My Lady of the Fen

An unusual blog this week as for only the second time I am publishing a poem. Regular visitors will know that usually I only publish poems as a part of a collection, but there are occasionally exceptions, and today is one of them.

I was recently persuaded to break one of my golden rules of NEVER entering poetry competitions and submitted to the Fenland Poet Laureate event. I have since discovered I haven’t made the shortlist which means I can now share the work with you.

I will give a brief explanation of the poem following its line.

Lady of the Fen
By spring in rise from slumber long,
She smiles with light and morning song.
In fertile bloom as colours burst,
Her gentle arms, embrace while nurse.

A lady as by summer’s grace,
Adorned in ribbons and gilded lace.
Braids of green while flaxen hair,
With softest touch and temper fair.

As mother come by harvest moon,
In blush of shades, as flush with swoon.
By hand and gather, plough and till,
Thrash while bail, grind and mill.

In walk, the mistress, these acres wide,
Cast endless to horizons glide.
With frosted kiss and drifting skies,
A simple grace where beauty lies.

The given subject for the poem was “Fenland” and you were permitted to twist this into whatever shape and metaphor you wished.

I come from a farming background, I spent my childhood wandering acres of fenland plains, fishing for sticklebacks in ditches, angling in drains and looking for foxes and badgers. I was deeply exposed to the agricultural elements of the fen with its seasonal crops and labour.

The fenland scene changes a great deal from season to season, from the green shoots of spring with hedgerows bursting with may flower to the stark and open landscapes of winter.

In this poem, I have opted for a subtle approach, this isn’t an in your face advert for Fenland England but more a graceful glance at the metaphor that helps define it. Our lady is a nurse, nurturing the new shoots of crops as they spring, while wild flowers and blossom burst into colour.

She wears the ribbons of the fenland drains and the gilt yellow of oil seed rape that paints the fields surrounding. Her hair of wheat and barley is tied and contrast by braids of green, as would be hedgerow. I see summer about her, with butterflies and lightest breeze.

Come harvest and our lady labours hard while she blushes with the colours of autumn. The metaphor here is thinner, as we expose acts such as plough and till, grind and mill.

Finally, as winter comes, our lady walks amid wide horizons with endless skies. She is again plain and without colour, yet still beautiful.

The poem gives us the annual cycle of life in the Fens with the last verse conveniently leading back to the first.

Of course these are my views, I love that the reader may see something different and would even encourage them to do so. I don’t normally invite comment, but on this occasion I would like to ask, that if possible, you please let me know what you think.

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27 Responses to My Lady of the Fen

  1. Emma says:

    There are two things I love about this. Firstly, your honesty. Unlike so many writers, you never pretend to be anything other than what you are. Secondly, you have a way of seeing beauty in the world around you, particularly the natural world, and this really shines through in this poem. As someone who is familiar and extremely fond of the fens, I am sure the metaphor describes the geography and traditions of the area perfectly, but your use of the seasons and the general romantic feel of the piece, leaves enough room for interpretation that I can even see parts of the beautiful South Downs where I live reflected in your words. I thoroughly enjoyed this poem, and I hope that one day it does appear in a collection. I would buy it 🙂

  2. The Merliz says:

    One word: Exquisite!

  3. nikki says:

    So different to your usual style ,yet just as beautiful. The judges must have been very harsh in their decision maybe I’m biased because I’ve seen your other work,but I really do love this piece .x

    • avbarber says:

      Thank you Nikki, it is very kind of you to say so. I am sure the standard of work in the competition was very high and we do not really know, until the results are announced, what genre of poetry was favoured. (for instance “free verse” is the in thing these days). But it is a great little poem so all is not lost 🙂

  4. aklp1990 says:

    Its good dad. Painted lots of pictures in my mind of the countryside and I use the word “painted” literally as I imagine a moving painting as the breeze moves the crops and the womans hair. Also a nice warm farmhouse with a nice squishy bed where the woman awakens from 🙂 x

  5. I normally hate reading poetry – I start and then skip to the next bit of prose; don’t know why?!
    But this I read… all the way through! Maybe because I’m from a farming background as well, but I felt it connected to me. Thanks for writing this and sharing it 🙂

  6. littlelise says:

    Reblogged this on littlelise's journey and commented:
    A beautiful, tightly constructed poem, transmuting the personal to the poetical.

  7. Chris Waters says:

    Brilliant poem, so proud of you. Cannot understand how it can not be even short listed. Goes to show what idiots judge these things.

    Love Bro x

    • avbarber says:

      Thank you bruv … to be fair to the judges, it may just not have been what they were looking for or there perhaps were other poems even better. Thanks though for your wonderfully kind words.

  8. I love it. Pictured an Earthen goddess with a springtime wreath in her hair walking the land. Got that it was the cycles of the earth you were describing. 🙂

  9. Pete Boddy says:

    Andrew I was able to determine the meaning of this poem and what you were trying to say quite accurately having read the notes after the verse . I like to know what you were trying to convey. Therefore, as in your book, I enjoy your thought and reflections and find it as useful and enjoyable as the poetry . The poem itself, I like that type of phrasing giving the reader a time to reflect on what you say and feel the
    Message. Very good

  10. ciao! the distinct four seasons embody our life cycle. we undergo parallel changes. uncluttered prose with vivid images…your poem is just,”a simple grace” that delights.

    • avbarber says:

      Thank you for your extremely kind words and sorry it has taken a while to reply. I am glad you enjoyed this piece and hope you continue to enjoy my future work!

  11. Love your poems, especially the rhyming verse. I’m also a poet, but mainly an author.”Come visit my web site!” Jill Schaefer

  12. jacksonquigg says:

    I’ll be honest and say I liked the poem but loved the prose more. Perhaps I’m more of a ‘prose’ person – you write in such a lyrical way and I found it a delight to read. Thank you.

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