Purple prose of yore

photo of the tomb of Olivier de Clisson (d. 1407), Notre Dame du Roncier, France, by Edwin Rae/Trinity College Dublin

photo of John, 14th Earl of Arundel (d. 1435) by flambard

The longer I don't update this blog, the more difficult it becomes to come back. Mostly this is because I get caught up in endless research and self-editing, which then leads to procrastination, frustration with my topic and a subsequent search for another topic...effectively extinguishing flames of interest at every turn. Bad.

As a perverse antidote to my debilitating, wrong-headed and ultimately fruitless quest for perfection I offer here an unvarnished piece of my early "creative writing," unearthed on a visit to my mother's today.
Written when I was 16, the piece was a last gasp of my long-abiding medievalist fancies. Heavy-handed and adolescent and... I still kind of like it! It appeared in my high school literary magazine.

I marveled at the effigies
lined up along the wall,
of kings and queens and poets,
bowed equal to Death's call.

Marble rendered pious, brass,
and fragile filigree,
each erased and broken
by countless centuries.

There was but one small window,
casting a wearied light,
recounting a soul's lone passage
to Hell, its tormented flight.

The solitary casement
suffused its jeweled glow
into gray, sepulchral darkness,
rising from below.

Painfully etched in stone
sanctae of the dead,
nisi dominus, frustra*
was all that could be read.

And I noticed as I passed
by each neglected tomb
that moss crept slowly over them
imperceptible in the gloom.

* This translates to "Except the Lord in Vain" or "Everything is in vain without the Lord" and is evidently the motto of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland.
While I have no recollection of where I picked this up, I undoubtedly read the phrase somewhere and thought it was cool.


Sophie Munns said...

Impressive effort for a 16 yr old Angela!

Maybe others are expecting to be gob-smacked each and every time they flick over to (what is this?) but I assure you - your crumbs, abbreviated entries and posts containing simply images would no doubt keep more than myself very glad to have visited.
Your blog has a certain mood that takes one somewhere... readers understand if time or energy is short!
Evidence of the wordsmith you are will come through, even the rushed off post ...I am sure!

angela said...

Thank you SO much-- what a wonderful message to get and good for me to keep in mind.
Thanks for your kind words.

David Zaza said...

I call myself a poet every single day and I wish I could've written something this good when I was 16! I have enough trepidation about posting new poems on my blog -- believe me when I say I would NEVER EVER post something from my adolescence. They're all terrible! But yours here is quite lovely. And I agree with Sophie about mood and time and energy and this blog.

Sophie Munns said...

Ok..that's 2 of us for a start!
Angela...keep posting! I have not discovered another blog quite like yours...so..small bursts will work too!


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