Writer and storyteller

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Merrivale - Dartmoor, UK

Some poems just get completely out of hand.

Merrivale is a piece that I started in 2012, thinking it would be a short praise-poem to a place that has snagged me, become a place of significance and remembering. The poem had other ideas.

Whenever I think I've finished with this, it just wants to change into something else. It's intolerable. How can this be?

I've thought upon the matter at some length as I've wrestled with getting it into a final, fixed form. Putting it into Falconer's Joy has - partly - been about casting it into one form, for better or worse.

Could it be that two forces are at work here? One, let's call it Deep Potential, means that when you do work that's close to the root of your creativity, it's coming from the central trunk of that root. There's a lot of power there, but that power wants to rush out or grow up in all and any direction where it sees an opening. You've tapped into the central nervous system of the juice - it wants you to say everything that can be said about what's important to you. It's a vital force. I think that's one thing that's at work.

The other force is this: Specificity (or the lack of it.)

As soon as I start writing about things that could be referred to as the Mystery, it's easy to become vague. Because it's all so incredible and ah!, and this and this and this, there's a danger that the images become diluted, any narrative becomes diffuse and the storytelling or communicative aspect of the piece becomes a bit fuzzy. In that fuzziness, writing about one thing clearly goes slightly out of the window and there's the urge to write about everything. Is that a cloud or a car or a falcon? Hey, it's all three! Everything is everything and, as a result, everything is almost nothing, but not quite.

Merrivale has suffered from the second force and been affected by the first. In some of the previous versions, it's like a history of the world, but in metaphor, like one of those medieval chronicles of the world, but written in mirror-writing, or code. Which isn't what I intended. All I set out to do, always, is tell the truth as best I can. I often get sidetracked on the way, but that is my honest intention when I begin.

The piece that Merrivale has become now is (honestly) it's final, fixed form. I can't work with it any more, for one thing, but it's also reached as close a balance as I can currently find between the specific and the universal, the concrete and the mythic. If I could say it all another way, I would. Merrivale has to stand or fall now on its own. My difficult prog-rock poem-child, you're in print! Good luck to us all!



And, as for Merrivale itself - if you haven't been there, and get the chance, do go. As well as the double stone row, there is a stone circle and a tall standing stone, and various other monuments, but it's not just about the stones. It's one of the extraordinary places of Dartmoor. It tugs at me in ways that only the old places of the moor can do, as you might gather from the poem. If you'd like to read more about it, follow these links:

Merrivale at Legendary Dartmoor

Merrivale at Wikipedia



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