Login   Sign Up 


All Your Days

by Swoo 

Posted: 01 July 2007
Word Count: 114

Font Size

Printable Version
Print Double spaced

All your days

Not you, but us
moving out of the harbour.
Cold hands haul knots and rope,
we shout ‘Farewell’ and wave and weep
for this day. The horizon will not return us and you will
sleep without dreaming of boats or storms or summer clouds.

Not you, but us
becoming mimes, charades,
our voices gone. Your son
a blur of ladybirds and tricks, his hair
a cloak on wizard shoulders. He’s away
backwards through your garden. Stop. Rewind, rewind

this day. Bring the boat safely in, our faces raw and wet with salt and rage,
our nets alive with your days to give back to you: all your days, all your days.

Favourite this work Favourite This Author

Comments by other Members

joanie at 12:06 on 02 July 2007  Report this post
Swoo, I really enjoyed the feel of this. I like the pattern of it on the page and the circular feel with the repetitions.

I need more time to comment meaningfully, as I think there is so much here.

I'll be back!


James Graham at 20:20 on 03 July 2007  Report this post
This is an extraordinary poem. The language strikes me first, as being very strong, very powerful. There's something in every line, but I could single out such phrases as

The horizon will not return us

becoming mimes, charades,
our voices gone.

our nets alive with your days

which cause a sharp intake of breath, they're so striking and original.

The form too - the way each section expands with lengthening lines, as if something initially held in check is being liberated. There's no sense in the long lines that you have added a single unnecessary word as a filler; nor any sense that the long lines, especially the last two, could possibly work if they were split up in any way. Form and meaning are together - something that can be hard to achieve, but it happens here.

But before I go any further, I need to check something with you. I'm ninety-odd percent sure this is about a premature death, and that it expresses a longing to 'rewind' time and restore life to the dead person - especially to give her/him a full span, all the days he/she has lost.

If I'm wrong, tell me. It will be due to my misreading, and not the fault of the poem. But I don't want to toddle blissfully down the wrong path. With that cleared up, I'll be able to rhapsodise more freely on the poem's qualities.


joanie at 20:25 on 03 July 2007  Report this post
Well, Swoo, I'm back! I keep reading and re-reading, enjoying it more every time, but I can't analyse why!

I love the sea references and particularly The horizon will not return us. Actually, I am coming to the conclusion that I don't need to work out why! As I said, I love the pattern of it on the page. I don't know why these things are important to me, but I just love it.

No doubt somebody wiser than I am will be able to tell me.



I wrote this as James was posting!!

Swoo at 13:39 on 05 July 2007  Report this post
Hi James and Joanie
firstly thanks for your comments and time - James you're absolutely right about the subject matter. I'll leave it at that for now...
secondly - hopefully I'll be more of a contributor to WW in terms of giving feedback to others now that I've finished a year of writing drama.

Okkervil at 19:18 on 07 July 2007  Report this post
Yeah, this is astonishing. Absolutely striking mesmerising. 'll sit and read it over for a while and see if anything more sage appears in my head, but I doubt I'll come up with an improvement, won't try.

James Graham at 22:38 on 07 July 2007  Report this post
Good. I'm glad I read the poem in a way that was reasonably close to your own intentions. My ninety-something percent certainty now goes up to a hundred. I'd just like to add a few comments to what I said before.

I think your sustained metaphor of a ship leaving harbour is very well judged and handled. This is no ordinary departure - it reminds me of emigrant ships in the past and the finality of farewells that were said or felt by those people then. Your reversal of roles - it's the mourners, not the deceased, who are leaving harbour, sailing beyond a horizon that will not send them back - is another subtlety of this metaphor, one that immediately rings true to me.

I like the way you merge vehicle and tenor - the metaphorical side of the metaphor and the actuality it represents - I mean especially in the lines

Cold hands haul knots and rope,
we shout 'Farewell' and wave and weep
for this day.

In the first of these lines, the casting-off of the ship (part of the metaphor) and the lowering of cords at the graveside (part of the actuality) seem to merge in a way that makes us think of both equally at the same time. In the next line, 'Shout Farewell and wave’ isn't something that literally happens at the graveside, but I can easily see it as the inner, silent, passionate, even angry farewells of the mourners. Then, 'weep/ for this day' is a simple, beautiful phrase which also seems to exist within the metaphor as well as in actuality - I mean, it works as part of the metaphor, it can be the sad voyagers leaving home for ever as well as the graveside mourners. It's a motif, too, which returns in the last line...in a major key.

The continuation of the metaphor in the second stanza, the sense of unbridgeable distance created by 'mimes, charades,/ our voices gone' is strong. And the resolution of the whole thing, in the return of the ship with a great haul of 'days to give back to you', is very moving. Moving, but also satisfying, because (for me anyway) there's a strong sense that this is how the poem ought to end. An aesthetic satisfaction, I suppose.

There’s even more to be said - e.g. the partly figurative sketch of the child is vivid - but taking it as a whole, this is a poem with all of its parts in working order.


joanie at 09:09 on 11 July 2007  Report this post
Hi Swoo. Thanks for the link; that makes it all the better.



Elsie at 23:06 on 12 July 2007  Report this post
Swoo, I meant to comment the other night - then followed your link and ended up following the link to the other 'modern amazons' and trailing off to bed weepy but astounded by ...everything.

I think everyone's already pointed out the wonderfulness of this. I particularly love

Your son
a blur of ladybirds and tricks, his hair
a cloak on wizard shoulders. He’s away
backwards through your garden. Stop. Rewind, rewind

this day.

And I think that reversal, the swapping of exactly who is leaving, is brilliant.

James Graham at 19:26 on 13 July 2007  Report this post
Thank you for the link to the obituary. Suzy Barratt was clearly very gifted and very creative. There's nothing out of the ordinary in readers knowing the background to a poem - it deepens our understanding of the poem's roots, its sources. We know the background to many classic poems. But the best still stand alone, even if we don't know the background - as I think yours does.

I know what you mean about casting around for images, every image that occurs to you seeming trite. But you found the right imagery. The return of the ship with nets 'alive with your days' is breathtaking. And the more I think about 'Not you, but us' - not you going away, but us - the more the idea strikes me as a true insight, one that would be recognised and acknowledged by many readers. The feelings that come through are very strong - and very definitely both sorrow and anger. It all adds up to a very fine poem.


Tina at 10:05 on 29 July 2007  Report this post
Swoo as ever I am late to this and much comment has been made already by those better advised than me but I would like to say that poems such as this are so important not only for our own personal grief process but also for that of others - in such cases the poem really does become a vehicle for collective mourning. I loved your departing images but especially the rewind lines.

Thanks for your work

Ticonderoga at 15:03 on 26 August 2007  Report this post
It's all been said, but I agree that this is a very powerful poem which expresses its thoughts and emotions in extremely fresh and arresting language.



DeepBlueGypsy at 22:44 on 07 October 2007  Report this post
Having just lost a dear friend in a tragic car crash, I feel this poem through my pores into my blood and it settled into my bones, I have tissues strewn across my keyboard now, thank you for posting it! I feel the intensity and ache of the words more than I can think about the technical aspects to it. Wonderful! Sorry for your loss, from the obits she is a gem that will always shine brightly in the hearts of many.

To post comments you need to become a member. If you are already a member, please log in .