Workshop, 16th October 2018

Sometimes, when the sun is out on Walpole Park and the pigeons are bobbing to and fro, it can seem like the Autumn will last forever.  The leaves are brown but still on the trees, the last of the roses and the cyclamen borders are in full bloom, the ducklings have all become ducks and there are conkers underfoot.  What could be more pleasant for a lunchtime stroll once briefly freed from the gloom of the Archives ?

And yet, the nip is on the air and the swallow is on the wing for Africa.  And the poet is too busy recovering from the writers’ cramp of Summer or working up their latest collection for the Christmas market to stop and comment on the season around them.  Perhaps they feel that Fall is a pessimistic time of year, but when did that ever stop them before ?  Or maybe they don’t like the transitory nature, of hurrying but never arriving, though that could be said of all life in general.  No, we suspect that the answer is more prosaic – nothing rhymes with Autumn.

No season gloom in this week’s workshop, that began with Christine Shirley rummaging around in her pockets and finding tall ships and sunbeds, followed by the tongue-filled cheek of John Hurley at his most dictatorial, banning metaphors and bleeding hearts – but let’s hope he would pardon Owen Gallgher’s touching poem comparing his mother to a caged bird, spreading her wings like a crucifix.  For Doig Simmonds it is the hearth that warms his memory as his woollen jersey steams, while Peter Francis has been imagining humanity trapped outside the cage that holds a peaceful garden, a theme taken up by Pat Francis as her office drudge finds solace in an evening’s weeding.  Meanwhile, Martin Choules has found the month far too superstitious for his liking and Michael Harris has been celebrating his decade of self-helping himself.

The vernal times were no more popular a muse in Sir John’s day as now, so it was with some surprise one week when Johnny Keats came bounding up leaf-strewn Ealing Green with three plump verses of a ripe Ode.  The day had been something of an Indian Summer and the workshop was meeting on a Tuesday afternoon to enjoy the last of the warmth, but over the five minutes of his thirty-thre lines, the sky became overcast, the breeze became icy and the wheatear and warbler gave way to the crow.  Consequently, Keats was banned from ever mentioning the A-word again, and perhaps the memory of this is why poets rarely wax lyrical on the season.

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