Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Light Dancing on Water

Over the past few weeks, I have been re-visiting and re-working some pieces of poetry I originally wrote a while ago. They never saw the light of day: my confidence deserted me, I stopped writing altogether, and the poems have been hibernating on my hard-drive ever since.

It seemed strange to come back to them. So much time exists between me and the words I once wrote, that they feel unfamiliar, as if I have never seen them before, as if it they're not actually my words at all. But that has been useful. I can look at them much more objectively now than I could then, and it has been much easier to edit them as a result.

Light Dancing on Water was inspired by the fountain and water trough in the glass house in the walled garden at Wallington in Northumberland. The light on the water reminded me of long, carefree summers, when, as a small child, I would delight in playing with a bucketful of water. And this made me consider how powerful and potent - how visceral - a memory from childhood can be.

I'm excited to say that I should soon be recording this poem, amongst others, for Listenupnorth.com, a beautiful, imaginative spoken word website, based in Northumberland. Do visit this lovely site - it's a real treasure-trove!

Light Dancing on Water

The marble lion's head spouts water
in a steady, sparkling stream,
smooth, green-scented,
amidst the verdant planting of the orangery...

A memory - a long hot summer:
Time passing by so slowly then.
A cold-water tap, in a small suburban kitchen,
a shiny metal bucket, brimming liquid fun.

A mother's gift, not yet discerned:
How To Delight In Simple Pleasures.

Out on the sun-bleached lawn, my versatile friend
galvanises me to innocent exaltation.
I plunge my hands through crystal magic,
laugh with it as its coolness tickles my fingertips -
mischievously splashes knees, bare feet -
thrill at the dazzling sparks that
flash across its surface and
scorch themselves in ecstasy onto memory's eye:

Light dancing on water...

... plunging home to the perfect proportions
of its deep, square, marble pool.
A mellow life-force, calming, tranquil,
cooling the lush-planted greenhouse,
where dappled light dances on water.


  1. beautiful work Sophie, your language is so rich and engaging .. like reading Seamus Heaney :) I agree, childhood stays with us and is a great resource for your imagination and art as we grow older.

  2. Hello Deborah! How good to see you. Thank you for dropping by and for joining my blog.

    Well. I'm not sure I could receive a greater compliment than to be compared to Seamus Heaney! Thank you. He is actually my favourite poet. I love the varied subject-matter, sensuous earthiness and natural rhythms of his poetry.

    Childhood is something I seem to be coming back to time and time again since I started to write. Quite often I don't even realise I'm doing it! It certainly does provide a rich seam for mining, as you show so beautifully in your own work.