Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Day 986: Spring Buds

A perfect way of putting it - 


Every Tree - Kobayashi Issa

Every tree
With its calling card...
Spring buds.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Day 985: Late March

'They sang, they sang
because they forgave themselves
the winter, and all that remained
still bitter...'

I found this poem on another poetry blog I follow, a collection of daily mindful poems called 
A Year Of Being Here. What an unusual idea that spring is a forgiveness of winter, but how true too. If winter is synonymous with hurt, then spring, of course, is healing.

Late March - Richard Schiffman

Again the trees remembered
to make leaves.
In the forest of their recollection
many birds returned
They sang, they sang
because they forgave themselves
the winter, and all that remained
still bitter.
Yet it was early spring,
when the days were touch and go,
and a late snow could nip a shoot,
or freeze a fledgling in its nest.
And where would we be then?
But that’s not the point.
Do you think the magpie doesn’t know
that its chicks are at risk,
or the peach trees, their too-frail blossoms,
the new-awakened bees, all that is
incipient within us?
We know, but we can’t help ourselves
any more than they can,
any more than the earth can
stop hurtling through the night
of its own absence.
Must be something in the sap,
the blood, a force like gravity,
a trick called memory.
You name it. Or leave it nameless
that’s better—
how something returns
and keeps on returning
through a gap,
through a dimensional gate,
through a tear in the veil.
And there it is again.
Another spring.
To woo loss into song.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Day 984: The Right Age

 'There is an age when you are most yourself.'

This poem uses the repetitive form of the pantoum to great effect. 

Something About The Trees - Linda Pastan

I remember what my father told me:
There is an age when you are most yourself.
He was just past fifty then,
Was it something about the trees that make him speak?

There is an age when you are most yourself.
I know more than I did once.
Was it something about the trees that make him speak?
Only a single leaf had turned so far.

I know more than I did once.
I used to think he'd always be the surgeon.
Only a single leaf had turned so far,
Even his body kept its secrets.

I used to think he'd always be the surgeon,
My mother was the perfect surgeon's wife.
Even his body kept its secrets.
I thought they both would live forever.

My mother was the perfect surgeon's wife,
I can still see her face at thirty.
I thought they both would live forever.
I thought I'd always be their child.

I can still see her face at thirty.
When will I be most myself?
I thought I'd always be their child.
In my sleep it's never winter.

When will I be most myself?
I remember what my father told me.
In my sleep it's never winter.
He was just past fifty then.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Day 983: Spring Forward Time

Don't forget the clocks go forward tonight into official Spring Time, yay! A time that cannot be 'regulated' by 'tictoc' clocks, according to EE:

there are so many tictoc - ee cummings

there are so many tictoc
clocks everywhere telling people
what toctic time it is for
tictic instance five toc minutes toc
past six tic

Spring is not regulated and does
not get out of order nor do
its hands a little jerking move
over numbers slowly

we do not
wind it up it has no weights
springs wheels inside of
its slender self no indeed dear
nothing of the kind.

(So,when kiss Spring comes
we’ll kiss each kiss other on kiss the kiss
lips because tic clocks toc don’t make
a toctic difference
to kisskiss you and to
kiss me)

Friday, 27 March 2015

Day 982: It Is A Spring Afternoon

 'Everything here is possible.'

 It Is A Spring Afternoon - Anne Sexton

Everything here is yellow and green.
Listen to its throat, its earthskin,
the bone dry voices of the peepers
as they throb like advertisements.
The small animals of the woods
are carrying their deathmasks
into a narrow winter cave.
The scarecrow has plucked out
his two eyes like diamonds
and walked into the village.
The general and the postman
have taken off their packs.
This has all happened before
but nothing here is obsolete.
Everything here is possible.

