All entries for March 2010

March 03, 2010

Mountain, a Robert Lowell tribute

I'm not a massive Lowell fan and I struggle to appreciate his work, but the things I like about him are his voice and pace. I've tried to recreate them here in my work about Wastdale. There are five stanzas of five lines each.




Wast Water pools at the base of a horseshoe,

a jagged crown of mountains.

Cars flood the slither of road at its side

and their occupants spill up the slopes

to plunder infamy from the hills.

We disappear into cloud,

lost between map and compass,

guiding ourselves through grass and rock,

damp moss and darkened scree,

first over Sca Fell, then its Pike.

I silently lose my temper

at tourists smoke to their good fortune and

leave black leather banana skins

that will decompose in the wilderness in the same years

their puffed faces will decay in rush-hour traffic.

We stride between the volcanic remains

of Broad and Ill Crags,

and emerge into sunshine at Great End;

with an illuminated Great Gable before us,

coarse and magnificent.

A ring ouzel shouts indignation and disapproval

but we’re caught in an isolated privilege,

contemplating the metres left to fall and climb,

the dotted lines to follow and squares to cross.

We drink sweet tea and eat fruit cake.

March 2010

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