James, my inspiration and Muse...


Here is a collection of my favourite poetry,
Mr May has admitted to liking poetry.
He has even inspired me to write some.
He likes poetry, I like him.

Click on pics to enlarge.

Thank you for visiting.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Wild Roses
Ronald Campbell Macfie

Wild roses hidden in the hedge
Surrender to the lips of June;
White lilies cloistered in the sedge
Permit the kisses of the moon.

And oh, my heart desires your love,
As never June desires a rose,
And never the pale moon above
Such longing for a lily knows.

And yet your love I vainly seek,
Unto my love no love replies,
No blush gives answer in your cheek,
No passion lightens in your eyes.

Ardent as June I watch and wait,
Pale as the moon I pace your sky;
O Lady be compassionate,
And kiss and love me, or I die.

Love Me
Ronald Campbell Macfie

How long did the sun's round passionate mouth
Kiss that rose's lips, I wonder?
How long did the amorous wind from the south
Try to press her petals asunder?

How long did the honey-bee flit to and fro
Ere she threw her red vest apart,
And showed a glory of gold and snow
Hoarded beside her heart?

Longer far have I yearned for your love,
And flown round your folded blossom.
Will pity or passion never move
The proud disdain of thy bosom?

Love me! I loved thee long ago:
Love me! the land is sunny
Love me! look, how the roses blow
And the bees are gathering honey!

Sunday, 29 April 2018

(Departmental Ditties)
Rudyard Kipling

The smoke upon your Altar dies,
The flowers decay,
The Goddess of your sacrifice
Has flown away.
What profit then to sing or slay
The sacrifice from day to day?

'We know the shrine is void,' they said,
'The Goddess flown -
'Yet wreaths on the altar laid -
'The Altar-Stone
'Is black with fumes of sacrifice,
'Albeit She has fled our eyes.

'For, it may be, if still we sing
'And tend the Shrine,
'Some Deity on wandering wing
'May there incline;
'And, finding all in order meet,
'Stay while we worship at Her feet.'

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Beeny Cliff
Thomas Hardy

O the opal and the sapphire of that wandering western sea,
And the woman riding high above with bright hair flapping free-
The woman whom I loved so, and who loyally loved me.

The pale mews plained below us, and the waves seemed far away
In a nether sky, engrossed in saying their ceaseless babbling say,
As we laughed light-heartedly aloft on that clear-sunned March day.

A little cloud then cloaked us, and there flew an irised rain,
And the Atlantic dyed its levels with a dull misfeatured stain,
And then the sun burst out again, and purples prinked the main.

-Still in all its chasmal beauty bulks old Beeny to the sky,
And shall she and I not go there once again now March is nigh,
And the sweet things said in that March say anew there by and by?

What if still in chasmal beauty looms that wild weird western shore,
The woman now is-elsewhere-whom the ambling pony bore,
And nor knows nor cares for Beeny, and will laugh there nevermore.                         

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Crumbs of Comfort
Felix Dennis

How many crumbs of comfort - oaf!
Do men require to bake a loaf?
How many draughts of wine, my dear,
Will drown a fire and dry a tear?
For think of this - the rich can never know
Who loves them for their wit or for their gold;
And if men reap but what they sow,
Yet gold grows cold as bones grow old.
Keep friendships, then, in good repair,
We none of us have friends to spare -
And in the end,
Your one true friend
Is gold beyond compare.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Now that the Sky and the Earth and the Wind are Silent
Francesco Petrarch

Now that the sky and the earth and the wind are silent
and the wild creatures and the birds are reined in sleep,
Night leads its starry chariot in its round,
and the sea without a wave lies in its bed,
I look, think, burn, weep: and she who destroys me
is always before my eyes to my sweet distress:
war is my state, filled with grief and anger,
and only in thinking of her do I find peace.
So from one pure living fountain
flow the sweet and bitter which I drink:
one hand alone heals me and pierces me:
and so that my ordeal may not reach haven,
I am born and die a thousand times a day,
I am so far from my salvation.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Little Gidding  (part only)
T. S. Eliot

Midwinter spring is its own season
Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,
Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.
When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,
The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,
In windless cold that is the heart's heat,
Reflecting in a watery mirror
A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.
And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,
Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire
In the dark time of the year. Between melting and freezing
The soul's sap quivers. There is no earth smell
Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time
But not in time's covenant. Now the hedgerow
Is blanched for an hour with transitory blossom
Of snow, a bloom more sudden
Than that of summer, neither budding nor fading,
Not in the scheme of generation.
Where is the summer, the unimaginable Zero summer?

