(www.banfflakelouise.com)‘The Climber’ and Other Poetry by Rod Walford The Society May 27, 2020 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 20 Comments The Climber inspired by and dedicated to Chris Bonington and my erstwhile heroes Don Whillans and Dougal Haston He has conquered crags and chimneys Only eagles would have seen And the frozen lofty kingdoms Where the blizzard reigns supreme He has traversed mighty mountains Through the rockfall and the scree Where the elements do battle And the eyes can barely see. He has struck a hundred base camps Long before the sun arose Many fellows may have shuddered At the challenge that he chose As he contemplates ascending On a sheer and slippery wall Starkly rising and malevolent It shouts its silent call. He is leader and explorer He has travelled near and far And his legendary exploits Are regaled in every bar He’s the quintessential rock star Strong as iron and tough as teak When he chooses his companions There is no place for the weak. He has held the faithful spellbound Now they follow in his wake Knowing well the awful consequence Of just one slight mistake And aware that mother nature When she starts to misbehave Will distinguish not the foolish From the bravest of the brave. He has heard the voice of freedom Felt the pull of foreign lands And won respect from everyone Entrusted to his hands Throughout his trials and triumphs To his own self he’s been true He has reached the last great summit He’s a climber—through and through. Old Mates He wasn’t much to look at as he stood there by the rail Beside the towering cenotaph he looked quite small and frail But as his gaze upon the names engraved before him fell It was as if he’d heard the chimes of some far distant bell. He rose to full attention as his old eyes filled with tears His back was straight, his stature proud as ’twas in former years The echoes of his mind recalled a face to every name Each one a mate he’d left behind who’d not return again. Yet every year at this same dawn, he’d visit with them here And in his mind they’d have a yarn, a joke, a laugh, a beer And for a fleeting time it was a great and glorious thing To turn life’s long cold winter back into its former spring. But far too soon it all comes back—the shock, the hellish noise The guns, the shells, the blood, the screams, the bodies of the boys How he survived he never knew, so many mates he’d lost So great a sacrifice they made—and well he knows the cost. Then slowly comes a knowing smile that fronts a silent prayer That one day soon he’ll join them in their great Eternal care So proudly now he stands before the cenotaph today And gives one last salute—before he turns and walks away. The Star I was sitting by the quayside, on a rocky harbour wall The midnight hour had come and gone, as far as I recall. I watched a star descending in the clear, crystal night Deep into the far horizon, like a jewel, spangled bright. As it slowly kissed the skyline, I perceived its brightness dim In its mellow, calm surrender to the planetary rim. She was one of many millions that presided o’er the deep To survey her abdication from the nightfall’s starry keep… ‘Twas a thing of stunning beauty, as I pondered on her fate So unto her dying glory I was prompted to relate. She had reigned in perfect dignity for her appointed span As, in all of his achievements, is the duty of a man. Ah! his power, glory, riches, rise as but a fleeting thing Like the passing of the shadow from a seagull on the wing. Then his years become as nothing, for his fragile deeds are slight When compared with this enchantress… shining diamond of the night! She will rise again tomorrow, in the firmament above And, beneath her, men will testify their everlasting love. And I… when I at last fulfil the number of my days Shall watch her cross the skies once more, and bid her tranquil rays… To shine upon my resting place, that in its gentle lee My soul beholds the vision of an iridescent sea. Where the mighty ocean witnesses the astral rise and fall Let my spirit gaze in wonder… from a rocky harbour wall. © Rod Walford Rod Walford is an Englishman living in Auckland, New Zealand and has been writing poetry for some 25 years. He is a semi-retired diesel fuel injection engineer. He has self-published several books of rhyming poetry including “Timeless,” “Real Poetry for Real Women (written by a man),” and “One Hour before the Dawn.” Access his website here: www.rodwalfordpoetry.com NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 20 Responses Joe Tessitore May 27, 2020 Fine story-telling. Well done, Mr. Walford. Reply Russel Winick May 27, 2020 Thank you sir, for blessing me with arising to these wonderful poems. Reply Peter Bridges May 27, 2020 Strong fine poems. Thank you. Reply Sultana Raza May 27, 2020 Just to say that though The Climbers is about ascending, your words make it very easy to slide smoothly down the poem till the end. Also, the calm contemplation in The Star makes for smooth sailing across the sky, along with the narrator’s thoughts. Of course, if the star is really another heavenly body, the hero of the narrator, his own destiny, or all three in one is another question altogether. Reply Rod Walford May 28, 2020 Thank you Joe, Russel, Peter and Sultana for your kind words – very much appreciated. Sultana – to address your take on “The Star” – it’s becoming increasingly popular these days to be told “it can mean whatever you want it to mean” but at the time of writing it was nothing more than an illustration of my own feelings drawing a comparison with our astral surroundings. It remains one of my personal favourites 🙂 Reply Sultana Raza May 29, 2020 Rod, usually poets have perhaps just one idea when they’re writing, but I think your poems are all the more richer in the sense that they can be interpreted in different ways. Specially, as I read it in the context of your other poems above. I think we need more poems such as yours, with an intangible (spiritual) feel to them in these materialistic times. Also, like you, I tend to write spontaneously, and don’t focus too deeply on