That Which Only Was

Discussion in 'The VMBB Poets' started by Pistolenschutze, Sep 16, 2007.

  1. For me, it's been just over 37 years since I came home, and still the dreams come back sometimes, though not nearly so often now. Last night was one of those times, for reasons I cannot begin to fathom. Anyway, I wrote this today, searching for some answer. I don't suppose I found it, and I suspect I never shall. Keep the laughter to a dull roar, please! :eek: :D

    That Which Only Was

    In the dark and calm of night we glimpse again
    The scenes we left so long ago . . .
    As if they were not merely recollection,
    But some insidious power, yet unstilled,
    Within our struggling minds.

    Our souls cry out . . .silently . . . with anguish,
    Ensnared within a past that no longer “is,”
    Yet somehow remains reality still . . .
    But only in the dark and calm of night,
    When the shadows of all that went before,
    Ooze forth their malice upon our souls.

    The dreams! The dreams! Will not they cease?
    Does time not heal the lesions of the soul . . .
    Or only wounds of the fleeting body?
    The poet said we live “as on a darkling plain,”
    But is that place, that thing we call “reality,”
    Not only now, but then?
  2. berto64

    berto64 Active Member

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    Thanks Pistolenschutze,

    It's been over 36 yrs since my return from Vietnam & I too occassionaly am visited by 'Ghosts in the Night' or a dream that wakes me in the dark.

    Not as often but still disturbing after all these years.
  3. Thanks so much for commenting, Berto. Sometimes I think it helps just to share what we feel with those who understand.
  4. Pat Hurley

    Pat Hurley Former Guest

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    Powerful stuff, Pistol. And I didn't laugh.

    You've proven again to be an extraordinary wordsmith and I salute your eloquence.
  5. Thanks Pat. I sincerely appreciate your comment. Sometimes my head does funny things and stuff like that leaks out. :D

    Hey, get back up there to the discussion we were having on the Canon! I eagerly await your insightful thoughts and comments. The discussion is a most interesting one. :)
  6. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff*

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    Pistol, please forgive the delay on responding---I had not noted the date on the last entry...I enjoy poetry, prose, rhyme, and such---on my desk I have a small paperback book titled ONE HUNDRED AND ONE FAMOUS POEMS---it is tattered and has loose pages..the copyrighted date is 1958. I have read it often over these long years. Many of the poems and writings contained therein I remember from my school days....I remember them differently now than when Ms. Griffith may have selected a couple lines from one of them that I had to memorize and recite. I enjoyed your composition very much---I selected different parts to read and reread, perhaps to get the same mood intended by you. I write often about dreams, perhaps not the content, but of the dreams and the mood they leave me in. Often my dear mate of more than half century will comment, "you had a bad night, huh".....I recall some lines from Shakesphere's MacBeth about sleep knitting the ravelled sleeve of care and being the balm of hurt minds......Nope Pistol, you'll not hear any snickers and giggles from Wilborn....keep at it....Chief
  7. Chief, thank you so much for your kind and understanding words. They mean more to me than you can possibly know. I too am a lover of poetry, and yes, I tend to dabble in it from time to time. It's a vice, I know. :D Here on TFF, among so many decent and encouraging people, is the first time I've ever felt comfortable enough to share any serious verse. I enjoy writing funny limericks, rhyming four-liners, and the like just to get a laugh or to rib someone for the sake of a grin, but the serious stuff I very seldom show even to family or close friends. Most of it hits too close to home. While I love nearly all poetry, I keep two books close at hand and have for many years. One is entitled The Best Loved Poems of the American People, first published in 1936, and the other is The Complete Verse of Rudyard Kipling, a poet whose work I dearly love. Shakespeare is also a great favorite of mine, but I generally prefer his plays to the Sonnets he wrote. The lines you refer to do come from MacBeth, Act II, Scene 2:

    Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more!
    Macbeth does murder sleep', the innocent sleep,
    Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care,
    The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,
    Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
    Chief nourisher in life's feast,--
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 20, 2007
  8. pawn

    pawn New Member

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    Pistolenshutze, I always enjoy your articulate and concise posts.

    Thank you for this vivid work sharing your life experience.

    Cheers Sir.

    -pawn
  9. Marlin

    Marlin *TFF Admin Staff Chief Counselor*

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    Powerful, pistol. :)
  10. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff*

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    Pistol, you mentioned having a book of KIPLING....he has always been one of my favorites. I learned one in school and have never forgotten it....that was titled L'ENVOI.
    I've been a craftsman most of my life--working with my hands, and in the poem L'ENVOI, Mr. Kipling names GOD as THE MASTER OF ALL GOOD WORKMEN. Please take a look if you are not familar with the poem....after all there are so many by Mr. Kipling. Chief
  11. It is indeed a beautiful poem, Chief, though I think my favorite Kipling will always be "Tommy." For those of you who may not have read L'Envoi, here it is:

    L'Envoi

    THERE 's a whisper down the field where the year has shot her yield
    And the ricks stand gray to the sun,
    Singing:—'Over then, come over, for the bee has quit the clover
    And your English summer 's done.'
    You have heard the beat of the off-shore wind
    And the thresh of the deep-sea rain;
    You have heard the song—how long! how long!
    Pull out on the trail again!

