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Pensieve Pictures

December 30, 2011






Pensieve Pictures is a sequence of poems that reflects on events in the Harry Potter Canon, or events that seem likely to have happened between the lines. You are welcome to comment on my poems or offer your own for posting.


Hogwarts Express

‘Away we go!’ cries Sevvie, as the engine gets up steam;
While Lily looks and wonders, ‘Is this real, or just a dream?

‘Will I really see the castle, with its turrets standing tall,
And the boats with golden lanterns on the lake below the wall?’

Loving parents, meddling sister, left behind around a bend,
As she seeks an unknown future with the boy from Spinner’s End.


Boys and Their Games

‘Boys and their stupid games,’ cries Lily Evans
Throwing herself down in her favourite chair.
‘I know James Potter’s vain, but, oh, good heavens,
Why must he keep on ruffling up his hair?

‘There’s Sirius, too, sticks closer than a brother
To James—I ask you, what’s all that about?
They spend their time egging on one another
To do things that they’d never dare without.

‘There’s Remus—yes, I’ve heard the speculation
About what happens in the bright moonshine.
Perhaps, next time he’s due for transformation,
He could change into something with a spine!

‘And Peter Pettigrew—he’s just pathetic,
Tagging along with Sirius and James,
“Ooh, you’re so fine, so clever, so athletic!
Let me join in with all your bullying games!”

‘Now Sev—though short of social skills, it’s true,
He’s really quite intelligent: but then
He hangs around with all that Slytherin crew,
Who draw the Dark Mark on their arms in pen!

‘And as for him and Potter—that’s so vexing.
They actually hide behind the bushes,
Waiting to jump each other and start hexing.
(If I go past, someone goes, “Oops!,” and blushes:

‘And then they scatter, muttering, “Sorry, Lily.”)
If they’ve some argument, why can’t they say?
Boys and their games: why must they be so silly?
And why do they both look at me that way?’



When morning comes, he struggles back to waking,
From dreams of fire and darkness and the tomb;
Comes to himself, thirsty and sick and aching;
Finds he’s in Malfoy’s second-best guest room.

He sees his fine new mask upon a shelf,
Next to the jug of water, which he needs.
His arm’s been bandaged—no doubt by some elf.
Beneath it, though, the Mark still burns and bleeds.

This was the night of his initiation,
When he had thought he would be born anew,
Powerful, untouched—no need of consolation
For anything that life or love could do.

How exquisitely kind they all had been,
The Malfoys, the Lestranges and the Blacks,
With all those compliments that really mean
Half-blood, and from the wrong side of the tracks!

He knows they need his talents—who’d deny it?
Hadn’t the Dark Lord said that he was clever?
(They’d praised the way he’d stood so still and quiet
As the Dark Mark seared into him for ever.)

Death Eater Severus Snape: that’s what they’ll call him.
Hasn’t he longed for this for many a year?
Why does the notion suddenly appall him?
Why in his mind does Lily’s face appear?

Death Eater Severus takes control again,
And for a day, a week, a month, he’s won—
Stifled once more the silent howl of pain
That fills the after years—What have I done?


A Brief Conversation

‘Forget her, Severus! Take a pureblood wife.’
‘Oh, yes, my lord.’ The smile is like a knife.


The Flaw in the Plan: a Sonnet

Downfall for Voldemort: when did it start?
When he first killed, or when he heard the name
Of horcruxes, foundation of his fame,
The things for which he tore his soul apart?
Or when, in furtherance of the darkest art,
And seeing one more life but as fair game,
He hunted Lily Potter, lit a flame,
And, all unknowing, broke a young man’s heart?
Love is the thing he cannot understand,
That brings the consequence of what he’s done—
For dreams of power are all his mind can shape.
Two men will now always be close at hand:
The one he fears, young Harry, Lily’s son;
The one he thinks his servant, Severus Snape.


For Lily: a Ghazal

That shining girl, what could he do but fall for Lily?

And in the darkness at life’s end he’ll call for Lily.

To him life gave no prizes for a charming smile.
He was doomed to love just once, and it was all for Lily.

Dead, by the Dark Lord’s curse: he knows who signed the warrant,
Who spoke the words he’d give life to recall, for Lily.

Some honour love deceased with elegies and flowers.
He’ll bring down Voldemort and his whole cabal for Lily.

Who knows, the poet asks, where love at last may take us?
For Severus won free from evil’s thrall, for Lily.


