Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Sea Glass


Sea Glass
Mist shrouds the light of Prim,
a fog horn moans across the calm;
heron holds vigil on the beach
rhymed with foam from an ebbing tide.
Stooped like the crows, I search for mermaid’s tears
of amber, turquoise, aqua and milk white,
hidden in the wrack with pebble, periwinkle and hermit crab.
If I look for tears, I do not find them; they find me,
time travelling from mystery to soothe my melancholy. 

 Bryan D. Cook, Ottawa, November 12, 2012

Context for "Sea Glass"
I wrote the original "sea glass" as homework for a Tree Seed Workshop on imagist poetry given by Lise Rochefort. I was pleased with it until I  met the maritime and political poet Peter Sanger at a meeting of Ottawa’s TREE Reading Series who, after hearing it,  advised me to tighten up my diction. Friends Jennifer Pederson and David Blaikie reinforced this view. I applied this wisdom  with the above result. I will now be going through this form of editorial process for every poem I write. I think part of my problem was that I had been so stultified by writing legal documents and memoranda to Cabinet that I was releasing my pent-up muse in a gush of metaphor, adjectives and adverbs.
I later received a very insightful  letter from Peter which I can precise as :

"get rid of all self aggrandising solipsism taught at creative writing courses, poetic detritus and nineteenth century clich├ęs. A poem requires the truth, not the nidnod of mutual cowardly complicity!"

He would distill the poem to its essence:

Stooped like the crows, I search for mermaid’s tears
of amber, turquoise, aqua and milk white,
hidden in the wrack with pebble, periwinkle and hermit crab.
If I look for tears, I do not find them; they find me,
time travelling from mystery. 

I think I could now write an interesting piece on the evolution of an imagist poem!

Mermaids' tears are gems of hydrated and smoothed sea glass, often a century or more old, washed up on the beach and coveted for  jewellery making.



A heron 's lone vigil in the mist


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