Sunday, 22 March 2009

The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there

I occasionally like to look back through my old diaries and other scribblings, and I really do get the feeling that they must have been written by someone else. Take this poem, for instance:

The Werewolf's Tale

A pale silver moon
Calls me to this night's howling.
Like a cold, lidless eye
It stares me out of my skin.

The ice-cold moonbeams
Plunge their stiletto blades into my brain
And the pain of the change
Whirls my waking mind away.

The world has become a monochrome hell
Of silver and shadow
The fear of it, and the hunger
Drive me to where the warm things lie sleeping.

Only the red, red blood
Can drive out the silver and the black.
Only the warm, warm flesh
Can drive out the cold and the pain.

And when the lidless eye closes at last
And the dawn brings news of untimely death,
A howl of a much more human sort
Goes up to the warming sun.

For I must live my human life as well
Away from the moon's mad eye.
Greeting the dawn with blood under my nails
And a heart that is slowly breaking.


It was originally written in November 1989 and I'm pretty certain it was inspired by Sting's Moon Over Bourbon Street.

I hadn't looked at it for years until this morning. Parts of it are better than I remember, others are not so good. At the time I wrote it, I must have liked it just the way it was, but not now.

I have tweaked it a bit and am happier with it.

This begs the question: should I have messed with the poem or just left it in its original state? It's not quite the same poem now as the one I wrote originally, but then I guess I'm not the same person.

I have this mad fantasy of hopping into a time-machine and going back to give my younger clueless self a good beating for wasting so much time and not making the most of opportunities offered. But, assuming my younger self could make any sense at all of being assaulted out of the blue by a crazed, overweight forty-something, she would probably not be changed by the experience in the way I want (it certainly wouldn't fix the gnawing lack of self-confidence I've lived with all my life!). As any Sci-Fi fan can tell you, you mustn't change the past or you change the present in unpredictable ways.

The road to here may have been far from perfect but, when all's said and done, it is my road and I'm more or less at peace with it.

Mind you, I'm not so in love with my self as I am now that I'm not on the lookout for a baseball-bat wielding old-age pensioner with a mad glint in her eye!


  1. I happened onto your blog by accidents - so who says accidents are always bad things!

    "The road to here may have been far from perfect but, when all's said and done, it is my road and I'm more or less at peace with it." I fully identify with this.

    Call me when the baseball-bat wielding old-age pensioner shows up, I come and help... if you will do the same for me.

  2. I think that poem is chilling and melancholy. It's an interesting perspective, to be sure.

    As far as changing it...I hesitate to do that (which explains why I'm not a good editor of my own stuff), but if you can improve it by doing so, then maybe you should keep a copy of both versions. I like to do things like "[poem title] A" with a date and "[poem title] B" with the newer date. have a record of the change.

  3. @A Human Kind of Human: It's a deal!

    @Viewtiful_Justin: Wise words, I might just start doing version control on my stuff - at least that way, if I don't like the new version I'll still have the old one to go back to.

  4. Darn those baseball bat wielding O.A.P.s!

    Probably most novels were originally written and then re-written over some years - and each change would also relate to a change in the person writing them.


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