Hello, it’s me.

 

Welcome to my blog!

My name is Hannah Else. I’m a Lancaster University graduate currently living in London and working as a writer and editor.

I am thrilled to have finally created this platform on which to share my poems, and despite being a little late to the ‘blogger’ party, I can’t wait to get started.

Once a month I will be sharing an original poem along with a short analysis, that will of course be open to discussion!

I am hoping to build an audience for my work, learn from the responses I receive, and perhaps spark interest in those of you who want to enjoy reading or writing poetry.

Thank you for reading, and keep your eyes peeled for the next post! xxx

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Acting Astraea

every sin dissipates to blank space
and the world is gentle, soft sand

(when we embrace, we feel it)
and we are full. Of air, of life

of love. We are bursting.
Every sound we hear is sweet

as birdsong, and light as clouds.
We are a harmony with it all,
making music.

I stare gladly
at our plentiful time.

Celebrate the newness that comes
with every
single
step

We find places that are filled,
like us, with the greatest sounds

and gentlest things;
that unmistakable taste

 

This poem was an experimental one to say the least, but I’m hopeful that my messing around with the form had the right effect. I tried to make this piece read as a monologue by having various inconsistencies throughout, such as line lengths, caesuras, numerous examples of  enjambment and irregular capitalisation. In my mind, this helped the stanzas flow and tie the entire piece together, but also allowed them to occasionally make sense as stand-alone separate thoughts.

Since the poem might first appear as lovely-dovey and potentially a bit wet, I made sure to add a new element to it by experimenting with my title. Astraea is the Greek Goddess of innocence and purity (among other things) so I decided to use her name in my title to allow readers to ponder the overriding theme in a little more depth. I wanted there to be an underlying tone of fabrication and make-believe; almost a feeling of ‘too-good-to-be-true’. The narrator is ‘Acting Astraea’ unknowingly, and is so blindly in love that they cannot see the falseness residing underneath their seemingly perfect happiness*.

Examples of this covertly one-sided relationship can be seen in a few of the stanzas – even the first line “every sin dissipates” suggests that once, there were sins, and having the verb in the present tense suggests that they are still disappearing (i.e. not completely gone). Additionally, the line “I stare gladly” could represent loneliness and isolation as the narrator chooses not to use the plural pronoun “we”, implying that only they are content with the prospect of a lifetime with the other.

I ended the poem without punctuation or a satisfying final line because I wanted the reader to decide their own ending. Is the narrator interrupted in their thoughts and eventually told the truth about their fantastical love? Are they simply trailing off, completely immersed in their fictitious happiness? I’m not even sure if I’ve decided for myself…

I hope you enjoyed this experimental piece. There’s so much more to say about it but I wouldn’t want to bore you!

Some questions from me:

How did you feel about the ending? What is the narrator feeling?
Did you pick up on the natural imagery? What could this represent?

Thank you so much for reading xxx

*Disclaimer: if anyone knows me personally and is wondering whether this is a representation of my own relationship, please do not worry, we’re fine!

Slow Motion

If I’d only one wish
I’d wish for time.
For all our hours to roll into none
so we could finally bask
in the glorious moments
for longer than they last.
I’d want the minutes to never start
or stop. The tick of a clock to be lost.
So we could be one, never-ending,
continuous love.

I’ll put my ‘hands’ up and admit that I tend to write a lot of poems about time, but I wanted to post this since it massively reflects how I’m feeling at the moment.

Working full time has led me to hugely appreciate the days I spend at home rather than in the office; I’ve always thought that the weekends went by quickly (as I’m sure everyone has), but now they seem to last just a matter of hours! It honestly freaks me out that in just a few short years I’ll be approaching my 90th birthday.

This poem is relatively simple and I haven’t used many poetic techniques to make it any more ambiguous than it needs to be. All I did really was mess around with the form a little to effect the way it is read. Having longer lines and using caesuras can make the poem read quite slowly, which is what I wanted here. Contrasting this I made sure the poem was short and that it was all one stanza. This was supposed to reflect time, in that it passes us by so rapidly. I also used a little internal rhyme in “bask”/”last” as well as the line “tick of a clock to be lost”. Again, the /ɒ/ sound is a little more drawn out, so its appearance in the words “clock” and “lost” make the sentence read slightly slower.

Though this piece is more about love than it is about work, I think it can capture a general feeling of longing. The speaker desires a never-ending stretch of time, and though they know it can never be attained, it will always remain a “wish”. This dream-like tone once again slows down the pace.

I hope you enjoyed this poem! Thank you so much for reading.

Don’t hesitate to send me a message if you have any questions xxx

Left in Summer

Left in summer weeks ago
a hurried, brief farewell.
Like turning pages,
gone at once
but rest in memory still.

