In Memory of Sylvia Plath Hughes
The Black Prince of Paradise brought you to this place,
Where Cromwell's Ironsides were bread and buttered,
A stone's throw from the cockpit in Church Lane
Where Wellington's troopers gambled on the cobbles.
Rowans are a red mush upon the road.
The orange slates of leaves roof gloomy wynds.
Dykes with their pie crust stone keep sunlight penned.
Families are walls, closed ranks, compacted tightly.
A woman with a whippet Belsen face
Tells me The Overspill' is your address....
Boneyard where Doctor, Tosspot, Fool, St George from Sowerby,
From Hope Street, Nest Estate lie down together
Miss Golden Lotus, did you ever guess
Your bridlepath of Prussian dressage led
To nettles that would sting you if they could?
Fame's a scoop in a ladle, sourly swallowed.
A mean grave to contain such a Colossus!
Near you, cheek by jowl with Annie Sutcliffe,
A prickly holly stands, a dour Druid,
Pointing to Pogley's Barn, to Chestnut Cottage,
To Thwaites White Lion Inn, its rampant sign
Bidding the traveller stop and sup real ale.
Your blanket is a primrose chewed by slugs,
Riotous ferns, a shock of maidenhair
Burned by the brands of Autumn.
Dock-leaf quilt hides silver coins
You're never going to spend.
A mildewed ring, a plastic string of pearls,
A mirror, pencil, tiny cowrie shells
Wink up through wet and weed...a keyholder
Of Marilyn Monroe in flying skirts.
Up to the neck in centuries you lie,
In marble vest of bone and wooden shirt,
Stuffed with the clay of England.
This is your kingdom now,
Your power, your glory
Here, where the leaves fall down
And will not stop.
Elmet: for Ted Hughes
Billows of sheep-fields curve above grey clouds.
Only a bird would choose to winter here,
Where homes are land-locked nests
Driven into the turf and pith of the hill.
Only a hunger after fallen Lucifers
Could dog the sunken river to its source,
Where grass pours off weir walls
Like withered hair.
Cobbett could have ridden on these roads,
This strange, bipolar landscape.
No half measures, you're either tumbling down or toiling up.
The blue sky seems to be a place apart
A slice of Heaven, laid down like a lid.
Beech trees anchor their roots, unleash their rigging.
Brambles congeal to shrunken clots of black,
Fern fronds hunch, like hermits with the ague.
Parson Grimshaw's Methodist legacy
hangs fire, where dismal chapels slowly fall
Into the heath of Haworth, Heptonstall,
Hardcastle Craggs, Crow Hill and Abel Cross.
This landscape was a poet's crucible.
He knew where salmon leap, why foxes call.
It was his clearings, his complexities,
His faults, his glories, rooted here, like oak.
Each house wears a sooty face of brick
Smudged from the funeral pyres of textile mills
The slow canal's a snail Eating its own tail
Each road is a fair's big dipper
That women with thighs of steel ascend like moles
Gravity flicks off clouds from mountain shoulders
To hotter in the cauldron of the vale
The Inn of the Fox and Goose lowers its hanging basket
Bucket of petals into the day's well
Brambles shrivel like raisins
Like old mens' foreskins
In the sere Season,
Sheena Blackhall is among the very best poets writing in the U.K today - wonderfully prolific in English, Scots and The Doric. I honour her..
Ms. Blackhall, I have been reading your work for some time now, with mixt admiration and frustration. Too frequently I have encountered terms, phrases, words which you present to a readership here on PoemHunter.com which will have little comprehension of these arcane usages. I am certainly not suggesting that you curtail your interest in such areas of philology - only that you might aid those with an honest interest to understand and appreciate by providing a glossary where appropriate to the poem presented. I enjoyed the three poems offered here but feel they would certainly benefit by means of the suggestion I make here. I wish you good health and high spirits, prosperity and poetic productivity. In other words, all best wishes, Bep.
Wonderful poems full of wonderful words. My favorite lines: Up to the neck in centuries you lie, In marble vest of bone and wooden shirt, Stuffed with the clay of England. This is your kingdom now, ...
I so like your three poems and they vividly bring to mind landscapes that I remember from days in England. The history of those landscapes and the respective characters of the two poets so intertwined. Many thanks
Many startling images and penetrating observations, as always.
A brilliant tribute to both icons of poetry written with clarity of thought and mind. A lovely work of art. Thanks for sharing, Sheena, Remain enriched.
I invite you to read my response to a poem by Ted Hughes: TWO POEMS AND A DISQUISITION ON SKYLARKS.
Poems upon visiting the grave or residence of famous poets are practically a sub-genre. You have made it new by absorbing absorbed the soul-force of these two poets and knitting it with details of season and locality. Details in your miniature landscape demand to be visualized, such the BUCKET OF PETALS and the shriveled foreskins. The energy of language is worthy of the poet who wrote BIRTHDAY LETTERS.
An absolutely magnificent tribute to both outstanding poets. With all due respect, I must agree with Brian. A glossary would be extremely helpful. At times, I've used Google, but that's very time consuming. Please give some thought to this suggestion. Greatly appreciated!
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.I would like to translate this poem
How can we ever forget Sylvia Plath. I remember the week after she died, Alfred Alvarez writing a fine tribute to her in the Observer. Wonderful poet especially after her schooling with Robert Lowell. Two of my favourite poems in English are Daddy and Keats's Ode to Autumn. You have honoured her memory with a very fine poem and the other two poems too are of excellent quality. I only came across you because of Poem of the day, which I haven't read yet. As sson as I looked on your site and saw Sylvia's name I had to read this poem. Glad I did. A true colossus of a poet. Tom Billsborough