If you came this way,
Taking the route you would be likely to take
From the place you would be likely to come from,
If you came this way in may time, you would find the hedges
White again, in May, with voluptuary sweetness.
It would be the same at the end of the journey,
If you came at night like a broken king,
If you came by day not knowing what you came for,
It would be the same, when you leave the rough road
And turn behind the pig-sty to the dull facade
And the tombstone. And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfilment. There are other places
Which also are the world's end, some at the sea jaws,
Or over a dark lake, in a desert or a city--
But this is the nearest, in place and time,
Now and in England.

Song of the Chattahoochee
Sidney Lanier

Out of the hills of Habersham,
Down the valleys of Hall,
I hurry amain to reach the plain,
Run the rapid and leap the fall,
Split at the rock and together again,
Accept my bed, or narrow or wide,
And flee from folly on every side
With a lover's pain to attain the plain
Far from the hills of Habersham,
Far from the valleys of Hall.

All down the hills of Habersham,
All through the valleys of Hall,
The rushes cried Abide, abide,
The wilful waterweeds held me thrall,
The laving laurel turned my tide,
The ferns and the fondling grass said Stay,
The dewberry dipped for to work delay,
And the little reeds sighed Abide, abide,
Here in the hills of Habersham,
Here in the valleys of Hall.

High o'er the hills of Habersham,
Veiling the valleys of Hall,
The hickory told me manifold
Fair tales of shade, the poplar tall
Wrought me her shadowy self to hold,
The chestnut, the oak, the walnut, the pine,
Overleaning with flickering meaning and sign,
Said, Pass not, so cold, these manifold
Deep shades of the hills of Habersham,
These glades in the valleys of Hall.

And oft in the hills of Habersham,
And oft in the valleys of Hall,
The white quartz shone, and the smooth brook-stone
Did bar me of passage with friendly brawl,
And many a luminous jewel lone
-Crystals clear or a-cloud with mist,
Ruby, garnet, and amethyst-
Made lures with the lights of streaming stone
In the clefts of the hills of Habersham,
In the beds of the valleys of Hall.

But oh, not the hills of Habersham,
And oh, not the valleys of Hall
Avail: I am fain for to water the plain.
Downward the voices of Duty call-
Downward, to toil and be mixed with the main,
The dry fields burn, and the mills are to turn,
And a myriad flowers mortally yearn,
And the lordly main from beyond the plain
Calls o'er the hills of Habersham,
Calls through the valleys of Hall.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Young Fellow My Lad
Robert William Service

"Where are you going, Young Fellow My Lad,
On this glittering morn of May?"
"I'm going to join the Colours, Dad;
They're looking for men, they say."
"But you're only a boy, Young Fellow My Lad;
You aren't obliged to go."
"I'm seventeen and a quarter, Dad,
And ever so strong, you know."

"So you're off to France, Young Fellow My Lad,
And you're looking so fit and bright."
"I'm terribly sorry to leave you, Dad,
But I feel that I'm doing right."
"God bless you and keep you, Young Fellow My Lad,
You're all of my life, you know."
"Don't worry. I'll soon be back, dear Dad,
And I'm awfully proud to go.

"Why don't you write, Young Fellow My Lad?
I watch for the post each day;
And I miss you so, and I'm awfully sad,
And it's months since you went away.
And I've had the fire in the parlour lit,
And I'm keeping it burning bright
Till my boy comes home; and here I sit
Into the quiet night."

"What is the matter, Young Fellow My Lad?
No letter again to-day.
Why did the postman look so sad,
And sigh as he turned away?
I hear them tell that we've gained new ground,
But a terrible price we've paid:
God grant, my boy, that you're safe and sound;
But oh I'm afraid, afraid."

"They've told me the truth, Young Fellow My Lad:
You'll never come back again:
For you passed in the night, Young Fellow My Lad,
And you proved in the cruel test
Of the screaming shell and the battle hell
That my boy was one of the best.