Because of this
perhaps a young girl has laid down
her winter clothes and has casually
placed herself upon a tree limb
that hangs over a pool in the river.
She has been poured out onto the limb,
low above the houses of the fishes
as they swim in and out of her reflection
and up and down the stairs of her legs.
Her body carries clouds all the way home.
She is overlooking her watery face
in the river where blind men
come to bathe at midday.

Because of this
the ground, that winter nightmare,
has cured its sores and burst
with green birds and vitamins.
Because of this
the trees turn in their trenches
and hold up little rain cups
by their slender fingers.
Because of this
a woman stands by her stove
singing and cooking flowers.
Everything here is yellow and green.

Surely spring will allow
a girl without a stitch on
to turn softly in her sunlight
and not be afraid of her bed.
She has already counted seven
blossoms in her green green mirror.
Two rivers combine beneath her.
The face of the child wrinkles.
in the water and is gone forever.
The woman is all that can be seen
in her animal loveliness.
Her cherished and obstinate skin
lies deeply under the watery tree.
Everything is altogether possible
and the blind men can also see.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Day 981: To The Thawing Wind

Yes, come thawing wind and wizzle out the last of winter! And 'scatter poems on the floor/ turn the poet out of door.' 

To The Thawing Wind - Robert Frost

Come with rain. O loud Southwester!
Bring the singer, bring the nester;
Give the buried flower a dream;
Make the settled snowbank steam;
Find the brown beneath the white;
But whate'er you do tonight,
Bath my window, make it flow,
Melt it as the ice will go;
Melt the glass and leave the sticks
Like a hermit's crucifix;
Burst into my narrow stall;
Swing the picture on the wall;
Run the rattling pages o'er;
Scatter poems on the floor;
Turn the poet out of door.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Day 980: In Favor Of One's Time

'it's also pretty hard to remember life's marvellous
but there it is guttering choking then soaring...'

I've never read a line with three 'thats' in it before, but there is one here in a poem so full of verve, its clunkiness flows perfectly rather than stalls.  Like a stuttering kind of wonder, the line is representative of the whole poem which swings along with Frank O'Hara's characteristic tempestuous feeling and wonder. Guaranteed to put a swing in your step!

In Favor Of One's Time - Frank O'Hara
The spent purpose of a perfectly marvellous
life suddenly glimmers and leaps into flame
it's more difficult than you think to make charcoal
it's also pretty hard to remember life's marvellous
but there it is guttering choking then soaring
in the mirrored room of this consciousness
it's practically a blaze of pure sensibility
and however exaggerated at least something's going on
and the quick oxygen in the air will not go neglected
will not sulk or fall into blackness and peat

an angel flying slowly, curiously singes its wings
and you diminish for a moment out of respect
for beauty then flare up after all that's the angel
that wrestled with Jacob and loves conflict
as an athlete loves the tape, and we're off into
an immortal contest of actuality and pride
which is love assuming the consciousness of itself
as sky over all, medium of finding and founding
not just resemblance but the magnetic otherness
that that that stands erect in the the spirit's glare
and waits for the joining of an opposite force's breath

so come the winds into our lives and last
longer than despair's sharp snake, crushed before it conquered
so marvellous is not just a poet's greenish namesake
and we live outside his garden in pure tempestuous rights

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Day 979: Spring Shedding


Short, simply put, and sweetly meant.

Spring - Kay Ryan

It would be
good to shrug
out of winter
as cicadas do:
look: a crisp
freestanding you
and you walking
off, soft as

Monday, 23 March 2015

Day 978: Perpetual Spring

 '...for every hurt/there is a leaf to cure it.'

In Perpetual Spring - Amy Gerstler
Gardens are also good places
to sulk. You pass beds of
spiky voodoo lilies   
and trip over the roots   
of a sweet gum tree,   
in search of medieval   
plants whose leaves,   
when they drop off   
turn into birds
if they fall on land,
and colored carp if they   
plop into water.

