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This is based (loosely) on a real event.


The Black Bridge 

It’s just before dawn as I venture out for the very first time across the meadow at the rear of my new home. I clamber over a rickety wooden stile, and wander warily down the unfamiliar holloway beyond. Down, down, along a steep narrow path clasped between low sandstone cliffs topped by holly, willow, yew, and scrawny oaks, whose roots thrust through the slabs of soft rock, like the arms of the dead stretching out into the half-light, from the village churchyard just a few yards distant.

Don’t be silly. Enjoy the stroll. It’s an adventure.

I’m now at the bottom of the incline, in a broad, flat clearing created over millennia by the scouring actions of the nearby brook. The trees are different here: tall silver birches and slender upright poplars stand like sentinels in a quiet glade carpeted by swathes of wild garlic – while patches of nettles crouch ready to assault the unwary.

Don’t be silly. Enjoy the stroll. It’s an adventure.

It is, as yet, very early and a grey near-stillness carries a light mist just inches above the brook. The soft burbling of the water gambolling over stones competes for attention with the gentle babbling of early risers: a thrush, a robin, a cheerful chaffinch and … oh … what was that?

Come on! Don’t be silly. Enjoy the stroll. It’s an adventure.

The edge of the clearing narrows like a funnel sucking me inward, and there’s no option, but to follow the path as it runs alongside the brook towards a small bridge. Apparently, it’s called New Bridge, but I can see already that it’s no recent construction. As the rays of the sun rising pierce the trees beyond, it stands in shadow, in silhouette. A black bridge. It’s smothered with moss and several bricks have been dislodged by tatty twiglets of buddleia aided by the tough twisted tendrils of ivy. Like the fingers of the dead. And the dead have a long reach.

Don’t be silly. Enjoy the stroll. It’s an adventure.

It seems that there is, indeed, no option, but to follow the path. But wait! Yes! An alternative. I turn around. I re-trace my steps. It’s almost time for breakfast …

Comments
  • Love the imagery and the repetition of chorus. Just the point I wanted to touch upon, where does poetry end and prose begin ( or vice versa)?

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    • Thanks for sharing your work Peter. Anything with trees (specific ones with their own characters as in your poem) attracts me.

      I'd love to explore the poetry/prose continuum question. What do you think might be some of the tests we could apply? For example, poetry using more concentrated language, employing more imagery, more attention to sound and rhythm, and to form on the page, less adherence to full sentences and to a strong narrative (maybe?). But clearly there's a huge area of overlap, and maybe those come down to what the author wants to call their work? 

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      • Hi. I just did a quick online search and found https://keydifferences.com/difference-between-prose-and-poetry.html 

        On the face of it, it reads like an informed piece. However, for me, it muddies the water still further. For example, it includes the line:

        "5. The prose is utilitarian, which conveys a hidden moral, lesson or idea. Conversely, poetry aims to delight or amuse the reader."

        That word. 'Conversely' infers that poetry cannot/should not be used to convey morals, lessons and ideas. I'd call that potentially controversial - particularly given that a lot of earlier poetry aimed to do just that (prayers and hymns?). As both of you (JPK and Catherine) suggest, it's hardly a straightforward issue. Others must have some thoughts.

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        • The distinction usually refers to grammatical structure for prose and metrical rhythm with or without rhyme for poetry.  Prose is typically complete sentences and paragraphs (although people are not so precious about complete sentences these days)   Poetry often breaks the natural order of speech or uses the words in unusual ways, often disturbing the synax, creating small 'gaps' in the text, such that attention is drawn to the language itself.  This focusses the reader's attention on the exact emotion the poet wishes to inspire.  Samuel Taylor Coleridge said that prose is words in their best order; poetry - the best words in the best order, although I'm not sure that's terribly helpful!  Shelley said that poets were 'the unacknowledged legislators of the world' which would seem to imply that poets had some sort of moral or social duty and nobody would deny that some poetry can be very uplifting

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