"One of the surest tests [of the superiority or inferiority of a poet] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion."


Let's all be good thieves together.

Thursday, 4 December 2008


I'd just like to take a moment to welcome anyone coming from the link Nicky provided on his AC article. A quick glance will reveal that I'm not the most active of bloggers and to be honest that won't change anytime soon. I also like to take my time writing so you'll have to wait to see what I'm actually capable of. Still feel free to compare my Halloween Girl to his which you can find here and hopefully enjoy this little short story I wrote one night in January while feeling a tad melancholy, I could do with fixing up the grammar a notch but it'll do for now to refute Nicky's claims that I can't write anything original without sex in it.

The Last Sunset

I watched the sun set today, perhaps for the first time since I was a lad sitting on the beach with my family while we listened to the gentle song of the ocean as it whispered a lullaby to those who cared to listen. My view was poor but I made sure to follow it as best I could while it slipped beyond the horizon. In youth, long before science robbed me of dreams and whimsy, I knew with all my heart that the sun had gone home to his cottage where it would have tea and scones and read its paper while smoking a pipe and disdainfully tut-tutting at the state of the world followed by a remark or two about how things were so much better when he was a lad, just as my own father did, but now I know instead of stars and planets dancing their ordained orbits like stately old men and woman, waltzing to the orchestra of time. I watched this sunset as it stained the sky red with blood and stood by the window until long after day had passed into night and the stars twinkled in the firmament. I do not doubt that I have seen better sunsets, even if I cannot recollect them at this moment, but none have ever been so poignant to me I think, as this was my last sunset.

For on the morrow I hang.

Doubtless you wonder how an innocent child who dreamed of the sun in a cottage enjoying tea and scones has come to such a sad fate. I could protest that I am innocent, that I have been framed by powerful and corrupt men jealous of my success, but if you are reading this then I can safely assume that you know of me and my crimes and that such deceit would serve no point. Still it matters not, I have no desire to dwell on my fall from grace, suffice it to say that as in all such matters it began with a small sin, barely noticeable, and grew from there, the snowflake that became an avalanche. It is however a small consolation to me that I am the last of my line, and that there are none dear to me who will have to live with the shame my deeds would have brought unto them… A small consolation indeed but at such a time I will accept what little I can gain.

For on the morrow I hang.

I return to this endeavour, to set my final thoughts to paper, a final vanity to salve my pride after having finished my last repast. It is strange how even the simplest of fare was transmuted by my situation into a meal beyond the skills of the finest chef, indeed there is some truth in the thought that one does not truly live until he is to die. After the meal the prison chaplain visited me to offer solace and hear my final confession. He waxed eloquent regarding his God and the torments that would await me should I not take this final opportunity to unburden my soul and repent. It was truly a magnificent performance and I almost feel a smidgeon of guilt at his expression when I informed him that unless his God could provide me with a key to my cell, a change of clothes, and a fast horse at the steps I would rather keep my sins to myself.

For on the morrow I hang.

Damn that foolish priest and his sermons! I had hoped to rest and look well for my hanging, that those who attend would note it and mark that I died with no regret. A brave monster that had left the world a better place for his death, rather than a pitiful wretch put out of his and their misery. But now I see their faces once more, all those whose blood eased my way to a life of notoriety and leisure. I will have no sleep this night, and yet of them all I regret but one strangely enough, and not even the one for which I will dance the hemp fandango; I only wish that clod had a thousand lives so I could savour the taking of them all the more. Perhaps the priest did have a point after all, perhaps this is a time to make confession and beg forgiveness… Not from some distant, detached God, for I know that any God worthy of the name would have nothing to do with a soul as stained as mine. No I shall make what peace I can here and now with the shade of a sweet innocent girl who deserved far more than the untimely death and shallow grave she received.

For on the morrow I hang.

Ah Catherine my beautiful little wren, fair of face, dark of hair and quick of wit I can see your pale shade standing before me as I pen these words. The blood on your dress is a testament to my crime but worst of all are your eyes for I see no accusation, no hatred at what I have become, only pity and love for the man you once knew… I can write no more, I cannot… I must apologise to you my faithful reader, I do not know if her shade truly appeared to me or if it was merely an illusion caused by the stress of my imminent fate. I will continue however for her tale should be told. We grew up together in a small fishing village by the sea: she and I. As children we were playmates and confidants seeking escape from ever present boredom and the threat of education provided by the local schoolmaster, as time inevitably took its toll, and we became aware of the differences betwixt man and woman, we became sweethearts and eventually married. We were happy, I was happy, but I was not content in our little cottage by the river. If only I could have been… What a different life I would have led, a loving husband, a devoted father and in the fullness of time a wise and knowing grandfather, with her ever by my side, but such was not to be.

For on the morrow I hang.

As I mentioned, while I was happy I was not content with my lot in life; I was ever sure that I was destined for greater things than the simple life of a fisherman; that wealth and prestige were merely waiting for me to reach out and grab them. In short I was a fool. too distracted by worthless dreams of avarice to note the true treasures around me, and so when I was approached by a dubious little man who offered me more money than I would make in a month simply to take my boat out one dark night and receive a package for him, feckless youth that I was, I accepted without ever considering the consequences. All went smoothly that night, and I returned home with a spring in my step and wealth in my pocket with the promise of more to come. I was so pleased with myself that I announced my good fortune to my beloved Catherine without ever considering how she would react to such news. To say she was distraught would be putting it mildly, she cried and wept, calling me a fool who would wind up on the gallows should the excise men ever discover my crime. She begged me to return the money, and foreswear doing such deeds again for the wages of sin were death, and so on it went. I tried to reason with her, to make her see the life that could be ours, but she was too good, too pure and so neither of us could convince the other. During our argument the crockery and cutlery were scattered until I finally attempted to restrain her and convince her that I had done everything for us and a future brighter than that which we had been allotted, and she slapped me... I swear until that moment I had never raised my hand to a woman, but a red mist descended upon me and I struck her with the back of my hand… Such a gentle blow it was, you have to believe me, nothing more than a tap, but she flew, light as a feather, and fell to the ground where she lay, still and unmoving. I rushed to her side, turning her over, and then all I could see was the blood from the discarded knife that somehow had pierced her heart. I panicked then, and fearing the noose I buried her in a shallow grave by an oak tree along the river before I fled to the life of sin that has led me to this point. I swear that in all the time since, while I have known the company of many women, I loved only her and I beg you that if you should pass by that village, find the tree and ensure she has a proper burial. She deserves that much at least.

For the morrow has finally come. And I will hang.

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