Down through layers of time #poetry #Earthweal

‘If you are old, then I must be prehistoric.
– Quote by my grandmother, Erna Tormanis (04.10.24-25.09.2014)

It’s breakfast time
in my time 
that means poetry and a quiet cup of tea
and my mind’s gradual opening: 

Last night, I travelled to Australia in my dreams
alighting on strange lands
I’ve never seen or
haven’t yet to see.

‘Time is a jet plane
it moves too fast – ’
too many I’ve loved already 
in the past:
That’s not what love is.

At school I studied history,
at university the history 
of literature 
all those kings and queens 
and poets trying to unravel the mystery of life.

One level deeper: Archaeology
enticed me
how many Troys were there at the final count?
maybe eight or nine
and how ironic then
that Schliemann bulldozed the closest candidate for ‘Homer’s Troy.’

How many times was the Labyrinth at Knossos rebuilt
and which final palace was the final place, the one
which became fixed in 
mythical memory?

Level down:
Geological time
I’m no palaeontologist but I could long
love to be washed up on those shores:
Jurassic Coast, border
trilobite and ammonite
for sure a poet gave this science its names.

Then we reach out into the universe and
we’re through the looking glass:
gravitational-lensed Alices
looking down the rabbit hole
the black hole
or could it be a wormhole to
a parallel dimension?

And what is our role in this
we writers, dancing to the tune of eons?
At its best, poetry
vibrates with a universal frequency 
which some have called ‘the music of the spheres:’

The poet’s in tune with the timeless
in all this tangled web of time
which passes all but unheard 
faintly falling on deaf universal ears.

© Experimentsinfiction 2021, All Rights Reserved

Written for Earthweal

For this week’s Weekly Challenge, Brendan has asked us to do the following:

Let’s see what happens when we focus our poetic eyes on the presence of deep time:

  • What places have you experienced deep time —walking a beach or through a primeval forest, beholding a hawk’s eye or restful centuries in a cemetery?
  • How does the perpetual exist with the fleeting, the dead among the living, the first traces of existence weaving like smoke around our ruins of time?
  • Observe places in which time is inverted, a life becomes aeons and forever exhales in gasp. Irish heroes journeyed into the sidhe for three days and three night and returned centuries later. A psychologist once told me that deep work achieves much in a few moments. Dreams shake the glass so the grains flow in multiple timescales. A first kiss lasts forever. Describe a moment of deep time. (And there are many scales for deep time – geologic, glacial, human, poem.)
  • Why is poetry so apt for holding deep time in its tiny chalice?

The Featured Image is a photograph of the ruins of Troy, which Heinrich Schliemann famously (or infamously) excavated in search of the Homeric citadel. In search of glory he erased the very thing he was looking for, keen to get down to the deepest layers of the site, convinced that Homer’s Ilium was to be found there. Archaeologists have identified 9 ‘layers’ of different periods of habitation: the one matching the period of the Homeric epics is most likely Troy VII, and much of the archaeological evidence for this layer was destroyed in Schliemann’s fervent ‘race to the bottom.’ One of the many ironies of history.

25 thoughts on “Down through layers of time #poetry #Earthweal

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  1. Your wonderful poem of historical layers had me reminiscing my childhood school days, from junior school, to high school, and then through university…. as a youngster I was fascinated by maps ang geography, and in my teenage years I was thinking of becoming a geologist…. then I dreamt of becoming an architect, but by the time I entered university, I found myself in the science department, and ended up being an Industrial Chemist…. When I was older I would have liked to have been able to travel, and stand upon some of the world’s ancient historical sites…. but I have walked on the ‘Great Wall”… touched Rodin’s statues … and stood in the cellar where “Edgar Allan Poe” wrote ‘The Raven’….. thank you Ingrid for evoking/shaking so many memories out of my head tonight…..

  2. A wonderful read. I especially love your closing stanza…….”the poet’s in tune with the timeless.” I love that!

  3. This is a beautiful piece, Ingrid, and I did so enjoy reading a longer poem from you! Each stanza is carefully crafted and I love how it flows not only through history but also through the musing of a poet’s mind. The final lines connected with me most; how beautifully you capture one perspective of writing.

  4. Ingrid, your Earthweal weekly challenge asked some thought-provoking and high-level questions of you. You delivered an impressive response! I love that your journey begins with breakfast and then quickly takes us on a winding exploration.

    No surprise, I love this line~
    “we writers, dancing to the tune of eons?”

  5. Only dreams are better than poems at dippering deep time, and they are unknowable … Here we grasp in a few words the deep sweep of the mind’s brush against time, getting down and to what we really are, have been, perhaps will be. (For if character is fate, then the poet is magnitude’s dancing slippers …) I’m a sucker for vast histories, I think poetry instills that deep yearning for source. Loved this. – Brendan

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