Suddenly the archetypal   
human desire for peace   
with every other species   
wells up in you. The lion   

and the lamb cuddling up.
The snake and the snail, kissing.
Even the prick of the thistle,   
queen of the weeds, revives   
your secret belief
in perpetual spring,
your faith that for every hurt   
there is a leaf to cure it.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Day 977: Over Wine

 'Happily I gulped a star...'

I love poems that delve into the delights of wine, that can match its effervescent effects with language, that can equate drinking it with falling in love. This poem does all this and more. Magical, beautiful, swoon-worthy.

Over Wine - Wislawa Szymborska

He glanced, gave me extra charm
and I took it as my own.
Happily I gulped a star.

I let myself be invented,
modeled on my own reflection
in his eyes. I dance, dance, dance
in the stir of sudden wings.

The chair's a chair, the wine is wine,
in a wineglass that's the wineglass
standing there by standing there.
Only I'm imaginary,
make-believe beyond belief;
so fictitious that it hurts.

And I tell him tales about
ants that die of love beneath
a dandelion's constellation.
I swear a white rose will sing
if you sprinkle it with wine.

I laugh and I tilt my head
cautiously, as if to check
whether the invention works.
I dance, dance inside my stunned
skin, in his arms that create me.

Eve from the rib, Venus from foam,
Minerva from Jupiter's head-
all three were more real than me.

When he isn't looking at me,
I try to catch my reflection
on the wall. And see the nail
where a picture used to be.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Day 976: Everyday Eclipses

 'Every day eclipses another day...'

Well everyone is still agog about yesterday's solar eclipse. But have you noticed the everyday eclipses? Roger McGough has, most keenly. 

Everyday Eclipses - Roger McGough

The hamburger flipped across the face of the bun
The frisbee winning the race against its own shadow
The cricket ball dropping for six in front of the church clock
On a golden plate, a host of communion wafers
The brown contact lens sliding across the blue iris
The palming of small change
Everyday eclipses.

Out of the frying pan, the tossed pancake orbits
    the Chinese lampshade
The water bucket echoing into the well
The black, snookering the cue ball against the green baize 
The winning putt on the eighteenth
The tiddlywink twinkling toward the tiddlycup
Everyday eclipses.

Neck and neck in the hot air balloon race
Holding up her sign, the lollipop lady blots out
   the Belisha beacon
The foaming tankard thumped onto the beermat
The plug into the plughole

In the fruit bowl, the orange rolls in front of the peach
Every day eclipses another day.

Goodbye bald patch, Hello yarmulke
A sombrero tossed into the bullring
Leading the parade, the big bass drum, we hear cymbals
   but cannot see them
One eclipse eclipses another eclipse.

To the cold, white face, the oxygen mask
But too late
One death eclipses another death.

The baby's head, the mother's breast
The open O of the mouth seeking the warm O of the nipple
One birth eclipses another birth
Everyday eclipses.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Day 975: Seed


I've posted this poem here before but thought it relevant to today - my final day of posting Irish poets and the official first day of spring. Paula Meehan is our current Professor of Poetry in Ireland and this poem is one of my favourites of hers. 

Seed - Paula Meehan

The first warm day of spring
and I step out into the garden from the gloom
of a house where hope had died
to tally the storm damage, to seek what may
have survived. And finding some forgotten
lupins I’d sown from seed last autumn
holding in their fingers a raindrop each
like a peace offering, or a promise,
I am suddenly grateful and would
offer a prayer if I believed in God.
But not believing, I bless the power of seed,
its casual, useful persistence,
and bless the power of sun,
its conspiracy with the underground,
and thank my stars the winter’s ended.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Day 974: The Centre of the Universe

Paul Durcan is one of our funniest and fun-poking contemporary Irish poets. Have a look: 

The Centre of the Universe - Paul Durcan

Pushing my trolley about in the supermarket;
I am the centre of the universe;
Up and down the aisles of beans and juices,
I am the centre of the universe;
It does not matter that I live alone;
It does not matter that I am a jilted lover;
It does not matter that I am a misfit in my job;
I am the centre of the universe.