    Ha' done with the Tents of Shem, dear lass,
    We've seen the seasons through,
    And it 's time to turn on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
    Pull out, pull out, on the Long Trail—the trail that is always new.

    It 's North you may run to the rime-ring'd sun,
    Or South to the blind Horn's hate;
    Or East all the way into Mississippi Bay,
    Or West to the Golden Gate;
    Where the blindest bluffs hold good, dear lass,
    And the wildest tales are true,
    And the men bulk big on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
    And life runs large on the Long Trail—the trail that is always new.

    The days are sick and cold, and the skies are gray and old,
    And the twice-breathed airs blow damp;
    And I'd sell my tired soul for the bucking beam-sea roll
    Of a black Bilbao tramp;
    With her load-line over her hatch, dear lass,
    And a drunken Dago crew,
    And her nose held down on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
    From Cadiz Bar on the Long Trail—the trail that is always new.

    There be triple ways to take, of the eagle or the snake,
    Or the way of a man with a maid;
    But the sweetest way to me is a ship's upon the sea
    In the heel of the North-East Trade.
    Can you hear the crash on her bows, dear lass,
    And the drum of the racing screw,
    As she ships it green on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
    As she lifts and 'scends on the Long Trail—the trail that is always new?

    See the shaking funnels roar, with the Peter at the fore,
    And the fenders grind and heave,
    And the derricks clack and grate, as the tackle hooks the crate,
    And the fall-rope whines through the sheave;
    It 's 'Gang-plank up and in,' dear lass,
    It 's 'Hawsers warp her through!'
    And it 's 'All clear aft' on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
    We're backing down on the Long Trail—the trail that is always new.

    O the mutter overside, when the port-fog holds us tied,
    And the sirens hoot their dread!
    When foot by foot we creep o'er the hueless viewless deep
    To the sob of the questing lead!
    It 's down by the Lower Hope, dear lass,
    With the Gunfleet Sands in view,
    Till the Mouse swings green on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
    And the Gull Light lifts on the Long Trail—the trail that is always new.

    O the blazing tropic night, when the wake 's a welt of light
    That holds the hot sky tame,
    And the steady fore-foot snores through the planet-powder'd floors
    Where the scared whale flukes in flame!
    Her plates are scarr'd by the sun, dear lass,
    And her ropes are taut with the dew,
    For we're booming down on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
    We're sagging south on the Long Trail—the trail that is always new.

    Then home, get her home, where the drunken rollers comb,
    And the shouting seas drive by,
    And the engines stamp and ring, and the wet bows reel and swing,
    And the Southern Cross rides high!
    Yes, the old lost stars wheel back, dear lass,
    That blaze in the velvet blue.
    They're all old friends on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
    They're God's own guides on the Long Trail—the trail that is always new.

    Fly forward, O my heart, from the Foreland to the Start—
    We're steaming all too slow,
    And it 's twenty thousand mile to our little lazy isle
    Where the trumpet-orchids blow!
    You have heard the call of the off-shore wind
    And the voice of the deep-sea rain;
    You have heard the song—how long! how long!
    Pull out on the trail again!

    The Lord knows what we may find, dear lass,
    And the deuce knows what we may do—
    But we're back once more on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
    We're down, hull down on the Long Trail—the trail that is always new.
  12. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff*

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    Pistol, this is the L'ENVOI by Mr. Kipling that I learned in school:

    L'Envoi

    When Earth's last picture is painted, and the tubes are twisted and dried

    When the oldest colors have faded, and the youngest critic has died

    We shall rest, and, faith we shall need it--lie down for an aeon or two,

    'Til the Master of All Good Workmen shall set us to work anew!



    And those that were good will be happy: they shall sit in a golden chair;

    They shall splash at a ten-league canvas with brushes of comet's hair;

    They shall find real saints to draw from--Magdalene, Peter and Paul;

    They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all!



    And only the Master shall praise us, and only the Master shall blame;

    And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame;

    But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,

    Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They Are!


    Rudyard Kipling
  13. Twib

    Twib New Member

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    I'm not one for reading poems, or for commenting them on that matter, but this one sticks out to me out of the few that I have read. I think it's nice that veterans can express their feelings through poems and writing and that it sometimes helps. The line that gets to me most is "Ensnared within a past that no longer “is,” Yet somehow remains reality still . . .". It must seem like a never ending nightmare to some. This is indeed a vivid piece of work.

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