A red, hardcover book

The Highwayman, which I have provided below if you have somehow NEVER read this ever (for shame!), is incredibly important to me. Years ago, possibly eons (you don’t know!), my grandfather would come into the small bedroom in his house by the lake that was for all the kids and pull out a beautiful red, hardcover book.This book is full of poems. Some were funny, like the Eletelephony by Laura Elizabeth Richards, and some were frightening like the Jabberwock by Lewis Carrol, and others, others pulled you into them and didn’t let go. One of these poems was The Highwayman written by Alfred Noyes.

My grandfather was truly an amazing man and I miss him still. I wish he were here and I’d like to think he would be proud of his grandchildren, of which there are many.

He would pull out this book and we all (sisters, brothers, cousins, nephews and nieces) would gather around him, hushed instantly. But my grandfather, he had a way about him that made you stop and listen. He knew how to grab your attention without waving his arms in front of your face. It was simple, effective, and beautiful.

He would usually start with a funny poem like Custard the Cowardly Dragon by Ogden Nash. And then, after begging relentlessly, he would read The Highwayman. His voice was instantly captivating as he began to read the first lines: “The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees; the moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas…”

Instantly, I was there on that stretch of sandy highway, pounded hard by thousands of horse hooves. Looking out along the distance I could just begin to make out the Inn where Bess, the Highwayman’s love, lived. I could almost smell her perfume in the air.

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My grandfather was a truly remarkable man. He accomplished more than I ever knew or still know and understand during his lifetime. He was like a sun in the house by the lake, and it has never been the same without him. I still remember the milkshakes he would make for us after a poetry reading even though we were supposed to be going to sleep. Milkshakes don’t taste the same without him.

I have a small piece of his memory though. I have that red hardcover book. I will never let that go and whenever I miss him, I pull out the book and read The Highwayman aloud, trying to match my grandfather’s rhythm. I never get it quite right, but that’s okay. I know he’s there.

Enjoy the poem. It might be the most important piece you have ever read. It is to me.

 

The Highwayman

                                               I

    THE wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees, 
    The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas, 
    The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor, 
    And the highwayman came riding— 
                      Riding—riding— 
    The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

                                                 II

    He’d a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin, 
    A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin; 
    They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh! 
    And he rode with a jewelled twinkle, 
                      His pistol butts a-twinkle, 
    His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

                                                 III

    Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard, 
    And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred; 
    He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there 
    But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter, 
                      Bess, the landlord’s daughter, 
    Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

                                                 IV

    And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked 
    Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked; 
    His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay, 
    But he loved the landlord’s daughter, 
                      The landlord’s red-lipped daughter, 
    Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—

                                                 V

    “One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night, 
    But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light; 
    Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day, 
    Then look for me by moonlight, 
                      Watch for me by moonlight, 
    I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”

                                                 VI

    He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand, 
    But she loosened her hair i’ the casement! His face burnt like a brand 
    As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast; 
    And he kissed its waves in the moonlight, 
                      (Oh, sweet, black waves in the moonlight!) 
    Then he tugged at his rein in the moonliglt, and galloped away to the West.

 

                                        PART TWO

                                                 I

    He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon; 
    And out o’ the tawny sunset, before the rise o’ the moon, 
    When the road was a gypsy’s ribbon, looping the purple moor, 
    A red-coat troop came marching— 
                      Marching—marching— 
    King George’s men came matching, up to the old inn-door.

                                                 II

    They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead, 
    But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed; 
    Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side! 
    There was death at every window; 
                      And hell at one dark window; 
    For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

                                                 III

    They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest; 
    They had bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast! 
    “Now, keep good watch!” and they kissed her. 
                      She heard the dead man say— 
    Look for me by moonlight; 
                      Watch for me by moonlight; 
    I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

                                                 IV

    She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good! 
    She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood! 
    They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years, 
    Till, now, on the stroke of midnight, 
                      Cold, on the stroke of midnight, 
    The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

                                                 V

    The tip of one finger touched it; she strove no more for the rest! 
    Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast, 
    She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again; 
    For the road lay bare in the moonlight; 
                      Blank and bare in the moonlight; 
    And the blood of her veins in the moonlight throbbed to her love’s refrain .