"So you'll live, you'll live, Young Fellow My Lad,
In the gleam of the evening star,
In the wood-note wild and the laugh of the child,
In all sweet things that are.
And you'll never die, my wonderful boy,
While life is noble and true;
For all our beauty and hope and joy
We will owe to our lads like you."

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

A Summer's Day
Michael Drayton (1563–1631)

CLEAR had the day been from the dawn,
  All chequer’d was the sky,
The clouds, like scarfs of cobweb lawn,
  Veil’d heaven’s most glorious eye.
The wind had no more strength than this,        
  —That leisurely it blew—
To make one leaf the next to kiss
  That closely by it grew.
The rills, that on the pebbles play’d,
  Might now be heard at will;        
This world the only music made,
  Else everything was still.
The flowers, like brave embroider’d girls,
  Look’d as they most desired
To see whose head with orient pearls        
  Most curiously was tyred.
And to itself the subtle air
  Such sovereignty assumes,
That it receiv’d too large a share
  From Nature’s rich perfumes.        

Friday, 8 September 2017

Martins: September
Walter de la Mare

At secret daybreak they had met —
Chill mist beneath the welling light
Screening the marshes green and wet —
An ardent legion wild for flight.

Each preened and sleeked an arrowlike wing;
Their eager throats with lapsing cries
Praising whatever fate might bring —
Cold wave, or Africa's paradise.

Unventured, trackless leagues of air,
England's sweet summer narrowing on,
Her lovely pastures: nought their care —
Only this ardour to be gone.

A tiny, elflike, ecstatic host ...
And 'neath them, on the highway's crust,
Like some small mute belated ghost,
A sparrow pecking in the dust.

Autumnal Threads
Mary Leapor - 1722-1746
(Mary earned her living as a kitchen maid and died of measles aged 24)

'Twas when the fields had shed their golden grain
And burning suns had scar'd the russet plain;
No more the rose or hyacinth were seen,
Nor yellow cowslip on the tufted green:
But the rude thistle rear'd its hoary crown,
And the ripe nettle shew'd an irksome brown.
In mournful plight the tarnish'd groves appear,
And nature weeps for the declining year:
The sun, too quickly, reach'd the western sky,
And rising vapours hid his ev'ning eye:
Autumnal threads around the branches flew,
While the dry stubble drank the falling dew.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Sunday Morning
Louis McNeice

Down the road someone is practising scales,
The notes like little fishes vanish with a wink of tails,
Man's heart expands to tinker with his car
For this is Sunday morning, Fate's great bazaar;
Regard these means as ends, concentrate on this Now,

And you may grow to music or drive beyond Hindhead anyhow,
Take corners on two wheels until you go so fast
That you can clutch a fringe or two of the windy past,
That you can abstract this day and make it to the week of time
A small eternity, a sonnet self-contained in rhyme.

But listen, up the road, something gulps, the church spire
Open its eight bells out, skulls' mouths which will not tire
To tell how there is no music or movement which secures
Escape from the weekday time. Which deadens and endures.                         

Friday, 18 August 2017

A Song
Earl of Rochester

My dear mistress has a heart
Soft as those kind looks she gave me,
When with love's resistless art,
And her eyes, she did enslave me;
But her constancy's so weak,
She's so wild and apt to wander,
That my jealous heart would break
Should we live one day asunder.

Melting joys about her move,
Killing pleasures, wounding blisses;
She can dress her eyes in love,
And her lips can arm with kisses;
Angels listen when she speaks,
She's my delight, all mankind's wonder;
But my jealous heart would break
Should we live one day asunder.                         

Saturday, 22 July 2017

A Denial
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

We have met late---it is too late to meet,
   O friend, not more than friend!
Death's forecome shroud is tangled round my feet,
And if I step or stir, I touch the end.
   In this last jeopardy
Can I approach thee, I, who cannot move?
How shall I answer thy request for love?
   Look in my face and see.

 I love thee not, I dare not love thee! go
   In silence; drop my hand.
If thou seek roses, seek them where they blow
In garden-alleys, not in desert-sand.
   Can life and death agree,
That thou shouldst stoop thy song to my complaint?
I cannot love thee. If the word is faint,
   Look in my face and see. 

