Thursday, March 02, 2017

I've written my first ballad sequence based on Scots ballad 'Clyde's Water' also known as 'Mother's Malison'. You can read the original ballad and variants here.
It was collected by Henry James Child in his anthology of traditional ballads from Scotland and England published in the late 19th century, and is indexed as Child ballad 216.

It was challenging to write - bringing together the narrative aspect, incorporating ballad tropes and yet making it thoroughly my own poem.
The basic narrative is -  
Willie wishes to visit his lover. His mother bids him stay, and curses him to drown in Clyde if he goes. Willie, trusting in his horse, goes anyway, but his lover's mother bids him away. Returning, he drowns in Clyde; his lover drowns as she seeks him." 

I wrote it as a sequence of three poems in the voices of the three woman involved - the first is in the voice of William's mother, the second the voice of William's lover (May Margaret), and lastly in the voice of May Margaret's mother.

I used Lorca's Gypsy Ballads as inspiration,  and also especially his long sequence 'Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias' which is a stunning poem. I used some repetition and some stand-alone rhyming quatrains, and incorporated some lines from a traditional Scots folk / childrens song.
So at the moment it's around 140 lines long and needs to be put away for a while so I can gain perspective on it.

I've just finished reading A Lucid Dreamer: The Life of Peter Redgrove. I started reading it a few years back but didn't get too far, this time I thoroughly enjoyed it. The biography was pretty thorough regarding the details of Redgrove's life, but I'd like to see another biography written better with more analysis and insight. I'm a good bit of the way through Redgrove's collected poems and thoroughly enjoying them. It's funny how you can approach different poets at different times in your life - I couldn't make head nor tail of Redgrove a few years ago.
Sometimes it feels like there's no end to feeding the poem-monster - if I'm working on a poem I'm trying to finish it, if I'm not working on a poem I'm trying to write one and so on it goes.

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