Aside

Wild Grass

There is a place where the wild grass grows,
Where, once, we were kids — and grew
Like the tufts of rogue wheat between fence posts.
There was always something, beyond the post
And we longed to get away ­­ as we grew.

But we were rutted,
Stuck on the graveled prairie lane.
These streets never changed, cracked with wild wheat,
It grows like a weed, and it always comes back.
Once, we were budded, and thought life was here ­­
But we left.
To the infinite abounds of Elsewhere.

It will not be the last
That mound of cold earth, between the plots of wild grass.
But it is the first.
And I am unsure what to say, such is the way of First.
One day, there will be many mounds where, perchance,
The wild grass shall grow, and consume.
Yet, in this moment; there is a pause that breathes such a thought.

It sinks.

Once, we were kids. Where the wild grass grows.

Feints, Form, and Diction: Composing Lines on Unprofitable Daffodils

There is a subversive nature to Wordsworth’s writing, an undercurrent of matters amiss. It is the silence in the strange gaps, and pauses he makes in his writing, like the “wreaths of smoke / Sent up, in silence, from among the trees” (Lines, 17-18). Yet, it is not a silence that is inherent to landscape. Rather, it is a silence of those tied to the landscape; it is they who “half create” (Lines, 106) their tie to the land itself. Given the “anchor” (Lines 109) that the landscape serves, it is the stationary object that holds no remorse for how it is sectioned, privatized, or tilled. Yet there are those who have faced the “still, sad music of humanity” (Lines 91), and have lost their ties to the land. Uprooted, and left with little or nothing, they are given to the fate of wandering. The grating reality of this existence, and the feeble tides of land ownership, are found in the quiet rhetoric of Lines and I wandered lonely as a Cloud.

 

At the time of Wordsworth’s writing the Enclosure Acts were reaching a peak. Privatization of Common land was devouring the livelihood of those who had relied upon a Common land system for agriculture and horticulture. Coupled with this was a mass exodus to urban centres in search of employment. It is interesting that one of the first comments Wordsworth does make is the “soft inland murmur” (Lines, 4) of the Wye. Tintern Abbey itself rests upon the banks of Wye, just a few miles upstream from the city of Bristol. Yet, there is no mention of this urban centre, rather the “steep and lofty cliffs” (5) that block out the sight and provide a “deep seclusion” (7) from the din of an industrial scene. Any sense of a presence is found through the “cottage-ground” (11), and the silent smoke that is sent up from the nearby woods (18). The presence of inhabitants is quite muted, and blends itself into the landscape. Rather than “the din / Of towns and cities” (26), the inhabiting presence surrounding Tintern is one that goes “With some uncertain notice” (19). Yet, that presence is not one of those who hold land here; rather, they are the ‘uncertain’ who have lost their land, the “vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods” (20). Not a single one of these dwellers is given a voice in Wordsworth’s open dialogue. Indeed, even “The Hermit” (22) is written as though that is his title. The Hermit has become one with “little, nameless, unremembered acts” (34). In a strange sense, it is as though Wordsworth is offering a reflection. For “Nature never did betray” (122) those who find themselves living within the ruins, rather the institution that partitioned the land. To that institution, these vagrants were as nameless in the Enclosure Act as they are in Wordsworth’s work. There is that disconnect of humanity, one that Wordsworth describes as a force that seeks “To chasten and subdue” (93).

 

How Wordsworth positions himself in regards to his work adds a further perspective toward the ideas of Enclosure. In a manner, there is an elevation past the physical boundaries that restrict, left to wander freely “as a cloud” (Wandered, 1). At a point where physical restrictions, namely trespassing on private land, were becoming more prevalent there is this elevation over that. As the poet, he takes on a position that “floats on high o’er vales and hills” (2). There is a seemingly quiet act of defiance in this, the unrestricted nature that is taken on. Further, it feels especially poignant in the words: “but little thought / What wealth the show to me had brought” (17-18). There is a dismissive tone toward the idea of wealth based upon a landscape, quite akin to the namelessness of The Hermit. The idea of wealth surrounding that particular piece of land is treated as a dismissive afterthought, driving a sort of scorn from the poet who has elevated himself above such a material view. It is an interesting role reversal from the homeless vagrants in Tintern Abbey, and his standing “upon the banks” (Lines, 114). While Wordsworth posits himself directly in the natural scene, along with the vagrants in Lines, he elevates himself over the material scene in I wandered lonely as a Cloud.

