Poetry 101 - Inspiration

Well Worn Path

Susan Omand uncovers the circle of creativity when the wonderful R A Kennedy finds poetic inspiration in her art...

Where does poetic inspiration come from? As an artist I am often inspired by words. From song lyrics to poetry to some of the rich phrasing in the books I’ve done illustrations for, images are created, often unbidden and unforced, in my head by the words that I read. This week though the tables were turned as a picture that I created became the focus and inspiration for a poem by the highly creative writer and poet, and suspected Cornish pisky, R A Kennedy. The poem, called Brother, on the surface of it has no direct relation to the image if you look at both objectively. The words do not describe the scene, nor do they seek to. That is not what poetic inspiration does. Poetry, good poetry like Kennedy’s, captures a feeling in the picture, amplifies it and provokes a strong emotional response in the reader.

I love this poem, not just because it was written for one of my pictures, but because of the feelings in produces. True poetry should not spoon-feed, it should stir very personal responses. This is what it gives to me:

The initial scene setting in the poem means that the clammy cold of the morning mist in the picture has sounds and smells added, rounding out the image into a rich and complete environment I am part of, rather than just observing, as a war rages around me. I do not know the reason for this battle, nor whether the brothers are on the same side, but that does not matter for me. To me the why’s, where’s and who won’s are not the focus. What is vital, in all senses of the word, is that specific captured moment in time when their eyes meet and the intensity of compassion of one for the other in that final moment. This is not a poem of hate, it is a poem of salvation. Of doing the right thing even when you know you will lose everything. It is difficult to describe but it makes me cry every time that I read it.

Others, however, will read it differently and get a different response, maybe of the excitement of battling shoulder to shoulder, the conflict of sibling rivalry or the utter loneliness of the final moments before death and that is what makes it great work. Here is the poem in full, reproduced with massive thanks to Mr Kennedy, so you can let us know what you think.


By R A Kennedy

Doth crows weep as blood is spilt?
The blood of another runs down the hilt.
Unsheathed fear, thine steel is true
A storm of arrows, & men run through.
The cries of pain, as bodies lie
The colour of red fills mine eye.
The face of one, that is thy own.
My brother hath come to rid my bones.
His steel is pure, like his own heart
A duty bound to do thy part.
As he strikes!
The tears doth drown.
My brother, my heart.
Our blades clatter down.
One last look; before we depart...
The blade strikes true.
Two brothers.
One heart.

Image - Omand Original
Poem - R A Kennedy
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