Saturday, May 27, 2006

"Through the Posterns of the Past...

...alone and half-afraid."

All I remembered was this line of poetry, this refugee image of a lonely child. A child like myself.
It haunted me for years, but I could never find the poem again.

And in every book or movie when the rescuer, the messenger, the scout swung up into the saddle and urged his horse at a hand gallop - hooves thudding like a heart-beat - through the gate of a castle, a fort, a palisade, I remembered that line.

Last week I found it again.


How I love the mere words, the picturesque and dear words,
Romany and Patteran and Caravan and Chal-
How they lilt and sing to me; flame-lit, how they bring to me
Heathered moors and bending skies and gypsy carnival.

The sun-swept and the wild words I dreamed of as a child, words
Like Lariat and Chaparral, Coyote, Pinto, Sage;
How they flung a dare to me of life without a care to me;
How the flying hoofbeats rang across the printed page!

The lanthorn-lit, the old words, the scarlet and the gold words,
Palfrey, Jerkin, Yeoman, Falcon, Glebe and Glade;
Minstrel, Lance, and Tourney - what an age-long journey
Through the posterns of the Past, alone and half-afraid.

The wind blown and the sea words, the lawless and the free words,
Spindrift, Doubloon, Cutlass, Jib, Corsair, Yardarm Crew;
Whispering wild tales to me - ah, how each unveils to me
Palm-fringed islands rising green against the ocean blue.

The balsam-scented North, words that call untamed hearts forth, words
Like Wanigan, and Mackinaw, Duffle, Tumpline, Trail;
While the languid South to me turns a lover-mouth to me
Jasmine-scented, passion flowered, by the Bayou pale.

Some may live their fair dreams, costly, jewelled, rare dreams;
Some may rove the luring world as free as homing birds;
But still I'll find my all for me, close-waiting at my call for me,
In my printed palaces, bright-tapestried with words.

-Martha Haskell Clarke.

One of the reasons we write.


Ric said...


Erik Ivan James said...

A clean new day, a fresh brew of coffee, the pleasantness of Bernita...ahhh.

Bernita said...

Bright Morning to you, Dear Guys.

For The Trees said...

Lordy, Lordy, you really nailed the lure of the Muse. It's really all about the escape into the printed page, the siren call of the enchanting story. And it's all I can do not to live my entire life that way...damn bills intrude all too often.

Thanks for the poem. I appreciate it.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Forrest.
I know the feeling, and the parallel urge to re-create and pass along that enchantment.

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Bonnie Calhoun said...

How beautiful. And now you've permanently ensconced it with a cool picture on your very own blog!

We're all on holiday here in the work till Tuesday. Enjoy our holiday...LOL

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Bernita said...

Thank you, Bonnie. We had our holiday last weekend.

I imagine almost everyone can name the books where they first encountered the essence of this poem - Treasure Island, perhaps, for one -the books of far-away places with the strange sounding names.

Carla said...

A lovely line from a lovely poem. Thank you for posting it.

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Bernita said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Carla.

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