The Scroll of Lost Songs
24 Classical Odes
120pp (Click image to read online)
GENEALOGY, TRACING TWO particular veins or vital lineages, constitutes an underlying principle inscribing the themes of this poetic sequence. Or rather, these two sequences: sequences which are in fact not, as two groups, sequential, but which are concurrent,
interwoven, consubstantial – even informative palimpsests of one another. Conventional genealogy and various literary genealogies undergo an attempted synthesis via this ‘double-sided’ cycle of poems.
There are two sides to a papyrus roll, recto and verso, and two broad dimensions of life – outer and inner. The fragility of its material consistency opens up spaces, or lacunae, in the process of its unrolling. Light can flash through, carrying fleeting fragments of the words which may be said to shimmer on the side not always seen, to the peripheral vision of the reader: another, or even, indeed, oneself.
With an introductory essay exploring the world of the ode in its various forms, guises and histories, this collection of ‘new’ odes attempts to revive an old ideal.
P o e t i c a l w o r k s
The Circle of the Seasons
A Tapestry of Photography and Poetry tracing the cycle of the year
R.J. Conibear & David Lewiston Sharpe
THE CONCLUDING AIM of the poem is the relating of an old folk tale, specifically connected with Goblin Combe. This North Somerset gorge (now an atmospheric wooded dell), had been known as Eagle Combe up to the 18th Century or so it seems. The essence of the story that appears, retold, in the nine stanzas of the 'Spring' part of the poem presented here, was collected in the first half of the 20th Century and published in The Folktales of England (Briggs and Tongue, 1965). For the most part, the poem traces a largely circuitous route through various mythological subtexts and themes to arrive at the closing story.
Dreaming the Book of Kalos
A Narrative Poem
This is the thought that unifies creation;
This is the dream within a dream, the theory
That evolves as we attain each station, –
Thought that quickens, grows, dispelling weary,
Worn attempts at word and wedded notion.
And all opinion sinks, as dim and dreary.
There is a light within a word’s emotion,
Held inside a brittle frame of glass,
Delicate, demanding our devotion;
Like veins perceptible in blades of grass
The word is fed by linking threads inside,
Which guide the thought before it comes to pass.
The Spoken River
One Hundred Sonnets
Dante Gabriel Rossetti famously wrote that a sonnet is ‘a moment’s monument’.
For me, similarly, a poem – the sonnet perhaps most of all – possesses more of the quiet, distilled desire to halt time and frame a vignette in the unbounded continuum of life than any of the other innumerable attributes ascribed to it. It is a universal locus and a lens for all light.
'Fifteen Theban Sonnets'
A fisherman unwinds his tangled net
And casts a fleeting, idle glance at me,
As slowly in my boat I pass and see
The naked evening sun begin to set,
Divested of its fire. The reeds and rushes
Whisper secret stories to the breeze
And in the fields beyond, the silent trees
Take heed, but do not answer. Hot sand touches
Shallow, sparsely vegetated slopes
And rises in the wind above the crops,
To fill the air which, on the mountain, drops
The dust as day is bound with unseen ropes:
Night-time’s net is cast, the mountain glows,
As the sun’s last light is sheared in rippling rows.