Going For A Song: ‘Willy O’ Winesbury’

Sam Pulham – Willy O’ Winesbury

It’s a mystery why some music you just fall for; why, even though I’ve listened to numerous musicians with guitars playing old folk songs, when I heard Sam Pulham’s EP The Merry Green Wood last Friday, (maybe it makes a difference when and where you first hear the music? The context? Maybe it made a difference that it was a slightly overcast morning, that I was tired and little hungover?), something in the music resonated with me.

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Swimming,

Trying to define what swimming means to me is like looking at a shell sitting in a few feet of clear, still water. There it is, in sharp focus, but once I reach for it, breaking the surface, the ripples refract the shell. It becomes five shells, twenty-five shells, some smaller, some larger, and I blindly feel for what I saw perfectly before trying to grasp it – Leanne Shapton

‘Swimming’ is an ancient technique in which the coordinated thrashing of the arms and legs provides propulsion through water. Effectively, the human participant becomes a boat – Alan Partridge

The great depths of the sea began to beat like music […] The music invaded him, commanding his hands, his arms, his pelvis to keep time. Water streamed of his forehead and into his hair. The cold of the ocean became, with its new rhythm, a fierce heat. Never had movement been so exquisite a thing – ‘The Colonel’s Daughter’, Rose Tremain

a significant capture in the lungs,
that elegant trap deep inside.

Reading Leanne Shapton’s Swimming Studies I began thinking of other writings on swimming I’ve liked: Alan Partridge’s swimming training in Nomad; and the moment in Rose Tremain’s short story where Jim Reese keeps swimming out to sea. The two lines following this are the two closing lines from a poem, ‘Swimming,’, I’ve been writing for a few years, and which I’m beginning to suspect I’ll struggle to finish. Where I want the poem to end up is mixing between that I’ve quoted; where it’s been and is now is another matter.