Wednesday, March 28, 2012


                (long weekend return on the 1Kings Highway)

                ‘not road works again!’
                a girl with her arm out of the window flicks cigarette ash
                car-doors open at the front of the queue
                engines turn off, a car pulls-up behind
                ‘what’s the hold-up, mate?’

                the fellow behind who tailgated up the 2Clyde
                talks at an open window
                ‘an unscheduled rest stop … ’
                someone’s mobile rings
                ‘it will be a couple of hours, …’

                some start eating lunch
                ‘remember you have a book under the seat’
                one guy is boiling water at the side of the road
                others turn their cars around
                a bit hard for campervans and those with boats

                ‘it could be some time yet, I’ll ring home again … ’
                an arc of people gather further up the road
                then the heavy thump of rotor blades
                chopping the Sunday morning air
                ‘thankfully, the bend and queue hide’

                at last there is much movement
                a rush to return to cars, the relief palpable
                an immediate cortege
                slow, serious momentum
                the long line of vehicles show respect

                ‘don’t look! ’ she says
                (I know she will,
                and of course, she knows I will)
                momentum increases
                the day restarts

                but for unsuspecting family and friends
                the worst of news awaits
                Richard Scutter 15 March 2012

Footnotes …

1 ... The Kings Highway connects Canberra to the South New South Wales coastal town of Batemans Bay (160km). Long weekend refers to a holiday weekend.
2 ...The Clyde Mountain rises from the coastal side of the journey and at this stage the Kings Highway has many hairpin bends.

The accident involved a double fatality. One person survived and was air-lifted by helicopter to Canberra hospital.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Song of Mr Toad - Kenneth Grahame

 The world has great heroes,
As history books have showed;
But never a name to go down in fame
Compared with that of Toad!

The clever men at Oxford
Know all that there is to be knowed,
But they none of them knew one half as much
As intelligent Mr Toad!

The animals sat in the Ark and cried,
Their tears in torrents flowed.
Who was it said, ‘There's land ahead'?
Encouraging Mr Toad!

The army all saluted
As they marched along the road.
Was it the King or Kitchener?
No. It was Mr Toad!

The Queen and her ladies-in-waiting
Sat at the window and sewed.
She cried, ‘Look! who's that handsome man?'
They answered ‘Mr Toad'.

Kenneth Grahame
(Wind in the Willows)

There is something beautiful about ugly toad. Unshamedly proud, he is the sort of animal to wear a bowtie in bed at night in case water rat sees him through the curtains.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Brook - Tennyson: analysis

I come from haunts of coot and hern,

Personification I=the brook
Eight syllables, Four iambic feet (Tetrameter)
Coots and hern – where water birds live … haunts gives a mystery to the origin of the brook
Alliteration H and H

I make a sudden sally

Six syllables three iambic feet (Trimeter)
Short and direct with emphasis on the S alliteration and the sound
of water … sally = to set out from a place to do something

And sparkle out among the fern,

Back to eight syllables
You can almost see the water coming out of the greenery into sunlight
Another S

to bicker down a valley.

Then six syllables again
Bicker = argue … the water when in a rush is in conflict with anything in its way

Q1 … Why is bicker a better choice of word than argue?

The lines flow between tetrameter and trimeter with rhyming scheme abab. The brook flows slow in long text and then fast by using short text.

The iambic 8-6 syllable variation and abab rhyme scheme set the musical pattern of the poem.

By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorps, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.

Thorp = a village or hamlet

Q2 … How do the numbers add to the poem?

More H H alliteration
Look at the close rhyming … one letter variation.

Q3 … Does this add to the reading?

Till last by Philip's farm I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

The last three lines become a repetition (refrain) throughout the poem. They appear in 4 stanzas and they all have the same rhyme words (flow, river, go ever). Repetition increases the chance that readers will remember words.

Q4 … What do these words say about the poet?
Q5 … Why was Philip chosen?

I chatter over stony ways,
In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying bays,
I babble on the pebbles.

the brook speaks
musical terms introduced (sharps and trebles) … related to the brook … a double meaning … the close quick syllables emulate the brook

With many a curve my banks I fret
By many a field and fallow,
And many a fairy foreland set
With willow-weed and mallow.

Q6 … why is fret better than say, erode?