I might have loved thee in some former days.
   Oh, then, my spirits had leapt
As now they sink, at hearing thy love-praise!
Before these faded cheeks were overwept,
   Had this been asked of me,
To love thee with my whole strong heart and head,---
I should have said still . . . yes, but smiled and said,
   "Look in my face and see!" 

But now . . . God sees me, God, who took my heart
   And drowned it in life's surge.
In all your wide warm earth I have no part---
A light song overcomes me like a dirge.
   Could Love's great harmony
The saints keep step to when their bonds are loose,
Not weigh me down? am I a wife to choose?
   Look in my face and see---

While I behold, as plain as one who dreams,
   Some woman of full worth,
Whose voice, as cadenced as a silver stream's,
Shall prove the fountain-soul which sends it forth;
   One younger, more thought-free
And fair and gay, than I, thou must forget,
With brighter eyes than these . . . which are not wet.
    Look in my face and see!

So farewell thou, whom I have known too late
   To let thee come so near.
Be counted happy while men call thee great,
And one belov├Ęd woman feels thee dear!---
   Not I!---that cannot be.
I am lost, I am changed,---I must go farther, where
The change shall take me worse, and no one dare
   Look in my face and see.

Meantime I bless thee. By these thoughts of mine
   I bless thee from all such!
I bless thy lamp to oil, thy cup to wine,
Thy hearth to joy, thy hand to an equal touch
   Of loyal troth. For me,
I love thee not, I love thee not!---away!
Here's no more courage in my soul to say
   "Look in my face and see."

Friday, 14 July 2017

Monday, 10 July 2017

'I know a hidden field...'
Felix Dennis

I know a hidden field of ridge and furrow
              Far from track or human tread,
Where grasses sigh and coneys burrow,
       Where the cowslips dot the midden,
    Where a skylark hovers, hidden,
             Very high above your head.
I know an ancient road men call The Drover,
             Free of fences, gate or wire;
A chalky way of turf and clover,
     There the hedge is white at May time,
     There a barn owl roosts in daytime
             Snug within a ruined byre.

I know a Druid yew, a silent mourner,
              Mourning what, I do not know.
It stands within a pasture corner,
      Grim with age, grown gaunt and hollow,
      Guarding still some secret sorrow;
              Rot within and grief below.

I know a grassy mound, an orchard parcel
              Tucked beside a hazel wood,
There the lambs play king o’ the castle,
      There I’ve sat amid the cherries,
      Swearing I’d be back for berries—
           Knowing that I never should.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Returning, We Hear The Larks
Isaac Rosenberg

Sombre the night is:
And, though we have our lives, we know
What sinister threat lurks there.
Dragging these anguished limbs, we only know
This poison-blasted track opens on our camp—
On a little safe sleep.
But hark! Joy—joy—strange joy.
Lo! Heights of night ringing with unseen larks:
Music showering on our upturned listening faces.
Death could drop from the dark
As easily as song—
But song only dropped,
Like a blind man's dreams on the sand
By dangerous tides;
Like a girl's dark hair, for she dreams no ruin lies there,
Or her kisses where a serpent hides.

Friday, 30 June 2017

End of Another Home Holiday
D. H. Lawrence

When shall I see the half-moon sink again
Behind the black sycamore at the end of the garden?
When will the scent of the dim white phlox
Creep up the wall to me, and in at my open window?
Why is it, the long, slow stroke of the midnight bell
(Will it never finish the twelve?)
Falls again and again on my heart with a heavy reproach?

The moon-mist is over the village, out of the mist speaks the bell,
And all the little roofs of the village bow low, pitiful, beseeching, resigned.
–Speak, you my home! what is it I don’t do well?

Ah home, suddenly I love you
As I hear the sharp clean trot of a pony down the road,
Succeeding sharp little sounds dropping into silence
Clear upon the long-drawn hoarseness of a train across the valley.

The light has gone out, from under my mother’s door.
That she should love me so!–
She, so lonely, greying now!
And I leaving her,
Bent on my pursuits!

Love is the great Asker.
The sun and the rain do not ask the secret
Of the time when the grain struggles down in the dark.
The moon walks her lonely way without anguish,
Because no-one grieves over her departure.

