Wednesday, June 5, 2013

IGWRT's Kerry's Wednesday Challenge - Nocturne "Charleston Harbor"


My family and I often enjoy "Ghost walks" in historic towns, and this was in the back of my mind when I wrote "Charleston Harbor"- how the harbor might come alive with the past as the tidal surges at dusk and sometime around midnight (and with the receding tide) the "spirits" once again fade away beneath her surface.  I consider this poem still in a rough draft mode. 

note:  Sullivan Island and James Island are on either side of Charleston Harbor.  The Ashely and Cooper are the two rivers which flank Charleston and merge, as the southerners claim, to form the Atlantic Ocean.

Charleston Harbor (rewrite)

She flaunts a gown of shimmering dusk
her escorts, palmetos and oaks,
seductively charms Sullivan and James

as gently swaying seagrass cloaks
her banks, and gentle moon winks
and nods a lazy waltz to which

she glides with eager rising beaus,
Sir Ashely 'n Cooper, bewitched
by ghostly reverie upon her breast:

of pillaged, glist'ning gold
(ol' secrets oyster shells still keep
of stories dark and gloomy told)
and pirates dangling twilight's jig to hell --

of summer-eve idyl's tempting path,
a lover's kiss and trickling sweat
beneath a darkened shadow, wrath
was chanced with passion's risk --

of union blue and glorious grey
of clashing families 'n nightly prayers
and southern sympathies displayed
for brav'ry true, for brav'ry daft --

of opulent castles near her shore
whose darkly-framed windows
with warmth aglow from ev'ry floor,
did slowly seep secrets to starlit skies --

of yesterday's wishes 'n dreams
do trysts and tragedies flirt
with time:  a chance to be redeemed
upon pages of tales told and tales to tell.

'Til yellow-crested night heron signals midnight
and glittering sails flicker and fade,
a dancing card collected, faded names a delight,
beneath a belle's receding tide, do ghosts abide.

by Margaret Bednar, June 6, 2013

Yellow-Crested Night Heron, Battery Park, Charleston Harbor

This is for Imaginary Garden with Real Toad's, Kerry's Wednesday Challenge: Nocturne  Poems are requested to be lyrical NOT narrative.  I know now, currently I am far more a narrative poet than lyrical.  (sigh)

View from the Schooner we sailed on for our 23rd wedding anniversary in Charleston's Harbor

18 comments:

aprille said...

Wonderful concept of 'Gone with the Wind' sort of midnight ball. Had me worried I was on the wrong track but I was happy to carry on.
Very much a tiara-flaunting occasion, with secrets and intrigue.
Well, that's what I go from it :-)

Margaret said...

Thanks, Aprille. This definitely suffered from many rewrites. I first forgot to write nocturnal. Then I had written narrative. So back to the drawing board. And now, I've made a few more corrections after you read it for, I hope, clarity. Sigh. (I'm never satisfied :)

Sherry Blue Sky said...

It reads beautifully, Margaret, and your photo of the heron is spectacular. Loved the heron in your poem and was DELIGHTED to see the photo.

hedgewitch said...

Very dreamlike--I have never sailed on a boat, but this is how I imagine it would be, and then surrounded by the antebellum ghosts just adds to the mood. The narrative aspect is not too much, I don't think Margaret, and there is a lot of just plain reverie, which makes it feel moody and blue. Enjoyed it much.

Susie Clevenger said...

This is beautiful. Within the wood and sails you have found the memories that travel with the ship across the water. I have never been on a sail boat. It is something I hope one day to do.

Kay L. Davies said...

Sailing a schooner is lyrical in itself, Margaret.
I am not happy with my response to the prompt, but I don't think I want to rush another try. I think it will come when it's ready. Perhaps yours will, too.
K

Ella said...

I agree there is a dream like sequence in your words~ It reminds me of my home ;D
Beautiful...

Margaret said...

Thank you, all above. I have totally rewritten and erased the original poem you read. You certainly don't have to re-read this poem, but it is a bit more lyrical as I worked on rhythm and a bit of rhyme.

Thanks, Kerry, for the exhausting mental workout :)

Akila G said...

Loved the description. it brought the pic to life!

Lisa Gordon said...

Your writing is always so wonderful, Margaret, and I love these images, especially the last one. Such a great composition.

Hannah said...


I love the enveloped feeling you've given the night with these lines, Margaret:

"gown of shimmering dusk"

and


"gently swaying seagrass cloaks
her banks"

...and the sound play in this line:

"union blue and glorious grey"

I so enjoy the final touch in your closing stanza:

"yellow-crested night heron signals midnight"

Excellent writing indeed!

ayala said...

Beautifully penned.

Mary said...

I enjoyed this, Margaret. I remember going on a "ghost walk" in Charleston some years ago!! Love especially your last stanza.

Outlawyer said...

This is wonderfully a ghost walk in ink. There's a love 19th century feel to ages and even echoes in cadence and language choices that very much suits your subject. Thanks. K.

Outlawyer said...

Ps great photos. Also this is Karin Gustafson-- Manicddaily. I am not on a computer and blogger wants me to use an old blog. K.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Your signature photography brings a new level to your poetry. That first pic is amazingly atmospheric. I love the way your description leads the reader back into the past in such a dreamy way. This is just fabulous as a Nocturne piece.

grapeling said...

Dreamlike and translucent - you deftly paint an apparition ~ M

Ginnie said...

Now I want to go and spend time in Charleston more than ever!!! One of these years.