“Hard Luck”–A Poem About Self-Realization

Today, I started a poem in one frame of mind and ended it in another.  That is to say, though each poem goes through stages and transitions, an actual personality (not entirely my own) came out of this poem.  It started with a really gloomy outlook on the part of the narrator, who then in the next stanza more realistically (if fantastically) assessed his/her chances, and then, in the final stanza, accepted a status of lesser importance in the world as he/she came to genuine, if slightly self-pitying, self-realization.  I hope that after you’ve read it, this poem will amuse you and touch you both, but if not, well, like my character, I tried.  I also hope that the title adds a little to the humor.

Hard Luck

The moat is so wide
Between castle and fen
The glen is inhabited
By dangerous men
The clouds are so baleful
The groom is so sullen
The horse has gone lame
And the dark road is calling
Whence are you, tall stranger
Amid the stream's currents
Are you for the long trial
Of bitter endurance
The sword's edge is dull,
Which provokes evil laughter
I don't want to go first
But I cannot come after
No, I can't go first
And I shall not come after.

At the peak of the mountain
Stars twinkle and wander
As if to say fair to
The path we meander
Long years have divided us
From our lost country
We've lived a long time
With bare crusts in the pantry
Where is our divining rod
Lost in the brushes
Now all we can fathom
Are croaks in the rushes
If nature spoke truly
We'd have our reply
But the storms boil forth
In the furious sky
Stars don't gleam for long
In the hideous sky.

Kind comrade, provocateur
Fetch me a slip
Of linden tree bough
To attach to the hip
Of this stump of a tree
Where I want it to grow
So that something remains of me
After I go
And the world may think well of
A wrong-headed soul
Who won barely the half
But still longed for the whole
The regions that call me
Have hardly a name
Yet gentler they be
Than those of great fame
And I must content me
With gentler fame.

©Victoria Leigh Bennett, 1/9/17




Filed under Full of literary ambitions!, Poetry and its forms and meanings

5 responses to ““Hard Luck”–A Poem About Self-Realization

  1. There is something to be said for this style of poem, the movement of the narrator’s thoughts gives it an feeling of the epic poetry of old, which is reinforced with the setting. Growing wiser at the end is a natural ending and conclusion and also gives the feeling of a character growing older before our eyes so we get a deeper connection.

  2. I don’t know about epic poetry, but after I cast so many of the poetic references in an Old World setting, I had a problem: the tree about which the narrator speaks started out life as an apple tree. Then, that seemed too much like the legend of Johnny Appleseed, which would have been laughable. So, I made it into a maple tree; that was another kind of tree, and after I thought about it, I thought that it would be a fine compliment to my Canadian friends (the maple is their national tree). But then when I thought about the castle and the moat and fen and glen stuff, I decided to make it a linden tree, which is at least an Old World tree and would go with the rest. Also, the character may be growing wiser about himself/herself, but I hope you also got a good laugh at his/her forlorn exaggeration of the difficulties and challenges. This is a naysayer from day one!

  3. I’ve just about caught up with your poetic turn, Victoria, and am enjoying it. Especially this poem!

    • Dear Richard, I hope you are having a wonderful New Year so far. I thank you for liking this poem; I sort of have a soft spot for it myself, as it sounds the way I sometimes sounds when I am holding my head and grieving over things which (usually, after all) aren’t that bad. But I suppose we all dramatize where we can…..

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