is full of great words and phrasing too many to mention. It is the kind of poem that sticks with you, the kind that improves upon each reading. I also discover something new on each read as well. For me, those are some of the hallmarks of a well written poem. I am not sure exactly what it all means but then again, I really don't need to know. Reads like it is part of a larger whole but at th esame time stands completly on its own. It was a joy to read.

Thank you

RS

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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by Macavity » Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:43 pm

I love the way this roams, but doesn't fragment into nonsense, rather each line a discovery for the reader (yes, I'm ticking the diversity box!) I hadn't thought of the Sauron connection, but then that is another amusing play for me.

thoroughly enjoyed

mac

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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by Magpie Jane » Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:15 pm

RS and Mac . . . thank you ever so much!

Your generous comments really made my day.

:D Cheers -
Jane
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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by Raincoat » Mon Aug 20, 2012 3:03 am

the zoigary - hehehe - almost a poke fun at those who take themselves and their theories too seriously?

The vocabulary is rich and ancient sounding - coracles, temple pit, clipper. And the bird cry seems to bind it all, as if it brings us back to something, something reliable and real but also in its own way magical. The images have a marine-like quality - the octopus, the squid, the boats - connections to life's beginnings in the sea?

I think I agree with Suzanne about tightening it for example cutting either power or effect in that line or cutting things like "as far as I can."

This bit is my favourite:
"by a travelling prophet known as The Unsleeping Eye."

very much enjoyed, a sleeping Tess
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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by ljordan » Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:17 pm

I too need to add my exclamation of a reader's delight. This I believe is what Stevens meant by "Supreme Fictions"

larry

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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by Richard » Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:30 pm

This is high high high quality. It feels very light in its art whilst in fact it is so deftly put together.

Best

Richard

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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by Magpie Jane » Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:52 pm

Tess, Larry and Richard, cartloads of thanks! -- I'm happily tickled to the point of sheepishness. :D

I have been trying quite a few tightening exercises; they didn't come out any good, so I'll be leaving it like this for a while.

Thanks again for your comments, I appreciate them more than I can say.

All the best,
Jane
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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by Raincoat » Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:38 am

Hello Jane, just re-read my post, 'poke fun' wasn't the right choice of words at all, I should have said 'playful'. Poke fun sounds a bit mean and I didn't get that vibe at all from your poem. cheers,Tess.
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler." Henry David Thoreau

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Re: Pilgrim's Journal

Post by Magpie Jane » Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:23 pm

Hi Tess, thanks for coming back to this!
Oh, I got your vibe all right, the 'playful' meaning, I mean. Not to say I feel totally superior to occasional bouts of fun-poking, even gratuitous meanness, esp. towards the self-important types you mention.
The name 'Zogairy' refers to a country (Zogairysk) I have invented, and which occurs now and then in some of my scribblings. I have an unholy fondness of weird place-names.

Skiddleflicks and tallyho,
Jane
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