Forever, ever by my shoulder pitiful love will linger,
Crouching as little houses crouch under the mist when I turn.
Forever, out of the mist, the church lifts up a reproachful finger
Pointing my eyes in wretched defiance where love hides her face to mourn.

 Oh! but the rain creeps down to wet the grain
That struggles alone in the dark,
And asking nothing, patiently steals back again!
The moon sets forth o’nights
To walk the lonely, dusky heights
Serenely, with steps unswerving;
Pursued by no sigh of bereavement,
No tears of love unnerving
Her constant tread
While ever at my side,
Frail and sad, with grey, bowed head,
The beggar-woman, the yearning-eyed
Inexorable love goes lagging.

The wild young heifer, glancing distraught,
With a strange new knocking of life at her side
Runs seeking a loneliness.
The little grain draws down the earth, to hide.
Nay, even the slumberous egg, as it labours under the shell
Patiently to divide and self-divide,
Asks to be hidden, and wishes nothing to tell.

But when I draw the scanty cloak of silence over my eyes
Piteous love comes peering under the hood;
Touches the clasp with trembling fingers, and tries
To put her ear to the painful sob of my blood;
While her tears soak through to my breast,
Where they burn and cauterize.

The moon lies back and reddens.
In the valley a corncrake calls
With a plaintive, unalterable voice, that deadens
My confident activity;
With a hoarse, insistent request that falls
Unweariedly, unweariedly,
Asking something more of me,
Yet more of me.

An English Light
Felix Dennis

9.45 on a fine June night,
I watch from the window and write and write
As the fields are lit by the red-eyed flight
Of the westering sun - as the trees ignite,
And the shadows lance in the slanted light,
Each leaf a halo of fire, more bright
Than the pale moon clothed in mottle and white
Awaiting the arms of her purple knight.

Little is moving in Eden this night
But the ears of an owl on a branchy height
For the rustle of voles, however slight,
As a martin blurs like a sickle kite
Of gunmetal grey... and I write and write
This hymn of delight in an English light.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Half Fledged
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
 I feel the stirrings in me of great things,
New half-fledged thoughts rise up and beat their wings,
And tremble on the margin of their nest,
Then flutter back, and hide within my breast.

Beholding space, they doubt their untried strength
Beholding men, they fear them. But at length
Grown all too great and active for the heart
That broods them with such tender mother art,
Forgetting fear, and men, and all, that hour,
Save the impelling consciousness of power
That stirs within them---they shall soar away
Up to the very portals of the Day.

Oh, what exultant rapture thrills me through
When I contemplate all those thoughts may do;
Like snow-white eagles penetrating space,
They may explore full many an unknown place,
And build their nests on mountain heights unseen
Whereon doth lie that dreamed-of rest serene.
Stay thou a little longer in my breast,
Till my fond heart shall push thee from the nest.
Anxious to see thee soar to heights divine---
Oh, beautiful but half-fledged thoughts of mine.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

My letters! all dead paper, mute and white!
And yet they seem alive and quivering
Against my tremulous hands which loose the string
And let them drop down on my knee to-night.
This said,- he wished to have me in his sight
Once, as a friend: this fixed a day in spring
To come and touch my hand... a simple thing,
Yet I wept for it! - this,... the paper's light...
Said, Dear, I love thee; and I sank and quailed
As if God's future thundered on my past.
This said, I am thine- and so its ink has paled
With Iying at my heart that beat too fast.
And this... O Love, thy words have ill availed
If, what this said, I dared repeat at last!                         

