Just a small selection of the poems by Richard Coppin chosen from over a hundred titles. The image links will take you to individual poems by Richard Coppin or your can read a brief description of each piece below:
It has been described as apocalyptic; the launch of a Saturn Five by those who witnessed it. The lead through the countdown was a process of bringing action and vigilance to a peak of thunderous release. The epic launch seemed to fit with the quest of the three astronauts strapped into their command module three hundred and sixty feet above the flaming engines. This was going to be a voyage into deep space, forsaking the comparative safety of earth orbit to venture out into the forbidding emptiness beyond home. I first saw this event on TV as an eleven year old boy, as Apollo 8 lifted off in December 1968. I’ve been hooked on that programme ever since. This poem, written in a mechanical beat, takes the reader through the awe-inspiring engineering process of launch just up to the point when the spacecraft is flung outwards into the inky blackness towards the waiting moon.
Meeting a cat
Cats seem to command life. They own you; it’s not the other way around. I was moved to write this poem after finding a cat on my travels; I knelt down to stroke it but was made aware that should I make a wrong move I was going to come off the worst for it. The cat’s eyes beheld me; seemingly with more wisdom than I possessed myself and I knew a ‘moment’ had occurred. As I made to move away the cat held me in its glance with what I assumed was disgust. Within a few minutes most of these words had formed in my head.
The universe it seems has some kind of rhythm, or at least a constant state of flux; creation, destruction and creation again. It seemed too simple and yet so awful that everything we know and care for came from a set of unimaginable violent acts and would in all probability be taken away in an equally destructive manner, only to be made into something new in the universe’s own good time. The poem ‘Stars’ is a simple one, easily remembered and yet it tells us that no matter how big we thing we are, we’re almost nothing really. We’re just the stuff of stars.
Taking the theme of ‘Stars’ one step further, here is a poem which I wrote about two years later. I wanted to give it a lyrical spirit so that the beauty of the theme would come alive. When I heard that the Hubble Space Telescope had found a number of planets orbiting stars far out into space, it made me wonder at the other things that a planet needs for life to happen. It’s not enough that a rock should revolve around a sun, there has to be a set of circumstances for such a ‘nest for life to spring’. This isn’t meant as a religious poem, only that if all this has happened by accident, then my goodness; it’s some mishap.
You don’t have to have experienced an event to discover the muse for a poem; a daydream can do it too. Why I was imagining a young man taking notice of a pretty girl on a bus, I’ll never know, but before I’d had chance to think about it too deeply, this poem had arrived on my screen. Sometimes after working on magazine articles you just want your mind to have a few moments to ‘play out in the fields’, and this poem is a prime example. The chances are that most of us have been in a situation where we’ve had to decide whether to act or be passive. This guy almost bottles it, but just finds enough courage to turn a daydream into an act of living. I even find myself wondering if they’re still together.
The Mystery of Old Dyke Mill
There are hosts of influences that went into creating this lengthy poem about a haunted windmill; the Hammer House of Horror Dracula films, the windmill in the film ‘Oh Mr. Porter’ and a few tall tales I was told as a child. Of course there just has to be a pub where the locals wonder about the strange goings on up on Old Dyke Lane but the truth is even more bizarre that the imaginings of the beer drinkers and the mighty blacksmith. The poem spins a yarn about a robbery and all the complications that come as a result of it. I’m not going to give away what happens, but it’s all rather spooky, and best told at Halloween.
The Wee Small
As you drive down Belton Lane in the dead of night and descend the hill out of Great Gonerby village you can see a great swathe of lights displaying a large part of the town of Grantham. I’ve often made this trip and was prompted to put my thoughts about in on paper after listening to Richard Burton reading ‘Under Milk Wood’. Here I thought was a prime example for such a treatment and so ‘The Wee Small’ was forged. Of course it’s all about what goes on in a town like this in the wee small hours; and believe me, the town only appears sleepy. In the greenish-yellow of street lights a host of nocturnal characters perform their play whilst others slumber unawares, until of course the earth’s rotation sees to it that another morning comes to begin another day.
Poems by Richard Coppin
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