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PER MARE PER TERRAM

Chant du monde boréal
Shoormal.
Sandshifter, 60N.
Where it all makes sense.

CHRONICLES FROM ARCANIA

Preamble

Through Chronicles from Arcania, I shall attempt to share walks with you, this poetics from 60N, where I feel at one with our Earth, my sense of place so maritime.


Saturday, 30 October 2010

Pumpkin Face for Something Wicked

Halloween

That great anglo-saxon institution...
Apparently originated from Rome and one of its feasts - Pomona - the goddess of Fruit & Seeds... Or in the festival of the dead, Parentalia.

Wow - seeds of life to roots of death. Deep!

Linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, in turn derived from Old Irish, meaning roughly Summer's End. Cool! ...Where does it leave us in all that? I plunged my knife through orange skin and curve a grin to kiss my fears! 

As soon as I heard the Westsiders were invited, a brand new challenge creeped up. A creative process with much darker flavours. Not really my cup of tea so much I celebrate the world of the living and walk my shore in all its light! 


Something Wicked

We did not wait for the last day of October to gather up and have wir fun on the island... Karen Fraser is such a busy librarian, she invited a few of us to get spooky and celebrate this occasion with taste and style. 
The poster said it all... Something Wicked


The three witches opened that night.
Our actors from Serpentine Drama entered this great temple of books in full regalia. The tone was set.
Among our group of Westside Writers, Karen's wickedness did not give me the chance to let fly those butterflies in my stomach. Nordicblackbird sang under the lamp post at eye level... And then my fellow companions delighted the assembly with prose, poetry and music. Great fun!


Each one of us faced that moment - Vaila Boston, Beth Fullerton, Robin Ditchburn, Donald Anderson, James Sinclair... Doug Forrest and June Ross-Smith.
 
Such a myriad of voices in their own right. 


And in-between moments of spook, that impromptu performed by the Hellish Fiddler! ...What I called the shrieking fiddle. 

Another friend joined in for fun - Gordon Dargie, who began his act in darkness and relying on a mini-torch to read his words. Grace.



As we all lost track of the clock, Andrew Ross and his gang of musical witches joined in to add to the celebration. Delight.


The Great Classics were not at all relegated to that cupboard where skeletons jig, sleep and dream... Bien au contraire. Our other librarian, Kat Brack, based at the Anderson High School, voiced Hamlet and Frankenstein among other delightful chubby cheeks. Self-indulgence and pure pleasure! She and local actor, Peter Ratter, gave a vivid chill through that attempt to revive the ghost of Hamlet's dad. 

Fun night. That autumn gale still howls outside.


Blackbird's attempt to tweet dark style...

 Three Halloween Haikus

Moon in eclipse,                                                 On the last day of October,
may the dead rise among black cats –             pumpkin faces on window sills -
boo!                                                                                fog & fright.

Trick or treat,
Pyramids of Quality Street –
        Hallowmas at Tesco’s.



The Curse of the Full Moon   for Rosco & co.

You stopped to photograph beauty.

What was between North Sea and stars?
Bewitched by her power to shine inside that great indigo room where eyes reflect on horizon, you cried for light instead of wolves and bowed to the great hunter’s moon.

Who wants to flirt with her dark side?
Crystalised air, night turned to knives. As you decided to go home, car ignition remained silent. You turned the key so many times, that sudden fear steamed up windows…
Your dashboard’s jinxed, as it flicked & blinked inside black.

Why do you believe in angels?
You watched headlights whiz on main road. Nobody saw you from above, too busy, focused on cat’s eyes… Knives turned to swords. Hunter’s Moon beamed indifferent.
A seagull’s wings across the sea. One simple call, they always come to the rescue.


Pumpkinjuice

To hell with chimes, mice and midnight!

Take a wild ride among dark woods -
two headdressed horses
with dark plumes,
ghastly galore,
monochrome
blue
as
night
shines through
shivering leaves...
The sly grin carved to kiss your fears,
the hollow face lit with a match.
Now the bairns
left for trick-or-treat,
let's laugh in the pulp of horror,
distorted void in the mirror,
disturbing flick,
flickering
shadows on slashed walls,
eye in the earth, furrowing claws -
squeeze the marrowbone off the blade...

Hold your horses:

you dance with ghouls but despise gore -
let's add garlic to pumpkin juice,
sieve the concoction from the seeds
and serve it with dandelions...

Now raise your glass to Hallowmas.           



 © Nat Hall 2010

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The sea is my homeworld

moored and adrift

That rope ties us to our own world.

In a recent conversation with a friend from a slightly lower latitude, a round trip on that imaginary 60th parallel as we become funambulists would prove a cracking adventure! I once pinned this magic number on my Google Earth screen and imagined drifting off like a titanic iceberg.  I, vagabond on great oceans, floating freely, what a wild ride! I'd need to trek with a light boat and hike across miles of tundra, encounter reindeers, elks and caribous... As names change through the meridians.