But I’m always here, if you want me -
For I am the centre of the universe.

I enjoy being the centre of the universe.
It is not easy being the centre of the universe
But I enjoy it.
I take pleasure in,
I delight in,
Being the centre of the universe.
At six o’clock a.m. this morning I had a phone call;
It was from a friend, a man in Los Angeles;
“Paul, I don’t know what time it is in Dublin
But I simply had to call you:
I cannot stand LA so I thought I’d call you.”
I calmed him down as best I could.

But I’m always here, if you want me -
For I am the centre of the universe.

I had barely put the phone down when it rang again,
This time from a friend in Sao Paulo in Brazil:
“Paul – do you know what is the population of Sao Paulo?
I will tell you: it is twelve million skulls.
Twelve million pairs of feet in one footbath.
Twelve million pairs of eyes in one fishbowl.
It is unspeakable, I tell you, unspeakable.”
I calmed him down.

But I’m always here, if you want me -
For I am the centre of the universe.

But then when the phone rang a third time and it was not yet 6.30 a.m.,
The petals of my own hysteria began to wake up and unfurl.
This time it was a woman I know in New York City:
“Paul – Ney York City is a Cage”,
And she began to cry a little over the phone,
To sob over the phone,
And from five thousand miles away I mopped up her tears.
I dabbed each tear from her cheek
With just a word or two or three from my calm voice.

I’m always here, if you want me -
For I am the centre of the universe.

But now tonight it is myself;
Sitting at my aluminium double-glazed window in Dublin city;
Crying just a little bit into my black tee shirt.
If only there was just one human being out there
With whom I could make a home? Share a home?
Just one creature out there in the night-
Is there not just one creature out there in the night?
In Helsinki, perhaps? Or in Reykjavik?
Or in Chapelizod? or in Malahide?
So you see, I have to calm myself down also
If I am to remain the centre of the universe;
It’s by no means an exclusively self-centred automatic thing
Being the centre of the universe.

I’m always here, if you want me -
For I am the centre of the universe.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Day 973: Citybound

Another of the finalists in A Poem for Ireland today and this poem from Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh is so full of energy it is almost alight on the page. I just love the description of the hectic buzz of urban life as 'the present tense bounces recklessly off walls.'  How exact! 

The poem is as Gaeilge, with the English translation below.


Filleadh ar an gCathair - Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh

ag filleadh dom,
blaisim allas na cathrach faram.

Deas liom a taiseacht.

Preabann an Aimsir Láithreach
gan aire ó gach balla
i mbrothall an tráthnóna.

Admhaím go músclaíonn
gás sceite
sceitimíní ionam.

Is fíor nach gcítear
luí na gréine
i bhfairsing’ spéire:

Cacann an oíche
idir foirgnimh arda
gan rabhadh.

Ach lasann soilse neon
cúinní coimhthíocha mo chroí.

Faoiseamh a gheobhadsa
ar mo ghrianán gealaí,
mo chluas le hamhrán tráchta.

Citybound - Translated by Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh
Returning tonight
I can taste the city’s sweat
around me.

I like its sweetness.

The Present Tense bounces
recklessly off walls
in the heat of the afternoon.

I admit toxic fumes
intoxicate me.

Although you don’t see
the setting sun here
in the vast expanse of sky:

Night plunges
between tall buildings
without warning.

But neon lights light up
the foreign corners of my heart.

'I will find solace'
on a moonlit ledge,
my ear tuned to traffic’s song.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Day 972: A Drinking Song

For St Patrick's Day today, an example of Yeats' exquisite lyricism which I think showcases two marked characteristics of the Irish character: a propensity for indulging in too much drink and  wallowing in too much romantic melancholy. 

