The Song of Girls

by Marie Marshall


Today I received the latest issue of Rubies in the Darkness, a magazine of traditional, romantic, lyrical, and spiritually inspired poetry, and I was pleased to find that they had included a poem of mine. It’s one I wrote in 2008, when I was still flexing my formal muscles. The late Vera Rich had called for examples of a ‘Dyad’ – a double poem using the same end-words in each component. I replied with what was in effect, a ‘Sapphic ode’ in ‘mirror-dyad form’, which is to say the re-use of the end-words was reversed. Vera, I have to say, was not entirely convinced, although other readers were fascinated by what I had done. I shall reproduce it below for you. Just a couple of notes – a crummock is a staff with a gnarled or bent head, and is probably derived from the gaelic word cromag, and Aberdour is a town on the Fife coast in Scotland.

The Song of Girls


The song of girls each Sabbath day
belies the clock’s round, slow and dour,
and makes the moments flit away
across the moor

like dragonflies above the mire.
While sunlight shifts from tree to field,
the could-shade hides my heart’s desire –
I long to yield.

I am a slave to love and lust
who has no willingness to fight;
so lose I shall – if lost, I must
embrace by night!


I woke when last Shrove-Tuesday night
was still, and stale with rind and must;
and, half in sleep, I dared to fight
my wanderlust.

I’m harboured here. How can I yield
to what all travellers desire,
to stride with crummock far afield…
fresh lands admire?

My foot is now upon the moor,
the song of girls calls me away;
so step I down to Aberdour
to greet the day!

© Marie Marshall