Monthly Archives: August 2014

Bathtime Reading (7)


He reads the great verses, in the bath.
The lines, the words, that delight and inspire,
may ignite – who knows? – creative fire.

Images in Edwin Morgan’s “Trio”
effervesce, instil a sparkling brio.
Buchanan Street, the trio, Christmas lights.
Clarity of vision; piercing insight.

Bubbles of thought rise and soar in his mind.
He must catch them, or they may float away;
capture them, store them, for fresh light of day.

A line of verse comes to him, full-blown;
a line of verse hitherto unknown.
First line, perhaps, for a poem of his own?
He holds it in mind; sure he’s on the right path:
“He reads the great verses, in the bath . . .”

“He reads the great verses, in the bath.” turned out to be the line I would use as the first line of a sequence of seven poems.  All were entitled “The Great Verses”, and all were inspired by my habit of reading anthologies of poetry whilst relaxing in a warm bath.  I would often refer to the actual poems I was reading at the time – in the one above, for example, it was Edwin Morgan’s poem “Trio” – and sometimes I took the liberty of quoting lines from the poems I was reading.  I finally decided the sequence would have to come to an end – although I was tempted to continue it indefinitely – and “The Great Verses (7)” is the only way I could think of finishing it.  I still continue to read anthologies of poems in the bath, though; bath time just wouldn’t be the same without it. 



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The world around me, my visible world, shut.
Abrupt finality; mere ghost of a “phut!”
I sat in the silence, still-born with shock.
Fears, fancies, fantasies ran amok.

It could be intruders; thieves in the night,
at ease in darkness, protected from sight,
coldly dismantling all sources of light.

I sat in the stillness; whispered a curse.
How absurd the timing – to frustrate me, of course
– ten minutes from the end of “Inspector Morse”.
No alien sounds impinged on my ear;
I discounted burglars, reined-in my fear.

The luminous clock read 01:53.
Just what was I doing?  What was wrong with me?
How could I possibly want to see
such an ancient series?  TV classic – even so,
It was first shown twenty-eight years ago.

I sat in the darkness.  Memories stirred;
how a previous power-cut had occurred.
Builders, by accident, cut some vital cable;
all forms of electricity, completely disabled.
Memory obscured by forgetful haze,
but I do remember it lasted for three days.

Darkness, stillness, silence; perhaps I ought
to master my feelings, control my thoughts.
Use darkness, stillness, absence of sound
to meditate on things eternal and profound.
But I found my musing took a more prosaic course:
to the aborted ending of “Inspector Morse”.

I got to my feet; walked through gravid air.
My knee collided with an invisible chair.
I looked out the window: dramatic sight.
A divided world; surreal apartheid.
One side of the street, windows brimful of light.
My side dark as pitch; black as the night.

I was gazing out the window, immured in gloom,
when brightness and noise ignited the room.
The silence, the stillness, all around,
suddenly shattered; cacophony of sound.

This power-cut had been blissfully brief.
All I felt, now, was a sense of relief.
Soon to be forgotten, a fleeting insight:
how feeble we are, in a world without light.

Followers of this blog will know by now that most of my poems are inspired by events or occurrences that have made an emotional impact upon me, in either my recent or more distant past.  I suppose that more or less fits the classic definition of poetry as “emotion recollected in tranquillity”.  “Power-Cut” arises from an event that happened to me fairly recently.  It would have been nice if I could have used the subject as inspiration for profound poetic musings upon darkness and human nature, but the poem didn’t turn out that way.  If it entertains or amuses its readers, I’ll be happy.

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