                                                 VI

        Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear; 
    Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear? 
    Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill, 
    The highwayman came riding, 
                      Riding, riding! 
    The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still!

                                                 VII

    Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night! 
    Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light! 
    Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath, 
    Then her finger moved in the moonlight, 
                      Her musket shattered the moonlight, 
    Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.

                                                 VIII

    He turned; he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood 
    Bowed, with her head o’er the musket, drenched with her own red blood! 
    Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear 
    How Bess, the landlord’s daughter, 
                      The landlord’s black-eyed daughter, 
    Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

                                                 IX

    Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky, 
    With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high! 
    Blood-red were his spurs i’ the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat, 
    When they shot him down on the highway, 
                      Down like a dog on the highway, 
    And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.

                  *           *           *           *           *           *

                                                 X

    And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees, 
    When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas, 
    When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor, 
    A highwayman comes riding— 
                      Riding—riding— 
    A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

                                                 XI

    Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard; 
    He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred; 
    He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there 
    But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter, 
                      Bess, the landlord’s daughter, 
    Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

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A Living Legacy

A few days ago, a man I greatly admire and whom I have the pleasure of working with, asked me a poignant question: If you could be anything, what would you be?

“A writer,” I answered him. “That’s all I want.”

Words are my lifes-blood. I devour literary works and fuel my own creativity with their inspiring words. I follow others who dream my same dream. To write. To express in beautiful finality. To leave a living legacy of written word that cannot be denied, for there it is, in perfect physical matter, resting heavily in my own two hands someday…someday.

If I could not write, I would not live. Dry as a husk. Empty and without vitality.

To write is all I want in life and all I could ever ask for…Image

Magic Hour

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Close your eyes

In and out

…………….

Open your eyes

The air is perfect

It is dawn

Dusk

And twilight

You are outside, inside, and underground

You are the water, the fire

You are him, her, and it

They, we, them, and everyone

Nobody and no one

At every moment

Any moment

It is the perfect moment where everything aligns

The gears turn without hesitation

The words come in perfect rhythm

Your heart beats faster

And when you finally look up

When you finally turn out of the moment

You are dizzy and flushed, as though you have run a thousand miles

Exhaustion sets in, for you have travelled the world

Explored every crevice

Met a million new faces

Discovered new creatures and named new places

Creator, close your eyes

In and out

……………

A Monkey and His Typewriter

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If I let my fingers wander idly over the keys of a typewriter it might happen that my screed made an intelligible sentence. If an army of monkeys were strumming on typewriters they might write all the books in the British Museum. The chance of their doing so is decidedly more favourable than the chance of the molecules returning to one half of the vessel. – Sir Arthur Eddington, 1927

The above quote has ben stated in different ways over time. The quote might be more familiar if it were paraphrased like this: If you put a hundred monkeys in a room with a typewriter, you’d come up with Shakespeare.

Yesterday, I couldn’t find my plot notes. I looked everywhere and, since I’m in the middle of a move, nothing was (is) where it should be. I was petrified. What if I couldn’t find them? Can I recreate the story from memory? Would I remember important changes I had made?

I did find my notes in my file cabinet I use for important documents like taxes and birth certificates. Those papers certainly are important so it makes sense I would hide them there – I knew they would be safe. I am now in the process of translating them into my computer where they should – hopefully – be safe. But just in case, I will keep the paper! You never know…

But what that fear invoked was interesting. The monkey quote above would seem to say that eventually I should be able to reproduce them. However, it brought to mind a completely different question. Suppose a hundred monkeys do write a Shakespearean sonnet – does it mean anything? Letters make up words which make up stories, but do those stories mean anything if they are not written with purpose? Even if they end up with the same result: the same story, the same characters, the same plot twists, and all the same endings, will it still resonate the same?

