I was recently set a uni assignment which involved constructing a strict form poem and writing a reflective essay about my progress in drafting my piece. This was really useful as it made me think more about the process of writing. I rarely rework what I write, and usually content myself with my first draft, but creating multiple drafts of my poem made me consider how my language and imagery could be developed to be made more effective. Below is the final draft of my poem, in the Sestina form:
Sestina to Winter
With death’s farewell leaves slumber on the ground,
hands held like friends of nature – loved and lost.
Like layered gravestones in a churchyard sleep,
they caught within their veins the dying sun
and, decked in green, they smiled till summer’s end
now restless sleep blows them across the earth.
In summers gone, naive, I held the earth
in my belief that this was solid ground,
my faith that growth in trees would never end
and in my dreams of futures never lost.
But now I dream upon a setting sun
and realise that the world is soon to sleep.
It will not be in peace, but raging sleep,
the curtains closed against a storm of earth,
the weeping face of clouded, rain-washed sun
and bitter fall of rain tears on the ground.
Colours of the world paint what we’ve lost
on canvas in the patterns of the end.
If we could only see through winter’s end,
endure beyond the hoar-frost’s clock of sleep,
regain the life that through the snow we lost.
Perhaps, and only then, this weary earth
would seem more than a stretch of empty land,
Bring life again in blessings of the sun.
A lonely pilgrim, Winter worships Sun,
her prayers cry out that this is not the end –
we are much more than martyrs of this land,
content to humbly fall to death’s cruel sleep.
There’s more to find than pain in winter earth,
And more than futile tears for what is lost.
Perhaps someday our lives will not be lost,
when beauty reigns despite the absent sun,
and we’re content to walk this breadth of earth
in search of landscapes rich and without end.
We’ll wake with joy when we are told to sleep
to cherish and to heal this barren land.
And then the earth will have no mortal end,
and though we’re lost, we’ll watch a glowing sun
rise from its sleep, live to rebuild this land.
Photo by Seyedeh Hamideh Kazemi on Unsplash