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Calling All Portents


Student of Trinity

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They speed from all directions, sea and sky,

The gaunt dark spectral figures gathering

Unto this withered heath and ruined tower.

Some stalk in sunken lanes, some drift on scows

Along the dank canal, while some alight

From prows of stormblown ships with ghostly crews.

Some thicken from the mist, some rise from crypts;

Some merely slip through doors, while others slide

From scaley necks of ancient batwinged beasts.

 

Not one but carries something. Some hold staves

Of runescarred twisted oak with bands of lead,

Or brandish long black blades that glitter well.

Some raise up ragged standards flaunting signs

Of warlike empires fallen long ere Rome.

One lifts a cross, and one or two clutch scythes.

 

It has been ages since a scene for them

Last flickered up. So naturally they rush.

Even a gaunt dark specter needs to live,

Or something of the sort.

 

But now they stand

Around.

 

Did there really use to be so many, so alike?

And why is there no-one else on hand, but them?

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I intend no deep meaning. It's just an image that came to me years ago, with the feeling that sometimes the drama gets to be a little much. I've tinkered with it very slowly. I have written several poems, but I don't think I've started a new one in the past ten years or so. I guess the accurate statement is that I was a little bit of a poet when I was younger, but lately I've only been a very little bit of a poetry editor.

 

I'm not even sure what a heath is, exactly, but whatever it is, I know that it's sure to be withered, and the chances of a ruined tower are high. I think this is based on a confused association between heaths, cliffs, and wuthering heights. I may as well admit that I think of wuthering as a conveniently small sort of thunderstorm. For the whole gothic genre I'm kind of one of those embarrassingly ignorant fans. I guess this is what the poem is about.

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wikipedia says - "A heath or heathland is a shrubland habitat found mainly on low quality acidic soils, and is characterized by open, low growing woody vegetation." So your landscape has withered shrubs, I guess.

 

I like your word painting. It fits nicely into the books I've been reading of late.

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