Festina lente – Hurry up and wait

I don’t write poems slowly:
I’ve only twenty minutes before the kids get up
you see, I’m raising two pueris aeterna
and I guess, puella aeterna, you could have once called me…

Not now
I’ve learned the value of the slow.

I’ve been reading Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals, how her brother
spent weeks, months or even years
drafting a poem (what luxury!)
and how she walked
from Rydal Mount
to the broad shores of Windermere 
and lamented the felling of ancient oak trees

How can I say
I’ve learned the value of the slow?

I now take time, to linger in the moment
when I can; luxuriate in it, even:
still the blood, still the heart
(still the fear)
when the deep past of your own history 
slams into you like a brick wall, it can be
too hard to bear
so many layers, how do we navigate?
Periods seem almost geographical in their vastness
merely seconds, in the clockwork of the universe. 

Go slow, festina lente:
hurry up and wait.

I see the layers of history in my home town
compare them to the layers of my life:
the car garage 
was once a bus depot, before that
a tram shed.
There are no trams now, no canal, no port
I remember some of it, some of it not at all, but I know
cities grow like people
too fast then not at all
nothing after all is eternal

except perhaps
the value of the slow:

a zero-value
full stop
of time in which
there’s nowhere left to go.

© 2021 experimentsinfiction.com. All Rights Reserved.

Written for earthweal

For this week’s challenge, Brendan asks us to ‘write of slowness.’ He goes into some detail about what this may mean, in terms of how we deal with the climate crisis, and also how we write poetry.

The Latin terms were introduced in Brendan’s essay: Festina lente actually translates as ‘make haste and go slowly,’ but it reminded me of the phrase ‘hurry up and wait.’ ‘Puer aeternus is the archetype of speedy spirituality – the flying young man whose feet can’t touch the ground.’ I was once this in female form: puella aeterna, the eternal girl:

51 thoughts on “Festina lente – Hurry up and wait

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  1. I really like this one Ingrid… it mourns the unattainable, accepts the inevitable and finds logic in conundrum. “Hurry up and wait!” It’s a very interesting journey.

  2. Yeah … Blonde, I’m a fan from way back in time, when I took time to stop…and here is a quote of mine, from a time when I was pleading for more time … “Time Hears No Commands”

      1. ld doesn’t slow, time stays the same, motion is within us … your yoga and meditation is the way to go …

  3. Slowness is a luxury these days, especially busy moms in a digital litverse. There are many ways to write poems, for sure; I remember Eamon Brennan saying she learned to write poems between changing nappies. I don’t know if it’s even possible to go slow any more, but ideas of it may be fructive anyway. If you ever get a chance, do read Hillman’s essay, it’s fascinating, telling and apt. I have lots of puer and senex crossed in my wires.

  4. So much to think about here, Ingrid. I think, too, when your children are young, time is different. (Something that now I’m going to have to think about).

    I’ve written some poems quickly, and some I’ve written and rewritten over months. 😀

    1. I’ve found time really has sped up since I’ve had kids…I think that’s normal! I have one or two poems that I left for 20 years before finishing 😅

  5. I so enjoyed reading this poem. I love when poems are personal and one gets a glimpse into the poet’s life. I especially resonate with “still the fear”. In these strange times, I feel myself growing ever more silent in response. A stillness, of sorts. Oh, and the years go by too fast when our children are young. Savour every moment. It is the blink of an eye.

  6. Complex, cohesive, and evocative. This jumps out at me:
    “Periods seem almost geographical in their vastness
    merely seconds, in the clockwork of the universe.”
    Important to remember but so difficult to remember.

  7. I really enjoyed this poem, Ingrid. Sammi Lee, who needed to stop and at look at flowers, clovers, and ladybugs, taught me the art and beauty of slow. 💖 Parents do need to rush to get it all done, but children do remind us to slow down, especially babies. Years with one poem is a bit too slow though! 😆 I appreciate the many layers and subjects you cover in this one and the ending is fantastic. Blondie is a nice bonus!

    1. Thank you Michele! My children don’t go slow at all 😅 but they do notice all kinds of interesting detail that I would miss…

      1. You are welcome. In my experience, most little boys do not go slow. 😂 My own brother made sure I saw ever little bug he found. 😆 I am glad he did. 😄

      2. Yes! 😂 I don’t flinch at bugs or loud noises, thanks to his relentless teasing. Early training! He was a very active boy, then he joined the army and jumped out of airplanes.🪂 😱

  8. I like the idea of slowing to zero – to stopping the relentless rush of progress and taking time to grieve the passing of the great trees. Your poem has layers of meaning that reveal themselves slowly.

  9. “cities grow like people
    too fast then not at all
    nothing after all is eternal”
    I particularly like these lines, Ingrid, and the images that go with them, the car garage, the bus depot, the tram shed. A far ranging and thought provoking poem.

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