From Fog to Feather and Flock

Cranes on a Hill, 16 March 2018. Copyright 2018 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
A herd of Blue (or Paradise) Cranes (Grus paradisea) on a hilltop. Taken mid-March in 2018 (early autumn in South Africa).

I hereby officially declare “Mist on the Mountain” complete and begin work on the “Dust and Blue” poetic sketch. I have conceived of a few new working titles for it—amongst others, “Feathers and Fleece”, “Cranes and Sheep” and “Herds” (a term of venery for both)—as “Dust and Blue” feels cryptic, and the other initial working titles are merely variations on that theme (for example, “Gold and Blue”).

Though “Herds” is tempting, it does not capture the theme of the poetic sketch—a pity, it is rather smart. I shall, therefore, use the unaffected “Cranes and Sheep” in the meantime—ever partial in poetry to straightforwardness—and have updated the progress list accordingly. On the list, I have also removed “I” from the “The Batis I” title (since “The Batis II” is now redundant) and altered it to “A Batis”.

Poetry Publication Progress (2019-10-19)

The Next Sketch

Blue Cranes Among the Dusty Merino Sheep, 8 February 2019. Copyright 2019 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
Blue cranes among the dusty Merino sheep. Taken earlier this year in February (summer in South Africa).

I am slowly accepting the completion of the “Mist on the Mountain” poem. There is almost always at this stage of an artwork a suspicion in me that I have left some word—some line or stanza—unturned, that there is some idea upon which I can improve; and so I try this and that but invariably return to the version that appears in the final draft.

These last little experiments are reverberations of the writing process: so caught up is one in a cycle of exploring, critiquing and refining, one is left spinning for a time after the work is done; but as I endlessly recite the final draft—I must now surely have done so more than a thousand times (this is not an exaggeration on my part)—it begins to feel “right”.

The while I look tentatively at the next sketch.

My list1 suggests “The Batis II”, a haiku conceived as a companion to “The Batis I”, but since I have applied its concept to the “Feather” and “Zephyr” haiku set, it is pointless to pursue. “Dust and Blue”, therefore, is next. The working title refers to a sight in late December 20172 of dusty Merino Sheep3 against the hillsides and Blue Cranes4 against the sky.

Yesterday, I read through the initial draft of the sketch—three rough free-verse variations that came to me upon surveying the scene—and extracted from them a potential framework for the verse’s ultimate traditional—that is, lyric—structure. Already I see its potential—but first I must recite “Mist on the Mountain” a few thousand times more.

  1. I posted an updated version of the poem list yesterday.
  2. Summer in South Africa (December to February)
  3. Merino Sheep, taken in January (midsummer in South Africa) last year.
  4. Blue Cranes, taken in early autumn (March to May in South Africa) last year.

To my amazement, I have chosen a final variation for the last stanza of “Mist on the Mountain”, and the poem is complete! I shall now spend a few more days reviewing it—that is, reading, reciting and editing it where necessary—but I mark it on my list as a finished work. I should add that there is an alternative version of the poem which I keep as a personal indulgence rather than a possibility for the collection. It differs from the final draft in the first three stanzas where a few significant words are replaced, and in the fourth stanza where I use an anecdotal approach.

Poetry Publication Progress (2019-10-16)