Sunday, 1 January 2017

From The Land - Winter
Vita Sackville-West

The country habit has me by the heart,
For he's bewitched forever who has seen,
Not with his eyes but with his vision, Spring
Flow down the woods and stipple leaves with sun,
As each man knows the life that fits him best,
The shape it makes in his soul, the tune, the tone,
And after ranging on a tentative flight
Stoops like the merlin to the constant lure.
The country habit has me by the heart.
I never hear the sheep-bells in the fold,
Nor see the ungainly heron rise and flap
Over the marsh, nor hear the asprous corn
Clash, as the reapers set the sheaves in shocks
(That like a tented army dream away
The night beneath the moon in silvered fields),
Nor watch the stubborn team of horse and man
Graven upon the skyline, nor regain
The sign-posts on the roads towards my home
Bearing familiar names—without a strong
Leaping of recognition; only here
Lies peace after uneasy truancy;
Here meet and marry many harmonies,
—All harmonies being ultimately one,—
Small mirroring majestic; for as earth
Rolls on her journey, so her little fields
Ripen or sleep, and the necessities
Of seasons match the planetary law.
So truly stride between the earth and heaven
Sowers of grain: so truly in the spring
Earth's orbit swings both blood and sap to rhythm,
And infinite and humble are at one;
So the brown hedger, through the evening lanes
Homeward returning, sees above the ricks,
Sickle in hand, the sickle in the sky.
Shepherds and stars are quiet with the hills.
There is a bond between the men who go
From youth about the business of the earth,
And the earth they serve, their cradle and their grave;
Stars with the seasons alter; only he
Who wakeful follows the pricked revolving sky,
Turns concordant with the earth while others sleep;
To him the dawn is punctual; to him
The quarters of the year no empty name.
A loutish life, but in the midst of dark
Cut to a gash of beauty, as when the hawk
Bears upwards in its talons the striking snake,
High, and yet higher, till those two hang close,
Sculptural on the blue, together twined,
Exalted, deathly, silent, and alone.

Monday, 26 December 2016

A Maiden's Secret
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
(I have posted a shorter version of this before, which I prefer.)

I have written this day down in my heart
As the sweetest day in the season;
From all of the others I've set it apart---
But I will not tell you the reason,
That is my secret---I must not tell;
But the skies are soft and tender,
And never before, I know full well,
Was the earth so full of splendour.

I sing at my labour the whole day long,
And my heart is as light as a feather;
And there is a reason for my glad song
Besides the beautiful weather.
But I will not tell it to you; and though
That thrush in the maple heard it,
And would shout it aloud if he could, I know
He hasn't the power to word it.

Up, where I was sewing, this morn came one
Who told me the sweetest stories,
He said I had stolen my hair from the sun,
And my eyes from the morning glories.
Grandmother says that I must not believe
A word men say, for they flatter;
But I'm sure he would never try to deceive,
For he told me---but there---no matter!

Last night I was sad, and the world to me
Seemed a lonely and dreary dwelling,
But some one then had not asked me to be---
There now! I am almost telling.
Not another word shall my two lips say,
I will shut them fast together,
And never a mortal shall know to-day
Why my heart is as light as a feather.                         

Friday, 11 November 2016

Lest we forget...

Monday, 19 September 2016

The Bells of Heaven
Ralph Hodgson

'Twould ring the bells of Heaven
The wildest peal for years,
If Parson lost his senses
And people came to theirs,
And he and they together
Knelt down with angry prayers
For tamed and shabby tigers
And dancing dogs and bears,
And wretched, blind pit ponies,
And little hunted hares.                         

Monday, 5 September 2016

The Gypsy Girl
Ralph Hodgson

'Come, try your skill, kind gentlemen,
A penny for three tries!'
Some threw and lost, some threw and won
A ten-a-penny prize.

She was a tawny gypsy girl,
A girl of twenty years,
I liked her for the lumps of gold
That jingled from her ears;

I liked the flaring yellow scarf
Bound loose about her throat,
I liked her showy purple gown
And flashy velvet coat.

A man came up, too loose of tongue,
And said no good to her;
She did not blush as Saxons do,
Or turn upon the cur;

She fawned and whined, 'Sweet gentleman,
A penny for three tries!'
- But oh, the den of wild things in
The darkness of her eyes!                         

Sunday, 28 August 2016

To Ailsa Rock
John Keats

Hearken, thou craggy ocean-pyramid!
Give answer by thy voice, the sea-fowls' screams!
When were thy shoulders mantled in huge streams?
When from the sun was thy broad forehead hid?
How long is't since the mighty Power bid
Thee heave to airy sleep from fathom dreams?
Sleep in the lap of thunder or sunbeams,
Or when grey clouds are thy cold coverlid?
Thou answer'st not; for thou art dead asleep.
Thy life is but two dead eternities-
The last in air, the former in the deep,
First with the whales, last with the eagle-skies.
Drowned wast thou till an earthquake made thee steep,
Another cannot wake thy giant size!                         

