Category Archives: life

fatalité

ablaze

Victor Hugo had cried for her in his foreword… And it took a book (“Notre Dame de Paris“) to trigger major restoration works, as the elderly lady was notably suffering from severe erosion to time, history and the elements.

What happened last night felt totally surreal. Notre-Dame has survived so many ordeals – human assaults, the hands from time – and during those 850 years (or so), she saw a city grow and thrive.

Inside her so many memories. Her world famous bell – le bourdon – became associated with so many events (including the liberation of Paris in 1944) happy or sad… And against all odds, she has been standing in this Parisian sky.

Last night, my heart bled at the news, and this orange-grey cloud – flames from her heart, as the 19th century spire yielded to a raging fire that engulfed the forest – this nickname given to those 1300 oak trees that served as timber frame to support that huge slate roof.

Like millions of people around the world, I watched powerless, in disbelief, and heaved the following poem, as a tribute or way to cope with shock.

La forêt

Ô Notre Dame,
    ta forêt brûle, ton coeur en flammes!

Une forêt de chênes
         de cent mètres de long,
une forêt de chênes
         charpentée par des anges,
une forêt de chênes 
         anoblie par les âges;

toute une nuit orangée a dévoré ta flèche, ton coeur et
ta charpente -

une forêt de chênes,
         maison pour un bossu et son Esméralda...

toute une nuit d'horreur, pluie battante d'ardoises
retrouvées en poussière à l'issue 
                           d'un déluge -

une forêt de chênes au XXIe siècle toute 
                                      réduite en cendres,

ton coeur, ce cher poumon,
                     au plus proche des âmes.


©Nat Hall 2019

The Forest

 
Ô Notre Dame,
    your forest burns - your heart in flames!

A forest of oak trees
                long of a hundred yards,
a forest of oak trees
              carpented by angels,
a forest of oak trees
              enobled through ages;

it took one orange night to
devour your heart, spire and timber frame -

a forest of oak trees
once homed Esmeralda and her loving hunchback,

one single night of hell in
a deluge of slate as tiles turned into dust -

a forest of oak trees that neared
               a millenium now reduced in ashes.

Your heart, this dearest lung,
                     so close to all our souls.

© Nat Hall 2019

Photo credit to Le Monde for both images. Merci.

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renouveau

Spring has multiplied signs throught that long and still ice-bladed month of March. If light has reached parity with darkness on the 20th day, and our migrating visitors called at night and settled back in our fields and meadows whilst others pursued their incredible journey north, the island still needs to wake to the promises of the season.

April, April… Life rekindles

March now behind us. Tonight I heard eight puffin scouts have been located west of my favourite headland in our inshore waters. Earlier, friends reported the magical ascending song of a skylark as they wandered by abandoned crofts… Common Eider drakes already sit by their concubines… On inspection of the ground, daisies and bluebells have long braved snow, ice and thaws, re-icing and equinox gales. Even within the perimeter of my sanctuary, the grass has grown and would deserve a serious cut. Spring, voar, so precocious.
Eider drake and its concubine reunited at Aith Voe.
Light reappears on the 60th North Parallel. I read somewhere that between the two solstices – and more precisely as we approached the Vernal Equinox – we were gaining up to two hours of light every month… Now, as April has entered in the great cosmic ballroom, my sunrises and sunsets are becoming more epic.
Turnstones by the edge of water…
Strangely enough, fog has already been rolling on from our local hills. “Exotic” and “curious”, for fog remains an oddity before April… February and March both felt odd in places.
Peculiar episodes of fog we, islanders, usually experience from mid-April…
Yet April promises (or do I really take this for granted?) liberation from many claws – storms, gales, and other signatures from the icy months. And if I have yet to listen to my first skylark, I know it will not be long. The sky just needs to quieten a little more and our star to warm up those acres of storm-bent grass around our meadows… Wake, wake, wake, wake!

April is when you return to me.

