Tag Archives: fire

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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Mørkin (2)

I toy with the thought of
touching the Moon that
hangs out in
this dark blue sky;
and as
tide turns in
your favour, on that last weekend of
July,
I feel its pull, rolled up in
clouds.
I lit a tea light in your name, and
let the lantern on the deck, for
you to find me in
the dark,
mørke, mørkin, in murky night, where
the Moon shies here in
thin clouds, between my world and
summer tides – where Angle shades fly to the flame, where your voice vanishes with
night.

© Nat Hall

Sandwick, 26 July 2018.

 

Note: Mørkin, from the Norwegian, mørke, dark(ness)

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tribal

Every first Friday of March, as told by the tide, we gather, united by bond and fire, and we celebrate the return of the sun.

#smuha 2017, from Cunningsburgh, with burning at Mail Beach.

 

SMUHA Community 2017

SMUHA 2017 tribe

SMUHA 2017 Community spirit

viking SMUHA 2017 e-

 

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impromptu 

    
If I went wild on Saturday with my gang of kindred spirits right on the edge of the island, admiring with awe the raw beauty of returning Red-Throated Divers reinstated on their summer lochs & lochans, those everlasting mesmerising cliffs battered by time, salt & ocean, and listened to skylarks at the narrowest isthmus- yes, the world famous Mavis Grind – where the strongest of us might be able to throw a stone in both the North Sea & Atlantic, Sunday was tossed like a pancake, with Force 12 winds battering us as if we were still in winter…

To sum it up, here comes a short piece from my pen.

Easter by the Hearth

Wild, 

impromptu, 

unwanted gale that

tossed our season inside out –

my westside windows 

filled with salt,

I imagine

silent skylarks

tucked in imaginary grass

voar needs to weave

in between 

storms

and

seas of glass…

Until Monday’s final hours,

body & heart inside Shetland’s

finest of wool.

© Nat Hall 2016 

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burning

  It takes one jarl to lead his squad to beach and flames, and his community to celebrate the return of the sun.

SMUHA is a young fire festival that has now grown to rival with well established ones, such as Delting in the more northern township of Brae.

Every procession is magic, every burning of the galley, mesmerising, every moment, memorable.

   This  year, I shared it with a friend, who came especially for her first experience. She would tell you it is unique.
And it is! The atmosphere, torches, embers and smiles glow inside night.


A moment to savour every time!

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March extraordinaire

   I always have to make things up to distract my heart from this one.
Month of rainbows, dark and tears, March is the wild beast in my head. This year, for the very first time, it feels somewhat different.

Time-tight schedules, activities that keep my soul right off the edge of oblivion, March is flying like a comet.

   Some extraordinary meeting with amazing poets, including freshly former Makar (Scotland’s National Poet) Liz Lochhead – as pictured above – during a night of poetry at the Shetland Library; whilst reconvening with Welsh-born Emma van Woerkom, on a short-stay on the island for our local fire festival (SMUHA) proved so much light and breaths of fresh air!   

 Such two slices of life took me temporarily from my ivory tower,  as Compass Head is mutating into a book 🙂

     Light has returned on the island, and with it, the spirit of #voar, “planting season” as we know it on the windswept, wild 60N latitude.
There’s still a few miles to go, but it looks bright till publication. 

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veritas 

  
What do we know of a people sheltered from old Roman dogma?

Isolated from old scriptures that shackled man off his own heart?

The Norsemen  lived under such terms, lived their own lives, free as the wind, so unafraid…

   
They treasured beliefs to the sea, where they would reach their Valhalla. To them, death had its own meaning, glorious to their reputation. 

Immortality through men’s songs… 

Here, as a song to their greatness, 

some brand fresh verse, in time for bed and your own dreams.
Viking 

They say

history down to us…

Like a

river of fire, 

they never feared alien God – 

whatever raid was meant to be, 

in the name of

skin trade & gold, what mattered 

was reputation.

Swing an axe or

a heavy oar,

everything done, 

forever written in your bones. 

© Nat Hall 2016

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Feathered

Feathered for a day,


Feathered and proud, on the final Tuesday of January, as eyes of the world turn to a group of young Vikings about to perpetuate a tradition fit for our Nordic latitude.

It is a time when our Junior Jarl Squad shines inside our hall before they stampede through the school and then the town with their elders for a marathon of merriment.

Every year, the island’s sole urban centre sets itself for such day.

As night settles, their replica viking long ships will be torched like a winter bonfire. You can watch live via 60N TV online.

May this summons the return of the sun 🙂

Happy Lerwick Up-Helly-Aa!

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winter

   Already the sun has begun to rise higher at its zenith.
To celebrate its return, men have built long boats to immolate out in a gale from winter’s depth. Whereas Scalloway opens a season of fire torching,  and merriment inside halls, the island’s (modern) capital will attract crowds local and global on the final Tuesday of this month. 

 

Winter will die out by fire. Like cosmic laws on the island, we brave the rawness of the ice that grips the Auld Rock to the core – from Saxa Vord to Compass Head… As snow covers heather and shore, and swans gather on frozen lochs.

    And every trip defies the light in icicles.
Dawn starts earlier, 

  
Crystal purple before sunrise. 

It feels magic when this sky speaks in such colour. By the time I go home, light still lingers behind curtains… With it comes sly thin layer of black ice that seek your feet every morning.

  
Winter feels harsh on us, dwellers of the north. Yet I find solace in the thought that February welcomes Imbolc – the early signs of Earth’s Spring – in spite of struggle with more ice. 

Winter possesses so many claws it defies those of the dragon. Soon the sun will revive our hearts as it continues to rise higher in our sky. 

In the meantime, we shall raise our eyes to torches, it is written in every bay. 🙂 

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viking

IMG_0799Not an occupational hazard, but a marvellous world, where we, poets, writers and artists, mingle and collaborate to bring alive our heritage.

This weekend, somewhere in Norfolk, at King’s Lynn Hanse House, a multi-disciplinary collaborative project – entitled The Nine Realms – is celebrating the Viking world. It is the fruit from a wonderful tree, curated and nurtured by Nicky Mortlock c/o ArtiPeeps. It has brought together a long boat load of writers and artists, as well as a boat (head) carver and Millfield School – younglings, who have been participating to the project in their own words.

Two links here, should you wish to acquire a copy of The Nine Realms’ Poetry Book, and or The Nine Realms’ School Book. Now, and if you are lucky enough to visit Norfolk – King’s Lynn this weekend and/or Norwich Library – where there will be poetry read by the poets present there on Monday – please do go along and leave your prints in the guest book! I, the poet based on my 60N latitude, am here in spirit.

“Vikings Ahoy!”, Nicky and all!

Have a marvellous time, everyone!

nine realms8

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