Letters from Crete (v) : FORMAL FREE VERSE


Formal Free Verse


The time is 3.30 AM Cretan o’Clock. I am currently having a mild account on account, no doubt, to the series of cats that hover about our Agios Ioannis home waiting for scraps. And the altitude doesn’t help. Also a bone of contention is the massive battle I’ve been having with the mosquitos, & after two hours of carnage I’ve decided to just go out onto the verandah & type an essay through the night. There is a fresh-laid coffee by my side. The goat’s bell is tinkling. The subject of my next installment shall be my recent endeavouring with Free Verse. Although a Parnasssian at heart, I have dabbled with Free Verse since my inception as a poet, including one huge vomiting of material in 2003, a piece I entitled Bohemia In fact one of my favorite pieces – The Lost Poem – is free verse.


On reaching the pinnacle of my education as a Pendragon, I became almost obliged to consider Free Verse in a formal way, to record its invented ‘species’ in the same way that the Welsh Bards recorded their poetic forms. This research I have only just completed, & also put into practice with the composition of ‘Sylvermane : The Last Wolf of Scotland,’ in which I experimented with & utilized 24 poems. The majority of these I have taken from poets of the last few decades, like the stars in the sky I shall name each form after them, or in some cases the poem which they wrote or even the collection was a part of. The 24 poems (& examples from my own work) are;


1 : Respiro


From the collection ‘Journey Across Breath’ by Stephen Watts, translated as ‘Tragitto nel respiro,’ by Cristina Viti


Upon ancient Cruachan,

Long-lost hill-fort ,mossy

gums, rings of gorse, Hipp

olytes’ spear, amber-heade

d, shaft thrust in cavern so

il : Millennia before; in thi

s den tonight a she-wolf e

mpties slowly her womb f

or Old White, these pricele

ss births AT LAST! AT L

AST! & manifesting the di

vine, four wonderful pups;


2 : Tomlinson


A staccato stanza From Charles Tomlinson’s ‘Ode to San Francisco.’


The red Dawn spread

& did suffuse

sufficient pinks

horizon turns

milky white

a splodge of paint

hits holy canvas






3 : Thorpe


From the poem ‘Putting the Boot In’ by Adam Thorpe


Malcolm waits

for full-faced moon


hearing the tales

of Cruachan’s Carlin


he’d comb’d the long locks

of Morag, by rivers


he’d heard the thunder

stun green-robed Watchers


fetch me, my love,

my bier & my bow


rough-clefted arrows

& strings so supple





4 : Wheatley


From the poem ‘A Skimming Stone, Lough Bray’ by David Wheatley


Unseen forces

lift the lid of sleep

twitching limbs, raising heads

lick her mouth

belly’s filling

blood-flow growing thicker.


Months pass by

happy playtimes

burgeoning hierarchies settle

ears flatten

tails ween legs

pointing straight at Sylvermane.




5 : Turnbull


From the poem ‘Lake’ by Gael Turnbull




This is a song for the very last wolf

of Scotland; bards call Sylvermane

to mind when thinking of lost ways,

whenever Scotland has forgotten

The Wolf once freely roamed.


Encircle & gather

ye night-flying moths,

embroider your lugs,

with the benefit of wine

my beating breast

falls, evenly,

like orchid dust

on a blazing tongue;


Long ago,

when time stretch’d taut,

the ice withdrew,

rivers thawed in silence,

spring returned to the islands,

exfoliating, blooming,

sturdy oaks flooded north,

centuries on centuries.

repeating to infinity

nature’s sacred progress.


6 : Tsvetaeva


Designed by Marina Tsveaeva



Sylvermane danders dark, waste hills

brown, unsightly plains

extraterritorial       continuous pines

rocky rivers feeding Loch Erroch


Trees without foliage

mountains covered with whiteness

bitter dawns      loneliness

watchers watch on unperturbed


There was a time when Manmeat

fear’d the wolf        from well-trodden

paths never strayed, beside the Spey

immense in trees, refused venture













7 : Tempest


A wild, stormy, random & meandering form used by Kate Tempest in her ‘Let Them Eat Chaos.’