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Tuesday, 19 July 2016


Additional Poems

Ask me no more, for fear I should reply;
Others have held their tongues, and so can I;
Hundreds have died, and told no tale before:
Ask me no more, for fear I should reply -

How one was true and one was clean of stain
And one was braver than the heavens are high,
And one was fond of me: and all are slain.
Ask me no more, for fear I should reply.


He would not stay for me; and who can wonder?
He would not stay for me to stand and gaze.
I shook his hand and tore my heart in sunder
And went with half my life about my ways.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Crucifix Corner
Ivor Gurney

There was a water dump there, and regimental
Carts came every day to line up and fill full
Those rolling tanks with chlorinated clear mixture;
And curse the mud with vain veritable vexture.
Aveluy across the valley, billets, shacks, ruins,
With time and time a crump there to mark doings.
On New Year's Eve the marsh glowed tremulous
With rosy mist still holding late marvellous
Sun-glow, the air smelt home; the time breathed home.
Noel not put away; new term not yet come,
All things said 'Severn', the air was full of those calm meadows;
Transport rattled somewhere in the southern shadows;
Stars that were not strange ruled the most quiet high
Arch of soft sky, starred and most grave to see, most high.
What should break that but gun-noise or last Trump?
But neither came. At sudden, with light jump
Clarinet sang into 'Hundred Pipers and A'',
Aveluy's Scottish answered with pipers true call
'Happy we've been a'together.' When nothing
Stayed of war-weariness or winter's loathing,
Crackers with Christmas stockings hung in the heavens,
Gladness split discipline in sixes and sevens,
Hunger ebb'd magically mixed with strange leavens;
Forgotten, forgotten the hard time's true clothing,
And stars were happy to see Man making Fate plaything.                         

Monday, 27 June 2016

The Tame Hare
Norman Nicholson

She came to him in dreams — her ears
Diddering like antennae, and her eyes
Wide as dark flowers where the dew
Holds and dissolves a purple hoard of shadow.
The thunder clouds crouched back, and the world opened
Tiny and bright as celandine after rain.
A gentle light was on her, so that he
Who saw the talons in the vetch
Remembered now how buttercup and daisy
Would bounce like springs when a child's foot stepped off them.
Oh, but never dared he touch —
Her fur was still electric to the fingers.

Yet of all the beasts blazoned in gilt and blood
In the black-bound scriptures of his mind,
Pentecostal dove and paschal lamb,
Eagle, lion, serpent, she alone
Lived also in the noon of ducks and sparrows;
And the cleft-mouthed kiss which plugged the night with fever
Was sweetened by a lunch of docks and lettuce.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Monday, 11 April 2016

Liberty Rejected
William Watson

About this heart thou hast
Thy chains made fast,
And think'st thou I would be
Therefrom set free,
And forth unbound be cast?

The ocean would as soon
Entreat the moon
Unsay the magic verse
That seals him hers
From silver noon to noon.

She stooped her pearly head
Seaward, and said:
'Would'st thou I gave to thee
Thy liberty,
In Time's youth forfeited?'

And from his inmost hold
The answer rolled:
'Thy bondman to remain
Is sweeter pain,
Dearer an hundredfold.'                         

Edwin Muir

Those lumbering horses in the steady plough,
On the bare field - I wonder, why, just now,
They seemed terrible, so wild and strange,
Like magic power on the stony grange.

Perhaps some childish hour has come again,
When I watched fearful, through the blackening rain,
Their hooves like pistons in an ancient mill
Move up and down, yet seem as standing still.

Their conquering hooves which trod the stubble down
Were ritual that turned the field to brown,
And their great hulks were seraphims of gold,
Or mute ecstatic monsters on the mould.

And oh the rapture, when, one furrow done,
They marched broad-breasted to the sinking sun!
The light flowed off their bossy sides in flakes;
The furrows rolled behind like struggling snakes.

But when at dusk with steaming nostrils home
They came, they seemed gigantic in the gloam,
And warm and glowing with mysterious fire
That lit their smouldering bodies in the mire.

Their eyes as brilliant and as wide as night
Gleamed with a cruel apocalyptic light,
Their manes the leaping ire of the wind
Lifted with rage invisible and blind.