Yeats himself was more guilty of the second behaviour than the first. He didn't have much luck in love (his lifelong unrequited love for Maud Gonne case in point) although he did manage to write beautiful meditations on the subject. His poem here 'Drinking Song' is a love poem masquerading under the title of a supposed merry-making pub piece. It is as beautiful as it is brief, the economy of language weaving a strange enchantment over the reader. It is a poem that demands multiple readings, that last line so simply and perfectly heartbreaking.

Whatever about the luck of the Irish, today I'd like to make a toast to the lyricism of the Irish. A much more practical blessing than luck if you ask me, one that can be used to generate that elusive quality.

A Drinking Song - William Butler Yeats 
Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Day 971: Dublin

Another of A Poem for Ireland choices, this poem by Louis MacNeice is a lyrical if tentative love letter to Dublin. 

The second stanza has some of the best descriptions of Dublin I've heard - 'the glamour of her squalor...the bravado of her talk.'  Louis MacNeice was from Belfast and felt himself an outsider when in Dublin. This is reflected very much in the poem. It starts out as a hesitant ode to the capital city from  someone still trying to get their bearings in it - 'this never was my town' - but then goes on to become something more lyrical and full of a beloved wonder: 'The lights jig in the river/With a concertina movement/And the sun comes up in the morning/Like barley-sugar on the water.'  

What I like about this poem is the transformation inherent in it. Indeed, by the end we can see how Dublin has captured MacNeice's mind and heart, so much so that the 'days are soft' there and the monotonous oppressive 'grey brick upon grey brick' at the beginning of the poems has by the end become 'greyness run to flower'. That says it all really.

Dublin - Louis MacNeice

Grey brick upon brick,
Declamatory bronze
On sombre pedestals –
O’Connell, Grattan, Moore –
And the brewery tugs and the swans
On the balustraded stream
And the bare bones of a fanlight
Over a hungry door
And the air soft on the cheek
And porter running from the taps
With a head of yellow cream
And Nelson on his pillar
Watching his world collapse.

This never was my town,
I was not born or bred
Nor schooled here and she will not
Have me alive or dead
But yet she holds my mind
With her seedy elegance,
With her gentle veils of rain
And all her ghosts that walk
And all that hide behind
Her Georgian facades –
The catcalls and the pain,
The glamour of her squalor,
The bravado of her talk.

The lights jig in the river
With a concertina movement
And the sun comes up in the morning
Like barley-sugar on the water
And the mist on the Wicklow hills
Is close, as close
As the peasantry were to the landlord,
As the Irish to the Anglo-Irish,
As the killer is close one moment
To the man he kills,
Or as the moment itself
Is close to the next moment.

She is not an Irish town
And she is not English,
Historic with guns and vermin
And the cold renown
Of a fragment of Church latin,
Of an oratorical phrase.
But oh the days are soft,
Soft enough to forget
The lesson better learnt,
The bullet on the wet
Streets, the crooked deal,
The steel behind the laugh,
The Four Courts burnt.

Fort of the Dane,
Garrison of the Saxon,
Augustan capital
Of a Gaelic nation,
Appropriating all
The alien brought,
You give me time for thought
And by a juggler’s trick
You poise the toppling hour –
O greyness run to flower,
Grey stone, grey water,
And brick upon grey brick.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Day 970: Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day so I thought this poem by Seamus Heaney - recent winner of the national poll for Ireland's favourite poem of the last 100 years in A Poem for Ireland  - would suit the day perfectly, being a tender love lyric from Heaney to his mother.

It also marks the start of my very own Seachtain na Gaeilge (Irish week) here where I'll be posting a selection of Irish poets and poems all week (some from A Poem for Ireland) to coincide with St Patrick's Day and the national Seachtain na Gaeilge. 

*You can read more about A Poem for Ireland here: http://apoemforireland.rte.ie/
*And to hear Seamus Heaney read this poem click: here

from Clearances - Seamus Heaney

When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.

