I see life through the window of a storybook. When something troubles me I think to myself . . How might the people in stories resolve this? Would this thing that seems horrendous to me not add wonderful colour to the journey of a tale-character? Whether or not this is a practical way of viewing things, I am not sure, but it seems to be the escape route my mind chooses for itself.

Artist/illustrator Rima Staines

There are many myths/legends associated with the origin of witches’ flight on broomsticks. One popular belief involves the use of Mandrake root by witches for pain relief especially menstruation pain. Mandrake root contains Scopolamine which along with Atropine is also found in thornapple and belladonna. Both were commonly used in witches’ potions to induce hallucinations or out of body experiences. The root would be concocted into a paste which when applied to the affected area, would directly seep through the skin (much like the modern day ointment) . It was often applied into the armpit, or the vagina with the help of the end of a broomstick! Being highly hallucinogenic, the ‘potion’ gave an uncanny feeling of ‘flight’ - the women felt as if they were flying on their brooms.

Admire the Japanese beetle, luminescent green racing stripe between its bombazine wings/ admire the sky, shredded and fading, like the eyesight of a syphilitic/ admire the woman from HR who drowned herself while on vacation/ admire everyday objects – brown beer bottles, metronomes, gas fireplaces – some with only one good eye, some with a dog’s heart/ admire the phenomenon represented by the word “glint”/ admire the refugee writer Theodor Adorno, though that wasn’t his real name/ admire cadences long since replaced by the stuttering silence that we pretend, for the public’s sake, suffices.

© Howie Good, '7 Famous Symbols That Don't Mean What You Think' as published in Uut Poetry

"Just imagine yourself standing in one of those old rickety-shelved second hand bookshops in cathedral towns where the proprietor is reading a tea-stained newspaper and customers shuffle past each other apologetically peering up and down the bookspines. There’ll be a spiral staircase up or down to a chilly room with even more interesting and obscure books in difficult piles and a damp anorak draped over the radiator. To leave, you’ll have to cough quietly, step around many boxes of unpacked unshelved books (possibly from the houses of dead people), and you’ll emerge into the day having left a substantial number of hours behind, wedged between the yellowed pages of silverfish-nibbled academia."© Artist/illustrator Rima Staines / Image source.

"Just imagine yourself standing in one of those old rickety-shelved second hand bookshops in cathedral towns where the proprietor is reading a tea-stained newspaper and customers shuffle past each other apologetically peering up and down the bookspines. There’ll be a spiral staircase up or down to a chilly room with even more interesting and obscure books in difficult piles and a damp anorak draped over the radiator. To leave, you’ll have to cough quietly, step around many boxes of unpacked unshelved books (possibly from the houses of dead people), and you’ll emerge into the day having left a substantial number of hours behind, wedged between the yellowed pages of silverfish-nibbled academia."

© Artist/illustrator Rima Staines / Image source.

This day winding down now
At God speeded summer’s end
In the torrent salmon sun,
In my seashaken house
On a breakneck of rocks
Tangled with chirrup and fruit,
Froth, flute, fin, and quill
At a wood’s dancing hoof,
By scummed, starfish sands
With their fishwife cross
Gulls, pipers, cockles, and snails,
Out there, crow black, men
Tackled with clouds, who kneel
To the sunset nets,
Geese nearly in heaven, boys
Stabbing, and herons, and shells
That speak seven seas,
Eternal waters away
From the cities of nine
Days’ night whose towers will catch
In the religious wind
Like stalks of tall, dry straw …

© Dylan Thomas, ‘Author’s Prologue’ in ‘Collected Poems’, 1934-1952.

Gypsies, incidentally, call snails “earthy-houses” or “cattle” because they have horns, and a snail shell given as a love token by a gypsy girl can stir up unbridled desire in her intended.

Artist/illustrator Rima Staines

I let an image be made emotionally in me and then apply to it what intellectual and critical force I possess; let it breed another; let that image contradict the first; make of the third image out of the other two together, a fourth contradictory image, and let them all, within my imposed formal limits, conflict … The life in any poem of mine cannot move concentrically round a central image, the life must come out of the centre; an image must be born and die in another; and any sequence of my images must be a sequence of creations, recreations, destructions, contradictions.

Dylan Thomas as quoted in C. Day-Lewis, ‘The Poetic Image’ (New York, 1947), p. 122

Though [Dylan] Thomas was a dedicated craftsman, he believed poetry to be ultimately a sublime enigma:
"You can tear a poem apart to see what makes it technically tick, and say to yourself when the works are laid out before you, the vowels, the consonants, the rhymes and rhythms, Yes, this is it, this is why the poem moves me so. It is because of the craftsmanship. But you’re back again where you began. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps in the works of the poems so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash or thunder in" [italics mine].

© Thelma Louise Baughan Murdy, ‘Sound and Meaning in Dylan Thomas’s Poetry’ (University of Florida, 1962)

At all times [Dylan] Thomas had the need to feel the effectiveness of his poetry. He wanted a poem “to do more than just to have the appearance of “having been created’”  [Letter to Vernon Watkins, New York, 1957]; he wanted it to be a “fresh imagining” [Ibid]. He strived to achieve “the strong, inevitable pulling that makes a poem an event, a happening, an action perhaps, not a still-life or experience put down, placed, regulated” [Ibid]. And in his best poems Thomas does express incontrovertible, living truths.

© Thelma Louise Baughan Murdy, ‘Sound and Meaning in Dylan Thomas’s Poetry’ (University of Florida, 1962)

[H]e [Dylan Thomas] recognized at all times that “it was for the sake of divine accidents that a poem existed at all.” [Letter to Vernon Watkins, New York, 1957]

© Thelma Louise Baughan Murdy, ‘Sound and Meaning in Dylan Thomas’s Poetry’ (University of Florida, 1962)

Illustration by Eugeny Sidorkin (1981) for the epic Kazakh heroic legend of the warrior Alpamys as narrated in prose by Akseleu Seydimbekova. Source: Book Graphics.

Illustration by Eugeny Sidorkin (1981) for the epic Kazakh heroic legend of the warrior Alpamys as narrated in prose by Akseleu Seydimbekova. Source: Book Graphics.

In order to show in greater detail the nature of [Dylan] Thomas’s craftsmanship, it is necessary to discuss Thomas’s approach to poetic composition. His method might well be described generally as "pyrotechnical fragmentation" [italics mine]. He began composing most poems merely with a single phrase or line, usually words with a purely emotional premise. (A clear illustration is the line “I advance for as long as forever is,” which was the stimulus for the poem “Twenty-four years.”) If the phrase were resonant and pregnant, it suggested another phrase, which reinforced and elaborated (primarily by means of images) the original emotional premise. In this manner, the poem would develop. The whole process was rather like an explosion of fireworks — the kind that, after the original explosion, expands into elaborate patterns.

© Thelma Louise Baughan Murdy, ‘Sound and Meaning in Dylan Thomas’s Poetry’ (University of Florida, 1962)