A world away,
though near enough
to wonder and to miss.
Counting down
rushing time –
the chore that waiting is.

A minute more,
with fingers crossed
and eyes shut like clenched fists
the weight of such a heavy heart
at long, long last, it shifts.

 

First of all, apologies for my lack of posts recently. I’m sure you’ve all been absolutely wild with anticipation.

I have recently moved to London and started a full time job, so it’s fair to say the past few weeks have been a bit hectic, and poems (though still close to my heart) have been residing in the back of my mind for a while.

Nonetheless, today I bring to you ‘Left in Summer’ which is a poem I wrote just after I left home to go to uni in my first year. It’s not exactly an ambiguous poem, but I think it’s somewhat left to interpretation regarding its tone. I tend to read it in quite a melancholy way, however I know others have read it with a slightly more bitter tone to the voice (the first two stanzas at least). The poem is about waiting, frustration, boredom, loneliness…it’s up to you really. For me, it was about missing people back home when I first went away. The line “gone at once / but rest in memory still” shows that it is a sudden loss (interpreted by some people as death).

Not to blow my own trumpet, but I think the use of half rhyme in this poem is quite effective. you have “farewell” and “still” in the first stanza, “miss” and “is” in the second, and finally “fists” and “shifts”. I think ending on a more secure, obvious rhyme is a good way to close off the piece as a whole. The half rhymes create quite a soothing rhythm, and, particularly when they’re paired with the use of enjambment, can make the poem flow really smoothly as it’s read.

I intended the length of the poem to be symbolic, though it isn’t the easiest thing to spot unless you look for it. My idea was based on the fact that waiting and longing for someone is something that, at the time, seems to last forever, but really the time is going just as fast as it always does. So, although the feeling that the poem represents is long and tiresome, the actual event (the length of the stanzas) is shorter than you think. Hence the final line “at long, long last, it shifts”. Ironic really, since the poem is only 16 lines long.

Thank you so much for reading! xxx

Piscine Molitor

Lost in a storm, my ship, my life
my father, his wife
and a tiger.

Watched it all sink, disappear,
I choked on the water,
drowned in the fear.

Found a boat, caught fish, survived.
Conquered the fear, and thrived.
Found the tiger.

Terrified, but I fought it
trained it, loved it and taught it.
The tiger and I

became friends, came to care.
A travelling pair.
Saw land.

His paw and my foot on the sand.
I stroked his fur with
a muddy hand

and watched, as he fled to the trees.
My friend, my partner
Richard Parker.

 

If you haven’t read the book or seen the film of  ‘Life of Pi’ you will have no idea what I’m going on about in this poem! I highly recommend that you make yourself familiar with the story if you haven’t already because it really is such an incredible one. Piscine Molitor, or ‘Pi’, is the protagonist, and after being shipwrecked, finds himself stranded on a small boat with a wild tiger and some other animals. He forms a bond with the tiger that is both unbelievable and heartwarming. I won’t discuss any more of the story in case you’d like to read or watch it!

Anyway, I wrote this poem a while ago when I was stuck in a bit of a rut as to what I should write about. I thought that writing about something that already had its own story line would help me get back into things, and it definitely worked. While creating this poem I was able to experiment with sound techniques as well as making sure I was capturing certain elements of the story that were most important for the reader.

I wanted to include several rhymes, though keep them inconsistent. This was to give the feeling of a flowing, continuous story, without having to keep it following a strict, rhythmic structure. In a way, I wanted the poem to sound more like a recreation of the story than a standard poem. A lot of the sentences were quite short, and the stanzas are almost in a list-like form. Again, this was to create a flowing tone, with the intention of it being read with a slightly faster pace compared with how you might usually read a poem.

I hope you enjoyed this post!

Make sure you go and watch or read Life of Pi!

Thank you for visiting my site xxx

Individual

I am a wasp among bees,
a flower bed’s weed.
The first dead leaf
from the greenest trees.

A cloud in the bluest
of skies. The pain,
when sunlight
holds your eyes.

I’m new; a footprint
in crisp snow.
A baby’s first cry,
a fire’s first glow.

Old like heirlooms,
cherished through time.
Each their own,
and none like mine.

 

The message of this poem is quite simple, but I wanted to make use of several images and ideas to reiterate the meanings of individualism. The simplicity in the poem is reflected through the consistent rhyming in each stanza, and the easy-to-follow stanza and line lengths.

