4. Catching the bull

search_bull3_enlightenment
“Strong of body and spirit, he is not easily subdued.
At times, he scales the lofty plains,
Then hides deep within the cloud-like mist.

As certainties slip from the grasp
cloudland lifts its top  and cuckoos flee
across contours, through half-closed lids the eyes compose
deft as any painter of landscapes
green wash of watercolour
pencilling where craggy heights give way to forest
darker furze slip slide into angular fields
pastures paddle as water meadows
at the horizontal, a sudden halt
willow borderlines wafting snowflake
seeds of late summer

persistent is the canty cloud of flies
pestering the peace
deep in these distractions, a distinct swish of tail
and sudden shape-shifting tremor
the wild bull at bay in its own petrified gaze
foam-flecked feelings ripple up through vellum
sinews singled out with a hidebound resistance
somewhere between tensile rope and whip
I must muster just enough cunning for the capture

Fourth poem of the series interpreting the ten oxherding pictures of Zen meditation – see Poetry Project: 10 bulls 
And I’m offering up these verses with others who are gathering today in the Poetry Pantry

25 Comments on “4. Catching the bull

  1. Good luck on the capture and rather you than me doing it. I could so clearly see “that canty cloud of flies” buzzing around the scene. What a vividly descriptive poem this is.

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    • even though its about meditation – the images are built before they are relinquished

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  2. Series like these allow the eye and ear to shift and sift from one or forty or two hundred degrees one way or other in the compass, finding the inner true north. Anyway, there was such a gauzy immersion here, so that we do not encounter the speaker til the final line. Reminds me what Robert Bly once said about dreams — use them only in the ends of poems. Fine stuff.

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    • interesting doing this series not least because the Muse presents very different styles each time a- it would ruin the whole if I imposed a template on each stage as the whole point of the ten bulls is developmental

      “gauzy immersion” is just perfect!

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  3. ” through half-closed lids the eyes compose
    deft as any painter of landscapes” Love, love, love! How reluctantly the narrator adjusts focus to the reality of the bull! How perfect the parallel between what he and the narrator are liminally occupied with.

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    • very nice comment Susan – thank you for following my train of thought so well in this poem

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  4. I feel like I am coming in at the mid-point of a movie here and, thus, cannot truly appreciate this poem as much as it deserves to be appreciated. I commend you for following through on a series though..it takes dedication, persistence, AND talent to do so!

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    • thank you Mary – think of them as a movie of short stories – others are listed in the link above

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    • its been a challenge just getting to the bull thus far – thank you Rosemary

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  5. This is a lovely picture evolving out of the words…I really like the ‘bull at bay in its own petrified gaze’ Makes me wonder.

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    • Your use of ‘evolving’ is just what I intended so very glad it came through as such Paul

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  6. I was struck by the same line as Paul. I especially like the ending……….this sounds like a wonderful series, Laura.

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    • A cunning ending as this is beyond my own stage of meditation so am having to feel my way through the classical text

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    • Thanks Bev – and not a single rhyme this time!

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  7. It’s almost like having a vision of the deity in the end after much struggle. ‘the wild bull at bay’ appears so massive. I like the grandeur.

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    • the deity will be there in part 10 – the bull is our nature 😉

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  8. I’m reading your poem as the viewer of art in contemplation, i like how the eye moves from beginning to end of the poem. i particularly like the setting at the beginning. i would call this a good ekphrastic poem.
    “As certainties slip from the grasp
    cloudland lifts its top and cuckoos flee
    across contours, through half-closed lids the eyes compose
    deft as any painter of landscapes”

    much love…

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    • very nice comment Gillena and well- observed – all are necessarily ekphrastic as am trying to say the same thing in both my photoart and poem. They oten manifest first in the photoart

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