774 or, Darkling Child
“Two vortices their nuptials swore…”
I’ve been continuing to read Paul Matthews’ excellent book on writing, Sing Me The Creation. One of his various suggestions on how to extend the imagination through writing practice (particularly working together, as a group), is to have a go at rewriting a style of repeated-simile poem, like this famous one:
There was a man of double deed, Who sowed his garden full of seed; When the seed began to grow, ‘Twas like a garden full of snow; When the snow began to melt, ‘Twas like a ship without a belt; When the ship began to sail, ‘Twas like a bird without a tail; When the bird began to fly, ‘Twas like an eagle in the sky; When the sky began to roar, ‘Twas like a lion at my door; When my door began to crack, ‘Twas like a stick across my back; When my back began to smart, ‘Twas like a penknife in my heart; And when my heart began to bleed, ‘Twas death, and death, and death indeed.
It’s strangely compelling and vortex-like, I thought – drawing you into the images, then on to the next, then on to the next. A kind of chain reaction in verse and simile, ending in doooooooooooom.
So it struck me that it might be a suitable vehicle to write about a science story from last week – that of the’discovery’ (if that’s the right word – it happened a while ago) that during the Middle Ages (774-775, to be precise) a kind of ‘Cosmic Burst’ (or Bang – you decide) hit the Earth. And now, scientists are in more accord that it was due to two black holes or neutron stars merging in our galaxy – sending a big ol’ Gamma Ray-Fest our way (Hulk references, anyone?).
However, it seems it barely even ruffled any tunics, or whatever it was that folks were wearing at that time (which would have varied a great deal globally, of course). Instead, it deposited some unusual radiation signatures in the ice of Antarctica and the cedar trees of Japan, only now being deciphered. And this is what has led to accord about the distant union of two black holes/neutron stars. Anyway, the link is at the bottom of the page – I shan’t mangle the science any further here.
But before that, my take on the simile-vortex verse form – using this news story as a starting point. (Perhaps black holes in verse require such a vortex/vortices, form and subject aligning?) I tried to stay true to the form as much as possible, including a ‘dreich’ and bleak repetitive ending. I hope you enjoy it…
or, Darkling Child
In seven-hundred and seventy-four,
Two vortices their nuptials swore;
As they swore, the rings did shatter,
Twas like a child of darkling matter;
When that child swam through the dark,
Twas like a silent toothless shark;
When that shark began to bite,
Twas like a breath in dead of night;
When that breath it ceased to blow,
Twas like a wilting flake of snow;
When that snow began to melt,
Twas like a kiss that was not felt;
When that kiss began to frown,
Twas like the seas turned upside-down;
When the seas began to wave,
Twas like the turning of a grave;
And when that grave it did open,
Twas over and over and over again.
And so to the original BBC Science story by Rebecca Morelle:
#similes #radiation #radioactive #beryllium10 #astronomy #RebeccaMorelle #neutronstar #astronomicalphenomenon #poetry #carbon14 #poem #verse #blackholes #sciencepoetry #medieval #GammaRayBurst #SingMeTheCreation #BBCScience