Angry winds batter land


Climate change






Sun dimmer than any memory remembers


Except the yews, of course, & the oaks

Whose rings recall the icy ages











With feebly bleeting sheep






8 : Gaer


From the poem ‘The Hill Fort (Y Gaer) by Owen Shears


Since the day she was taken

Fuscous darkness stains the mountains

Despite gloriously daybreak the world


Choking with ashen hills

Shrunken salted lakes

‘We dallied here when we were


Alive – day sets – the scowling sun

Has smithereened into shards,

Gloomy skies, the murkiness of death


The moon is a half-sunken skull

Or a jellyfish beached & stinkin’

Begrutten – Sylvermane weeps lonely


& forgotten, ensared by sadnesses

torturous sensations of stagnancy

of life forfoughten – he paws


between wolf-pits, gap-toothed traps

whos einfignant jaws laugh at him

all in the shady sadness of a vale


Raven swoops by him, mocking

His fate’s dolour, pitying

His gait’s depression a fly drifts by


Ad infinitum not always forever,

the end has come for the Wolves,

aye, there shall be no second summer


He is the formal, final leaf

of winter, ready for the sheering

clinging stubbornly in the hurricane


of change, across the Moray sands

his paw prints weakly wander, & he

sighed low, more like a Titan in a cage.





9 : Hugo


From the poem ‘April in Cerignola’ by Richard Hugo


This is Norway, esteemed. The sun is mean

all summer, but underneath the Watchers

gaze on trollskin forests, trunks support

Valhalla on columns of adamantine granite.

Misty mountains stitched with river silver

lynxes prowl by wolverines, brown bears

& tremendous gangs of wolves, among

whom prospers, exhausted, Sylvermane.


Out of his ain soul’s dolesome desolation

he is led to a lake of blackest pitch called

Amsvartnir, his fur’s birthmark seems

a streak of fish; Lyngvi appears ahead

overgrown with heather, dilemma island,

this place Fenris imbounded by the Gods

chained to a jagged rock; saliva-formed,

the River Van his prison’s testament




10 : Aygi

From the poem’Playing Finger Games’ by Gennady Aygi


Malcolm welcom’d heartily – the Hunter Poet, whose fresh-spirited lines in these very halls have been repeated by lesser bards – they had stood before the Campbells of Glenorchy – Sir John of Bredalbane had made Kilchurn a barracks, standing as it does, knifepoint sharp, at the bare throat of cattle-tracks




11 : Berk

From the poetry of Ilhan Berk


As aroma of pine needles wafted low

Into the flatlands by the firth

Sylvermane caught the scent, & rose

In delectable postures, rising gladly

It felt good to move, paws tickled by needles

Forming sandy forest beds

He fell asleep that night, an owl calls precision

Whole nations of owls agree



12 : Barnstone

From the poem, Family, by Willis Barnstone



Two years fly by & the pack

Is changing fast, Sylvermane

his brother

& his sister

after the season of snows

tension rises with the sun

day of fangs & claws

broke oer Cruachan

it was a mighty match-up ‘til the last

when Sylvermane saw sense & slinked

away, alone

a refugee


13 : Egan

A scattering of word formations as found in the book, Thucydides & Lough Owel by Desmand Egan



sacred liquid


nowhere else in nature’s realm

can be seen that shade of red


skies streak with a glorious horizon

skies adorn’d with Dawn’s crimson tails


I am wolf & wolf I am!’




14 : Insom


From the poem ‘Insomonia; By Sydney Lea


the Trossachs’ sculptured stillness, since him born

his Fur always grey, but his name

was given under noble circumstances –

His mother watched him as a cub

sat stone-still on stones below peaktops hidden

by tottering cumuli, where flashes of cyan sky

erupted in the whiteness of the whitest cloud,

jaws gaped open… an old, old soul




15 :

From the collection ‘Deep-Tap Tree’ by Alexander ‘Sandy’ Hutchinson


In this prehistorical landscape each rock

has a name, each tree its shade of green



crystal water

flows through Glencoe; ferlie, immortal




16 : Concrete


The universal term for poetry that has both meaning & ashthetic qualities.




Over waves

Wings beating

Escorted by wyrd

Valkyrie legions

Red sun resuming

From the misty

West, shadow

Peaks climbing tall

Over Norway, her awesome glory

Bewroughten by northern Gods

An endless forest tatters skies

But out of these trees, Sylvermane

Hears the howl

Scampering call

Of happy wolves

Children of Fenris

Rapid descending

Talons flash









17 : Kazantzis


From the collection, ‘The Rabbit Magician Plate’ by Judith Kazantzis


Flipping in her iron-forged talons

she brings back fish for the feasting

Sylvermane coughs up bones


Days pass, stength increases,

cunning accumulates & speed

accelerates as teeth gnaw sharper































Agios Ioannis



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>