So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives –
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Day 969: The Moon & The Stars & The Sky

Turning Twenty Three - Anne Michaels

You turned twenty-two in the rain.
We walked in rubber boots
along Lowther, the shiny street as albumen
under streetlamps.

At midnight, the sky suddenly clear
we drove your jazz-filled car
through cold, pungent streets to the lake
where we collected stones by flashlight.
The wind wrapped us in its torsions,
we couldn’t hear each other although we shouted,
wet with star-swallowing waves.

By morning the stones we’d found
were dull with air,
but I couldn’t forget the smell
of the trees’ intimate darkness
the scattered sound of the rain’s distracted hands,
husks of buds in green pools on the sidewalks.

To love one person above all others
is despair, you said, turning twenty-two.
Propaganda of the senses, the narrow-minded heart.

We are magnets, averted
by our sameness.

Above the corrugated, elastic lake
the darkening sky holds out its arms.
A thousand miles away, you’re turning twenty-three

I repeat your name, each time different
into sand, into moonlight.

Far off, the lake crumbles at its edges,
the sky holds out its arms.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Day 968: The Poems I Have Not Written

From the first line, this poem hooks the reader, especially the poetry-writing reader. Superbly said!


The Poems I Have Not Written - John Brehm

I’m so wildly unprolific, the poems
I have not written would reach
from here to the California coast
if you laid them end to end.

And if you stacked them up,
the poems I have not written
would sway like a silent
Tower of Babel, saying nothing

and everything in a thousand
different tongues. So moving, so
filled with and emptied of suffering,
so steeped in the music of a voice

speechless before the truth,
the poems I have not written
would break the hearts of every
woman who’s ever left me,

make them eye their husbands
with a sharp contempt and hate
themselves for turning their backs
on the very source of beauty.

The poems I have not written
would compel all other poets
to ask of God: "Why do you
let me live? I am worthless.

please strike me dead at once,
destroy my works and cleanse
the earth of all my ghastly
imperfections." Trees would

bow their heads before the poems
I have not written. "Take me,"
they would say, "and turn me
into your pages so that I

might live forever as the ground
from which your words arise."
The wind itself, about which
I might have written so eloquently,

praising its slick and intersecting
rivers of air, its stately calms
and furious interrogations,
its flutelike lingerings and passionate

reproofs, would divert its course
to sweep down and then pass over
the poems I have not written,
and the life I have not lived, the life

I’ve failed even to imagine,
which they so perfectly describe.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Day 967: The Bluet

The Bluet - Ted Kooser

Of all the flowers, the bluet has
the sweetest name, two syllables
that form on the lips, then fall
with a tiny, raindrop splash
into a suddenly bluer morning.

I offer you mornings like that,
fragrant with tiny blue blossoms -
each with four petals, each with a star
at its heart. I would give you whole fields
of wild perfume if only

you could be mine, if you were not -
like the foolish bluet (also called
Innocence) - always holding your face
to the fickle, careless, fly-by-kiss
of the Clouded Sulphur Butterfly.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Day 966: Spring Opening

Spring is finally beginning! And who better to express it than EE Cummings and his bustling enthusiasm -  laid out quite literally on the page.

(listen) - ee cummings


this a dog barks and
how crazily houses
eyes people smiles
faces streets
steeples are eagerly


ing through wonder
ful sunlight
- look -


,come quickly come
run run
with me now
jump shout(laugh
dance cry sing)for it's Spring

- irrevocably;
and in
earth sky trees
where a miracle arrives


you and I may not
hurry it with
a thousand poems
my darling
but nobody will stop it

With All the Policemen In The World

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Day 965: White Heron

Need a moment of calm today? Can't catch your breath? Feeling overwhelmed?  Read this poem. Let it wash over you as a balm, take you back to what really matters.
Poem of The One World - Mary Oliver
This morning
the beautiful white heron
was floating along above the water

and then into the sky of this
the one world
we all belong to

where everything
sooner or later
is a part of everything else

which thought made me feel
for a little while
quite beautiful myself.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Day 964: Daffy-Down-Dilly

It's daffodil time again! Everywhere their bright yellow heads are popping up, happy harbingers of spring. This amiable nursery rhyme poem (which has been attributed to Mother Goose) captures the heady cheeriness of the daffodil like no other I think. Enjoy!

