Monthly Archives: November 2013

“Succubus” and “Lilith”

My poem “Succubus” fits into the well-established genre of poems, novels and stories based on the legend of a female demon or vampire who seduces men during the night-time and consumes their souls or bodies in some way.  “Succubus” was written quite a while ago, and I can’t recall whether it was inspired by a particularly vivid dream or nightmare or not.  I have a vague impression that I might have been thinking about Keats’s poem “La Belle Dame sans Merci” at the time, but “Succubus” is a slightly quirky take on the genre.  The only other poem I’ve written on the subject is “Lilith”, which is more traditional in tone and form.  I remember being struck by the phrase “she wore a gown of night”, that I had read or heard somewhere, and writing “Lilith” as a consequence.  “Lilith” featured in an earlier post in this blog, but I include it again here, so that, with “Succubus” you have two contrasting attempts at the genre.

SUCCUBUS:

It was the very pith of him,
the neverlasting quick of him,
the so so tender wick of him
she took.

Yet no vestigial rim of him,
no unconnected limb of him,
no loving kith or kin of him
she overlooked.

In short, a sorry tale.
The essence of the male
became her holy grail.

Leaving, in her wake,
drained remnants of a lake,
infused with bitter chill.
A bleak, abandoned place,
impossible to fill.

LILITH:

Her eyes were dark, her feet were bare,
she wore a gown of night.
Two ravens, hovering above,
obscured the lunar light.

She moved towards him soundlessly,
gliding through the air;
gentle breezes flickering,
tousling lustrous hair.

He could not meet her gaze; hopeless was the fight.
Timorous, enfeebled at this spectral sight,
he froze in place, his scattered senses
roaming where they might.

Her mantle closed around him,
infusing scent of wormwood.
Moths, fluttering from her mouth,
first chilled, then stilled his blood.

 

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The Garden

Gardens are a fairly popular subject in poetry.  They lend themselves to a variety of metaphors and imagery; The Garden of Eden, for example, often referred to in poems by Andrew Marvell, John Donne, George Herbert and other “Metaphysical” poets of the seventeenth century.  The changing seasons of nature and the life-cycles of plants also figure prominently in many such poems.  Although not immune to the various charms offered by gardens, I must admit to an almost complete ignorance of plants and flowers, and my own poem “The Garden” relates to the only garden I’ve ever got to know really well – the one created by my mother.  The main subject of the poem is, in fact, not so much the garden itself as the way she created, then re-created it.  It is, essentially, one of a whole stream of poems – inspired by my memories of her – that I’ve found myself writing since her death a few years ago.

THE GARDEN:

In the beginning were the stones, the clay, the weeds;
unforgiving materials, unlikely seeds.
Then, transformation; beginning to mould
form and function.  Her vision took hold.
Grass planted, soil smoothed, first sprouting of lawn.
Then a cricket pitch, a tennis court; her sons were born.
Later, the rockery, bushes, flowers, trees.
Hours spent digging, churning earth, on her knees.
Pouring devotion, her love, in diverse ways;
as fervent, here, as at church on Sundays.
Feeding the garden, as she did her family,
instinctively, tirelessly, selflessly.
Plants rotated, recycled, instilled with life anew.
Meanwhile, the Giant Redwood just grew and grew . . .

 

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