Saturday, 12 June 2010

A walk for the Bus

So this week Jeanne Iris has set the Poetry Bus task (instructions here). I chose the listening option which involved taking note of all surrounding sounds for 5-10 minutes and then writing something inspired by those sounds.

I didn't want to write about sounds in the home so I did my homework for this task whilst out walking the dog on Friday afternoon. One walk I like very much these days is around the grounds of what's left of our local psychiatric hospital (handily it's just at the top of our street). You can read a little about Sunnyside Royal Hospital here or here. It's a fascinating walk for many reasons – there are so many different architectural styles on show for a start (so many different buildings have been added to this huge site over the years) and there are lots of different trees, flowers and shrubs to see too, as well as plenty of wildlife. Like many of these big, old hospitals this one is due to be closed soon so it is a very quiet place really (there are very few patients left inside – just a couple of wards). What there are instead are lots of boarded up buildings and plenty of empty space and I am enjoying all this space while I can because we are promised lots of new houses here instead over the next couple of years. I really hope they keep as many of the trees and green spaces as they can – it's such a beautiful place really and with gorgeous views down to the sea too. Some people don't like the idea of walking through a psychiatric hospital I suppose but I feel quite at home there...partly because my Dad spent time in various similar places. I came close enough too in my time.

Here are a few photos of the grounds I took today:

And the place where I stood and listened for the task was here.

I could hear rooks, raindrops on my hood (it was raining a little on Friday but not today when I went back to take photos) and also the traffic on the road behind the trees (not a major road but still, busy enough at certain times). The poem that resulted was one of my easy-going little rhyming numbers (see below). I write like this every now and again and I have no intention of stopping. I know some poetry people hate this kind of thing but I really don't...there's something childlike and simple about this style (the beginning of this one even reminds me of 'The Gruffalo') and I like that about it. I don't expect every poem to be a possible National Poetry Competition winner (good job...) - I simply write for the love of it, for the pull of it, and sometimes this is the way it pulls me.

So the audio version is here and the text...well, it's right here:

Rook talk

I stand on the edge of a meadow
I stand on the edge of a wood
There still are some places left for us
There are still some things that are good

I hear rooks and raindrops above me
I see buttercups, speedwell below
The rain is so gentle and friendly
It pitter-pat, pitter-pats a hello

But the rooks are a different matter
They are groaning and griping on high
Local traffic is driving them crazy
All the noise, all the fuss (heavy sigh)

I mean what are the humans all thinking
Cars come and they go – such a row!
Yesterday they all went that way
And look here they come roaring back now

They must have some kind of system
Even squirrels have rules (more or less)
But we've yet to make sense of the humans
They build boxes, drive boxes, make mess

It must be hard for them stuck down there wingless
And we try to be patient and kind
But why must they make such a racket
Birds are trying to sing, do you mind?

RF 2010


p.s. Been playing 'name the worst film ever made' here this week to lighten the mood. Pop back and add your nomination if you like - to this post.


Jeanne Iris said...

Nice! Lovely photos, and what a fascinating facility! The rhyme works well here, can even see the possibilities of a villanelle with this topic. I like the way you incorporated the dissonance in the rooks' thoughts. Beautiful!

The Weaver of Grass said...

I have often thought that birds - and animals - must think we are crazy Rachel - your poem just says it right!

Rachel Fox said...

Oo now you say it Jeanne...I haven't written a villanelle for a while...

Yes, Weaver, the dogs think we are mad for a start ('you have all that food in the other room and you're not eating it!').

The Bug said...

Not being a proper poet I enjoyed this a lot! But the best part was listening to you read it - I have the American fascination with voices from across the way...

Rachel Fox said...

Cheers Bug. I did this in one take...probably could have slowed it down a little (my current bugbear...people reading too quickly all the time!) but it was nearly teatime.

Gwei Mui said...

Great photsos yes. What do the other creatures think of the human race?
The idea that we are being studied and judged, brilliant

Andrea said...

I love rhyme - even though they discouraged it in poetry class. Writing for the love of it is the way to go. Great poem!

Rachel Fox said...

Gwei Mui - the photos do look good, don't they? We get the most amazing skies here.

Andrea - poetry class...all evil lives there...tutors would have us all write the same!


Anonymous said...

I love hearing you read. You have such an expressive voice. Loved the poem. Loved the photos. Am so jealous of all the beautiful green grass around.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, we take it for granted in Britain (the grass...). We'll miss it if it's ever all gone though!

Totalfeckineejit said...

Great poteegrafs. That's a fantastic menacing sky in the first one.

Love the first stanza and the line about living in boxes driving boxes and making mess. That's us humans in a nutshell n'est ce pas?

Foxes know about nature.

Niamh B said...

Lovely one, and great reading too!

Poetikat said...

I really enjoy listening to your voice. I like the familiar language and the inflection in your voice as the rooks ask, "do you mind?"

Splendid photos!


Rachel Fox said...

Thanks peeps. I have always been a bit fact in this one I think I am showing my familiarity with Pam Ayres more than perhaps ever before! Ah well...

Karen said...

I, for one, love a lilting rhyme once in a while. I know they're immensely unpopular these days, but I have trouble not falling into rhyme. Besides, your subject lends itself perfectly to this form. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

NanU said...

Love the light and airy poem, with its serious side. A wonderful place for a walk indeed, Rachel, and isn't there just -something- about abandoned buildings that's irresistable?

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, Karen, sometimes you just have to ignore fashion and get on with it!

I do love empty buildings, NanU, and the grounds to this place are so huge. I discover new parts to them all the time.


Titus said...

Wow to that space and those grounds. And why does the long greenhouse look like a giant solarium with all the chairs along it, I wonder?
I liked the rhyme and the general cheekiness of the poem - and as always, your voice. Rhyme works! It just does.

Dominic Rivron said...

Enjoyed this, as I'm a sucker for rooks and jackdaws.

I'm reminded of this poem by John McGrath:


And when our streets are green again
When metalled roads are green
And girls walk barefoot through the weeds
Of Regent Street, Saint Martin's Lane

And children hide in factories
Where burdock blooms and vetch and rust,
And elms and oaks and chestnut trees
Are tall again and hope is lost

When up the Strand the foxes glide
And hedgehogs sniff and wildcats yell
And golden orioles come back
To flash through Barnes and Clerkenwell

When governments and industries
Lie choked by weeds in fertile rain
For sure the few who stay alive
Will laugh and grow to love again

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, T, that is my favourite photo too. H once lost an umbrella in the grounds (it blew up into a tree) and the gardener there was very nice, rescued it and delivered it back to our door!

Interesting poem, Dominic, and not one that I know. I think the foxes are on course even if nothing else is.