Daily Archives: 1 November 2021

November verse 1

Since 2010, inspired by National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I’ve had a project of writing fourteen 14-line stanzas each November. Even though my favourite stanza form is an Onegin stanza and not a sonnet, I called this project LoSoRhyMo – Local Sonnet Rhyming Month.

If you want to read past Novembers’ verses you can click on the LoSoRhyMo tag at the bottom of this blog post. Or you could go to my Publications page and buy one of the six little books made up from these and others of my adventures in verse. All but one of these excellent volumes are self-published. The exception, None of Us Alone, is a kind of Best Of published by Ginninderra Press, and I have to thank Tricia Dearborn for her help in selecting the poems for inclusion in it.

Here goes for 2021

November verse 1: The swimming pools have re-opened

So good to be back in the water.
I like to see it lap the Tiles
as I swim laps or when granddaughter
clamps her lips around her smiles
to keep it out. First thing this morning
in the slow lane, I'm relearning
other bodies aren't a threat,
even unmasked, bare and wet.
After bushfires, epicormic
shoots adorn the trunks of gums
like bloomers on their legs and bums.
Post-lockdown, thanks to hypodermic
double vaccination rates,
we put on hope. We tempt our fates.

A note for readers who noticed the Emily Dickinson reference: for no reason I can think of, the actual Emily Dickinson line (with ‘Miles’ instead of ‘Tiles’) often hounds me like a non-musical ear-worm while I’m swimming laps, so I had to include it here, however awkwardly.

Starting the Iliad

Homer, The Iliad (Translated by Robert Fagles, with notes and an introduction by Bernard Knox, ©1990, Penguin 1998)

It’s more than a week since I finished reading The Prelude, and I’m already missing reading a couple of pages from a classic text first thing every morning. I’ve decided to take on Homer’s Iliad, which definitely fits the definition of a classic as a book that you can’t read for the first time. My copy of Robert Fagles’s translation was a Christmas gift a while back and has been begging for attention from my sagging To Be Read shelf ever since.

This is my first crack at the actual Iliad, but I have read many fragments, versions and variations of it. Here’s a list of the ones I remember:

  • Kingsley’s Heroes, the Argonauts Club and the Queensland School Readers – from my parents, the ABC and primary school respectively – all told stories of Achilles, and almost certainly some parts of the Iliad
  • The Classics Illustrated comic some time in the 1950s
  • Book 2 of The Aeneid, Virgil’s account of the fall of Troy, which I studied in high school
  • Alice Oswald’s Memorial, subtitled ‘an excavation of The Iliad‘, which presents only the deaths from Homer’s poem (here’s a link to my blog post)
  • The 28 minute version in Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics (link to the podcast)
  • Pat Barker’s Silence of the Girls, which tells the story from the point of view of a captured woman (link to my blog post)
  • David Malouf’s Ransom, which I’m pretty sure I haven’t read, but I feel as if I know it intimately from reading and hearing about it.

I made a start on it this morning. So far I’ve read the translator’s note and I’m part way through the learned Introduction by Bernard Knox. Getting excited already. I’ll report back in a month.