The magic of walking to my favourite headland.
As I am typing you are gradually falling asleep. Your case is packed. Your passport lies in a pocket of your handbag… Tomorrow, you too will begin your migration north – north by NE, as you will cross that stretch of your Irish Sea to find your way back in Glasgow before making your way to my North Sea from the mouth of a sheltered harbour. We can travel the world like swallows… or Storm Petrels. But to journey, we need a boat. I may not wait for you from my favourite headland on Saturday, But I will gladly watch that great blue Viking efigee on the white hull we call da boat approach my favourite offshore island of Mousa at about 6.30 in the morning and drive parallel to you, as the bow kisses each wave from our sheltered waters. If we are lucky enough, Mother Sea will let you enter the Bressay Sound with grace.
Happy common seal in the surf. Selkie life…
It will be your first time. Selkies and seagulls will salute you on your passage. You are about to return to me as seabirds find their way across miles of oceanic deserts, da Roost to reconvene with my headlands, bays and meadows. Now, my turn to find sleep from my northern latitude, as I will be by your side tomorrow, in voice and spirit. I have prepared home to welcome you on my northern island. In anticipation to your arrival, I wrote a piece entitled North Voyager. It sounds and reads like a leitmotive… And yet it does epitomise that promise from Spring.
North Voyager

There is a time when you will see edge of
my land,
          the rounded head shaped by
                                that kiss of Atlantic and
cold North Sea; where
solans glide above Spring's crests,
follow the furrow from
                                  the ship,
blue man on white,
head-dressed to defy every tide and
                                 moder dy...
No castle perched, but 
a lighthouse that defines hamewir tun an 
                                      hearth;
and if you stand out on
the deck, that gentle breeze fae 60N will
whisper words in northern tongue,
roll every "r" in every breath,
                            sea spray, spindrift -
touch you with salt glued on its lips.
Now,
you're parallel to my world, birds and 
                                             sandstone -
maalies join solans in the wind,
              Mousa appears left to your eyes,
   inshore waters will guide you to
da Horse's Heid, as Bressay grows 
closer to heart, and
        mine will beat as fast as dyne,
now you're safe in the Bressay Sound.

Only minutes and a pressgang separate us.

                                         Welcome to 
                      my northern island.

 
© Nat Hall 2019 

Dialect word glossary:

solans: Gannets
moder dy: the underlying of the swell used by ancient firshermen as a guide.
hame: home
wir tun: our toonship (human settlements)
Spindrift: sea spray, balls of salt created by gales
maalies: Fulmar Petrels
da Horse's Heid: [place name] the Knab (headland in S Lerwick)
dyne: yours

Solan (Gannet)

Bon voyage!

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light in darkness

There is a time when poetics demands music and words to whirl in a shared space. It has happened before and is happening again. Collaboration with Carol Jamieson fae Tresta is flourishing with flair and grace. Already, we have united to offer verse with piano during chosen sessions at Fjara Café-Bar just off Breiwick at Sea Road.

Now, we have taken it a step further. Carol is composing and recording her own music, mixing it to my recorded spoken verse. A first piece, entitled Light in Darkness has emerged. It is beautiful. More will be following. Already, the Poet is thrilled with the Pianist’s work.

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Pot-au-feu

Pot-au-feu is a traditional French dish my grand mother cooked through the crucial seasons of my early childhood.

Pot-au-feu

Stock memories inside a pot

wide, deep enough to

let the marrow from

the bone melt and

flavour what

you

picked up from

the garden,

what you harvested through

the years –

sprinkle with salt, pepper and

thyme,

tie-in fresh parsley and

bay leaves,

nail them with

cloves,

let

all simmer for a lifetime.

Scoop and savour hot

with

mustard.

NH 2019

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Winter Haiku Strings

Tis the blog’s tenth anniversary and since we start in the dawn of the year, I would like to offer you a string of seasonal haiku penned within these past few years.

First light –
Two hooded crows
found breakfast at Fladdabister.
#haiku fae #60N #geopoetics

The edge –
samurai’s sword,
dawn redefined the horizon.
#haiku fae #60N #geopoetics

Crisp –
icicles clad every pavement,
Bressay bathes in pink & blue.
#haiku fae #60N #geooetics

Kirk –
an austere house biggit by man
to park their folk into one faith.
#haiku fae #60N

Happiness –
as magical as Geminids,
furtive shooting stars in winter.
#haiku fae #60N

Imbolc –
from indigo dawn to snowflakes,
Brigid’s spirit rises from ice.
#haiku fae #60N #geopoetics

Look at
our planet as a peach –
that wee layer right at the top
is where we walk…
#geopoetics fae #60N

——————

Ice Age

in absence of your human warmth,
I feel heart from wandering
wolf that
trudges through
silent snowflakes, still
framed icicles from a sky,
once forgotten
as they
touch down.
I
without
one
never makes 2.
Will be looking for
long shadows, howling echoes
around Yule, since I ran
away from the
pack.

