The War of 1812


Last weekend, the first 3 stanzas of the 1812 War segment of Stars & Stripes arrived at the theatre. On Thursday I finished off the first part of the triad on a walk around Haddington. The next morning I took a hike in the glorious Lammermuirs beyond Snawden, the epic expanse from Dunbar to Stirling along of the Forth before my feet,  & the loneliness energized by exercise & a strangely balmy late October. I also found a few magic mushrooms dotted about, a surreptitious aspect of my hitting the hills to compose, but one the Pendragons of old would have approved of.  On the walk I completed the middle part of the triad. I also mused a little on the architectronics of my poem, which I can now finally present, well in at least scaffold form.


The poem is divided into at  ten-lined stanzas, of which 5 make up either the Strophe, the Epode or the Antistrophe of an individual Ode. A little like the Odes of ancient Greece,  the Epode – here placed in the centre of the Ode rather than at he end – is chaunted by actors just as the chorus was sung at the sacred altar of classical Ode performances. I have also infused the Epodes with a some energetic Shakespeariana – everybody loves a bit of acting. On either side of the drama, a narrator will read the strophe/antistrophe. Perhaps reading out over images projecting onto a screen while the actors/actresses change between scenes.


Come the evening I found myself driving through Edinburgh’s rush-hour traffic, with Led Zeppelein on full blast may I add, then crossing the recently opened Queensferry Bridge. Its a fine structure, but it baffles me what they are doing with the old Forth Road Bridge at the moment. So on to Perth, where I think I found the last parking space in the city, & the Saint Petersburg Orchestra. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance, The Fantasy Overture by Tchaikovsky was rather like the Venus & Adonis./ Rape of Lucrece paintings of Titian – where poetry bursts out of its conventional literary chains & into other artistic media. I also managed to compose a stanza of S&S in the same, un-noted fashion as at the Dundee Rep. It reads;

An empty city is emptier still
Excepting crimson Cockneys, Scotch & Welsh,
Tough faces in the torchlight until Dawn
Drags up its smoking wracks of destruction;
Tho’ private properties left as were found
The map with all the government buildings
Sees crosses red spread slowly ‘cross a grid
Beseeming as by Freemason design,
Whose noblest part, tho’ gutted, parch’d & black,
Stands defiant to its dreadful damage!


I enjoy driving back from Perth – the quiet & dark motorways a real sort of meditative bath of the soul. On the drive I mused my way into another blog, realising that I am writing a new epic poem, & I should record the processes with a little more detail than Axis & Allies, for the benefit of future appreciatives. So here I am.


Yesterday (Saturday) – I took another walk up into the hills, this time parking up at the cottages under Stoneypath Farm & hitting the public bridleway to Whiteadder. I climbed for about two miles, composing the final four stanzas to accompany the one that came to me in Perth. The final one really does invoke the galaxy of heather buds I found myself among as etched down my lines.

Our sun is a bauble of red heather
Up in the Lammermuirs, so many stars,
The Universe is distance, as is Earth,
Thus, while in Belgium laughter blends with wine,
On Chistmas morn, tho foes the day before,
At New Orleans the battle rages on
Where black & white united for the cause
Protecting beauty from the filthy grip
Of British rapists, God fell on their right,
Skittling Redcoats back to panicking ships.


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