13 October 2017
A traveller once told
How to an inland water slanting come
Slim boats of cane from rivers of Cathay,
With trembling mast so slight,
It seemed God made them with a hand of air
To sail upon His light;
Soft they unload a jar of jade and gold
In the cold dawn when birds are dumb,
And then away,
And speak no word and seek no pay,
Away they steal
And leave no ripple at the keel.
So the tale is writ;
And now, remembering you, I think of it.
- Geoffrey Scott
12 October 2017
The wind flapped loose, the wind was still,
Shaken out dead from tree and hill:
I had walked on at the wind's will,
I sat now, for the wind was still.
Between my knees my forehead was,
My lips drawn in, said not Alas!
My hair was over in the grass,
My naked ears heard the day pass.
My eyes, wide open, had the run
Of some ten weeds to fix upon;
Among those few, out of the sun,
The woodspurge flowered, three cups in one.
From perfect grief there need not be
Wisdom or even memory:
One thing then learnt remains to me,
The woodspurge has a cup of three.
- Dante Gabriel Rossetti
07 October 2017
Old scrap-iron foxgloves
rusty rods of the broken woods
what a faded knocked-out stiffness
as if you’d sprung from the horsehair
of a whole Victorian sofa buried in the mud down there
or at any rate something dropped from a great height
straight through flesh and out the other side
has left your casing pale and loose and finally
just a heap of shoes
they say the gods being so uplifted
can’t really walk on feet but take tottering steps
and lean like this closer and closer to the ground
it is the hours on bird-thin legs
the same old choirs of hours
returning their summer clothes to the earth
with the night now
as if dropped from a great height
- Alice Oswald
05 October 2017
It is the story of the falling rain
to turn into a leaf and fall again
it is the secret of a summer shower
to steal the light and hide it in a flower
and every flower a tiny tributary
that from the ground flows green and momentary
is one of water’s wishes and this tale
hangs in a seed-head smaller than my thumbnail
if only I a passerby could pass
as clear as water through a plume of grass
to find the sunlight hidden at the tip
turning to seed a kind of lifting rain drip
then I might know like water how to balance
the weight of hope against the light of patience
water which is so raw so earthy-strong
and lurks in cast-iron tanks and leaks along
drawn under gravity towards my tongue
to cool and fill the pipe-work of this song
which is the story of the falling rain
that rises to the light and falls again
- Alice Oswald
30 September 2017
After so long to fetch up with silver birch,
bracken inflating with the breeze, the dry
springy mat of needles, the mind's purchase,
where only homely ghosts retrace the by-ways.
That trunk, with all the torsion of a girl
Elbowing her slip above her head, dead wish
or memory. (A life-long stepper-out, you were,
foot over silken splash with a cat's precision.)
No walks by still waters, hoping for seas,
nor where oaks writhe. These silver birch
will do; they always have, beyond all reason.
I shall not wander into you round here.
Winter is mine, the bare boughs emerging.
My ways have narrowed, these dry sticks my clearing.
- Peter Dale