Reflections/poem biography for This Holy Shrine

This Holy Shrine smaller

“We are not pilgrims. Our feet ache, tempers
stumble in the Venetian heat. We seek…”

Once we were close, then we got closer.

This poem was inspired by a trip to Venice with my husband, our first foreign holiday for just the two of us since our children were born. Inevitably, over a decade filled with nappies, weaning, and parenting early teenage angst, a relationship changes. Setting years of marriage against the honeymoon destination of Venice, and young love’s Romeo and Juliet (those pilgrim palms), this was always going to be a poem of contrasts. But how else does one know how far one has come without placing the journey in the context of its starting point?

For me, nothing in life is so certain that it can safely be taken for granted, not even the longest-standing relationship. Each day, we are in some way foreigners – exploring each other’s geography and mindscapes.

But life and love aren’t just about the things in common, the things enjoyed, the pleasures shared. Perhaps the things that bind us bind as strongly, if not more strongly, for the trials and tribulations survived together.

Electric Questions - lit version smallerDiscussion Point

Is it obvious that this 12-line poem was once a sonnet, with its concluding couplet then removed? What are the dangers of ending a poem with a concluding or summarising couplet? How would you choose to end this poem?

Writing Prompt

Think about a memorable holiday. Write a summarising or concluding couplet that encapsulates the holiday as a whole. Now use this as the starting point for a poem or story with more details, narrative, characterisation etc, focussing in a specific part or aspect of the trip if necessary. When you’ve finished, consider whether you need the couplet at the end or as part of the title. Or can you get rid of it all together?

plentyfish cover (1)At poetry readings, I often enjoy hearing about the background to a particular poem. ‘Wednesday Reflections/Sometimes I smile’ is my attempt to share the inspiration, frustrations, pain, philosophies and thoughts that lie behind my poetry collection ‘plenty-fish’. Each Wednesday, this blog will contain one of these ‘poem biographies’, as well as points for potential reader discussion and also writers’ prompts. My collection ‘plenty-fish’ may be bought from Nine Arches Press, here, or my website, here. More Wednesday Reflections on other poems in the collection can also be found here.