Originals – II

The Day after the Dead Before – Peter Rylands

Time for the dead of night to rise and have its hour,

Inside an ocean whose tides never cease and groan from the moon’s waxing power.

Dried blood and hollow faces, haunting the streets,

Where the sun shall rise for mortals to roam, a trick or treat?

Aching and with lack of appetite,

It seems we’re more dead after Halloween night.

Here, we have a satirical poem looking at Halloween, which picks up on the irony of many students feeling ‘like death’ after their night out. The mention of ‘ocean’ is an unsubtle reference to the Big O with the tides being the non-ticket queue – this gives an opportunity to point out the current waxing moon and also the gothic belief of the psychological power the moon has. The trick or treat has a double meaning; for those that went out wanting to sustain their disbelief that day has come and that the light will hurt hungover eyes but also that it’s a Saturday and so you can stay in bed anyway. To those who didn’t go out; a treat as the night has passed or a trick as the remnants of the night before remain… those messy kitchens from post-night out.

Untitled – Peter Rylands



Yet still the masses march.

Come wind or thrashing rain,

The hoards descend day after day.

Unsmiling faces,

Heavy shoulders.

Dreaming of the warmth in May.


From my window I see the wave of students from Lenton head to university. Come November the weather has now become rather torrid and yet still there are hundreds going past each hour, even if there is no prospect of brilliant weather anytime soon.The heavy shoulders refer to backpacks but also of a burden, the effort to make it to Uni and the actual work we go through for our degree – especially with upcoming deadlines. The warmth in May is also both a literal reference to summertime but also that end of year feeling, seeing out the final few weeks of the semester or degree.

Poem of Note

Sad Steps – Phillip Larkin

 Groping back to bed after a piss

I part the thick curtains, and am startled by

The rapid clouds, the moon’s cleanliness.

Four o’clock: wedge-shaped gardens lie

Under a cavernous, a wind-pierced sky.

There’s something laughable about this,

The way the moon dashes through the clouds that blow

Loosely as cannon-smoke to stand apart

(Stone-coloured light sharpening the roofs below)

High and preposterous and separate–

Lozenge of love! Medallion of art!

O wolves of memory! Immensements! No,

One shivers slightly, looking up there.

The hardness and the brightness and the plain

far-reaching singleness of that wide stare

Is a reminder of the strength and pain

Of being young; that it can’t come again,

But is for others undiminished somewhere.

Though written in 1968 the humourous and crude beginning is something that many of us may be able to relate and is a conscious effort by Larkin to differentiate his experience with the moon to other poets. Larkin mocks the emotionally provoked descriptions of the moon by seeing it as just a rock in the night sky, though is wary that people have, do and will interpret it different ways. Alongside his mockery however lies a solitary drunk figure who shivers at what the moon represents; a sad message that his youth cannot be regained and his envy of others who have it.

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Pictures sourced from Flickr via Ross Pollack

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