F and W alliteration
fallow = ploughed and harrowed left for a while to restore
foreland = an area of land bordering on another … the bank becomes a set for fairies
mallow – herbaceous plant with hairy stems … pink or purple flowers (fairy colours)

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling,

repetition of here and there

grayling = edible fresh water fish, silver-grey

And here and there a foamy flake
Upon me, as I travel
With many a silvery waterbreak
Above the golden gravel,

more alliteration

And draw them all along, and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I steal by lawns and grassy plots,
I slide by hazel covers;
I move the sweet forget-me-nots
That grow for happy lovers.

I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
Against my sandy shallows.

The brook exhibits great life here with the multiple I statements … as though proud of its ability … and much S alliteration

Q7 … in what sense are the sunbeams netted?

I murmur under moon and stars
In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars;
I loiter round my cresses;

shingly provides the sound of the water as well as defining the nature of the bars

Q8 … what is the difference between linger and loiter?

And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

Again the last three lines are a repetition from an earlier stanza.

Q9 … How important is the contrast between nature and humanity?

Q10 … Tennyson was greatly influenced by the death of a close friend … how could this be reflected in these words?

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

Above annotation looks at the ‘music’ generated within this poem by using some of the poetic techniques listed below …

Rhyme (masculine) – repetition of the accented vowel sound … called masculine when only one syllable is involved (grow/flow)

Rhyme (feminine)… when two syllables are involved (frightful/spiteful)

Half rhyme – where only the one syllable of a two syllable words rhyme (shallows/swallows)

Rhythm – the syllables and the accent placed on each syllable so that a pattern occurs (Iambic = unaccented then accented … I SHOUT this To all AND sunDRY)

Alliteration – the repetition of initial consonant sounds (fright/fresh)

Consonance – the repetition of final consonant sounds (first/thirst)

Assonance – the repetition of vowel sounds (gravel/travel)

Word repetition – strings of words or sentences as in a refrain

Thought …

It has been said that all art is giving structure to two elements – repetition and variation … do you agree?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Initiation - Don Nicol

with blade held high he wept to spy
the wound that he’d inflicted
on flesh so bare, just lying there
completely unrestricted.

with resolve awry, he wiped one eye
and laid the knife aside
in utter gloom he fled the room
and hung his head and cried

in vain he prayed to get some aid
for what he had to do
‘It is my task’, he said at last
and raised the dirk anew

he cut and thrust as he knew he must
until the deed was done
then stood aside to view with pride
a plate of diced onion

Don Nicol

from Intriguing Yarns Odes Poems (Anthology)

An anthology of creative works by senior citizens garnered through the Canberra Tradesmen’s Union Club of the ACT in the International Year of Older Persons (1999).

The mind is led astray in the opening stanzas. It is not till the closing line that there is the clarification. There is wonderful rhyme and half rhyme in each line. A great choice in words – especially awry it fits the occasion perfectly … as so many in the kitchen that attack onions will readily appreciate!

dirk = long, dagger, formerly worn by Scottish Highlanders
awry = crooked; deviant or unsound

... chop - cry ... this always tends to happen at some stage when cutting onions  ... what is the best approach?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Post-Op Respite

                         all seats are vacant in the courtyard
                        a few dishevelled cushions,
                        the garden at peace with itself

                        she has been waiting for it to be over

                        for the day after yesterday
                        now there is time,
                        an immensity of time to each measured movement

                        she shuffles slowly forward
                        steadies at the sliding door, grasps the handle
                        gradually the door slides creating space

                        she has a clear determined focus
                        (I’m glad no nurse has come to help,
                         and there is no one around to interfere)

                        there is ample space now
                        and her dressing-gowned frame
                        takes the few steps needed

                        on reaching the closest chair
                        she slowly makes her comfort known
                        as she recovers from her exertion

                        a sigh sags through her body,
                        and as if seeing blue sky for the first time
                        she appreciates every detail

                        absorbing the spring sunshine
                        she gives an internal thank-you,
                        a thank-you meaningful beyond words

                        her contentment dissolves to a doze,
                        but before drifting exhausted to total sleep
                        she is gently disturbed …

                        the sliding doors click-shut
                        patient and nurse disappear
                        the courtyard reclaims the empty seat

Richard Scutter 15 September 2011