quaker fencer

kathz isn't quite my name. I may be a Quaker. If I'm a fencer I'm a bad one and I don't do sabre. If I'm a Quaker I'm a bad one - but you've worked that out already. Read on. Comment if you like. Don't expect a reply.

Location: United Kingdom

Saturday, March 17, 2007

fencer poet?

As part of my job, I was required to attend a poetry workshop run by Peter and Ann Sansom. (I was wearing that hoodie again.) One of the many treats was sitting next to veteran peace protestor and Quaker Alice Beer, who brought an excellent poem about making frogs. We had a morning doing quick exercises and amazing ourselves with the results, and an afternoon looking at poems in process by all participants.

This isn't going to turn into a poetry blog. However, one of the exercises, once we were all warmed up, was to write a poem, in just a few minutes, about any group of people we chose. I chose fencers so feel duty bound to incude the result on this blog, even though it could do with more polishing.

Regular readers of this blog will have no problems in picking up the final references but I'll include a link at the end for anyone who's puzzled.

Preparation for Attack

You’re in an office, see the corridor.
You’re on the train. You see an aisle.
You can’t resist. You say it.
“It’s a piste.”

and you see yourself
in white, with an opponent.
You’re moving up and down
(clatter of blades).
You catch the lunge-attack, parry, riposte … and it’s all over.
Point for you.

For Christmas you want blades,
a glove, a bag,
a new French grip.
You search the internet, look for “escrime”
(fed up with garden fences)
and you take the test
that tells you epee is the sword for you.
You go to talks on “how to mend a foil”
and keep spare buttons in your purse.

All night you dream of new attacks.
You’re Cyrano
and interrupt ballades
to strike with each refrain.
Fighting battalions, you whisper love
and when the brick falls and you stagger, late
to Roxane’s convent,
you’ll say farewell, accept her tears
but stand alone for death
and meet him, sword in hand.

If you don't know about Cyrano de Bergerac (in the play by Edmond Rostand), you can find an outline here.

There's an English version here.

And here is the French text.

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