Ode on a curious object

I’ve been staying with the most wonderful and generous friends in Bideford, North Devon. One night, while enjoying a few drinks, we discussed the urn-like-object in the photos here. The next day I tried to capture the experience by writing an Ode loosely based on Keat’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn”, and here I dedicate it to Chris & Bill.

The weight of curiosity I bear:
this bottomless bronze urn of mystery
keeps its identity and will not share,
so we make do and guess at history.
Hooks turned upward speak of tassels blowing,
red, weaved, oriental thread decorates
my mind’s eye in its imagination,
and yet there is no true way of knowing,
my confabulation I chide, berate,
but still there is endless fascination.

Swooping adrenalin rush in motion –
perpetual. Wings folded back forever
rigid in talon sharp preparation,
salivates for prey to be caught – never,
eyes locked on defensive, scaly morsel,
eagle perceiving food in grounded foe,
like carrot and stick – always evading,
out of reach, it ultimately forestalls
the hunger satiating final blow,
in air fixed firm, formed of metal casting.

This serpent’s death would be a sweet release
from inescapable anxiety;
caused by sky born threat that time fails to cease,
his body anchored, wrapped around a tree.
What secrets does this serpent then keep hid,
as his hissing deflection forks a plan
to avoid predator’s domination?
Steely eyes kept under non-blinking lids,
may reflect a tortured soul who is banned,
exiled to continual confrontation.

On the other side, cooling willow shade
brings peaceful respite to sheltering birds,
whose webbed toes dip in river’s glassy glade,
where free of conflict they remain preserved.
An earth bound pair of storks observed by kin,
flying overhead on warmed feathered wing,
flounder in empty beaked eternity,
ignorant of cause for petrified sin,
their calls fall silent with no song to sing,
but in their beauty stands infinity.

Whiskey flows during examination –
ornamental. Tales slip off wetted tongues,
asking questions with determination,
our chatter rapid from excited lungs.
Good company brings this bronze urn to life,
our sozzled speculation bringing smiles,
knowing we won’t establish provenance.
Tonight, there is no sign, no sound of strife,
these moments rare along so many miles,
we’ll ask no more – leave it to providence.


28 thoughts on “Ode on a curious object

  1. Would that all such examinations-ornamental were so besozzled thou (still un)ravished bride of eloquence. This emulation is authentic. The immobility of the winged hunt reads dynamically and the poet’s bipartisanship in the struggle is admirably noted. Similar effect is achieved in interpreting the stork’s petrification to a state of infinite beauty. Tone perfect, scene-setting, playing on words, alliteration scattering, contrasts…as Keats just whispered to me, “What’s not to like”?

  2. ha – that is really cool where this object took you – i think it’s also interesting to discuss things like that with friends…everyone sees different things in it i guess…and even more after a few drinks…oy…smiles

  3. it is interesting to ponder the art of old and wonder at the stories that it contains…what the symbolism might have been in the cultural context of the day it was created and what todays symbolism says of it as well…no worries we get it right…if it stimulates conversation among friends, the journey is well worth it…

  4. How imaginative and creative this is ~ Odes to any object, such as a urn are a challenge to me ~ So kudos to you for your detailed imagery ~ The contrast between the 3rd and 4th stanza took my breath away ~

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