Trapped: A Ballad #poetry #dVerse

I walked the midnight path alone
Though moonlight lit my way
A cloud crept o’er
The moon was gone
I heard
A solitary sigh

As in a trance, I heard that sound
As in a trance my feet moved on
The ground gave way
The path was gone
I fell
Depthlessly down and down

Until my fall was broke by leaves
Soft autumn leaves
Piled high, which crushed
Beneath my body’s falling weight
A couch
Of earthy-smelling rust

I lay asleep for many an hour
The sun came up
I saw it not
I’d sunk so deep I saw the stars
In daytime
Here where I shall rot

Would that the fall had broke my neck
And I slept in the silent earth
Better by far
Than be left here
To die 
A lingering life-in-death.

Lucy is guest hosting at dVerse tonight, and she has challenged us to write a dark ballad, giving us some great examples from Thomas Hardy and Edgar Allan Poe, both of which address the themes ‘of not wanting to look back.’

I started off with a Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner in mind and ended up in a Poe type situation, with a kind-of burial alive, although the protagonist could still get lucky and be rescued.

As for seeing the stars in daytime, it’s an idea I took from Peter Ackroyd’s deliciously dark novel Hawksmoor. At one point the villain of the piece proclaims: ‘I am in the Pitte, but I have gone so deep that I can see the brightness of the Starres at Noon.’ Apparently being able to see the stars in daytime from the bottom of a narrow shaft is a myth. But never let the truth get in the way of a good story, hey?

26 thoughts on “Trapped: A Ballad #poetry #dVerse

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  1. Wow, this is so lyrical and I really enjoyed reading the background of this poem. It’s very interesting especially with the imagery of the stars being seen in daylight. This situation is very sorrowful. I feel that while it’s indeed better than hanging in the in-between of life and death, the narrator knows that they are on the path to death. Also, considering, that they are prematurely buried underground.

    Excellent piece from start to finish, Ingrid. It’s very well-written and it tells an intriguing, dark tale. So apt for October.

  2. I love the shape and form of your ballad, Ingrid, and that you were inspired by Coleridge’s ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, one of my favourites, putting it in the first person, repeating ‘As in a trance’, and emulating both language and rhythm. And you read and enjoyed Hawksmoor – me too! It’s a nightmare, to fall into a grave – and what a great phrase ‘A couch / Of earthy-smelling rust’!

    1. Thanks, Kim! I like everything I’ve read by Peter Ackroyd, but I think Hawksmoor is my favourite: it’s so deliciously dark and with such a poignant ending!

  3. To my mind, this is a real ballad, with a rhythm, repetitions, in a form that could be set to music. It seems to me that’s the essence of a ballad, but I could be missing the point.

    1. One of my favourite poetry collections is Wordsworth and Coleridge’s ‘Lyrical Ballads,’ so I really ought to know what a ballad is! I’m so pleased this came across to you. I played with the traditional form a bit, but tried to keep the rhythm regular.

  4. Oh what a grim tale of a midnight walk! Who isn’t haunted by the thought of a living death? Poe would have applauded this haunting invoking of the terror of being buried alive 🙂

  5. Well done Ingrid – very grim – I think there’s an Emily Dickinson feel about this too – ‘I could not stop for death’ – where the protagonist in her grave – watches as days and centuries pass… Shudder

  6. kaykuala
    I’d sunk so deep I saw the stars
    In daytime
    Here where I shall rot:

    You create a classic feeling of despair. It evokes the darker side brilliantly all through, Ingrid!


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