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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.


Monday, 31 October 2011

Tales of Mystery & Terror

Calling to the spirits


A warmish breeze blows around the walls of my home. Not a living soul wanders at this time in the night. Sweeties await all those who dare knock on my door. A small army of Trick-or-Treaters usually brave wildest of gusts. 
Strange, as the final night of October usually feels crisper. Have lit candles around each room, carved my pumpkin just after dusk... Nightfall so precocious now clocks reverted to Nordic blackness. It is a time of reflection as flames follow dance of shadows. Tonight, we celebrate spirits of all our departed loved ones to the Other world. 


Tonight, my heart welcomes Samhain , the autumn's farming festival, with warmth and compassion.




Three nights ago, we were applauding our Shetland Librarians, who put a show in full spirit and regalia. Led by Karen Fraser & her gang of intrepid colleagues, actors, poets and musicians entertained a gathering of fine folk for nearly two hours. Shetland Library 's Second Edition of Halloween Night, Tales of Mystery & Terror, starred local based Serpentine Drama Group among other troubadours.
Kat(astrophe) Brack opened the ball with accounts of chilling short stories, a poignant war poem and a wacky rap! Her very first attempt in the (third) genre she confessed on the night! The Hellish Fiddler kept everybody on their toes (and ears) in-between each act...
Then entered Serpentine , with a chilling tale entitled Three Brides, 
led by writer, playwright & actress Jane McKay. The troupe of formidable amateur actors kept the audience on edge till the very end. 


Jordan "Ogre" closed the curtain for Part One with a string of sombre, ghostly songs acoustic style. Our Hellish Fiddler, as pictured in the background, behaved herself till our hostess invited the whole assembly to potions and elixirs during the interlude. Her shrieking fiddle remained silent, as Jordan struck the final chords on his guitar.


Nat H(orrid), the Blackbird from the north, as introduced by Miss Fraser, opened the second part of the evening's entertainment... Two poems, acrostic Halloween & The Ferryman, especially written for the occasion, were shared among two other characters, The Ghoul, by American poet Jack Prelutsky and The Hag, by English poet Robert Herrick.


Serpentine's masters of speech, through Debbie Nicolson & Peter Ratter, delighted the audience further with delightful performances in their own style and verve. Peter even had to drop his fangs for more palatable enunciation! But then, Morag appeared on stage with a chilling & true account of horror based on her ancestor's involvement with Yell's most horrific (and world famous) spooky home, Windhouse. The tone was now firmly set in red tarnished darkness! 


"Milford The Malevolent" (usually so reserved around the library...) closed the night's catalogue of Tales of Mystery & Terror with un certain je ne sais quoi of light-heartedness and savage guitar riffs, which kept the entire assembly in effroi and laughters - that is, once he plugged in his Gibson and let it resonate in utter amplified horrid style! An impromptu technical contre-temps was so delicately filled by our dear Hellish Fiddler with a certain delight, as she was eventually let loose for some serious deafening solo triads whilst Milford was getting ready! ...What a night! Until next October, Our dear hellish Fiddler will remain an angel. 


My grateful thanks for your invitation, dear Shetland Librarians. 
Performing under your roof remains a pleasure.


Now, over one hour has passed since I began tonight's entry, and not a single set of knuckles resonated on the wood of my front door. Spooky, as my pumpkin still signals my will to treat. maybe they will appear later... Maybe they met with the spirits and decided to play elsewhere. October's final gusts sweep this evening's hours and makes way to November.


Here's to you all:



Halloween


Hail the spirits

Around trick-or-treat

Lollipop, candy, sweet death,

Lemon –

Open your door to Jack,

Witches, ghouls, free that night,

Even carved pumpkin smiles at windows…

Ecstasy through the eyes of ravens,

Nacarat on long sleeves of scarecrows.


© Nat Hall 2011

The Ferryman

Welcome to the Gates of Hades,
where sailors throw coins to the gods,
adrift between heaven & hell,
knell of blue swell
on wooden hulls...
Don't look for the Isle of the Blest,
no need to bribe the ferryman.

Listen for silence from shadows
who wander through dark-dreary land;
now throw your flowers
inside hell,
knell of blue swell
against your hull,
pay your due to the ferryman.

Hold on to the side of your boat,
where water bears so many names:
river of woe, fire or hate,
lamentation, forgetfulness...
Now raise your glass to the raven,
heaven or hell,
knell of blue swell,
one-way fare to the ferryman.

