Nomads and settlers

Posted: May 23, 2013 in urban poems

This is a glosa which is a form of poetry from the late 14th century and was popular in the Spanish court. The introduction, the cabeza, is a quatrain quoting a well-known poem or poet. The second part is the glosa proper, expanding on the theme of the cabeza, consisting of four ten-line stanzas, with the lines of the cabeza used to conclude each stanza. Lines six and nine must rhyme with the borrowed tenth. This challenge is the work of Sam Peralta over at . Go check it out!

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
(The Hollow Men, T S Eliot)

These are the men of no-lands.
Rootless, sweeping on past you.
A wind brushing your cheek.
This disturbance of air
unsettles your senses,
but they’re not riders to fear.
Locked into an ancient journey,
they stare over your horizon.
Their vision is clear.
The eyes are not here.

They see things that are beyond you.
Your haven carved out of the land
does not distort their compass.
Purpose is driving them on.
In this seemingly safe place,
a choice to which you adhere,
puts eternal travels
in a different dimension.
And though you are sincere,
there are no eyes here.

Their dust trail swallowed by dusk,
nomads drift into the night,
soon to bed down under heavens,
leaving behind a reliable place.
Tucking itself up,
roof, walls and closed door mars
the purity of life unfettered.
Settling into a permanent sleep,
this small town of lights with the night spars,
in this valley of dying stars.

It’s not a place of adventure,
there’s no mystery of the unknown.
Settlers don’t want the drift
and the pull of a force outside their control.
Blindness and deafness cloaks a spirit,
chaining slaves of safety to a galley
that can’t even sail on dreams.
All that excites them is the building,
the street and the alley
in this hollow valley.

  1. brian miller says:

    there is a rather ominous tone to this piece..and you really accentuate the contrast in settlers and nomads….they each have their place you know…the goods and bads of each…never content the nomads roam on…and yet the settlers in many ways miss on the adventure…to me its a struggle that always goes on inside me…

  2. Laurie Kolp says:

    I agree with Brian… the tone is definitely eerie. I like the contrasts throughout.

  3. I like your choice of a quatrain – the verse is powerful ~

    You have described those men of no-lands or nomads very well ~ They don’t seek adventure nor the journey’s end, but just the wind, the valley and the never-ending street ~ Well done with the form too ~ Cheers ~

  4. bostonpoetry says:

    Very nice. Well executed.

  5. T.S. Eliot is, for me, a touchstone, and “The Hollow Men” one of his less well-known but most amazing poems – I can even hear in my head the opening lines ‘We are the hollow men / We are the stuffed men.’ Thus, though exploring a dark theme, this cabeza heralded for me an amazing unfolding, a landscape familiar to those who’ve traversed the waste lands of Eliot’s writing, reflected in the marring of “the purity of life unfettered”, or “the small town of lights” sparring with the night. Beautifully done.

  6. claudia says:

    nomads and settlers…somehow for me this has a bit of a lord of the ring feeling as well…really good work on the contrasts and brought back some memories when i stayed overnight in the desert once..

  7. I like how you have written this addressing the settler with an understanding of the nomads.. I think this is still applicable. They exist all over the world in big cities and else where… and they lack a voice.

    BTW I didn’t find your link..

  8. hypercryptical says:

    Bricks and mortar give us a sense of being rooted, of belonging – but how often we would like to break free of our self-imposed bonds and sail on the winds. Tis a thing I dream of…

    Anna :o]

  9. David King says:

    Eliot’s Hollow Men has always haunted me, and you catch that essential quality beautifully in your tribute. Impressive.

  10. Akila says:

    Loved the journey. The eyes are not here but everywhere and nowhere. Loved the way you have wandered here

  11. nico says:

    We long for security, but in order to truly see we have to leave the safety of what is known for the unknown. Nicely written!

  12. Rowan Taw says:

    Absolutely loved the contrast between the nomads and the settlers. Superb write!

  13. Miriam E. says:

    wow, this blew me away.
    powerful lines borrowed – your words take them to even higher levels. love the atmosphere – gave me goosebumps. beautifully crafted!

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