Daffy Down Dilly

Is new come to town, 
With a petticoat green, 
And a bright yellow gown, 
And her little white blossoms 
Are peeping around.

Now don't you call this 
A most exquisite thing? 
Don't it give you a thrill 
With the thought of the spring, 
Such as once, in your childhood, 
You felt, when you found 
The first yellow buttercups 
Spangling the ground? 

When the lilac was fresh
With its glory of leaves, 
And the swallows came fluttering 
Under the eaves? 
When the bluebird flashed by 
like a magical thing, 
And you looked for a fairy
Astride of his wing?
When the clear, running water,
Like tinkling of bells, 
Bore along the bare roadside 
A song of the dells,— 
And the mornings were fresh 
With unfailing delight, 
While the sweet summer hush 
Always came with the night?

O daffy-down-dilly,
With robings of gold! 
As our hearts every year
To your coming unfold, 
And sweet memories stir
Through the hardening mould, 
We feel how earth's blossomings
Surely are given 
To keep the soul fresh 
For the spring-time of heaven! 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Day 963: Mad Farmers Liberation Front

What a title this poem has! And a lot of advice for living to offer. Punchy and plausible. Perfect.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmers Liberation Front - Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.

When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go.

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Day 962: Early Spring

This sparse verse by Rilke is subtle in its evocation of spring, but effective and endearing. I just love the line: 'Tendernesses hesitantly, reach toward the earth.' What a lovely way of describing the season!

Early Spring - Rilke

Harshness vanished. A sudden softness
has replaced the meadows’ wintry grey.
Little rivulets of water changed
their singing accents. Tendernesses,

hesitantly, reach toward the earth
from space, and country lanes are showing
these unexpected subtle risings
that find expression in the empty trees.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Day 961: After Hibernation

March - James Wright

A bear under the snow
Turns over to yawn.
It's been a long, hard rest.

Once, as she lay asleep, her cubs fell
Out of her hair,
And she did not know them.

It's hard to breathe
In a tight grave:

So she roars,
And the roof breaks.
Dark rivers and leaves
Pour down.

When the wind opens its doors
In its own good time,
The cubs follow that relaxed and beautiful woman
Outside to the unfamiliar cities
Of moss.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Day 960: Worm Moon

'everything is possible...'

Tonight is March's full moon, the worm moon (so called for the time when the ground begins to soften and earthworms appear  - in other words, the spring thaw.) And the overwhelming feeling of the month and its moon is one of possibility.

I've been waiting a long time to post this poem by Mary Oliver, one of my favourites of hers,  a homage to the hopeful season of spring.  (Taken from her collection on the year's moons 'Twelve Moons'.)

March is the month when spring finally begins to appear and possibility looms large, creating a jubilant effervescence  - 'In March the earth remembers its own name...and the name of every place is joyful'. I love how even the snow in the landscape of March is 'like a deep and lustrous blanket of moon-fire' in Mary Oliver's view.  This poem to me glows green with exuberant hope. Here's to March and the march onwards into spring where everything is indeed possible!

Worm Moon - Mary Oliver

In March the earth remembers its own name.
Everywhere the plates of snow are cracking.
The rivers begin to sing. In the sky
the winter stars are sliding away; new stars
appear as, later, small blades of grain
will shine in the dark fields.

And the name of every place
is joyful.

The season of curiosity is everlasting
and the hour for adventure never ends,
but tonight
even the men who walked upon the moon
are lying content
by open windows
where the winds are sweeping over the fields,
over water,
over the naked earth,
into villages, and lonely country houses, and the vast cities

because it is spring;
because once more the moon and the earth are eloping -
a love match that will bring forth fantastic children
who will learn to stand, walk, and finally run
    over the surface of earth;
who will believe, for years,
that everything is possible.

