Her dress of bombazine was wrapped
around her mottled body like a shroud,
her hair was winter-dark, a raven trapped
in the violent weir, so cold and loud.
She lived apart, contemptuous and proud,
believed to be a wanton witch, a lonely
wanderer on the heath, at one with cloud,
rain, moon and stars. She was the only
night dancer on the barrow, a comely
beauty craving freedom and desire.
Fragrant with gorse and deemed unholy,
she haunts the heath, pale face and raven hair.
Kim M. Russell, 6th October 2020
My response to dVerse Poets Pub Poetics: You want it darker
A big welcome to Lucy, our guest host for this Tuesday’s poetics. She says that October is one of the best times to celebrate the glory of dark themes and imagery in poetry, and gives us examples from Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Shadow on the Stone’ and Edgar Allan Poe’s ballad ‘To Ulalume’, both of which, as Lucy points out, explore grief and the idea of not wanting to look back.
Today we are writing ballads about the transient notion of life to death, or topics germane to the theme. Ballads typically consist of four-line quatrains with a rhyme scheme in either ABABBCBC form or another alternate of that form such as ABCB or ABAB – it’s up to us, along with how many stanzas we write.
I re-worked a poem I wrote back in 2016, about Eustacia Vye, a character in Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native.