Highly Commended Poem

26-Nov-2019


Autumn Poetry Competition 2019

Highly Commended Poem

Louise Charlotte Ballantine for 'A Pause'


Iron-black gates

Blue anchors

Cool to my touch

Mark my transition;

Busy street

To cool green underworld,

Sun heated traffic

Replaced by birdsong,

and the stutter of leaves in the breeze.

White stones and straight paths,

Yet trees soar unchecked

My heart lifts to

The canopy of branches above me.

Dear William Boyd still sleeps 

Beside his son and infant daughter

Gravestone faded by sun and rain

Our lives passing swiftly

Trees reaching, stretching

Living slowly.

I stop to rest my hand

On furrowed bark

And I breathe the damp leafy air

I just exist

For

This

Moment.


Judge Charlie Durante's Comments:

"Blake once wrote ‘There’s a moment in each day which Satan cannot find.’  This poem celebrates one of those moments.  The speaker leaves the busy world behind and enters a graveyard where birdsong and ‘the stutter of leaves’ are the only sounds.  The poem begins rather forbiddingly with the ‘Iron-black gates’ but the ominous colour gives way to ‘blue anchors’, reminiscent of the sea (are we in a cemetery where naval personnel are buried?) and then to the white stones of the tombs.  The meditation dwells lovingly on small but intimate details: the mention of ‘Dear William Boyd’ with his son and infant daughter personalises the poem, and the general observation that ‘our lives (pass) swiftly’ is contrasted with the ‘living slowly’ of the trees.  The poem is beautifully spread out on the page with short lines emphasising the different stages of the speaker’s thinking.  As we approach the close of the poem we encounter truncated lines ‘I just exist/for/this/moment.’  The single words read like an epitaph:  we are resigned to the idea of death, burial but also undisturbed peace."