Individualism can be interpreted in so many ways, but this poem focuses on the thoughts of the narrator and their feelings towards themselves. In the first few lines, it may seem that the narrator is uncomplimentary, describing themselves as “a flower bed’s weed”. However, I wanted the interpretation to be less about the actual object being referred to, but the implications of it being different from the rest. For example, in stanza two, the individual is “the pain, / when sunlight / holds your eyes”. Although the sunlight is more desirable than the pain, it is the pain that is noticed, and therefore is what makes the narrator individual.

The last two stanzas of the poem differ slightly as they describe things that are considered more desirable. “crisp snow” and “first glow” have more appealing connotations, however the message remains the same; the narrator feels that they are changing the ordinary. I focused primarily on natural imagery throughout as I wanted the message to be universal.

I hope you liked this poem!

Some questions from me:
Did it make a difference that some of the references to individualism were less desirable than others?
Was the simplicity of the structure helpful?

Thank you for reading xxx

Screen Time

Brain squasher,
you tease and tear at every nerve
hiding there, in my screens
my friend’s mouths.
that busy motorway.

You’ll get me,
close my eyes under your
heavy weight.
I wait
for silence, relief. Alas;

an angry red; flashing.
my eyes clench to resist the glare,
but you surround me.
A cloak of blinding
noise and light. Suffocating.

Eventually creeping through
my skull, where you push
and pull, lay me down
to sleep
but keep me awake.

 

As many of my friends and family will know, I suffer from headaches quite regularly. This poem explores the sensation of a persistent headache, using personification and visual metaphors to really bring it to life and make it familiar to the reader.

I titled the poem ‘Screen Time’ after much deliberation. Originally, the title was ‘Headache’, but I wanted a slightly less transparent introduction to the piece. ‘Screen Time’ is also a common cause of headaches, and the vowel sound in ‘screen’ is identical to that of ‘scream’, and so connotations of pain can be drawn from the title.

I decided to use a lot of visual imagery in this poem, since headaches are not things you can see, though sometimes feel so intense that they may as well be living creatures! The first line, “brain squasher”, gives the sense of the headache being aggressive, and later it’s described as a “cloak”, which suggests a more sinister, hidden side to it. I also gave it a colour, “angry red”, which I feel represents a sense of danger and fear.

There are some instances in this poem where I chose to use internal rhyme, for example in the first stanza; “tease and tear / …everywhere”, and stanza four “skull / …push and pull”. Though this occurred quite naturally, I made the instances more apparent by using enjambment to create a rhythm which would draw more attention to these rhyming words.

I hope you enjoyed this poem!

Some questions from me:
Are you a headache or migraine sufferer? Do you sometimes feel that they act in this way?
What would you have titled this poem?

Thank you so much for reading xxx

The Kitchen of My Dreams

I’m dreaming of a kitchen
a space that’s fresh and clean.
A place you’d never find a milk that’s off
or bread that’s green.

A kitchen that is tidy,
crumbs swept up straight away.
A place to cook,
without having to dread it every day.

This kitchen would have spotless sinks,
where plugholes don’t get blocked.
So plates and bowls can be washed up
(with sponges fully stocked)

A place where you could step, carefree,
wherever you may choose.
without socks sticking to the floor
or rice stuck in your shoes.

I’m wishing for this kitchen,
but alas, today it seems
that the kitchen here treads far behind
the kitchen of my dreams.

 

I’ve uploaded this poem for a bit of fun – it is (of course) about my uni kitchen. I only have one week left of living in uni accommodation, which, while a little scary, is also BRILLIANT, because I will no longer have to be associated with such a revolting space.

I sent this poem into the group chat with my flatmates in an attempt to sort the mess out once and for all, but unsurprisingly it made no difference, and yesterday I found myself retching at the sight of pasta sauce smeared all over the bin lid. It honestly baffles me how people can be so oblivious to their disgusting habits. Things like washing up, cleaning up spillages, and throwing your milk away when its (three weeks) out of date, are really quite basic skills that people should learn before moving away from home.

I could turn this into a huge rant about the kitchen, exploring every single detail as to why it’s so disgusting, but I think I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Thank you so much for reading! Hope you enjoyed the poem xxx

Natural Disaster

Ignorant and deaf to us, our dictator
stands at the forefront. Looks down
at the worms in her garden,
the leaves in her palm.

We’re crushed until almost a dust
and scattered
wherever she wishes;
blown by her own foul breeze.

Her water, strong as a giant’s fist,
slaps into towers and sweeps them
through streets, collecting at last
into a dam.

She laughs at us. Watching us
swim to a shore
before she strikes again,
with greater force.

But of course, we remain entranced,
in awe. As she ruins the earth, alone
with her hands
we will always applaud.

 

Following on from my last post Love’s Mother, which depicted a goddess of love, this poem focuses on the idea of ‘Mother Nature’. Like Love’s Mother, I have personified this mythological figure, and created visual images to represent how I felt she might act.

