Archives for posts with tag: simile

Tulips from A Day in a Child’s Life by Kate Greenaway, c. 1881 and courtesy of the Old Design Shop.

I did not set out to write poetry. I intended to write Novels. And anyway, I am of the view that much superbly written and evocative poetry already exists. The Shadows of Giants loom large. At the moment I have no illusion about even coming close to their kneecaps, never mind shoulders. This time last year I posted “Emulation“, a poem about the finely wrought craft of three (English language) poetry giants.

Emulation” references two poems that had a notable impact on me during my adolescence: Sylvia Plath’s “Mushrooms” and “The Thought Fox” by Ted Hughes. (Yes, we studied them at school in our English lessons. Some exposures in life just can’t be helped.) Both poems struck me with the synaesthetic potential of words. To this day, I can still feel those mushrooms mouthing their insidious, hollow-breathed o’s at the world (“So many of us! So many of us!”). That Thought Fox still darts with a hot fox stink across my imagination.

(I had not noted, until reviewing these poems for this post, that both set the scene in a forest. How very archetypal; how very Brothers Grimm.)

“Mushrooms” is referenced via Plath’s famous “Tulips” (1961). I came across “Tulips” when I was older . Although a recognised and fine work, it does not evoke the same nostalgia for me.

The third poet to whom homage is paid is John Donne for his poem “The Flea“. Besides the pleasure of the words, it latched onto my leaning towards the miniature and slightly odd. Perhaps my little poem “An arrangement of Strangers” owes Donne a debt.

I may not (yet) have found myself on the shouders of giants, but I have written nearly 200 poems. 149 of them are available in book format:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry – 104 poems written across a year
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys – 25 poems about work, life and love
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012 – 20 poems about loss, love and growing up in quiet suburbia

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Poems inspired by sea creatures

This poem about scales is a mash-up of ideas about old flames and red herrings. Strangely, yesterday I also wrote about sea creatures. In ‘New ink cartridges‘ I paired cephalopods with writing in black ink.

The image of fish scales is courtesy of Wikicommons Media and photographed by Rajesh danji. View the original image here. You can view Rajesh’s work on his photo blog, Banglore Photo Daily.

Image courtesy of Earthworm Society of Britain. E: info@earthwormsoc.org.uk

EARTHWORMS

Pink entrails of the earth rise,
half-drowned,
all-blind and writhing.
How unthinking 
and stupid these no-brained 
are!
Useless and flaccid 
after rain clogs
their soil-bed
and the scatter to the paths
to be baked by the sun,
eaten by birds 
and laughed at by big mouths above pounding feet
fed by the 1,750,000 other pink gyrators
which churn each fertile acre.


There are two language misuses that bother me a great deal. One is excessive hyperbole; the other is un-nuanced comparison in analogy, simile or metaphor. This poem is a response to equating a group of unfocussed people with ‘dumb, blind’ (and by suggestion useless) earthworms.

From my father I learnt that even the smallest, seemingly insignificant creatures have their place in the world. Earthworms in particular are supremely important and spectacular beings. While researching for this poem, I discovered that there are thousands of different earthworm species. The worms are of different colours and lengths. Some live in leaf litter rather than the soil, and in rare cases they even live in tree branches.

It is supremely anthropocentric to forget the workings that occur beneath our feet. Beneath a metre-squared of garden lawn, 20 to 40 earthworms will be at work. Even more humbling is that for every acre of fertile farmland, there are 1,750,000 earthworms working their way through the soil.

My Dad was fond of reminding me, “Ants know as much as they need to know to be ants.” Similarly, earthworms know and do as much as is required to be earthworms. They aerate the soil. They leave their casts to nourish the soil. Their bodies feed birds and other creatures. In amazing hermaphroditic wonder, they make more earthworms. What perfection!

Earthworms
move as they digest, digest as they move:
one intertwined perfected motion.
If our lives were so simple,
imagine how efficient we’d be.

By all means, one may label a group of people distracted and confused, but to liken them to earthworms is a misplaced simile that this poet cannot accept.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill 
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Books:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightnes:  Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012