South Moon Riding - Poems of Wildwood and Wold, Earthy and Diverse Things
Poems by Gef Lucena
Book: 48 pages ISBN 978-1-5262-0163-8
CD: Gef Lucena reading his poems
rec. August 2016
SAYDISC CD-SDL 441 [61.44]

It seems that the music CD and DVD recording companies are beginning to broaden their appeal and markets. This is another example of that trend. It follows the DVD devoted to the art of Vincent van Gogh that I reviewed for the site last month. I also have a book and CD devoted to a little known Lalo opera, La Jacquerie completed after his death by Arthur Coquard, which is in my reviews-to-write queue.

What about the present book and CD package. Gef Lucena is a musician, composer and poet who is a long-time native of South Gloucestershire as well as being the guiding hand behind Saydisc (review ~ review). Lucena recites all 32 poems in this collection on the accompanying CD. He is a countryman through and through with a prodigious knowledge of woodland and countryside flora and fauna. His poems extol rural scenes from Roman and Anglo-Saxon times to the present. For instance his amusing poem Stan and Reg was inspired by a scrap of lettering on a bit of excavated Roman villa flooring. He asks was it 'Regius' or 'Reginus'? Of ‘Stanley’ he informs us that the Anglo-Saxons’ ‘Stanley’ denoted a stony clearing. His lyrical poem, Green Cathedral, is illustrated by a picture of overarching trees along a woodland track – “No stone structure here to fence in the spirit … This, the green cathedral.”

Of interest to music-lovers is his wry-humoured poem Pointillism in which Lucena equates specific compositions to colours: “Sibelius [Symphony] 2 is a dark rich brown, Ravel’s Left-Hand Piano Concerto a kaleidoscope of colours … Stravinsky, the Picasso of composers, [his] Symphony in C, writhing snakes of melodies in ghastly hues" but Bach’s The Art of Fugue “is off the palette, its colours beyond our vision.”

The poems cover quite some ground, and some oddities including one that is In Praise of Men’s Trouser Turn-ups and another, an environmental plea called The Worm’s Song which he sings on the CD to the tune of The British Grenadiers. In it he warns of the disappearance of birds, butterflies and bees – “You’ll see far fewer air-borne things a-flitting through the skies …”

Some poems are about the beauty of the Gower Peninsula in Wales. Others are ‘Running Poems’ literally about running and conceived, I guess, while he was running. I was impressed with Not Now. He remembers birdsong he once enjoyed but “Can one listen hard enough to hear it now? Then again, he is philosophical enough to think “No, not now ... to weigh down the soul with thoughts of darker things …” - better to fill the mind and senses with present beauty and enjoy - “Each moment an eternity …” and to hope that the skies might be full of birdsong once more, one day.

The collection ends with two moving Birthday Sonnets dedicated to his wife Genny.

The poetry does not scan too easily. Most poems are in blank verse. The flora and fauna imagery might feel a little too dense for some readers. Others might have welcomed more appearances of people in Lucena’s landscapes. Nevertheless this is treasure trove for lovers of the English woodlands and countryside.

Ian Lace
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