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Thursday, 17 November 2011


Today, I’m sitting in my favourite armchair, my face glows with warmth and my ears are soothed by a harbinger gust, old as time itself.  Occasionally I reach forward to stoke the fire which releases shadows and scatters sepia tones across pine clad walls.  My mind turns over like tumbling leaves, restless yet content, seeing splashes of colour in fading light.

A flock of swans fly overhead; I smile easily at their distinctive hollow wing beat. 
In the past, I may have sprinted to the opposite window to watch their retreat over the lake. Now I am content to walk through my imagination, wondering about their ungainliness when setting down on water, before transforming into floating islands of serene beauty.   

 In childhood all is possible, days are elastic, focus is all encompassing and the Universe exists in the heart of a buttercup.

Around seven years old and beginning to establish a sense of self, I was happiest exploring woodland around my home in Scotland. Each Season was distinctive, carefully pressed for all eternity in a sacred book sealed by nature.  Snowdrops bravely endured winter, determined to seek the light, wrenching themselves free from the darkness which marked their struggle. Primroses clustered on embankments, together they symbolised  strength in the collective.  Bluebells cast an evocative perfume in May, an inquisitive child wandered amongst their apparently chaotic residence, while lofty oaks remained imperious to all who passed beneath their great boughs. 

Summer time was easy living. The sweet scent of hay filled my lungs and playing hide and seek, I naively wondered why I was never found; the seekers gave up too soon and I remained waiting to be found until my Mother called me to tea.   

Extracts from my poem “The Snowdrop”

Roses and Lillies 
are long gone.
Dead-headed dreams.
Sybarite’s Summer song.
Autumn leaves a void in the lives of many. While the scents of cinnamon and ginger, melting toffee, tactile qualities of woollen clothing and hearth and home are highlights for many, suffering is evident when we cling to something that can’t be experienced twice.   An Autumn leaf cannot return to its greenness, its mortal quest is ended when it touches the forest floor.  Adults cannot fit their life experiences and pain of loss into the brightly packaged container of childhood.

However, faith is found in the unseen. What exciting possibilities will rebirth bring? Once awake, there is no time to slumber.  The hope that resides in the soul is that a single moment on Earth may leave a trace of our existence for others to learn on their journey.

Swans cross the sky.
Spring resurrects flight.
Sun recalls the snowdrop.
Tiny essence of light.

The fire has grown cold, and I unhook my winter coat and venture outside to gather logs.  There is a nip in the air and Scottish winters can be unforgiving.  The menthol air refreshes me, and I look around. Three deer forage among the leaves, one raises its head and stares inquisitively at me.

Friday, 11 November 2011


Eleven Eleven.  It’s a unique day, and not often written in word form.  It’s a new start, a time for Living Living not “of the day” but “with the day” – you are the builder of your dreams, there are no obstacles only opportunities to learn - and to laugh as often as you can.   

I recently tutored a Poetry Workshop and the theme was Autumn, which is a perfect Season for Poetry as it’s a time for reflection, preparation for the onset of Winter, and of course to look forward to the festivities which are currently being mixed in a great vat, scented with cinnamon and ginger.

The object you choose for the focus of your poem i.e. a leaf has to do something and be going somewhere, otherwise it merely trickles to the forest floor and dies. 

I asked students to choose a mode of transport and the choice was as follows:

Magic Carpet
On foot

To create a rich journey, I then asked the group to incorporate each of their physical senses (visual, hearing, touch, smell, taste), mode of transport used, and somewhere you might be travelling to and from. 

I choose a magic carpet. Leaving my log cabin for a while, I'm elevated above deep forest, seeking adventure in the Arabian desert, setting down under a vast canopy embellished with stars, marvelling at the magnificence of sand dunes while desert caravans pass silently into the night. Sirocco's gentle embrace wakes me alert and in a moment my senses are chilled by the sea's roar and the shrieking of breakers, I watch stallions dancing in the tide. The following are a few of my suggestions. Remember; poetry has no rules (unless you seek these), and is powered only by your imagination. 

 Magic carpets need no brakes.
Soaring, fearless leaping hearts.

Sapphire night, studded with stars.
Jewel hued dreams of Arabian skies.

Gallant galloping horses, in life’s tide.
Surfing breakers, hurricane ride.  

Quote of the day: 

Albert Einstein said this.  “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand”.

Thursday, 10 November 2011


Tempus Fugit is my tribute to Lawrence Oates, Explorer, he died on 16th March 1912, his body lies lost on the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. 

Ice wing eagle.
Threadbare time. 
Seeking sifting sky.
Ancient observing eye. 

Titus Oates was known for the manner of his death, when he walked from a tent into a snow storm, with the immortal line " I am just going outside and may be some time".

Bruised feet. Clouded hope.
Doves ring change.
Loves lost. Perils path.
Flaming soaring Seraph. 

Within this poem, I used eagle symbology to convey spiritual significance, comfort and protection against the elements.  

Mantel clock. Frozen time.
Watchman, why ye sleep?
Hours collapse. Death behoves. 
Glacier cracks and moves. 

To communicate the lengthening of time, a frozen clock face contrasts with the surreal image of Dali's "Persistence of memory" melting pocket watch. John Charles Dollman's painting "A very Gallant Gentleman" perfectly encapsulates Oates self sacrifice, as he steps out of the tent into white oblivion.

Soaring o’er gardens fair.
Dew drops kiss honey suckle.
Queen bee hums. Summer glory.
Armour knights. Valour story.

In this verse, as succour to his physical and mental suffering, I allude to Rupert Brooke's (1887-1915) "The Old Vicarage, Grantchester", extract as follows:-  

Stands the Church clock at ten to three? 
And is there honey still for tea?

Ascent to mountain eyrie.
Soul doth seek right of way.
Blizzard clears. Celestial flight.
Guided t’wards Heaven’s shining light. 

The final verse achieves completion. The eagle is reunited with Oates and together they soar across  Antarctica's blank canvas, before their final ascent to a place of eternal peace. Light melts ice.



Wednesday, 9 November 2011


Winter is setting in thick and fast in Scotland and poets and writers have much to do - chopping texts, foraging for heart warming poetry to cheer the chilliest hearts, and feeding the imagination. Thoughts sometimes drift to a log cabin set in thick woodland. Visualise your perfect retreat, use your senses to evoke perfection and let your heart guide you through its interior. Perhaps you light a fire then relax in a old battered armchair. What do you see from the window? However you illustrate your imagination - let the subconscious take over for a while, and your concerns and cares will dissolve.  

Log Cabin

There is a cabin in a wood
where artists come to rest.
Knocking sounds, alerting ears.
Stacatto call to Earth. 

Said, it’s where an angel lived.  
He painted ancient trees.
Tools of Heav’n shaped by hand.
Carving Memories.

Pallet, easel and glass jars.
Rainbows swirl in synch.
Canvas life on new plain
Rites indelible ink.

Key turns, lock is loosed

Rhythmic oars, rowing boat. 
Steeped among the sand. 
Glinting green shimmer eye.
Coolly held in hand.

Eagle swoops o’er lake.
Petals twist. Autumn breeze.
Roots creak.
Hearts wake.

What is this source of light?
Many seekers ask.
Spirit spark; ancient forge.
Remnant of the past.

© Phyllis Anderson 2011