© Nat Hall 2011



Happy Samhain, Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

pictorial


...Can you hear it, can you hear it screaming? Oppressive, with shafts of madness, burning white. It holds bolts of hailstorms; unleashes ice, surgical blades, beyond belief and darkens wings of all angels... It holds hostage our precious sun, and will not beg for redemption.

screaming skies

all in good time


Standing in the midst of the island, bare and battered by autumn skies, Atlantic rain and double-bladed rainbows, I look at the grandeur of Arcania in-between two disproportionate seasons; that ephemeral summer tail-gated by the harshness of winter.


What if, in between, autumn lingered in summer blue? Wait for your turn on the side of the track, where you can find a passing place and see if that screaming sky can reveal the remains of a better blue... Only days ago, it felt that way. A generous sun dazzled our eyes , as we explored the Eastern shore, where otters and starlings find pleasure by the kelp. One would never pray for better afternoon. Luminous Arcania, unafraid of the faintest breeze, offered perfect reflections of herself in each firth, burn and bays. 


By the end of the afternoon, a generous star lit the small fishing harbour, where men gathered to share the load of their labour. It is the time of year to keep boats off water and mend their hulls... Dancing spirit in a honey sky in the name of the painter's dream.


Many a folk call such autumn gift,  Indian summer


But then again, I always listen to the wind. And when it wakes, this clement sky begins to scream and unleash gusts, as clouds empty themselves in a shameless and unreserved manner. It is a time when we look up to this two-faced October. Double-bladed rainbows arch on a semi-water clogged land, void of colours, since heather bells, cotton grass and bog asphodel burnt through cold snaps.  A SW gale has given way to a NW fresh breeze.




 And  in-between two squalid showers, wild geese land in lush fields; golden plovers perform airborne ballets as stunning as those by starlings above the marsh... Lapwings and gulls chase a juvenile Pallid Harrier around meadows; swans feed in the shallowness of a maritime loch alongside a plethora of ducks - wildfowl galore! ...Hello, Earth - hello, Earth! 



And I wonder how far away winter can be. The air turned cold within days. Hail and thunder slashed a warm dream... I sometimes stop at passing places, watch and listen for earth and sky. And when my world begins to speak, I feel the spirit of hairst, autumn, as the light changes all the time. Wood and coal, bagged, line up to the side of the hearth. Daylight shrinks like nylon to the flame. Provisions have been made for the lean months ahead. Most of our summer visitors turned into poltergeists and gave way to their visiting winter counterparts, as Redwings notably invested our hillsides in place of skylarks... Many exotic avian wonders also fall from a sky charged with howling powers, and find themselves stranded on this part of the world. That juvenile Pallid Harrier is a fine example! Men come to find them from afar... Amazing migration.


Until the end of the month, light still prevails over darkness. Fine respite...Until I find prints in the snow.


selected haiku string

October -
wreath of gold leaves on hedgehog's trail,
essence of hairst.
#haiku fae 60N

Coeur de la terre -
triads of starlings' strident tales
in-between calls of flushed redwings.
#haiku fae 60N

Tucked in -
go through a gale,
feathers against stones.
#haiku fae 60N

Song of the moment:




Sunday, 2 October 2011

across edge from the dark jade sea

just past high hairst


Everything lies on  the edge of the dark jade sea. 
I am listening to Donald Munro Graham's recorded collection of verse, entitled Red Donal's March Across the Atlantic, so rich in passion and Scot. Carbeth's bard takes me back to this landlocked haven, as am about to walk my shore.
I barely noticed our rite of passage through the equinox, even though night  has begun to duel with light. Now seven days away from wandering along the edge of the island without a watch, I can now photograph sunrise, which coincides with waking time. 
Colours at dawn, dusk or at night begin to glow. Last Monday night alone, did we stand still inside stillness of our garden to marvel at the Northern Lights. This Nordic sky was filled with them! I love high hairst (or mid-Autumn).
Everything turns equidistant.
Still overgrown, in spite of early air frost that turn leaves gold and brittle, the remnants of summer still shine within our own garden.

Late flowers, rose hips and self-heal add to the lushness of a bountiful second day of October. Exceptional and surprising at this time in the year, that Shetland Blue I love to sing lingers around my very northern latitude.Warm days ended September with a plethora of  constellations so visible last Tuesday night... I kept a vigil till my eyelids turned too heavy, as I was hoping for the magic of Aurora Borealis  to repeat their showcase. Since our universe remains so Wagnerian,  I recorded a portion of it , sheltered from that warm S wind. 


And

 if morning dew lingers through our gradual shortening days, those beads of water seem to preserve precious moments on each leaf blade.  



The island looks so majestic in dimmer light. And as our closest star begins to fade behind my hill, I shall sit back close to the hearth until dusk knocks... I shan't forget this first Sunday of October.