Thursday, 18 March 2021

Dreams and Nightmares In A Long Life.

Featured in my new collectionWith Such Caution, are poems springing out of elements reflected in my notebooks over the last 50 years. What has emerged from this process of sifting and editing  is  a kind of hybrid of memoir and poetry reflecting the light and shade, the sunshine and shadows all experienced in a long life.

I have found as  the notebook entries were transmuted by the febrile abstraction  of poetry, that I started to recognise - among brighter notions and perceptions - a sprinkling of poems  involving dark dreams and even nightmares in a long life.
  
Possibly because I am a child of World War Two I have remembered dreams I had in the bed which I shared with my sister, in the house where I lived until I was seven.

 In that time, in  that bed, I distinctly remember  dreaming of invasion, in the form of  uniformed hordes coming up the stairs of that house in Lancaster,
 
 This was a dream. It didn’t literally happen!
 
But several of the poems in With Such Caution illustrate the impact of dark dreams successively on the consciousness of the little girl as she grows up to become a teacher, a feminist, a novelist and writer, a mentor, a wife, a lover, a mother -  in various combinations -  through a long life.
 
Of course this dark aspect combines with the lighter elements – light and shade juxtaposed -- and has contributed to perhaps a more abstract notion of a lived life, which makes With Such Caution much more than a straight memoir.


An Example:-

The poem here below - perhaps the darkest in the collection – finally written in 2002 – reflects some of the darkest aspects of the dreaming and the feelings that still haunt me.

 

Tin Drum Beat

 

Lady of shadow, where do you walk?

Come into the light

let me see you more clearly,

 

Grasping existence with your metal fingers

Sitting there hearthside to knit up the world

your face set hard to  the distance of  time,.

Your green-coin head turns this way and that,

viewing the treeless spread of the city..

 

Still you stay there at the edge of the dark

walking the streets with your diamond tread

beating the drum  with your  tough metal fingers -

choosing the child for the next conflagration

 

Lady of shadow, where are you walking?

Come into the light

Let me see you more clearly

 

You turn into an alley, darker than Hades,

and confront a boy whose eyes cannot see.

Your gaze pierces through the husk of his eyelid

igniting his soul to the darkness ahead,

 

Lady of shadows

Come into the light

Let me see you more clearly

 

I’m running before you, afraid of your gaze

afraid of your hands with their tin-drum-beat

afraid of your eyes, those glittering  emeralds,

afraid of the high-heeled click of your feet

 

Lady of shadows why do you follow?

I turn in the dark to meet your embrace.

Nov 29.02

 

Fragments of this poem are in several of the

notebooks. Perhaps this piece shows how

close are one’s dreams and nightmares

in a world where the imagination rules.

 

 



 Wendy Robertson

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