Four Voices, a song for the Elements

i know its not a salamander but use your imagination!

I whisper just behind you

Our ever-entertaining Girton Poetry Group has set the theme this week of the elements, and the form of the sonnet. Here is a little jeu d’esprit I wrote for the group playing with the idea that each of the four elements has its own proper elemental creatures. I have added some favourite old Arthur Rackham Illustrations to suggest the elementals.

listen for my weeping

I am also playing in this poem with the idea that there is something within each of us correspondant to the life and liveliness of each element, something that we should treat with honour and respect in our selves and in one another, just as we should honour the mystery of the elements themselves in the world as God’s handiwork and our fellow-creation.

give me fire, air and rain

Anyway here it is for what its worth, though I have a feeeling it may work better as a song than a sonnet. now, wheres that guitar….

As always you can hear me read it by clicking on the ‘play’ button or on the title.

Four Voices

I am the salamander and I shimmer in the fire
I thrive within a living flame, desiring to desire,
I burn away the dross in you, and teach you to aspire
I am your salamander if you’ll kindle me a fire.

I am the sylph who loved you once, a creature of the air
I whisper just behind you but you never find me there
I am the one you stifle when you give in to despair
But I could breathe you back to life if you would give me air

I am the dying naiad in your long neglected well
I sing the very springs of love whose flow you fear and quell
The sacred river rises here, if you will say the spell,
And listen for my weeping as it echoes from your well.

I am the sleeping Adam whom you buried in the earth
But give me fire, air and rain, and I will give you birth.


Filed under imagination, Poems

4 responses to “Four Voices, a song for the Elements

  1. margot

    Fantastic, beautiful, true!

  2. Wonderful. Do you know the manuscript illuminations in the British Library, Bohemian ones, to Mandeville’s Travels, with the legend of Seth and Adam? These also would fit this poem. As well as Giotto’s Santa Maria Novella Golgotha with Adam’s skull at the base of his Crucifix?

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks Julia, yes I know them both. As ever you have a keen eye and understanding for where I’m coming from. There is also an interesting cs lewis poem voiced for a salamander!

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