the technicalities of structure etc. Perhaps you might appreciate this one by Keats: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44488/when-i-have-fears-that-i-may-cease-to-be A note to Susan: speaking of stars, for what it’s worth, some scholars think this poem was initially inspired by the mysterious Isabella Jones: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44468/bright-star-would-i-were-stedfast-as-thou-art C.B. Anderson May 27, 2020 Rod, Now that we have ascertained that everyone enjoys your yarns, let me, for a minute or two, discuss your metric plan in the first poem. The first line is perfect trochaic tetrameter. The second line is catalectic trochaic tetrameter. The third line replicates the first line, though some prosodists might insist that a pyrrhic foot was substituted for the initial trochee. Line 4 matches line 2 perfectly. Line 5 introduces an element that’s difficult to analyze. It begins with two iambs and concludes with two trochees. I don’t know whether John Milton would have approved, but there it is. I am inclined to think that this poem is meant to be sung, because music’s meter simply rolls over spoken meter. In conclusion, I think you’ve done a fine job of installing musicality into this poem. I’ll leave the latter two poems alone because, at this point, I think my perorations have become tedious for most readers. But I will add this: the seen/supreme rhyme is dubious. Nasal consonants rhyme imperfectly, at best. Reply C.B. Anderson May 27, 2020 The last line should be more perfectly rendered: Dissimilar nasal consonants rhyme imperfectly, at best. Reply Rod Walford May 28, 2020 Thank you C.B. for your for your in-depth analysis . I really hope you include yourself in the ranks of “everyone” in your first line. I wrote “The Climber” primarily as a tribute poem and I confess that any connection with musicality is more by coincidence than intention. When I completed the work it occurred to me that it might be suitable for a funeral and within a very short time I did receive an email asking if it might be recited at the funeral of a U.S. climber. Needless to say I was honoured to agree and I later heard it was very well received ( there was an audible murmur of appreciation from the congregation when the line about being “regaled at every bar” was reached!) Whilst I do appreciate your comments C.B. I have to say many of them are over my head. I have never studied poetry in-depth. I just write what comes to me and if folk enjoy reading it, if it stirs their emotions or reduces them to tears then I know I have achieved what I set out to do. You are right, of course, about the seen/supreme rhyme. I can only fall back on the old adage “It seemed like a good idea at the time!” Kind regards Rod Julian D. Woodruff May 28, 2020 Mr. Anderson, It seems to me it’s the poet’s insistent “iambism” that throws one off most, at lines 16 (It shouts its silent call), 22 (where “iron” must be taken as a single syllable), and 35-38. In a more pliant iambic milieu these exceptions would not succeed so readily in tripping one up. But your observation about a song rendition, in popular style, applies to the instances I mention, as it does also to the false rhyme you cite. Reply Dave Whippman May 28, 2020 Skilfully written poems. “Old Mates” movingly reminds us of what we owe to the generation that fought Hitler. Reply Rod May 28, 2020 You’re right Dave. Nothing I,nor anyone else, could write would ever repay that debt. But I think poetry is a fine remembrance medium. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 28, 2020 What a trio of poetic treats, Rod. Having grown up with news of Chris Bonington’s triumphs, I love “The Climber”. It does this heroic daredevil’s dangerous feats every justice. I particularly like this smile of a line; “He’s the quintessential rock star”. “The Star”, with its many beautiful lines, reminds me of how short our time beneath the stars is, and to make the most of my every moment. My favourite is “Old Mates”, which captures the heart of a hero and makes me wholly grateful. Thank you! Reply Rod Walford May 28, 2020 Thank you Susan – it’s both encouraging and rewarding to know that you enjoyed all three. I have a strong feeling that, like me, you tend to focus on the spiritual side of poetry rather than strict adherence to the letter of the law. Sometimes whilst reading through comments I am reminded of the Pharisees whose strict following of the law landed them in hot water with Jesus. The phrase “whitewashed sepulchres” comes to mind! Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 29, 2020 While I have a great deal of respect for rules surrounding both meter and rhyme, I believe, when it comes down to the wire, word choice should always come first. For me, for the sake of the right word, rules should be bent. A clunky, out of place word could turn humour to tragedy or make a seductive verse snigger worthy. A slightly off end rhyme won’t have this effect and is therefore secondary. This Douglas Bader quote says it all perfectly; “Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men”, and, Rod, your poetry tells me you’re far from a fool. Margaret Coats May 29, 2020 Much enjoyed reading this group of different stories and their different moods, yet sharing the distinctive touch of one author. The selection works well together! Reply Rod Walford May 30, 2020 Thank you Margaret – I’m pleased you noted that they are an eclectic group as I was wanting to see how they would “work” together. And I’m equally pleased that you found them enjoyable. Reply Rod Walford May 30, 2020 Well Susan I wouldn’t argue with Douglas ! I could rename “The Star” as “Reach for the Sky” in his honour! Reply Susan Jarvis May 30, 2020 What a beautiful idea, Rod. I’m sure this indisputable hero would nod from the heavens in smiling agreement! Reply Rod Walford May 30, 2020 Sultana – thank you I thought that poem by Keats was So beautiful. If I hadn’t known better I could have sworn is was one of Byron’s ! I shall have to read more Keats. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.