Of the apple, rotten to its core
Of gleaming realms decaying in the wake
Of terror, mass-destruction, debt and war
That then caused mankind’s foundations to shake.
Of mistrust, fear, corruption and deceit;
Of Earth and human nature, good and ill;
Ten years of violence, crime, atrocious feats
Committed by those who exploit free will.
Ten years that shaped a poet’s life and words
Success and sorrow, solitude and love;
An unrelenting passage through a world
Both helped and hindered by all things above.
Oh Muse, let not my young years be dismissed—
I have but lived a rambling rustic score
Beneath the gaze of Kings—I bid you list
Where my words will be whispered evermore.
A Milton not of mill towns but of hills
Like Barnes and Hardy led through Wessex Lanes
A man of worthy words and winding rills
Whose rural life by avarice is stained.
Memory! Fail me not, but let me see
Beyond the haze and gaze of those before,
O’er Mendip, Dorset Downs and Glastonbury,
To altitudes of Aeolian awe.
Dear reader triumph not in life’s disasters,
Be not unmoved by suffering and pain
Read what was done, by whom, and wonder after
Whether life can continue just the same.
There’s little I can change in modest verse,
This history holds but one didactic charm:
Change the world for better, not for worse
And close the stubborn door on years of harm;
I write in hope of happiness, health and calm.
* * *
Ten days of Autumn stole into the world
And I returned to noble school pursuits
With little fear or worry in my heart.
Pensive boy: enthralled by Summer’s embers,
Restlessly dreaming of odysseys gone
To darkling moors and warm littoral sand,
Keeper of a blithe and youthful mind,
Captive to the ocean’s ebb and flow
And rural bonds of homely love alone,
Yours were the final throes of blameless bliss,
The simple earth, a lucid life since lost.
Somnolence can never last forever:
Grieving for a close grand matriarch,
A Hibernian Muse unparalleled
In wit and loving care, demanded strength
And, single figures gone, long leafy lanes
Could harbour such a boy little longer.
Nine months—less: ’til June the following year
Were mine to grow, to prove my worth and leave;
Age and time demanded greater knowledge,
New faces, forums, large amphitheatres.
These were then beyond remit and mind:
Transpositions past all those then perceived.
But as the bell that tolls chimes for us all,
And ripples disperse from the pebble thrown
In fits of rage and malice from afar,
The world as known was shaken, shattered, bruised
By New York City’s flaming, falling towers.
For, Babel like, yet at the hand of man,
A proud nation’s glittering spires fell
Confounding all four corners of the Earth.
The eleventh of September saw dark Hell
Return the globe to chaos and conflict
Unseen in over sixty years since war
Threatened to terminate mankind for good.
Oh evil churlish men! What agonies
Must you inflict on fellow man?
Samsons from all seasons, sides, époques
Are claimed and crushed in West and East alike.
Was not one fall enough to see the fault?
We seem’d determined to resign ourselves
To second state of envy, blood and hate;
Two toppl’ng tow’rs, when selfishly destroyed,
Undermined hopes of an Edenic state.
A child returned to have this chaos eek
From moving image into heart and soul:
Memory fragments, metal shards imbibed
And drunk unwillingly through enfant eyes.
What words might best describe existence since
Than anger, fear and sadness, death and war?
In days revenge was waged anew on him
With whom responsibility seemed to fall
Thousands of miles away across great seas
And deserts; an elusive figure, Bin
Laden was named and soon all Hell ensued.
“What made him send those young men off to die?”
“Suicide bombs or brainwashed murderers?”
“How can we stop this happening again?”
“Is any place on earth considered safe?”
Murmured questions hung on every lip;
Whispering women soothed unknowing babes
Unknowing what the future held themselves.
For that is what terror prescribes to do.
To shake, to doubt, to question and to stop
Actions others envy and disapprove.
A War on Terror?—An oxymoron;
Fire fighting fire fighting fire
‘Till all are burnt and all resigned to lose.
Still in rural calm, young minds perceived
The world had changed, digressed on roads all new.
A father’s fear was intangibly felt;
Innocent anxiety, deep and dark
Half-eased and quelled in fierce loving embrace,
All while macabre jets of light laid waste
To Afghan men, women and children far
Beyond the realms of infant cognisance.
And daily torrents, hails of bullets flew:
Fountains of fire streamed all around the world;
Visceral libations floridly hurled
By morbid media to quench our minds,
Satisfy unsavoury appetites,
Until this daily death and destruction
Made us impervious to Afghan plights.
A captain, Hamid Khazi, was sworn in,
To steady a nation which was breaking,
Almost unnoticed by the wider world—
His steering brave, unfeared, yet Hamletic:
Taking arms against a sea of troubles
That broiled and brothed far out of his control.
Within a month another vice arose
As if to warn of what was yet to come.
The price of Avarice and Greed supplanted
Deeds of War that raged afar elsewhere;
The blind and stumbling Cyclops, Enron Corp.
Collapsed and died, it seemed, at No-one’s hands
In the vein of that old Polyphemus.
The guilty few who tumbled cared little:
While those left fleeced would suffer evermore.
Soon int’rest here, too, waned like aging moons:
Our local screens proclaimed a global news
Skewed to the supposed int’rest of the main,
That sowed unconscious, silent ignorance
Of agony, deep hurt and destruction
Like holy fire through society.
So closed a year that left the world on edge:
An occidental civilisation
Had creaked and heaved as if in Portland’s Race.
A Rome, Carthage and Greece that stumbles on,
Connected? Logged on? Yes—but not to life.
To money. Moral worries all unheard
As Christmas light and song brought distraction.
At midnight, at Burn’s Auld Lang Syne we cheered
To welcome in a palindromic year.
~ Written by John Blackmore
Logodaedalus is a modern-day epic poem, written by the Somerset-based Poet John Blackmore. With his permission, we have serialised the poem, and will be bringing you further instalments over the coming weeks. Keep an eye out for book II in this epic.
About the poet
John Blackmore is a singer, songwriter, poet and English teacher based in Somerset. Much of his music and writing draws on his experiences of, and interactions with, the people and places of his native west country. In 2011, John was a semi-finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award and, in 2014, he contributed music and literary comment to a BBC Radio 4 documentary concerning the Victorian Dorset Dialect poet William Barnes.