Born of clay,
how shall a man be holy;
born of water,
how shall a man visit the stars;
born of the seasons,
how shall a man live forever?

the child of the red-spotted newt, the eft,
will enter his life from the tiny egg.
On his delicate legs
he will run through the valleys of moss
down to the leaf mold by the streams,
where lately white snow lay upon the earth
like a deep and lustrous blanket
of moon-fire,

and probably
is possible.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Day 959: Daffodil Delivery

Daffodils are the flower of the month and the quintessential flower of spring. Even if it's snowing outside (ahem), a vase of them is spring, as demonstrated so jovially here.

48 Big Daffodils - Deborah S. Pease 

48 big daffodils blared yellow
From three vases in this room.
I was not expecting joy
But it arrived, brashly delivered
By flowers smelling of earth, primitive
In form and scent, bold enough
To grow through snow.

The florist's card with the sender's name
(So eagerly searched for in the past, the name
With its terrible power to thrill,
The name alone was what mattered)
Disclosed its unrushed secret:
"Happy spring. Love, Auntie"—
And I did not spit in despair.

Like the color (blatant solar flare), the joy
(What else to call it?) was childlike.
I did not think a child
Still lived in me, but with 48 big daffodils
Igniting my room
For their two-day lives
Here, there was spring.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Day 958: Primrose

I always see Tuesday and the number '3' as yellow (synesthesia-related...), so this seems the perfect poem for today Tuesday, 03/03. In celebration of the primrose, via yellow in all its vibrancy, here's  some zest from Mr Williams.

Primrose - William Carlos Williams

Yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow!
It is not a color.
It is summer!
It is the wind on a willow,
the lap of waves, the shadow
under a bush, a bird, a bluebird,
three herons, a dead hawk
rotting on a pole-
Clear yellow!
It is a piece of blue paper
in the grass or a threecluster of
green walnuts swaying, children
playing croquet or one boy
fishing, a man
swinging his pink fists
as he walks-
It is ladysthumb, forget-me-nots
in the ditch, moss under
the flange of the carrail, the
wavy lines in split rock, a
great oaktree-
It is a disinclination to be
five red petals or a rose, it is
a cluster of birdsbreast flowers
on a red stem six feet high,
four open yellow petals
above sepals curled
backward into reverse spikes-
Tufts of purple grass spot the
green meadow and clouds the sky.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Day 957: March Snow

The more I read of Linda Pastan's work the more I love it. Her language is so precise and exacting with so much emotion packed into so little a space. 

It's March and it's snowing. Yes, snowing.  I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment in every line of this poem!

March Snow - Linda Pastan

There is something hopeful about March,
something benevolent about the light,

and yet wherever I look snow
has fallen or is about to fall, and the cold

is so unexpected, so harsh,
that even the spider lily blooming

on the windowsill seems no more
than another promise, soon to be broken.

It is like a lover who speaks
the passionate language of fidelity, but

when you look for him, there he is
in the arms of winter.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Day 956: Dear March, Come In!

Hello March, month of green and yellow, new leaves and daffodils and primroses and blues skies and spring beginnings. Come in!

Dear March, Come In - Emily Dickinson

Dear March -- Come in --
How glad I am --
I hoped for you before --

Put down your Hat --
You must have walked --
How out of Breath you are --
Dear March, Come right up the stairs with me --
I have so much to tell --

I got your Letter, and the Birds --
The Maples never knew that you were coming -- till I called
I declare -- how Red their Faces grew --
But March, forgive me -- and
All those Hills you left for me to Hue --
There was no Purple suitable --
You took it all with you --

Who knocks? That April.
Lock the Door --
I will not be pursued --
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied --
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come

That Blame is just as dear as Praise
And Praise as mere as Blame --