Boreal autochthons as well as ancestors and intrepid adventurers have made such treks - crossed landbridges, straits and isthmi in an attempt to follow life, pursuits or dreams.

water-land

It sometimes feels a treasure hunt! 
Friend, environmental artist and boat builder Ruth Macdougall has rekindled a childlike dream. We are destined to row a craft that will take us beyond the edge of the mainland. As her beast lies belly-up, ready for ribbing,  young Jim Hawkins lives in my heart, as I follow the waterline. We may not trek around the earth but we shall share a poetics as we live through the elements, firths and sounds of the Atlantic and become one nomadic island in the world. Each oar becomes an extension of ourselves, each humli baand, a ring of determination. The more we share, the more excited we become!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

among the great windcatchers

man on earth

Leonardo da Vinci and Jules Verne could be proud. 
Such bladed machines face the sky...

In our pursuit to tame the very own planet we inhabit, we often tend to forget it is our only homeworld.  Our constant quench for consumption of energy can drive both producers & consumers to blindness... Sustainable is an adjective I have always heard when it defines clean energy. Wind mills, turbines or windcatchers, I do believe in will power.

 once upon a hill

Saturday afternoon took me to the top of a hill I always looked from the distance. As part of Shetland guide training, I met the Burradale ladies and stepped inside a mecano.

Techno-details at: Burradale ladies

It felt more like Techno-Lego on a large scale, although I'm told blades and nacelles have grown in size since those were built...We all met at Mina's foot. Standing under the rotative blades took me back to Don Quixote... But as I looked above, I imagined listening to the baffles of monsieur Verne's Nautilus...



inside the belly of the beast


We walked up to Betsy. Our host, David Thomson, explained us this elderly lady happened to be the most productive of them all... So we gathered and watched her three blades fall inert. To my poet's heart, she reminded me for a second of Lokkaminnie's oo, this silver-haired bog cotton plant that belongs to the peatlands... Soon we were invited to step inside her belly. Three high metallic steps would make us step just like inside a submarine. Amazing thought! Her tubular body stands up to 45 metres... To me her blades just look like some gigantic propeller. That ladder looked everlasting. Those five turbines have blended well in our landscape and have become our Famous Five! But as we stepped again outside, we faced bullrush and Atlantic with breathtaking views on Foula.
 




wanderer

For a moment, we wandered around the hilltop, and felt at one with an island so generous to its dwellers. There is no doubt deep in my heart about the need to benefit from the harnessing of the wind and have faith in our windcatchers. Sucking up oil, gas alone, or for that matter fossil fuels, is like raping our Mother Earth.... Taming the sun, wind and the tides might help us all live just longer. 
 There is an on-going debate about a much bigger windfarm project on the island. Education diminishes fears. Honesty generates respect. I am a lover of our world, and when I hear nearby nesting birds be considered as a nuisance by a windfarm developer, I also frown at the madness of few fat cats who only see financial gains in their lifetime... My question is: Can we accept a compromise that satisfies us in our world? Today, I heard that storing produced energy costs mountains of money... So does budgeting for conflicts none of us wants to be part of. If politicians, arm dealers and financiers were sent to the frontline, there would be fewer landmines in the world or dirty deals under tables...  After all, time has proven man can be both so destructive and ingenius. Sensible decision making is crucial.

Friday, 15 October 2010

today's colours

morning unfolded

 two shades of grey,
  a tinge of colours in our sky -
a dash of life.

perched

two tiny feet
nailed to antlers of a ram skull
looking NW into the now.

rainbow morning...

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Autumn on the island

everlasting changing of light

Monday began with the sun.
Exquisite light in the garden, as I woke up to earth chorus - October wind fell so silent... All around us, leaves and rose hips dazzled by light; furtive warblers whizzed around trees and found shelter, hidden from cats.
As I set foot onto the grass, starlings flew off like rocketeers - away from apples  we left for them the previous night.

Many visitors to the garden

Birds of many kinds, either local or on passage, always remain a spectacle.  Other winged friends also include a few delightful moths and butterflies. Every spring and well into autumn, we keep a quadrat of wild grass as a welcome. A mini-meadow develops under our watchful eyes. Mammals come too. We're accustomed to our hedgehog, that comes to feed every evening. Field mice are synonym with cats... Our feline gang brings some indoors as "thank you gifts" for our love, care and devotion. Yet the one we found yesterday was well alive! It was sleeping, tucked in the grass. Well camouflaged and immobile, it did not hear (or fell oblivious to) the sound of my clicking camera, as I brought the lens very close. For a moment, I thought it dead... It woke up quickly in our hand :-).

 
October blue monopolised our sky

From dawn till night, with only brief interruptions... On such a day, our enclosed garden's not enough. So I wandered beyond the gate - picked up a friend and ended up on higher ground: peatland deserts, where redwings and fieldfares share sedges  with starlings and ravens... It feels utterly unchartered, since human souls don't congregate at such a height. We marvelled at each earth mirror, final bloom of the tormentil amidst mires... However, that perpetual game of light below the edge of Atlantic captured our imagination. So we wandered closer to shore and ended up among treasures... 