Are You Ready?

‘Are you prepared now, Severus?
Ready for what I must ask?’
Ready to do what they’ve planned for him—
          The impossible task.

The Dark Mark’s burning black on his arm:
He feels that terrible pull.
(The Minister didn’t understand—
          The lucky fool!)

What awaits in the graveyard?
The Cruciatus Curse?
A quick death, or a slow one?
          Or, perhaps worse—

If all his arts can save him
From murder here and now—
The unending bitter payment
          Of that simple vow:

To walk unflinching into the dark,
Sit at corruption’s feast.
To be himself corrupted? No,
          Not that, at least.

To seem to be so—yes, he must.
Good men will hiss his name,
And he will know he’s earned it, too.
          That is the game:

And he must play it to the end,
Whatever that may bring.
It’s what he promised at the start:

‘Anything for her,’ he thinks,
As he touches the burning Mark.
And the thought goes with him, hidden deep,
          Into the dark.


The Parting Glass: a Song for Albus Dumbledore
based on the Irish traditional song, ‘The Parting Glass’
(You can listen to the song here.)

Now all the plans I ever made
I leave them in your hands tonight;
And if we never speak again,
I trust in you to do what’s right.
Though dangling on the Dark Lord’s arm,
Your faith is strong beyond recall:
So fill to me the parting glass—
Goodnight and joy be with you all.

As I look back upon my life,
I think of times I went astray—
A young man from another land
Whose dreams would charm and then betray.
His laughing eyes, his ready wit,
I own they held my heart in thrall.
So fill to me the parting glass—
Goodnight and joy be with you all.

Don’t trouble now to look surprised
To hear me say I loved a man:
You know, my friend, as well as I,
That love’s not something you can plan.
The children’s jokes, the Malfoys’ jeers,
I’ll wager that you’ve heard them all.
Just fill to me the parting glass—
Goodnight and joy be with you all.

The night you tried to save my life,
Undoing an old fool’s mistake,
You gave a promise then to me
None but the truest friend could make.
I trusted then, I trust you now
To be beside me when I call:
So fill to me the parting glass—
Goodnight and joy be with you all.


Don’t Call Me Coward

Harry raced on down the hill—
All his power and all his will,
All his thought, to curse and kill.
          Above, the Dark Mark loured.

He saw his master, wise and brave,
And their journey to the cave—
All he had done his life to save,
          As the fierce flames had flowered.

Saw the traitor, black as night,
Swing around and pause in flight;
Saw him stand prepared to fight,
          As his dark eyes glowered.

Though for vengeance Harry strove,
Severus countered every move,
Mastery to teach and prove—
          Left him overpowered.

Try to fight me if you must:
Young men know they’re always just.
Vengeance is a burning lust—
          And you’re near-devoured

Fight me in your father’s guise,
Hate, and if you will, despise,
But turn away your mother’s eyes—
          And never call me coward.


In the Headmaster’s Office

‘Soon…,’ thinks Headmaster Snape, when none can see:
‘Soon let the Dark Lord fall, and set me free!’
He feels the hatred and contempt of all;
He hears the things they mutter in the Hall.
‘To see him in that office—it’s a sin!’
(Does no one wonder why it let him in?)
One day, perhaps, they’ll sing a different tune.
‘Too late!’ he laughs. A portrait whispers, ‘Soon….’


Snape’s Last Christmas: a seasonal song

(You can listen to the song here.)

Cold, cold night
At Hogwarts Castle,
A cheerless feast now,
For who will sing or laugh?
Few choose to stay
For this Christmas holiday,
As Snape takes a dead man’s chair
Among resentful staff.

No one will mind
When he leaves early,
Leaves the Carrows’ small-talk
And the others’ glares:
Little cheer at Christmas
When your name is Judas!
The whispers follow him
As he climbs the stairs.

Climbs to the tower,
Goes to his office:
Hidden from the prying eyes,
He has work to do.
At least one face here
Is glad to see him:
The magic portrait
Of the man he slew.

For there is news
Of Potter and Miss Granger,
Lost and in danger
In the Forest of Dean;
Snape must deliver
The true Sword of Gryffindor.
He leaves the Castle
Unsuspected and unseen.

Cold, cold night
In the ancient forest:
Harry keeps watch,
His hopes scarce alive.
Wounded and forsaken,
And his wand is broken:
Voldemort is at his throat,
And how can he survive?

