Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Poet's note

Since creating this blog, I have read several more of Daphne du Maurier's books: "The Birds and other stories", "Breaking Point short stories", "The Doll and other stories", "Mary Anne", "The Scapegoat" and "I'll Never Be Young Again".  The related poetry seems to have "dried up" at present, unfortunately - hence the fact that these poems relate only to the novels "Rebecca", "Jamaica Inn", "Frenchman's Creek" and "My Cousin Rachel". 

I hope to read further du Maurier novels/short stories in the future, including "The House on the Strand".  If I do feel inspired to write further poems based upon Daphne's excellent novels, or the short stories, I will include them on this blog.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

"My Cousin Rachel" (inspired by Daphne du Maurier's "My Cousin Rachel")

Orphaned as a small child -

raised by my elder cousin, Ambrose -

secure together, in our "house of men" -

Ambrose, my cousin -

yet, father, mother, brother -

Ambrose was all. My world.

They used to hang men at Four Turnings

in the old days.

Not any more, though.

I was seven, when

Ambrose showed me

the hanging body of a man.

The man's name was Tom Jenkyn.

He used to sell lobsters.

He murdered his wife,

and for his crime,

Tom Jenkyn hung.

Our damp Cornish winters

did not agree with Ambrose,

necessitating travel -

winters to be spent on the Continent.

And in Florence,

in his forties,

that what where, and when, he met

the Countess Sangalletti -

My Cousin Rachel.

She apparently shared his love of gardening.

Then came the letter,

announcing that

Ambrose and My Cousin Rachel

were married.

I had not know such jealousy -

such intense jealousy - before.

And so few letters.

And when they came...

And that journey to Florence -

and the churches -

and the haunting face

of a beggar woman.

The sudden shock -

the news of

Ambrose's death.

And the villa -

and the fountain -

boy holding a shell -

the laburnun trees -

the unreality of that foreign land.

And, back at home, the hatred

that grew -

of a Rachel

who never existed -

and the love

for a Rachel

who - did that one exist?

Sunday lunches

with the Kendalls and Pascoes -

and My Cousin Rachel.

Especially, that first one.

Especially, the last.

And Rainaldi - hated by Ambrose,

hated by me.

Regarded by My Cousin Rachel as

friend, confidante -

maybe lover, as well?

And the pearls -

around Rachel's white neck -

and a wedding -

my marriage to Rachel -

a wedding

that never took place.

And my own illness.

And - was Rachel innocent?

Was Rachel guilty?

An evening walk

in the terraced garden.

A warning, not heeded.

The image of a granite slab -

a pocket book -

letter from Ambrose - buried,

along with the pocket book.

They used to hang men at Four Turnings

in the old days.

Not any more, though.

"Temptation" (inspired by Daphne du Maurier's "My Cousin Rachel")

My Cousin Rachel. My cousin. Rachel.

My first, last and only.

My temptation. My torment.

Our temptation. Our torment.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

"Fancy Dress" (inspired by Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca")

Finely orchestrated, yet so cruel.

Does each of us have our own

version of

the Manderley fancy dress ball?

We start out with innocent,

childish excitement -

yet, too soon, learn the hardest lesson of all -

feel the world becoming hostile,

and cruel. So very cruel.

Did all of us, at one time, long to have

a fancy dress ball, held "in our honour"?

Make the drummer announce me, Clarice.

You know, how they do.

"La Mouette" (inspired by Daphne du Maurier's "Frenchman's Creek")

bored with her London self and life

with the role of dutiful

mother and wife

a fugitive

she arrives in Cornwall

at Navron

the family estate

seeking to escape

from that other life

that other Dona

the masquerade

that was no life at all

and the peace

that she craves

she finds it here

and yet

is it really the peace

that she seeks

or adventure




an enchanted creek

pirate ship

Frenchman - fugitive - kindred spirit

an artist - sketching a heron

La Mouette




and love

"Mary and the Horse Thief" (inspired by Daphne du Maurier's "Jamaica Inn")

I could be said to be

falling in love

with a horse thief,

in spite of myself.

Yet, I don't - won't - refuse to - call it

"falling in love".

I am simply a woman,

and he is a man,

and something inside of me

is responding to something

about the man.

That is all.

And I try to ignore

the fact that his hands

are just like his brother's -

the hands of a murderer.

The hands of a murderer.

Seventeen years:

That's how long

my mother spent

as a widow.

Our little farm in Helford -

it was the only life

that I had ever known.

But the crops were failing;

the animals were dying.

When we buried Nell, the faithful old mare,

I watched

steel turn into shattering china,

before my young eyes:

witnessed my mother's first,

last and only

serious illness -

nursed her through

her final days -

reluctantly promising...

And so the promise - to go to my aunt.

I honoured my word.

And the moors,

so bleak and wild -

the landscape fills me with

a twisted, distorted

form of love.

So unlike my love, so pure,

for the river - for Helford - for

my people. My home.

And there it stands:

grey, solitary,

sinister and secretive,

the inn that bars its doors

to passing travellers -

not that many would wish,

or dare...

Yes, I could be said

to be falling in love

with my horse thief,

but I choose

to use

different words