At sunset time
Our world looks just magnificent.
This time a great celestial lid added grandeur to both islands... 
Geese fly above sandbridge and tide...

We walked on both sides of the bridge
and found respite inside the arms of the dragon.
As crimson fled, we retired to higher ground, casting our glance inside the depth of the ocean, as we prepared to welcome dusk...
This week began with timelessness.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

silhouettes

against the light

All seems to turn life into ghosts, familiarity  into mere shapes...
And yet I love those October skies.

Earlier this afternoon, I looked at the sun through the lens. These too familiar chimney stacks of the Old Manse find their grandeur amid the clouds.
Three images to illustrate that game of light.


light-clouds-scape-
scape-cloud
in black& white
or indigo
and
in the eye
of the poet,
a stack,
a bird,
a triangle.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

On the topic of home (2)

 home earlier on this evening

National Poetry Day: on the topic of home

In anticipation to today's celebration of the spoken word, I wrote a haiku.

Today's da Day! 

And on the theme of home,here is a humble contribution, as I add my stones to the edifice.

HOME 

Colourful world.

On either side of the mountain,
ice melts, rock hangs,
dam, water falls.
Deep in the U of the valley,
a porch, a key,
white plume of smoke.
A blended scent of peat & salt
so close & far from the ocean,
spiders tip-toe on varnished boards...
Piled up books sleep under thin dust -
cold ashes fill your coal bucket.
Wood chips tangled in sheepskin rugs,
like secret love in a locket;
your fingerprints
on every switch, tap,
bannister, pot and handles.
Your favourite painting on the wall...
Palette of petals in a vase,
everlasting dripping
of wax beyond our Moon & Orion
caught in a net framed for our dreams,
your universe through one keyhole.

© Nat Hall 2010
National Poetry Day, 7 October 2010
Theme: home

Sunday, 3 October 2010

wild shore!

the "big" sea

Today I felt the ocean rush, as I walked towards the big waves.

Light has returned on the island. Yesterday's hellery  died away in our sleep... As a matter of precaution, we checked the roof for dislodged tiles.

 The afternoon shone in pale blue

 Wave upon wave, the very edge of our own world endured the might the North Sea. 
 ...Like an army, those relentless rollers crashed against rocks - their every crest defied the sky, and dressed boulders with shameless lace, as if to hide October's skin. 


 before ending up in honey


I sat a moment by the shore and questioned the whole universe.

on the nature of the divine

heart struck by your wisdom,

                as waves, foam & bubbles,
                     similar to water,
                         even our universe is mirrored
in our souls*

thunder so powerful,
I can forget my pain –

            the Holy has so many names, it is nameless;
                so many forms, it stands formless,
                      and since it speaks so many tongues,
                       why not consider Him speechless?**

let me re-consider your name;

                the great abode,
                  like water moving in secret,
                    Being & non-Being – in potter’s shops,
                        vessels of various shapes yet made with that same clay ***
      
your love on every hand,

                and when I speak of the Mother,
                    it is coiled & fast asleep in all centres – awake, potent,
                       above our heads, descending on us to transform;
                        nature of love, wide, pure, divine.****


northern garden, 24 October 2008

poet’s notes:
*) after Ashtavakra, Samhita, II, 4.
**) after Mahatma Gandhi, Young India, 1931.
***) after Mundaka Apnishad, 11, 2, 1-2 & Sayings of Shri Ramakrishna, No. 457
****) After Shri Aurobindo, On The Mother, pp 501-3.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

stormday

 first day of October
And the island is enduring Storm Force 10 as a wake-up call to the darkest of season...
Whereas September dazzled hearts with rainbows, October began in blueness.
But then, as wind awakes...

The following piece, written just over a year ago, describes this moment of earthly madness - as felt inside my very own nordic home! ...As well as published by Pushing Out The Boat earlier on this year.
 

Stormday

What do we do when the wind wakes?

Some take to bottle in despair, as if to gulp an illusion –
others tuck in deep in their yarns,
light wax towers,
hail to Mary,
holy gale,
gust,
hissing disguise
of earth disgust through wildest skies,
as heavens send their cavalry;

some wonder what it’s all about.

Floorboards tremble under our feet,
everything shakes all around us like a spinning washing machine –
birds fly like crabs in wild airflows,
won’t hang our shirts till next Wednesday….
Sunset looks like pale flamingos.

Others switch on marine forecasts.

I still remember fishermen who moor wisdom tight on bollards;
pride iced inside a blue fishbox, their living anchored to tight rope,
as water hits without hatred, jealousy, discrimination.

Will drown my fears in cullen skink,
    most of us grasp tongue of the storm.

© Nat Hall 2009