Guest poem submitted by David McKelvie:
(Poem #1306) A Cranefly in September
She is struggling through grass-mesh - not flying, Her wide-winged, stiff, weightless basket-work of limbs Rocking, like an antique wain, a top-heavy ceremonial cart Across mountain summits (Not planing over water, dipping her tail) But blundering with long strides, long reachings, reelings And ginger-glistening wings From collision to collision. Aimless in no particular direction, Just exerting her last to escape out of the overwhelming Of whatever it is, legs, grass, The garden, the county, the country, the world - Sometimes she rests long minutes in the grass forest Like a fairytale hero, only a marvel can help her. She cannot fathom the mystery of this forest In which, for instance, this giant watches - The giant who knows she cannot be helped in any way. Her jointed bamboo fuselage, Her lobster shoulders, and her face Like a pinhead dragon, with its tender moustache, And the simple colourless church windows of her wings Will come to an end, in mid-search, quite soon. Everything about her, every perfected vestment Is already superfluous. The monstrous excess of her legs and curly feet Are a problem beyond her. The calculus of glucose and chitin inadequate To plot her through the infinities of the stems. The frayed apple leaves, the grunting raven, the defunct tractor Sunk in nettles, wait with their multiplications Like other galaxies. The sky's Northward September procession, the vast soft armistice, Like an Empire on the move, Abandons her, tinily embattled With her cumbering limbs and cumbered brain.
This is from "Season Songs", one of Hughes' books for children. It's hardly the best poem he wrote, but I really like it. The first time I read it, I was leafing through a copy of it in a library in Australia. I had been travelling there for some time and had met so many other backpackers like me. But when sitting in the library reading it, one line jumped out at me: "aimless in no particular direction". I automatically knew that that line describes all backpackers despite their reasons and regardless of how well they've planned their itinerary. But I never told anyone, they'd have objected. Backpackers can be very touchy. :) In Hughes' poem, the cranefly is a wanderer for no reason. She blunders "with long strides". The whole poem seems to me a description of my life as a backpacker in Australia and my need to move on, and this need to "escape out of the overwhelming / Of whatever it is, legs, grass, / The garden, the county, the country, the world". All backpackers have their reason to escape their comfortable Westernised world. Some travel to see something new, some for 'spiritual' reasons, some because their friends are doing it, some for life experiences, others to escape a difficult situation at home. Whatever... The poem also reminded me a friend I travelled with for a while. She *was* running from the world, her whole life *was* aimless not just her feet. The last five lines sum up her situation perfectly. David. [Minstrels Links] Poems by Ted Hughes: Poem #42, Hawk Roosting Poem #98, The Thought Fox Poem #417, Thistles Poem #671, Lineage Poem #723, Full Moon and Little Frieda Poem #768, Theology Poem #882, Wind