Ah, now it fades! It fades! And I must pine
Again for the dread country crystalline,
Where the blank field and the still-standing tree
Were bright and fearful presences to me.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Sudden Light
Dante Gabriel Rossetti

I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.

You have been mine before –
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at that swallow’s soar
Your neck turned so,
Some veil did fall, – I knew it all of yore.

Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus time’s eddying flight
Still with our lives our love restore
In death’s despite,
And day and night yield one delight once more?

Thursday, 18 February 2016

The Kingfisher
Martin Armstrong

Under the bank, close-shadowed from the sun,
By winter freshets spun,
Dry tangled wreckage hung above the shallows
In the long roots of the sallows,
And underneath in cool twilight the stream
Lay calmed to a brown dream.

Then with the gleam and flash of a swift-blue flame
Out from the dusk he came,
And the heart and the breath stood still with delight and wonder,
While in the water under
Shot, swift as he, a streak of blue and green
From unseen to unseen.

O wonder, leaping with sudder flutter of wings
From the litter of common things,
Flash on the inward eye till the soul leaps higher
On the surge of a great desire,
And high in the dim-lit hall of earthly years
Another lamp appears.

Friday, 29 January 2016

James McCarroll

With folded wings of dusky light
Upon the purple hills she stands,
An angel between day and night,
With tinted shadows in her hands;

Till suddenly transfigured there,
With all her dazzling plumes unfurled
She climbs the crimson-flooded air,
And flies in glory o'er the world.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

When Passion's Trance Is Overpast
Percy Bysshe Shelley

When passion's trance is overpast,
If tenderness and truth could last,
Or live, whilst all wild feelings keep
Some mortal slumber, dark and deep,
I should not weep, I should not weep!

It were enough to feel, to see,
Thy soft eyes gazing tenderly,
And dream the rest--and burn and be
The secret food of fires unseen,
Couldst thou but be as thou hast been, 

After the slumber of the year
The woodland violets reappear;
All things revive in field or grove,
And sky and sea, but two, which move
And form all others, life and love.

Friday, 1 January 2016

This Lunar Beauty
W H Auden

This lunar beauty
Has no history
Is complete and early,
If beauty later
Bear any feature
It had a lover
And is another.

This like a dream
Keeps other time
And daytime is
The loss of this,
For time is inches
And the heart's changes
Where ghost has haunted
Lost and wanted.

But this was never
A ghost's endeavor
Nor finished this,
Was ghost at ease,
And till it pass
Love shall not near
The sweetness here
Nor sorrow take
His endless look.                         

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

1914 - Safety
Rupert Brooke
Dear! of all happy in the hour, most blest
He who has found our hid security,
Assured in the dark tides of the world that rest,
And heard our word, ‘Who is so safe as we?’
We have found safety with all things undying,
The winds, and morning, tears of men and mirth,
The deep night, and birds singing, and clouds flying,
And sleep, and freedom, and the autumnal earth.
We have built a house that is not for Time’s throwing.
We have gained a peace unshaken by pain for ever.
War knows no power. Safe shall be my going,
Secretly armed against all death’s endeavour;
Safe though all safety’s lost; safe where men fall;
And if these poor limbs die, safest of all.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Monday, 2 November 2015

The Phantom Horsewoman
Thomas Hardy

Queer are the ways of a man I know:
He comes and stands
In a careworn craze,
And looks at the sands
And in the seaward haze
With moveless hands
And face and gaze,
Then turns to go...
And what does he see when he gazes so?

They say he sees as an instant thing
More clear than today,
A sweet soft scene
That once was in play
By that briny green;
Yes, notes alway
Warm, real, and keen,
What his back years bring-
A phantom of his own figuring.

Of this vision of his they might say more:
Not only there
Does he see this sight,
But everywhere
In his brain-day, night,
As if on the air
It were drawn rose bright-
Yea, far from that shore
Does he carry this vision of heretofore:

A ghost-girl-rider. And though, toil-tried,
He withers daily,
Time touches her not,
But she still rides gaily
In his rapt thought
On that shagged and shaly
Atlantic spot,
And as when first eyed
Draws rein and sings to the swing of the tide.