Cold, cold night,
Stars are blazing:
Something amazing
Approaches through the wood:
Who could have sent it,
The beautiful patronus?
Someone powerful
And surely someone good.

Here shines the pool,
The Sword beneath it,
Means to destroy
The Dark Lord’s shattered soul;
But more than all,
A dear friend returning:
Three now together,
And hearts again are whole.

Snape pours a glass
Back in his office—
Pours it for Christmas
And a job well done;
Silently drinks it
To the lovely Lily;
Wishes for a way
He still could save her son.

Deep in his heart
He wears the green willow,
Deep in his heart
Where no one else can know:
Wears it forever
For the lovely Lily,
His only treasure
And his shining silver doe.


Spell for a Patronus

(You can hear the spell chanted and
watch a video here
below ‘Snape’s Last Christmas’

Go, my little silver doe,
Silently through woods and snow.

I am dark, but you are bright.
Guide the lost ones with your light.

You are made of love and beauty:
I have nothing left but duty.

By the pool I bid you shine
For the son who is not mine.

I am hidden, you they’ll see.
None must know you come from me.

Go, my little silver doe,
Silently through woods and snow.
                          Expecto patronum!


Black Eyes and Green Eyes: a Sonnet

Taken at last by a bizarre surprise,
Now Snape lies bleeding in that dusty shack,
And life fades fast after the snake’s attack:
A squalid death—but that’s the fate of spies.
With no more need to keep up his disguise,
The memories show that he held nothing back
Of love or courage: and the eyes of black
Grow still while gazing into two green eyes.
And Harry, seeking in the swirling bowl,
Now sees beyond the sneer, the acid tongue,
The greasy hair, the Dark Lord’s grisly brand:
A hidden, but a brave and untorn, soul;
A heart that truly loved, from very young—
And trusted him at last to understand.


Epitaph for a Double Agent

Dumbledore used him, Voldemort slew him.
Both of them needed him but neither really knew him.


Two Professors: a Hogwarts Villanelle

If you would wield the Sword of Gryffindor
And from the Dark Lord’s tyranny escape,
There’s much that you can learn from Dumbledore—

The old Headmaster whom we all adore,
A genial man who pardons every scrape—
If you would wield the Sword of Gryffindor.

Learning to guard your mind’s an arduous chore,
And sometimes feels more like a psychic rape.
There’s much that you can learn from Dumbledore,

And rising bruised and battered from the floor,
You wonder why instead it must be Snape,
If you would wield the Sword of Gryffindor.

And when you’re standing shivering on the shore,
And see below the ice that shining shape,
There’s much that you have learned from Dumbledore,

But when it comes to facing Voldemort
You also need the dark man in the cape,
If you would wield the Sword of Gryffindor.

(There’s much that you can learn from Dumbledore.)


From → Poetry

  1. Awesome poetry 🙂

  2. Thank you very much indeed! – V-J

  3. When I saw this I had to read it. It combines my two favorite things: poetry and Harry Potter. Brilliant! I like the poem with Black eyes and Green eyes. I wrote a Harry Potter poem a few months back myself but I’m still editing it. I want to make it just right.

  4. Thank you! I must confess I was rather pleased with that one myself, because it’s a Petrarchan sonnet, rhyming ABBAABBACDECDE. That form was invented in Italian, which has a lot more rhyming words, and it can be a bit tricky to do in English. So glad you like it! (‘The Flaw in the Plan’ is also a Petrarchan sonnet. You’ll probably have gathered that I like rather strict rhyming forms.) – V-J

  5. Ann permalink

    I love this series of poems and I’m really glad that you have put them on here. I find it hard to pick a favourite as they are all so good, and so varied, the whole sequence is wonderful to read.

  6. Thank you. I hope we will soon be able to put the Hogwarts Memorial Feast up here, too. – V-J

  7. I have now posted a recording of ‘The Parting Glass’, no. 7 in ‘Pensieve Pictures’, on this site: So all the songs from the sequence can now be heard here.

  8. Fran permalink

    Nice to see these again. It just occurred to me that, taken together and all set to music, they would make an amazing Wrock opera!

  9. Fran permalink

    Of course, they could not be sung by the Who – but perhaps by the Which.

  10. We’d need a song for the scene on the windy hilltop between Dumbledore and Snape….

  11. I have just now (28 August 2012) added a new poem to the sequence, ‘For Lily’, an attempt at the Ghazal form, which is now no. 6 above.

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