Too sere1 moths
– Ah! To meld –
Arcing in ebony.
I wish to melt
‘Til – little moths –
I say ‘No!’
Benign, I cradle moth ash to
Notes and comments
1. Sere: Withered, dry
I wasn’t going to write any more palindromes, but since doing this website I have caught the bug again. This poem took about 3 hours. I had a few more fragments but I couldn’t quite work them into it. Perhaps I’ll return and expand it.
The poem was inspired by a walk around the field next to my house, which has few deer in it. The starting point was ‘…deer field, idle I freed…’, which I noticed on the walk, but at the very end I decided the deer took the focus away from the moth image which had become central to the poem.
I am quite pleased with the degree of cohesion. The idea is of the poet seeing moths flying around in the evening, wanting to join them – to delight in the freedom of flight. Then something happens – who knows what – and he is left with a handful of moth ash, perhaps literal, perhaps metaphorical.
I am aware that this sort of thing is difficult to pull off, so I’ll try to give a brief description of the process:
As I said, the kernel was ‘deer field, idle I freed’. For me, ‘idle’ set the tone, and because I had taken this particular walk at dusk, as the light dims and things blur, the general feeling of languor and transformation was in my mind. This meant that whatever words I found with palindromic potential as the poem developed, I would dismiss them if they jarred with this tone.
I quickly came up with ‘Ah! To meld in a deer field, idle, I freed an idle moth, a…’ I then did a bit of brainstorming of words associated with moths – wings, flutter, etc. So, as well as excluding unsuitable words, I actively try and harvest apt words and check their reversible potential.
I also had another fragment based on ‘cradle’, as this and ‘idle’ are the two obvious words to use with ‘field':
…eld, arcing in ebb benign, I cradle
This naturally led to the image of cradling a moth. I then rearranged the structure and got to this stage:
‘…moths Ah! To meld, arcing in eb…
…to meld in a deer field, idle, I freed an idle moths…
…benign I cradle moth ash to m…
This left me with the two hardest parts: Trying to knit together middle fragments, and finding a satisfactory ending. The middle join contains the weakest part of the poem, ‘I say No’, but it just about works. For the end/beginning, it took me about 5 or 10 minutes to hit upon ‘mere soot / too sere m’. The mental process was basically allowing my brain to flick through m words, and as soon as I thought of mere I also saw soot / too sere.
Finally I solved ‘an idle moths’ by scrapping the ‘deer field’ and pinching the ‘melt till little’ from my palindrome ‘amatory rota’. A bit of a cheat, but I was getting tired…