Today I give a poetic composition by a contemporary British artist. Mostly known as a photographer and painter, Ovenden is also a connoisseur of poetry: for the 7th anniversary post in Pigtails in Paint, he proposed the poem “The Seven Ages of Girlhood” by Ashby-Sterry, which is how I learned about that 19th century poet. Moreover, he also writes some poetry himself, for instance he contributed the poem “A Father to his Seven Year Old Daughter” to that anniversary post.
Much of Ovenden’s artwork can be seen on his website, but also on Pigtails in Paint, whose editors always defended him during difficult times. His site also presents some of his poems, and he embedded several of them into artistic compositions based on photographs or paintings. They are often filled with nostalgia for childhood and the fleeting beauty of young girls.
Graham Ovenden graciously allowed me to reproduce his poems, including the associated graphic works. My first choice is from his collection Waterside Memories. The image below is a JPEG conversion of the original PNG from his site:
I transcribe the poem below:
We saw a mermaid
by Graham Ovenden
We saw a mermaid.
She swam with the sun which flecked the sea
and offered “play catch” for a modest fee.
“A tear from you both is all I ask
to turn to two pearls – a precious task,
for the sorrows of childhood are balm to my heart:
to know your compassion will cure all that is stark.”
We did as she wished and swam by her side
until there came a chill with the tide.
“Go now little landmaids, I must to the deep.”
Oh must you – we chorused – “Yes, weep on my cheek
then kiss me but once lest my spell entrance
and my gift to you both – see the sun doth dance,
as it will for all time that you hold to grace:
remember we merfolk – Ah the tide – I must race!”
The transcription on Ovenden’s site is slightly different, I prefer the version on the image.
Please do not use this poem and image without Ovenden’s authorisation, this is copyrighted material.