 

Additionally, it is intriguing that the text employs a use of feint in its structure. Tactically, it’s a jarring momentum of advance and retreat to force response from an opposing side. Just as there is a nuance with the words within these texts, there is also a method of jarring within the form of the texts; a particularly striking one is in I wandered lonely as a Cloud. The poem continually stacks itself on stringent meter, and repetitive grammar placement, until: “I gazed — and gazed — but little thought” (Wandered, 17). There’s a sudden break of uniformity in the text, and it almost forces a pause at that particular place. It is also a moment at the following line “What wealth the show to me had brought” (18), the tone of the poem shifts into a vague undercurrent of reprimand. Likewise, there are numerous instances of feint in Lines, where “hedge-rows” suddenly regress to “hardly hedge-rows” (Lines, 15). These acts of feint are found in omittance, and sudden shifts of diction and tone. At a point where the text begins to elevate in “aspect more sublime” (37) over “this unintelligible world” (40) until it finally reaches an ascension of “We see into the life of things” (48), the wings get clipped. The language rises, and rises, to almost the point of an epiphany, if not for the next line: “If this / Be but a vain belief, yet, oh!” (49-50). It’s almost tragic that these shortfalls are present in the work. “For nature then … To me was all in all. — I cannot paint / What then I was” (72 & 75). The fault never falls to rest on the landscape that the text looks over, but upon the “still , sad music of humanity, / Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power / To chasten and subdue” (Lines, 91-93). It is the critique that humanity has done itself an injustice, to one another, all for the sake of a land that holds no capacity to betray; it will only continue to exist, despite the turmoil of severing and creating ties. Yet, this critique is not addressed head on at the very start. Rather, these moments of pressing, in an open dialogue, continually force pauses. It is the act of forcing one out of their comfort, even unto the form of the writing itself. It is not a ballad, nor caught in stringent verse. Instead, it is written as either an intruder upon the thoughts of someone, or as a one-sided dialogue. That’s the feint to build on, the force that gives weight and pause in the shifts until, finally:

“Nature never did betray

The heart that loved her; ‘tis her privilege,

Through all the years of this our life, to lead

From joy to joy: for she can so inform

The mind that is within us, so impress

With quietness and beauty, and so feed

With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,

Rash judgements, nor the sneers of selfish men,

Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all

The dreary intercourse of daily life

Shall e’er prevail against us” (Lines, 122-131)

 

Inevitably, when a feint occurs a point of conflict will arise shortly thereafter. Both of these works rise to that occasion, whether by the silence of “The Hermit who sits alone” (Lines, 22), or by the heavy pauses of of tone shift wrought by simple ” –” (Wandered, 17). By this, the confrontation builds, until a forefront is reached to the “sneers of selfish men” (Lines, 129). Just those selfish men have made gain over land, by the consequence of silencing others, so too does the text. In a strange sense of a mirror, The Hermit is give a name, whereas Tintern and Bristol lay forgotten between the verses. In the end, it is the images of “green pastoral landscape” (Lines, 158) and “golden daffodils” (Wandered, 4) that ring through, in constancy. There is no promise that any of these words will have an effect, after all, people are not clouds. Yet, there is a hope that the silent ‘them’ will hold the land “More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!” (Lines, 159).

Works Referenced

Black, Joseph., and Leonard Conolly, eds. The Broadview Anthology of British Literature: Concise Edition B. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2012. Print.

 

Works Cited

Wordsworth, William. “Lines.” The Norton Anthology English Literature: The Romantic Period Volume D. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc, 2012. 288-292. Print

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174796

—. “I wandered lonely as a Cloud.” The Norton Anthology English Literature: The Romantic Period Volume D. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc, 2012. 334-335. Print

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174790

Aside

The Leoht-Bana (Light Slayer)

Like small threads on a tapestry, the time of mortals has been brief in the land of Althania. If one were to step back from this small point in time, and gaze at the needlework before it, they would find a long and dark history.

There was once a time where the planes existed as one, and war raged. Between the astral Starkyn and the ancient Daemons that were born with this world. In this time, the tides of bloodshed rose and fell, just as the shadows and light rose up against one another.

In this time, a sword of particular note was forged. Created in the deep recesses of the Zaerokian plan, it was created with the malice and blood of an Ancient One. Tempered in a pool of all the planes, it was created with a two-edged design.

Driven into the flesh of a Starkyn, it would create a near inconsolable rift. It would divide them from the light, rendering them nothing more than mortal. By this, the tides of shadow could easily engulf and sink them to final death.

But the blade was was no friend to the Daemon that wielded it. As he came to battle against a little Starkyn, he found the bitter bite of this guile blade. Severing the Starkyn from her lofted plane, he boasted of his final blow before delivering it. In this, he gave this little one just the moment she needed. Seizing the blade, the Starkyn turned the sword upon its owner and struck him with it.

Instantly, that chill feeling of isolation came over the Daemon. He soon realized that the blade held no allegiance, and had torn him from his plane as well. With a scream, the Daemon met the horror of final death, and was lost to the waves of shadow.

This little Starkyn was now faced with a choice. What would she do with a blade such as this? Soaked in the blood of all planes, and crafted to end a war.

Making her choice, the Starkyn cast the blade into a Nyhian rift. In doing so, the blade was lost the ever changing, and collecting flow of the Nyhian plane. There it lay, for eons. Cast among the rubble, and forgotten pieces of time and memory. It drifted upon these tides, until even its very name was lost to all memory, save the ancient.

As fate would have it, a day came that it was found. A young daemon hunter, newly cast with his Nyhian counterparts, found the blade in the rubble of a forgotten village. The beautifully ornate hilt caught his eye, the sparkle of a fiery opal. He, and the voices, agreed that this blade held a great power. For what, they could not say, but whispers of relics such as this were known to exist in the forgotten parts of the Planes.

