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Rite of Passage

by James Graham 

Posted: 03 March 2009
Word Count: 88
Summary: A new version of a poem I wrote several years ago.

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Rite of Passage

Late in an autumn day, when even on this hill
the air is still, I wait. Northeastward
the city shines, but I turn toward the land.

The nearer stands of grey or lichened beech
recede to distant blue; then the level sea.
In my head I hear the tide. Now ghosts

are gathering here; I am expecting them.
Stock-still in the sober gateway of death
they linger, looking back; like me

they cannot cease to see the drowsing sky,
the sweet horizon tipsy with bramble-mist.

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Comments by other Members

V`yonne at 22:17 on 03 March 2009  Report this post
A stilll and compelling place of in between, of half light and changing season - I loved the
horizon tipsy with bramble-mist.
and the contrasting
the sober gateway of death

FelixBenson at 11:40 on 04 March 2009  Report this post
I agree with Oonah, compelling sense of an inbetween place...Especially these disquieting line in the very centre of the poem of life and death.

In my head I hear the tide. Now ghosts

are gathering here; I am expecting them.

This is rather beautiful too:

the drowsing sky
. Quite uplifting to imagine all these figures turning to look at the same beautiful horizon.

tinyclanger at 12:21 on 05 March 2009  Report this post
This is so lovely and contemplative..words and phrases that create a mood, a real atmosphere which I was experiencing as a sensory thing. 'Sober' is the word, yet rich, too. And gentle - with words like 'level', 'still', 'recede', 'drowsing'.

You say it's a reworking, James - might you have put the original up on WW - as I find something familiar in it? Like it's a place I've been to before, almost!!
The last line is a real tour-de force. Gorgeous!


James Graham at 16:05 on 06 March 2009  Report this post
Thanks to all. tc, it's in the archive - 'Strathclyde Suite' part 3. Part 2 is 'Tribe', now published as a separate piece.


freynolds at 10:00 on 07 March 2009  Report this post

I can hear both peace and torment in this poem. Majestically composed, a troubled serenity comes through.

I have also looked at the archived version (part 3) and there is part of a line I like there;"where the land falls away." It evokes both the end of the land falling into the sea and life slipping into another world.

Very inspiring work!


James Graham at 21:29 on 13 March 2009  Report this post
Thanks for your comment, Fabienne. 'The land falls away' I like too - but it will have to stay in limbo, I'm afraid.

There's a curious thing about the last line - it really did seem to compose itself. No thought went into it, it simply 'appeared' in finished form. I wonder if other WW poets have had that experience? All my instincts are against 'automatic writing'; there must be some semi-conscious thought process going on. But sometimes a line or an image seems to arrive out of nowhere.


Tina at 09:36 on 15 March 2009  Report this post
Hello James I know I am late to this but have been having a bit of a break from poems and posting and perusing ( as you know!)

I like the lingering nature of this - the way the writer and then the reader are held in time - in a vacuous moment - absorbed by the scenery and the memory and the time. I especially like this:

Now ghosts

are gathering here; I am expecting them.
Stock-still in the sober gateway of death
they linger, looking back; like me

the sense of hovering between two worlds and yet being part of both of them. I too like the last two lines and absolutley know what you mean about lines composing themselves! In a very slight way though they are almost too good/ too rich for this poem which is about greys and half greys and pink greys and fading light - just a thought!!!

Really enjoyed thanks

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