Awaken (to the wonder)

This is an important message…

Awaken

How have we come to this?
Minutely absorbed
in desperate days.
Vainly seeking
transient bliss in triviality,
we miss infinity.

Blinded by our own lights,
we miss the night sky,
a reminder of
the immensity of awe.
We seek to light the dark
because we are afraid.

Afraid of the vast
and glorious universe.
Afraid to be so small,
yet not seeing how
we are smallest
when we flee.

Behind the concrete,
invented reason.
Ethereal illusions fade
without true soil,
a feeble substitute
for freedom.

Brave dissolution in expansion
beyond the flickered dreams.
An open soul is whole.
Awaken to the wonder,
seek out the night sky,
and remember…

© Janey Colbourne words 2016 recording 2017

Below the Skin

Below the skin

Red is my blood,
green is your sap.
Yet below the skin,
we are kin.
Complementary;
breathing each other in,
mutually
nourishing,
eternally
flourishing.

The iron that dwells
In the heart of her
The iron that flows
In my veins
Are one and the same

The heart of Suns
In the wood
And the cell
I am ocean
but for a membrane

When I die,
And the ocean leaves my body,
My spirit returns to the sea.
I am ocean but for a membrane.
The part of me that is earth,
My bones I will leave behind.
Under the skin, we are kin.

© Janey Colbourne 2017 all content
Image Janey Colbourne with PicsArt

Thistle Fierce and Wild. My Poem Grows Some Music.

 

Photo © Janey Colbourne 2015

One of the poems I wrote for my first poetry collection ‘See With Heart‘ was in homage to a large thistle that decided to grow between the wall of my house and the yard. She was truly huge, tall with a very fat stem and long, sharp spikes. I was struck by the vital power of this plant, growing in such an apparently inhospitable place. I took a photo and wrote the poem. Recently I have been songwriting and this is a poem I decided to make into a piece of music. It’s a breakbeat tune with punk vocals, which I felt was suited to the strong spiky energy of the mighty thistle. If you’d like to have a listen here’s the YouTube link. Below is the cover design for the song.

Image by Janey Colbourne using PicsArt

Here’s the original poem:

Thistle

Thistle fierce and wild
Strong you grow
And spiky
What vital power
Too sharp to grasp
Roots buried deep
No soil to see
From patio and wall
You thrust
I must
In truth
Honour
Your mighty conquest

©Janey Colbourne 2015

If you enjoy my creations please consider supporting my work by buying one of my poetry books available at very reasonable prices from Amazon or iBooks. Thank you.

A screenshot from the iBooks version of ‘See With Heart’

All content © Janey Colbourne

 

A Book Review: ‘Uncommon Ground’ by Dominick Tyler

Uncommon Ground Uncommon Ground page

‘Uncommon Ground: A word lover’s guide to the British landscape’ by Dominick Tyler, and published by Guardian Books and Faber & Faber, is one of those gorgeous books to dip into with delight. For me, this book is perfection. Dominick has travelled around the British landscape, taking beautiful photographs and collecting old and often obscure words that refer to the features of nature and the landscape he encountered. As it says on the sleeve, “Here Dominick Tyler gathers them into an enchanting visual glossary of the British landscape.”

This is far from a mere glossary, ‘enchanting’ is certainly the word for it. The book is a beautiful weaving of natural history, discussion and personal observations, and an exploration of the origins and meanings of a collection of words, some familiar, and some obscure, but all useful to describe precise manifestations of natural phenomena. These words enrich the language, but more significantly, they name the places and features of the landscape. When we name something, we enter into relationship with it. This book is important as part of the movement to bring us back into real connection with the more-than-human world. Dominick doesn’t take us on a journey deep into the unknown and perilous wilderness. He takes us on a journey into a world where we belong in the landscape. He takes us on a journey back into ourselves, back home. These places are familiar, yet he can tell us fascinating details that make us look afresh. Looking at the origins of words takes us into our own history, a history tied to the land and to making a living from it. But this is no museum piece. Our relationship with the landscape is forever evolving, our impact is greater than ever, and Dominick doesn’t shy away from this, yet still his book is delightful. ‘Tidewrack’ is a word to describe the line of remnants left on a beach, marking the high tide. The photograph is strangely beautiful, yet poignant, showing a plethora of colourful plastic, along with the natural debris. In this tidewrack Dominick sees a symbol of our guilt, fulfilling an archaic meaning of the word ‘wrack’ as ‘retributive punishment’.

To intergrate the narrative of human life with the narrative of nature, as if it has never been parted, as if we had never forgotten, is a skilful art, in the Age of the Anthropocene, an age when the majority of human beings live in cities. Dominick succeeds in doing this, in gentle fashion, acknowledging the modern farmer on his mobile, imagining that like the ancient art of fisherman sharing knowledge of the tides, locals now share knowledge of where, in the hills of the Lake District, one might get a signal on a mobile phone.

Dominick compares the British knowledge of mud to the Inuit knowledge of snow. Mud is our default medium here in Britain. As adults we lose our fascination with it. It becomes an inconvenience. Dominick reminds us of the many uses of this humble material. He brings us back to an appreciation of the elements we take for granted. Who knew there were so many words for mud? ‘Loblolly’, I think, is my personal favourite, which means, “a mud hole, especially one with a deceptive dried crust on the surface. Also a name for a thick stew of similar consistency.” As well as providing definitions, Dominick engages us by playing with new ways of using these ancient words, for example, “I loblollied about for half an hour before I got free, and lost a boot in the process.” And yes, Dominick, I too would buy a ‘dictionary of mud’, if there were such a thing.

I like his gentle humour, and his honesty at personal vulnerabilities, which make the book all the more endearing and relateable. He tells of his moment of primal fear swimming in a lake, when his foot struck colder waters beneath, reminding him of the depths beneath.

The book contains OS map references, where relevant, so that we can go and see the landscapes for ourselves. It also includes standard dictionary pronunciation guides for the main terms. George Monbiot, of the Guardian, described ‘Uncommon Ground’ as, “an astonishing book of heart-wrenching beauty”, and that sold it for me. If you are a lover of nature and of words, this book is a perfect synthesis of all that is good.

I am the Earth

The Island Within

“There is nothing in me that is not of earth, no split instant of separateness, no particle that disunites me from the surroundings. I am no less than the earth itself. The rivers run through my veins, the winds blow in and out with my breath, the soil makes my flesh, the sun’s heat smolders inside me. A sickness or injury that befalls the earth befalls me. A fouled molecule that runs through the earth runs through me. Where the earth is cleansed and nourished, its purity infuses me. The life of the earth is my life. My eyes are the earth gazing at itself…I am the island and the island is me”

Richard Nelson 1989 ‘The Island Within’

image © Janey Colbourne 2016