Rather than presenting her in the more common way (celebrated and loved), I wanted to focus on Mother Nature’s more brutal tendencies which are not often talked about or assumed her ‘fault’. In the poem, I mention some of the hardships that the Earth faces, such as storms, “foul breeze” and tsunamis “her water…sweeps through streets”. I described Mother Nature as a “dictator” in the first stanza to give the reader an immediate feel for the tone of the poem,  and perhaps even encourage some preconceptions about the figure herself.

Throughout the stanzas, Mother Nature is portrayed as an unforgiving, vicious goddess. It was interesting to me that even today, we are rarely accusing of mythological or religious figures when things go wrong, yet we are quick to admire their abilities and thank them for their generosity in more positive scenarios. This poem captures the idea that humans are often so secure in their beliefs that nothing can change how they feel about someone or something they admire. The people in this piece struggle, are “crushed” and laughed at by a higher power, yet “remain entranced” and “applaud” her.

Thank you so much for reading!

Some questions from me:

Do you agree? Are we sometimes blinded by our own beliefs?
Could you tell that the poem was about Mother Nature from quite early on?

Hope you enjoyed this piece xxx

Love’s Mother

Eyes of two lovers meet in a bubble.
They’re static a while; serene unblinking,
and a red thread binds the two; invisible to most.

It has been woven
by a woman with rings on each finger.
Love’s mother.

She knows that each pair has a plan;
she is wise like that.
It must be so if it is what fate gave.

She takes the bubble through a jungle mess
of muds and sprawled vines. And bursts it
with an unforgiving claw.

 

I tried to take a slightly more fantastical approach when writing this poem. It interested me that there is no mythological “mother of love” (that I know of), yet there is of course Mother Nature. I wanted to explore the idea of there being a Goddess of love, and what her role might be if she existed.

The “red thread” image was inspired by the Japanese legend of the ‘red string of fate’. The idea is that a red string (representative of the veins in your heart) is intertwined with another’s and will eventually join the two people together. I used this to give my poem a more mythical feel. While reading about the legend, I thought if love did have a mother, she would be the one who controlled these strings. I played with this idea in stanzas two and three, suggesting that the woman worked together with fate to pair people who would love one another.

The last stanza depicts love’s mother testing the couple “through a jungle mess”; symbolising the difficulties that relationships have to face, and eventually deciding that the two do not belong together. She bursts the bubble with a “claw”, which I think suggests that although a Goddess of love, she can be cruel, much like love itself.

 

Thank you for reading!

Some questions from me:
Were you aware of the Red String of Fate legend?
Do you believe that there is in fact a Goddess of love?

Hope you enjoyed this poem xxx

Sweetheart

That little pond by your house
on Heron Road
where you kissed me on the cheek that day.
Young and shy in your school tie
and me in mine.
We laughed afterwards
and threw stones
to try and make the fish jump out.

One winter I returned, and years had disappeared
like old leaves we tread into dirt.

That little pond had a green film,
and I watched our sun
descend through the trees,
whose shadows on the ground
would surround our innocent love, till darkness came.
The tree stump of an oak that we sat on
had bird crap on
and slowly, rotted with the rest.

 

In this poem I have explored the pleasures and bitter disappointments of young love. The theme of love is emphasised by the frequent use of natural imagery, since I have linked the two together in that they both decay at the end of the poem.

The first stanza symbolises the freedom and innocence of the two characters; the magic of a first kiss and the carelessness of childhood shown in the laughter that ensues. The story is told as a reflection of the past, and I have tried to make it so the reader feels the narrator is looking back on his/her younger self. I did this by using past tense as well as the phrase “young and shy”, implying that the character was no longer “young”. The short stanza that follows makes the aging element become much clearer, as the character returns to the place after “years had disappeared”.

In the final stanza, there are several instances where nature is used to reflect the decay of the relationship. The pond grows a “green film”, the light dims as the sun disappears, and the tree stump is covered in bird poo. The taboo “crap” gives the reader a feel for the narrator’s disappointed voice and suggests he/she feels regretful.

I used the phrase “with the rest” in the final line to imply that their love slowly rotted and died out over time, however it could be interpreted in other ways. For example, “the rest” …of his/her life, suggesting he/she is suffering from depression and feels that every aspect of life is decaying. Another phrase that could have been interpreted differently is “our sun”. I used this intentionally to create a double meaning and suggest that they may have had a child together.

I hope you liked the poem!

Some questions from me:
How do you think the relationship could have ended?
What do you think about the short stanza in the middle? Is it necessary?

Thanks so much for reading xxx