“Words are like birds
You have to be quiet and still
they will not come.”
~ Marta Ziemelis. Copyrighted 2012.
Writing can be a strange exercise. Words come, then they don’t. I prepare myself by doing research, taking notes, brainstorming, drafting. I sit down (or stand up) to write, with the firmest sense of discipline, the most positive intentions, and…nothing happens. Perhaps writing is much like life – you can practice agency, be active, try to attract the kinds of changes for which you are hoping – and things, nonetheless, don’t happen in the way you expect. Unpredictable, that’s a good word for both writing and life.
All this is a long-winded way to say that, when I started this blog, I firmly intended to post here at least once a week. I haven’t been able to keep to that resolution, perhaps partly through laziness or lack of discipline, and partly because I’ve been fairly busy with other things over the past few months. No promises about how regularly I shall be able to post for the next little while. Also, sometimes I simply don’t know what to write about, here – especially if I don’t have a poem or other piece of writing which I feel prepared to share. (One of the curses of being a perfectionist: you rarely feel that your writing is at its best!)
That said, a sincere “thank you!” to all of you who have read and are reading my blog! Knowing that an audience, no matter how large or small, is reading my work – that means a great deal to me. Why? Because it means that my writing makes sense to people other than myself; it means that my work has the opportunity to touch lives and make a hopefully positive impact on the world.
As the Scottish poet Robert Burns (or, affectionately, Rabbie Burns) wrote in “To a Mouse”, “The best-laid plans o’ mice and men/ gang aft a-gley”. Our plans – with regard to writing and other things – do often go astray. I can hope this is so because Life, the Universe, and Everything has different ‘plans’ in store for us, which we may not even be able to imagine.
The songs, the songs of mortal men
grow still when our dance begins
Jewels dark and bright,
Drink like firelight,
pass from hand to hand
in the shifting fairy mound.
Samhain eve comes swift and sharp,
frost upon the air.
Season turns, our power burns
wild and piercing-fair.
Be wary, mortals, near the mound
Be wary of our song –
one careless step draws you inside,
to us you then belong.
~ Marta Ziemelis. Written in Dubai, copyright October 2012.
A little tribute to the festival of Samhain just past (about which you can read more here).
The subject of this piece are the sìthichean (Scottish Gaelic, “fairies” or aes sídhe/ daoine sídhe (Irish, “folk of the mounds”/”people of the mounds”) – known by a number of names in Irish and Scottish myths and legends, such as “the good people”, “good folk”, “fair folk”. “little people” or “fey”, who live in the Otherworld beyond and bordering ours. Why not call them “fairies” straight out? Because to refer to them directly by this straightforward name was considered disrespectful – and if the Fey are anything, they are notoriously capricious, quick to change their minds and moods. So treating them with disrespect can be dangerous, for they will as soon play a trick on you as do something kind. Yet if you are polite and show good manners, they may do you a favour or, if they really like you, give you a special gift.
(As one of the major turning points of the natural year, Samhain (roughly around the autumn exquinox, as far as I remember) is a time when the borders and divisions between the Otherworld and ours are especially thin and tenuous. Which is why, at moments like these, humans are especially susceptible to the fascination exerted by the Fey. It pays to be cautious at Hallowe’en, and to treat the Good People with respect!