Posted by: John Looker | 22 July, 2011

BOTTOM REMEMBERS LOVE

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BOTTOM REMEMBERS LOVE

All them years ago – but still each day
she’s flitting in and out of my dreams … her eyes
like pools at night full of the moon and stars,
her smile pure sunlight waking in the east.

She smelt of summer meadows, and when she spoke
her voice, soft and fierce, flew like an owl
hunting. I tell you I froze, while the hairs on my head
stood up, and they (you know what I mean?) weren’t all.

You’re right of course, they laughed and called me an ass.
Me and her, we come from different lives,
like trees that were stood on opposite banks of a river
leaning, weaving our branches, blossom, leaves.

What could we be to each other? She were the rain
falling on wheat … and me warm air lifting the lark.

   

© John Looker 2011

 

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Responses

  1. This is a delight John,

    I love the way you have used language which fits in very well with the character of Bottom.

    For a lot of years there were outdoor productions of Shakespeare in the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey (in the cloisters). That’s were I last saw Bottom. Sadly in these last two years the produtions have ceased – they were one of the regular highlights of my years.

    David

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    • Hi David. I’m glad you think it works. I don’t know Kirkstall Abbey and have just looked at its website with interest. For us, Hever Castle has been a splendid location for outdoor theatre.

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  2. Interesting, John, you seem to be at your best inhabiting Shakespeare characters. It’s been a long time since I’ve read/ seen A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It would be quite appropriate given the summer we’re having around here (104 degrees, Fahrenheit the other day.) Poor Bottom. He always retrieved his fate by his poetry, though—and does here. ‘She were the rain falling on wheat…and me warm air lifting the lark.’ Very beautiful. I’m terribly jealous.
    ‘Like to the lark at break of day arising
    From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate…’

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    • It’s a bit of a cheek taking WS’s characters; I wonder how long I can get away with it? But his sonnet 29 (I had to look it up) far surpasses. You are very generous; thank you.

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  3. Nick Bottom as he might have said it 🙂 You are so clever with words!
    Took me a moment to remember what an ass also can mean 🙂

    Because of it’s nice read, I like it more than Shakespeare’s original really, but it has been a while since I tried reading it.

    Impressive!

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    • Thank you so much Ina. I tried to make him a modern-day ordinary bloke (but I don’t think students of Shakespeare would share your preference!).

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  4. oh my GOODNESS I love this piece.
    “and when she spoke
    her voice, soft and fierce, flew like an owl
    hunting. ” magical! and also
    “She were the rain
    falling on wheat … and me warm air lifting the lark”
    just phenomenal…you dont post often, but when you do, you knock my socks off…

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    • Thank you Evelyn very much. I am delighted that these lines seemed to work for you. You’re very kind with your comments.

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  5. What a wonderful piece to come back to, John. AMSND is one of my favourite WS plays, and this poem perfectly captures its giddy mix of the ethereal, magical, Arcadian and earthy. Haven’t been to Hever, but we’ve seen a couple of open-air productions at Groombridge Place, which is another lovely setting. Many thanks for sharing this one; as Evelyn says, we don;t get many posts from you, but every one’s a gem, and well worth waiting for.

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    • Thanks very much Nick. So long as I haven’t ruined the play for you!

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  6. Wonderful last lines. Using Bottom’s language you have bottomed up at the saloon and come home singing.

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  7. Oh, the perspective is just darling. Thank you!

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    • Thank you for visiting this blog and for reading several of the poems here.

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  8. I just love this poem. In general, I think, you are a master of the apt, striking, and beautiful image and here you are at your breathtaking best. But more than that, this is one of the few of your poems that I’ve read wherein what is called “voice” is clear, pure, endearing. Adopting the persona of a Shakespearean character has liberated a voice that is not just that character’s but also a poet-voice.
    I’ve lately been trying to clarify my thinking on this matter of voice. There is a war between the old schoolteacher who lives on my right shoulder telling me never to use “I” in my writing, and the muse on my left shoulder who knows it’s not that simple. Certainly we have not yet rescued ourselves fom the solipsism of confessional poetry but going to the other extreme–impersonal obscurantism, socio-political preachiness–is just as ego-centered in the end. The poet has to be in the poem, one way or another. Reticence is, I think, a part of beauty, and aesthetic distance. But there has to be a person in it. (Don’t quite know what I mean by that). The presence, or absence, or weakness, of a “voice” in the poem is what we seek, I think….and sometimes we like that voice, sometimes we don’t, but even a negative reaction makes the poem a live thing; it’s what is at the core, after all the imagery and language is said and done. It’s not simply about that annoying first person singular pronoun.
    Still noodling about all of this, but when I come up with my theory, I promise not to couch it in mystifying graeco-roman polysyllabics.

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    • I’m very interested in these remarks Cynthia. I’m going to think about them for a few days.

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      • I’ve been thinking about ‘voice’. I’ll post a separate comment immediately below this reply, to avoid the typed exchanges becoming too elongated on the screen.

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  9. Well, Cynthia:
    I realise that I don’t much like writing about myself, so my poems often say “we”, including the reader (if there is one!). There’s an honourable tradition of poets writing as themselves of course. I’ve been reading a lot of Elizabeth Bishop this last week and she does, but then she is usually looking out at the world rather than writing about herself. This is a contrast, and for me a felicitous one, with the ‘confessional’ poems of Robert Lowell (and a striking contrast with most of the poems that people post through WordPress blogs!).
    I guess this brushes the surface of your thoughts on the subject. You’d better come up with that theory!

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  10. Thank you for your thoughtful and interesting comment, John. As to my theory, I am lately coming to the view that I ought to keep my theories to myself and just stick with publishing poems and listening to what readers have to say. I appreciate your putting up with some of my exuberant responses to things on your site. This blogging business is still a learning experience, and I’d rather make friends than enemies. Thanks again, for kindness and patience. You’re a dear. 🙂

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    • What’s all this nonsense about kindness and patience, Cynthia? You know you have Freedom Of The City here: you may go anywhere, say anything, and drive your sheep down the high street if you wish! 🙂

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  11. I do like that bit about the sheep……

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    • And…now I’m reminded of an unfinished poem in my stack of stuff which will come in handy driving those sheep….it uses one of the old celtic systems of sheep-counting from Northern England: Yain, Tain, Ederro,, Pederro, Pitts; Tayter, Later, Overro, Coverro, Dix; Yain-dix, Tain-dix, Ederro-dix, Pederro-dix, Bumfitt; Yain-o-bumfitt, Tain-o-bumfitt, Ederro-bumfitt, Pederro-bumfitt, Jiggit….I think twenty is about all I’ll manage, given my need to lean so heavily on my crook and how slowly I proceed……Thanks, John

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  12. Are you sure that we are awake – for it seems that yet we sleep, we dream… Wonderful, John.

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    • That’s good of you Bart — and thanks for digging back into the archives.

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