Monday, February 26, 2018

M. Ann Waddicor writes


Miserable morning 
my mind mesmerised by grief  
my senses numbed  
my body limp 

I slowly slide into the next day  
in a daze  
dazzled by the strong light  
the window accosts my sight  
like a picture of the past  
frozen on the memory by recent events 

shocked and left shaking  
like a leaf against a grey stone in the tide  
strangely affected as by some dread disease  
clasped and squeezed  
through narrow gaps of emptiness 
on an abandoned beach  
bereft of life 

silent sand corns silt up the sea weed  
the sun veiled in misty sadness 
like a dimmed light in the dark 
a scream of gulls sears the silence  
a knife edge of silver  
cuts the scene in two 

icy wind blows wrinkles on the sea 
replenishing the stream  
that flows into the unknown  
its cold bite unbearable  

the horns of a cow loom over the dunes  
piercing the sky  
an Excalibur  
Harakiri Harakiri  
the serpent of the ocean  
swallows my heart 

dank clothing hangs limply from my ships  
dragging my consciousness  
into the deep of my mourning  
all strength slaked 

bleached by the salt of life's longings  
crushed by the earthquake of my demise  
my theatrical mind running  
into the crashing waves  
my wish  
to drown from this existence 
Related image


  1. Harakiri (or "seppuku") is a form of japanese ritual sicide by disembowelment. Originally it was reserved for samurai who wished to die with honor rather than be captured (and probably tortured) or because they had brought shame to themselves. It was also a form of capital punishment for samurai who had committed serious offenses. The 2 Japanese terms use the same kanji (ideograms) but in reverse order, so harakiri is "belly cutting" and seppuku is "cutting the belly." The former term is spoken, the latter, written. The practice was introduced by the warrior/poet/Buddhist monk Minamoto no Yorimasa after failing to prevent the Taira clan from taking the Byōdō-in temple in Kyoto in 1180. The practice soon spread to the wives of samurai who had brought dishonor to the family or who had committed seppuku; they killed themselves by cutting the arteries of their neck with one stroke, and often tied their knees together 1st so their bodies would retain a dignified pose. In 1185 the Minamoto clan finally defeated Taira no Tomomori, the man who had defeated Yorimasa, at the battle of Dan-no-ura; Tomomori tied his feet to an anchor and leaped into the sea, and many of his followers and their wives killed themselves.

  2. The Welsh "caledfwlch" was a compund word for hard + cleft. In "Culhwch ac Olwen," the longest Welsh prose tale and one of the 1st Arthurian accounts, Arthur voyaged to Ireland to obtain a cauldron which would not boil a coward's food but would quickly cook the food of a brave man. After its owner refused to give up, one of Arthur's men seized Caladvwch and swung it around, killing all of their hosts. (Taliesin, the poet, claimed that his "poetry, from the cauldron it was uttered, from the breath of nine maidens it was kindled.") In the earlier poem "Preiddeu Annwfn" (The Spoils of Annwfn), which may be dated to the 6th century, the cauldron belonged to the king of Annwn, the Welsh otherworld of eternal youth where disease was absent and food plentiful. The "Breuddwyd Rhonabwy" (The Dream of Rhonabwy) described Arthur's sword as having "a design of two chimeras on the golden hilt; when the sword was unsheathed what was seen from the mouths of the two chimeras was like two flames of fire, so dreadful that it was not easy for anyone to look." Gruffudd (Geoffrey of Monmouth) wrote "De gestis Britonum" (On the Deeds of the Britons) in 1136, tracing British history from the founding by Brutus the son of Aeneas of Troy to the reign of Arthur; he Latinized the sword's name to Caliburnus. As the Arthur legend moved into French literature Chrétien de Troyes referred to Escalibor, "the finest sword there was, which sliced through iton as through wood." However, it was borne by Arthur's nephew Gawain, not by Arthur. In the 12th century "Merlin" Robert de Boron introduced the notion that Arthur was recognized as the only true king by extracting the sword from an anvil on a stone that appeared in a churchyard on Christmas Eve. A century later the Lady of the Lake gave Excalibur to Arthur after he became king. In the first battle testing Arthur's sovereignty, when he 1st drew the sword, Excalibur's blade blinded his enemies; in Thomas Malory's words, "it was so breyght in his enemyes eyen that it gaf light lyke thirty torchys." In many versions the blade was engraved on opposite sides with phrases like "Take me up" and "Cast me away." Its scabbard protected its bearer from dying from loss of blood or even prevented bleeding at all. So in later traditions, including Mallory's "Le Morte d'Arthur," his 1/2 sister Morgan le Fay stole the scabbard and threw it into a lake, thus leading to Arthur's death by Mordred (in later accounts described as the son of Arthur and Morgan) at the battle of Camlann. In the so-called "Alliterative Morte Arthure" Mordred stole Arthur's ceremonial sword, Clarent, and slew him with it. In "The Passing of Arthur" Alfred Tennyson gave a fulsome Victorian description of the weapon:
    There drew he forth the brand Excalibur,
    And o’er him, drawing it, the winter moon,
    Brightening the skirts of a long cloud, ran forth
    And sparkled keen with frost against the hilt:
    For all the haft twinkled with diamond sparks,
    Myriads of topaz-lights, and jacinth-work
    Of subtlest jewellery.


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