Sandwick, 8 Dec 2013
—————————-

60N Yule

When sky awakes,
smell green of pine, cinnamon night,
Yule has its ghouls,
gales and gold
gifts.
#micropoetry fae #60N

———— Lerwick, 16 Dec 2013

Mother Night –
dreamer of
light,
clad inside lace,
whatever crescent of the moon.

-//————————– 20 Dec 2013

Upside down world –
icicles inside Everglades,
power from the polar vortex.
#haiku #geopoetics fae #60N

Arctic vortex –
Stalactites downtown
Manhattan,
the latest trend in media world.
#geopoetics fae #60N

Polar vortex –
16 km up in air,
where jet streams yield to 60N
#geopoetics fae #60N

—————–/————- 8 Jan 2014

WonderWorld

Who wants a world filled with silence and
empty
chairs, where
shadows hang coats on
slate roofs, and bold
divas sing to
slugs,
snails and
sniggering starlings on
starved snow?

Don’t tell me twice,

winter wanders like a brother
without socks, shoes or
wooly hat.
He’s
just aware of
my glowing green
solitude you too can glean on
every blade in a garden
left to wild gales.

——-///———–

Come to
Mareel when all is dark;
its gentle light
shines
through the surface of raindrops,
slides against panes of
icy glass,
as
music
feeds high moon and
tide – as she keeps
her voice in
a jar…
Cette
conversation de
l’absurde.

——————————- 8 Jan 2014

Winterlight 60N –
in between first light & pale blue,
fire Phoenix above Mousa.
#haiku fae #60N #geopoetics

—-11 Jan 2014

Bressay sprinkled with icicles,
blackbird hides –
a little closer to Norway.

— 17 Nov 2016

With seasonal greetings fae Nordicblackbird at 60N.


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In memoriam #14-18now (2) 

War Flowers, penned shortly before #armistice100 and recorded at my favourite beach, before reading the entirely string of verse dedicated to #armistice2000 #LestWeForget #onnevousoubliepas 

​  
With gracious thanks to Lisa and Dereck for that moment. 


And with gracious thanks to Gail and Keirynn for your renewed homing my work and image. 

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je me souviens #14-18now

One hundred years ago, a small party of men gathered in a wagon inside a French forest somewhere in Picardy to stop madness and attrition, a futile butchery, unparalleled till then, agree to terms for an Armistice. Humanity defaced, filled with hurt, on its knees.

To those millions of innocents, victims who fell and died, I wrote a short poem four years ago, entitled


Of Flowers and Men

Little lead men
fell one by
 one
inside a field other than theirs, 
 where
 red flowers now flourish high -
scarlet to colour
a river to remind us
 there is 
danger
inside our walls.

Four years later, on that same month of November, I penned a string of verse to remember you all – irrespective of alliance, skin colour or religious denomination – because you were all human beings turned inhumane inside a theatre of death. You fell or you were shot, because you had beliefs.

On this occasion, the following verse is in your honour.

In memoriam, 14-18 Now

War Flowers
Time belongs to lush poppy fields. 
They walked by their millions in wet mud, 
France or Flanders, 
leather laces in No Man's Land, along with 
shells and barbwrire. 
Canary girls back in Clydebank or in Gretna 
manufactured what was to kill 
somebody's boy in a cornfield, or 
their own genes here on homeground... 
An assemblage of sacrifice in 
the name of an empire, country or king. 
They fell by millions in cold mud, 
furrow or field they never sowed - 
through earth layers, 
chromatic world recorded shell shock and their fears, 
humanity's blood in a flood. 
They rest by millions as poppies, 
pinned on thick tweed on some jacket - on 
photographs and cenotaphs, 
a sea of names on 
monuments, 
lost inside waves, 
crosses, headstones,
inside the flame from a candle, in 
every heart and every 
home.
© Nat Hall 2018    

Within an hour, I will join all those who remember them at my local beach – St Ninian’s Sands – and read poetry to those clad in a uniform as part of this project  #pagesfromthesea because I don’t forget. Later tonight, as part of this year’s edition of #shetlandwordplay (the annualbook festival in Lerwick), I will join in for the last event, the Open Mic and read both aloud, as part of a sequence dedicated to #14-18now.

Je ne vous oublie pas.   

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