Words without purpose.

Poetry without background.

Imagery of just black.

It all seems like such a waste. Poetry would mean nothing if there was not feeling written behind it. The tragedy of two lovers who are torn apart due to terrible circumstances means nothing without the author caring about them behind it, sobbing as she writes the awful scene. If he feels nothing, if she cares for nothing…then it is all for nothing.

Words are a powerful tool but they must be said with meaning and purpose behind them or they stand for nothing.

 

 Source(s): http://www.antievolution.org/people/wre/essays/typing.txt

Getting Over Writers Block AKA The Cliffhanger Copout

Well, it certainly has been a while since I’ve written anything on here. Managing a blog takes time, of which I have been lacking lately. In the midst of buying a house and starting a new job, I have been sorely lacking in my motivation in writing.

However, the other problem has been Writers Block, also known as the fear that I have gone as far as I can in the story and all my aspirations are crumbling into dust and floating away in the wind. Writers Block can be fatal to a story, and sometimes it’s practically suicidal, writing yourself into a rock and a hardplace. Really, that is uncomfortable! Image(Picture from Tumblr)

Now how to get over that crushing realization that you’re never going to get out the place you’ve written yourself into? Or maybe your problem is you just don’t know what’s coming next. I’ve been there, I am there, and I will be there again! Every single person who has decided to write any story will come across this problem. The first thing you need to do is realize that you’re realization is WRONG. You can fix this. You made the problem up, you can concoct the solution.

“HOW?!” You scream at me. WELL I’LL TELL YOU! Just don’t yell. Geez.

ImageMisery by Stephen King. Have you read it? You had better. Not only is it an amazing book that I’ve read probably a dozen times, but it hits the nail on the head on a HUGE problem we still see in story-telling today (movies, tv shows, books, comics etc). Sometimes they cheat. Yup, you heard me. They cheat. They show you, they tell you, under no uncertain circumstances your favorite character EVER has just kicked the bucket. Gone, fried, smashed, smushed, and all around splattered into nothingness. You saw it, you read it, you experienced it even.

And then, miraculously, they are alive the next episode or chapter. How? It was all just a dream, hallucination, time travel continuum, wormhole, alternate universe BS. Don’t you freaking hate that?! Yeah, me too. (That’s called a Cliffhanger Copout by the way)

Moving on! The two main characters in Misery is Paul Sheldon, an extremely successful writer who has published countless books in a series called Misery with the main heroine called Misery (yes there is irony there) and Annie Wilkes, a fanatical of the Misery books. Long story short, poor Paulie ends up in the not-so willing care of Annie Wilkes. When she reads the last book in his series and finds that Misery is dead she demands he find a way to bring her back to life and write a new book: Misery’s Return. Well, Paulie makes a poor choice and cheats to bring her back to life. He re-writes the ending of the last, already published book, so that Misery never dies in the first place. That is a BIG no-no. Annie doesn’t take too kindly to that and Paul is forced to think of a new way to bring her back to life.

How does he do that? He uses his knowledge and thinks outside the box a little. Misery is set in a time when being buried alive is a common occurrence that is feared by everyone. Many coffins were equipped with a string connected to a bell above ground. If you were to wake up buried alive just ring the bell and the cemetery guardian will come dig you up. And that is exactly what he used to save Misery in the end. Good on you, Paul! Now get out of there!!!

So next time you’re sitting there staring at you just wrote, like 10,000 words, and you’re just freaking loving it…and then it dawns on you that you have just written yourself in to the Cliffhanger Copout nightmare, don’t fret! Go do a little research about your time period. Read what other writers have done, free-write about anything you want, or go for a brisk walk and you’ll be surprised how quickly the solution comes to you. It’s probably staring you in the face right now and you don’t even know it yet.

Well, what are you still doing here? Go fix your story! And don’t forget to have fun.

Happy writing and thanks for reading!

-Ms Sable-