And so, Leoht-Bana entered the mortal plane upon the back of an unknowing mortal. Its purpose a mystery, abstract in its strange nature.

In the hands of a Daemon Hunter, it held the potential of ruin for those who would carve their scars upon the mortal plane. But Leoht-Bana never became a sword of renown, it fell away into the cracks of history once more. Just as the Daemon Hunters fell away from knowledge during The Great War.

Where is the Light Slayer now? A frightful prospect to think of it lost, adrift, on the mortal plane.

 

Letters to Somewhere: September Snow

My Dearest,

The boughs hang heavy laden, brushing the ground in submission by the clumps of snow that cling to them. Like beautiful conquerors, a blanket of death that slowly crushes with masqueraded tranquility. The trees, they didn’t even have time to slumber to endure the relentless descent of winter’s herald. They were still alive, fragile in their hues of green and yellow. And like a merciless entity, winter descended early, unsuspecting. Some would call it cruel, as the hues are engulfed by blankness, and the boughs to finally crack in submission.

 

But cruelty is merely a word we use in our own masquerade.

 

Your’s,

The Solitary One – Anhaga

 

The Mirepytt

That feeling. It was nagging upon Iril’s mind again, the ever-present sense of something

Perhaps it was the lengthy shadows of a fast-falling twilight, or perhaps it was due to how far his path plunged into the Shaeden. The Spirit Groves were long past now, and it had been many hours since the light of a village had flickered through the trees.

The sensation grew, until it caused a babbling within his head. He adjusted his focus, stemming the tide back from becoming a torrent.

Solitary was its presence, a cobbled well in the middle of a small glade. The coalescing nature of vines had long since subdued it. A small family of ferns protruding from the earthen cracks.

Still, a simple well was the cause of this nagging. That was evident, it seemed to flow from this spot. 

“What in Ilothan’s name…” Iril spoke, confused by the nature of its presence. This couldn’t be right. 

“It is a mirepytt,” the young boy’s voice offered in reply to the unspoken question. “A guardian’s well.”

Iril shook his head. No one had ever spoken of these. Was it something new? Like the recent twisting’s across the plains? Did it stem from the sudden crawl of The Deep Shaeden?

“I thought your kind did not have osticai?” The daemon hunter frowned, leaning over the edge of the well. A swirl of murky water, dappling ripples from breezed ferns, that was all he could see.

“Not in the same sense. A solitary Nyhian lives here, guarding something,” the boy responded, he seemed cheerier today.

Iril paused, weighing the thoughts in his mind, muddling through the deeper waters of the babbling.

“Then we shall pay him a visit afterward. We have more pressing business to attend,” the hunter shook his head, and the babbling receded.

He stepped away and continued, off and alone while the young daemon continued chatting away in the back of his mind.

Letters to Somewhere: Part I

Dear Lilac Bush,

We seem to get locked into a staring contest at times, don’t we? You, rising over the cusp of the second floor window and swaying under snow or breeze. Me, blankly staring and hoping you will bequeath a measure of inspiration to me. You’ve always been there, curtains drawn or curtains pulled. On days when you are bare, or days where you dress yourself in blooming hues. 

It’s a strange relationship, you and I. Silent in your growing, the most I’ll get is a sway, or perhaps a breath of fresh flower. While I stare at your existence, hoping it will impart something to me. 

We do that, humans. It’s a rather strange habit we have at times. We stare off into the distance, gazing upon unique vistas with a numbered, rotating cast. There’s only so many plants, and so many seasons to stare at. Yet we keep doing it, thinking that somehow you presence will impart a spark upon us.

I’ve had some strange thoughts, the ones that percolate for ages in the back of my mind before coming to fruition in my pass time of staring. Unfortunately, the finale of thought in how you drive this process still has not come to me. 

Perhaps there is a measure to the sudden breeze of fresh flowers.

Your Most Humble Gardener,

Andi 

A Canvas

My Darling,

I write you a line to tell you that I am doing well. We depart for France on the morrow. From the talk I have been hearing, I expect to be home by Christmas. The war will not last long.

It is empty here.

White walls. A blank canvas.

Bathed in the crisp light from above.

Reflected in the polished floor.

I wonder if they will stop,

at least long enough to read a line.

My Dearest Husband,

I write you a line to tell you that we are doing well. The girls loved the postcards you sent back, and I keep your picture with me. I quite like the mustache, darling, you should keep it. My aunt says it makes you look like a young officer!

I wonder about the brush strokes

How will we portray simple letters

By those who were simply people?

How will we remember you?

As a collective,

Or by the single moments in a letter?

April 9th, 1917

Return to Sender

It was the only letter in the bunch I noticed.

Crumpled at both ends.

*

I wonder if people will notice it.

Among text panels

and facts

and the mechanized designs that tore landscapes apart.

In country and in memory.

I wonder if we notice the simple nuances

In that which we simply call History.