From the Travel Journals of William Chaffinch, 18–

Written in the Mountains of Arlene.

We gathered in a lodge beneath the shade 
Of Arlene’s highest peak and shivered in 
The chill as daylight soon began to fade. 
How cold it was! A day as none have been 
And I believe that none shall ever be! 
The falling snow was shattered by the gales 
Which moaned an eerie arctic melody. 
From this, I soon recalled the ancient tales 
Of those who first had carved this frigid path 
In only cloaks of fur with fragile seams 
And faced the mountain-tempest’s bitter wrath 
To find the pass which led to melted streams. 
“But how?” I thought. “If not with guides divine?” 
Perhaps their myths were not as we were taught, 
Perhaps they truly found an astral sign 
And followed it without a doubting thought.
That night, as I lay miserable and cold 
I dreamt of trailing prints along the snow 
And traced them all throughout the silent wold 
Until I spied the ghosts of long ago. 
They huddled close and shared their little food 
To gather strength they needed to ascend. 
It pained my heart to see their gear so crude 
For few would ever see the journey’s end. 
Already Winter occupied these lands 
And held them in a frozen, lifeless state. 
The grueling path ahead held high demands 
And threatened to become their final fate. 
And yet, from all of this they seemed immune 
For still they stood as one with hope and pride 
And softly on their lips they held a tune: 
A simple one, as sung by fireside. 
They sung of better days so near to hand: 
Of harvesting the fruits of all their dreams, 
Of trading swords for tools to work the land 
And resting where the crystal river teems.
They sung of blooming fields and harvests fair 
Of feeling warmth upon their aching skin 
Of freely offering a thankful prayer 
And caring for their neighbors as their kin. 
Indeed, they sang: such days would surely come 
When they could pause to settle down and rest. 
But first they’d need to push their bodies numb 
And conquer this, their final destined test. 
I woke upon the morn to a raging storm 
And felt the cold begin to shake my core 
But in my heart, I clung to something warm: 
That Song of Hope from those of long before.

Seamus Filcarah

3 Questions for Seamus

What was your process for creating this piece?

This poem is actually part of a much larger project called "Idylls of the Mind," which is essentially a living collection of poems, short stories, letters, essays, and artwork all based in the same fictional world. I've spent the last few years working on building this world, creating maps, and developing fictional characters such as William Chaffinch. For this specific poem, this process of worldbuilding included developing the lore of the people who first crossed the fictional Arlene Mountains. I was inspired by the accounts of Wordsworth's tours, and had the idea of a poet camping on a snowy mountain while dreaming of ghosts. After that, the actual writing of this poem came surprisingly smoothly. 

What is the significance of the form/genre you chose for this work?

"Idylls of the Mind" as a whole is heavily inspired by the styles, forms, aesthetics, and themes of the English Romantic poets from the 19th Century. As a result, I wanted this piece to emulate that style and chose to write it in unbroken quatrains of iambic pentameter. I've always preferred writing rhyming poetry because I believe that the rhymes inform the direction of the piece since they technically limit what endings might follow the previous lines. I thought this lent itself well to the dream narrative. 

What is the significance of this work to you?

On a personal level, I think that this piece is significant in that it aided in escapism and served as an affirmation of hope. It also showed me that writing narrative poems about fictional worlds was something that I could actually do. For a young emerging poet, that sense of completion can actually aid in getting over a lot of mental blocks.

Seamus Filcarah is a poet and artist. You can find more of his work at Twitter: @idyllsofthemind Instagram: @idyllsofthemind 

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