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Monday, 31 March 2014

In Pursuit of Courtly Love - TMA05

Charting the famous same-sex relationship of 1930's poet Vita Sackville-West and Bloomsbury rising star, the authoress Virginia Woolf, I wrote this sestina-villanelle-sestina sequence for my TMA 05, twisting historical actual events with a fictionalised narrative that documents the strident, hot-blooded Sackville-West and her friendship/relationship with the cooler, more artistic Woolf. The piece moves from a sexually-charged dreamy introduction, into a nightmare (villanelle) and I contrast this 'rampant lushness' (tutor feedback) with a poignant letter written from Virginia to Vita at the point of her final battle with mental illness. Readers will no doubt be familiar with Woolf's suicide modus operandi; here I try and contextualise it via the sequence. The sestinas are written in iambic pentameter form, whilst I used iambic tetrameter to give the villanelle a melodic form to compliment its musical content.

This is undoubtedly the most accomplished piece that I have ever written and I am extremely proud that this piece in itself received an astonishing marked grade of 90%.  (Commentary scored 80%, so overall grade is 88%).   Enjoy. :)     P.S.  Apologies for formatting in final sestina, can't fix it!

Kissing the Kingfisher

My dreams, they intervene our going down
to meadows lush with verdant bush, spring last
to hunt sweet fruit, the berries hard, you like
or so you said while screaming blaspheme blue;
a reedy, greedy call to arms shot through

our tangled vines; your rise and fall from high.                                           6

Those early morning trysts with heart rate high
and inhibitions low as we lay down
on fertile ground that soon became wet through
with milk from honeyed lips, revealed at last;
like him you spread your wings, electric blue
your pulse before you swoop, you’re so alike.                                            12


Such jouissance my love, what’s not to like                                  

in fingertips that coil my hair, your high

so close the clouds kaleidoscope the blue

until you spiral into bosky down,

your morning fruit so succulent in last-

-gasp trailing throes, eruption almost through.                                            18


Our parsley crushed at Byron’s Pool, all through

for you; insouciance, what’s not to like

with new-found Bloomsbury friends, not like the last 

poor gypsy girl who watched enthralled from high;      

Orlando spilt across your eiderdown

of chequered pinks against the Rodmell blue.                                              24


I can’t compare, compete, the Cambridge Blue

who rows to you, he’s done for me; we’re through

to our last page, though still can’t put you down

and never will, however much he’d like

to write me out, his noble cause held high                                                                                     

yet dearest V, love’s magnificence lasts                                                       30


With me, disciple now until the last

of your most lavish strokes of inky blue

secures the laurels of apostles high;

so radiate and start a fire, scorch through

my pent-up chapter with desire and (like

before) I close my eyes, my guard goes down.                                             36


Lay down awhile, relax my iris blue

at last, eyes closed we flit through bosky wood

like him perched high; electric, hot and charged.                                         39


39 lines



I twist and turn in ghostly air,

no exit door, no volte-face.

I scream inside, my demons bare.                                                                    3


Our dog days gone, when sun-splashed hair

would rollercoast round Scarborough’s face,

I twist and turn in ghostly air.                                                                          6


Sympatico in bookish lair,

our spines bent over doyley lace,

I scream inside, my demons bare.                                                                    9


Release my flame, zingara hair

to play amongst your type with grace;

I twist and turn in ghostly air.                                                                          12


My dearest V, I must declare

until such time you leave no trace

I scream inside, my demons bare.                                                                    15


True love of mine, do not despair

for Sissinghurst, she knows her place;

I twist and turn in ghostly air,

I scream inside, my demons bare.                                                                    19


19 lines


Yours, Sincerely


V, if you’re reading this, you’ll know my lie.

No candid word will fill a hole so new,

an unprescribed event, my mud foot end,

no wistful tale of ribboned heart romance

or derring-do; you said no turning back

and just this time I’ve not, my ripest love.                                                         6


The Ides soon passed but brought disquiet love

that rolled around inside; your voice would lie

and laugh as words sat on my page slate black,

becoming blacker still, as clouds stacked new

and through the dark, a paraffin romance

would flicker, clear as day until its end.                                                            12


Just four days past, I walked to River End

past Jones the Fisher - yes, without a love

or soul they say - not blessed with true romance,

instead his catch, elusive parrs, belied

me gliding by in sackcloth like I knew

that Friday next, there was no coming back.                                                     18

Inside my head, Dear V, I battled back

from endless bombs and holes that wouldn’t mend,

wrote letters of goodbye to old and new,

my absent friends, a message to my love;

“The Lord looks after all my pens”, I’ll lie

in cherry trees of chequered pink romance.                                                       24


As time is called on sacrosanct romance,

I need your watchful eye on Leo’s back;

As Rupert rounds the coterie, I’d lie

if I was not concerned how this will end

for Leo’s sanity; with Rodmell’s love,          
its Sussex air and rest, he’ll start anew.                                                             30

I won’t be cold before another new

warm nymph descends for flutterbug romance,

amour that dyes your world like Violet’s love;

warm floaty love, yet cold upon my back,

no wise mot juste to save its bug-eyed end.

My stony heart goodbye to words and life.                                                       36


Remember where we’d lie in blushed romance,

In Newnham dew, such graceful spooning Backs;

Our guilty grins, my scribbled end.  Love V                                                    39


39 lines



Total of sequence: 97 lines


© Nigel Pamenter 2014
The right of Nigel Pamenter to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved.