Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Lovely Moon

'It was the lovely moon that lovelike
Hovered over the wandering, tired

It Was the Lovely Moon - John Freeman

It was the lovely moon - she lifted
Slowly her white brow among
Bronze cloud-waves that ebbed and drifted
Faintly, faintlier afar.
Calm she looked, yet pale with wonder,
Sweet in unwonted thoughtfulness,
Watching the earth that dwindled under
Faintly, faintlier afar.
It was the lovely moon that lovelike
Hovered over the wandering, tired
Earth, her bosom gray and dovelike,
Hovering beautiful as a dove....
The lovely moon: her soft light falling
Lightly on roof and poplar and pine -
Tree to tree whispering and calling,
Wonderful in the silvery shine
Of the round, lovely, thoughtful moon.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Harvest Moon Mockingbird

'No sky could hold
so much light...'

Harvest Moon - The Mockingbird Sings in the Night - Mary Oliver

No sky could hold
so much light -
and here comes the brimming,
the flooding and streaming
out of the clouds
and into the leaves,
glazing the creeks,
the smallest ditches!
And so many stars!
The sky seems stretched
like an old black cloth;
behind it, all
the celestial fire
we ever dreamed of!
And the moon steps lower,
quietly changing
her luminous masks, brushing
everything as she passes
with her slow hands
and soft lips -
clusters of dark grapes,
apples swinging like lost planets,
melons cool and heavy as bodies -
and the mockingbird wakes
in his hidden castle;
out of the silver tangle
of thorns and leaves
he flutters and tumbles,
spilling long
ribbons of music
over forest and river,
copse and cloud -
all heaven and all earth -
wherever the white moon
fancies her small wild prince -
field after field after field.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Harvest Moon

"The harvest moon has come,
Booming softly through heaven, like a bassoon.
And the earth replies all night, like a deep drum."

Tonight is the marvellous harvest moon. I've posted this poem before, but Ted Hughes does such fitting homage here, that I simply must post it again.

(In honour of my favourite moon, I'll be posting moon poems all week here :)

The Harvest Moon - Ted Hughes

The flame-red moon, the harvest moon,
Rolls along the hills, gently bouncing,
A vast balloon,
Till it takes off, and sinks upward
To lie on the bottom of the sky, like a gold doubloon.
The harvest moon has come,
Booming softly through heaven, like a bassoon.
And the earth replies all night, like a deep drum.

So people can't sleep,
So they go out where elms and oak trees keep
A kneeling vigil, in a religious hush.
The harvest moon has come!

And all the moonlit cows and all the sheep
Stare up at her petrified, while she swells
Filling heaven, as if red hot, and sailing
Closer and closer like the end of the world.

Till the gold fields of stiff wheat
Cry `We are ripe, reap us!' and the rivers
Sweat from the melting hills.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Song of The Solo Self

Wow. What a power-source of a poem.

Song - Adrienne Rich
You're wondering if I'm lonely:
OK then, yes, I'm lonely
as a plane rides lonely and level
on its radio beam, aiming
across the Rockies
for the blue-strung aisles
of an airfield on the ocean.

You want to ask, am I lonely?
Well, of course, lonely
as a woman driving across country
day after day, leaving behind
mile after mile
little towns she might have stopped
and lived and died in, lonely

If I'm lonely
it must be the loneliness
of waking first, of breathing
dawn's first cold breath on the city
of being the one awake
in a house wrapped in sleep

If I'm lonely
it's with the rowboat ice-fast on the shore
in the last red light of the year
that knows what it is, that knows it's neither
ice nor mud nor winter light
but wood, with a gift for burning.

Thursday, 24 September 2015


It's blackberry season!

Blackberrying -  Sylvia Plath
Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,   
Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly,
A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea
Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries
Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes
Ebon in the hedges, fat
With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers.
I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.
They accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides.

Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks—
Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky.
Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting.
I do not think the sea will appear at all.
The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within.
I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies,
Hanging their bluegreen bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen.
The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.   
One more hook, and the berries and bushes end.

The only thing to come now is the sea.
From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me,   
Slapping its phantom laundry in my face.
These hills are too green and sweet to have tasted salt.
I follow the sheep path between them. A last hook brings me   
To the hills’ northern face, and the face is orange rock   
That looks out on nothing, nothing but a great space   
Of white and pewter lights, and a din like silversmiths   
Beating and beating at an intractable metal.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Equinox Greetings: Fall Songs

 ' everything lives, shifting/ from one bright vision to another...'

You know what I love about this blog? How often I stumble upon poems for it that are like gifts,  perfect offerings for not just the particular time and season I am describing, but personal feeling too. And I love how this also resonates with you, all my readers, too. A kind of synchronized magic. 

One such example is today's poem from Mary Oliver. Are there any better words to describe the autumn equinox (which technically falls today) and the strange folding of the year into an end, a last flare, and somehow too, a new beginning, a 'bright vision'?

I've also included another of Mary Oliver's meditations on the season, a favourite of mine, which I posted here last year, but which echoes the season's nuances so well that it calls to be posted again ~ 'the vivacity of what was' becoming 'the vitality of what will be'. Happy Equinox.

Fall Song - Mary Oliver

Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries – roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This

I try to remember when time’s measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay – how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.


Lines Written in the Days of Coming Darkness - Mary Oliver

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends
into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing, as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?
So let us go on

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Autumn Quince

How true this is. 

Autumn Quince - Jane Hirshfield

How sad they are,
the promises we never return to.
They stay in our mouths,
roughen the tongue, lead lives of their own.
Houses built and unwittingly lived in;
a succession of milk bottles brought to the door
every morning and taken inside.

And which one is real?
The music in the composer’s ear
or the lapsed piece the orchestra plays?
The world is a blurred version of itself –
marred, lovely, and flawed.
It is enough.

Monday, 21 September 2015

There Came a Day and His Name Was Autumn

Yep, and today may be that very day, being on the cusp of the autumn equinox and all. A time of turning and change.  (Yay to the apple and blackberry pie though...)

There Came a Day - Ted Hughes

There came a day that caught the summer
Wrung its neck
Plucked it
And ate it.

Now what shall I do with the trees?
The day said, the day said.
Strip them bare, strip them bare.
Let´s see what is really there.

And what shall I do with the sun?
The day said, the day said.
Roll him away till he´s cold and small.
He´ll come back rested if he comes back at all.

And what shall I do with the birds?
The day said, the day said.
The birds I´ve frightened, let them flit,
I´ll hang out pork for the brave tomtit.

And what shall I do with the seed?
The day said, the day said.
Bury it deep, see what it´s worth.
See if it can stand the earth.

What shall I do with the people?
The day said, the day said.
Stuff them with apple and blackberry pie –
They´ll love me then till the day they die.

Then came this day and he was autumn.
His mouth was wide
And red as a sunset.
His tail was an icicle.

Sunday, 20 September 2015


Well Mary Oliver can certainly put things into simple but stunning perspective:  'Every day I see or hear something that more or less kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle in the haystack of light... the untrimmable light of the world.' Indeed.

Mindful - Mary Oliver 

I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Saturday, 19 September 2015

A Certain Kind of Eden

Long live the dream, the 'certain kind of Eden that holds us thrall',  and the hope to achieve it.

A Certain Kind of Eden - Kay Ryan

It seems like you could, but
you can’t go back and pull
the roots and runners and replant.
It’s all too deep for that.
You’ve overprized intention,
have mistaken any bent you’re given
for control. You thought you chose
the bean and chose the soil.
You even thought you abandoned
one or two gardens. But those things
keep growing where we put them—
if we put them at all.
A certain kind of Eden holds us thrall.
Even the one vine that tendrils out alone
in time turns on its own impulse,
twisting back down its upward course
a strong and then a stronger rope,
the greenest saddest strongest
kind of hope.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

September Love Story

How all the unusual descriptions in this poem conspire to tell both a love story and a sea story that is not what you would expect, rather - cold, disdainful, indifferent. Rather like the month itself, if you ask me.


September - James Armstrong

I miss the tilt and racket of your face,
the collapsing factories of your anger,
the shoreline wearing your boas of foam—
the steel mirror of your silence,
your glass contingencies, in the night’s hold.
I miss the morning’s coverlet of cloud,
one gull flying east over the moving distances
while closer in
the same boulder is kissed again and again.
As the blacksmith plunges the bruised steel into the tub,
erasing the heat of his industry,
I have cooled my brow
with the ice of your disdain—
I have held your cold hand in the rain.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

To The Light of September

This poem is so lovely, soft and fleeting, just like the light of September itself. I think I may have posted it here before, but oh well, the season calls for it.

To the Light of September - W.S. Merwin

When you are already here
you appear to be only
a name that tells of you
whether you are present or not

and for now it seems as though
you are still summer
still the high familiar
endless summer
yet with a glint
of bronze in the chill mornings
and the late yellow petals
of the mullein fluttering
on the stalks that lean
over their broken
shadows across the cracked ground

but they all know
that you have come
the seed heads of the sage
the whispering birds
with nowhere to hide you
to keep you for later

who fly with them

you who are neither
before nor after
you who arrive
with blue plums
that have fallen through the night

perfect in the dew

Monday, 14 September 2015


I love this poem. It showcases brilliantly what poetry does best: extracting the fantastic from the mundane.

Stone - Charles Simic

Go inside a stone
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger's tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.

From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river;
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
And listen.

I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill—
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls. 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

September Time

I love this poem. Ted Hughes brilliantly captures that anxious and regretful sense of September bringing an end to all the glorious summer things and time ticking on relentlessly towards a kind of reckoning. There's so much in this poem - meditations on time and memory, love ending, and aging. The last stanza is particularly brilliant, that image of the trees so forlorn and apt and visually striking.

September - Ted Hughes

We sit late, watching the dark slowly unfold:
No clock counts this.
When kisses are repeated and the arms hold
There is no telling where time is.

It is midsummer: the leaves hang big and still:
Behind the eye a star,
Under the silk of the wrist a sea, tell
Time is nowhere.

We stand; leaves have not timed the summer.
No clock now needs
Tell we have only what we remember:
Minutes uproaring with our heads

Like an unfortunate King's and his Queen's
When the senseless mob rules;
And quietly the trees casting their crowns
Into the pools.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Dreams in the Dusk

Dusk - such a soft dreamy time. Especially these September ones, melancholy and nostalgia-tinged.

Dreams In The Dusk - Carl Sandburg

Dreams in the dusk,
Only dreams closing the day
And with the day’s close going back
To the gray things, the dark things,
The far, deep things of dreamland.

Dreams, only dreams in the dusk,
Only the old remembered pictures
Of lost days when the day’s loss
Wrote in tears the heart’s loss.

Tears and loss and broken dreams
May find your heart at dusk.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015



I love the idea of a phoenix rising from the flames.  And even better - I love the idea here that the phoenix never dies, never really burns out.


The Phoenix Again - May Sarton

On the ashes of this nest
Love wove with deathly fire
The phoenix takes its rest
Forgetting all desire.

After the flame, a pause,
After the pain, rebirth.
Obeying nature’s laws
The phoenix goes to earth.

You cannot call it old
You cannot call it young.
No phoenix can be told,
This is the end of the song.

It struggles now alone
Against death and self-doubt,
But underneath the bone
The wings are pushing out.

And one cold starry night
Whatever your belief
The phoenix will take flight
Over the seas of grief

To sing her thrilling song
To stars and waves and sky
For neither old nor young
The phoenix does not die.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Vast And Gray


This poem feels appropriate for a Monday - all that 'vast and gray.' But look, at the end, a brilliant uplifting note.

The Desolate Field - William Carlos Williams

Vast and gray, the sky
is a simulacrum
to all but him whose days
are vast and gray, and—
In the tall, dried grasses
a goat stirs
with nozzle searching the ground.
—my head is in the air

but who am I…?
And amazed my heart leaps
at the thought of love
vast and gray
yearning silently over me.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

War Photographer

 Juliette Binoche playing a female war photographer in 'A Thousand Times Goodnight'

I am posting this poem today thinking of that shocking photo of the drowned Syrian child that has gone 'viral' in world media in recent days. Was the photograph a necessary telling of truth, a powerful wake-up provocation for change or a needlessly insensitive and disrespectful portrayal? 

In this poem from a few years back, Carol Ann Duffy writes from a war photographer's perspective, clearly illustrating the mindset and toils of the job.

War Photographer - Carol Ann Duffy

In his dark room he is finally alone
with spools of suffering set out in ordered rows.
The only light is red and softly glows,
as though this were a church and he
a priest preparing to intone a Mass.
Belfast. Beirut. Phnom Penh. All flesh is grass.

He has a job to do. Solutions slop in trays
beneath his hands, which did not tremble then
though seem to now. Rural England. Home again
to ordinary pain which simple weather can dispel,
to fields which don’t explode beneath the feet
of running children in a nightmare heat.

Something is happening. A stranger’s features
faintly start to twist before his eyes,
a half-formed ghost. He remembers the cries
of this man’s wife, how he sought approval
without words to do what someone must
and how the blood stained into foreign dust.

A hundred agonies in black and white
from which his editor will pick out five or six
for Sunday’s supplement. The reader’s eyeballs prick
with tears between the bath and pre-lunch beers.
From the aeroplane he stares impassively at where
he earns his living and they do not care.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Sweet and Loving


What a great mantra for living this poem offers. That last stanza like a singsong truth.

Tenderness and Rot - Kay Ryan
Tenderness and rot   
share a border.   
And rot is an   
aggressive neighbor   
whose iridescence   
keeps creeping over.   

No lessons   
can be drawn   
from this however.   

One is not   
two countries.   
One is not meat   

It is important   
to stay sweet   
and loving.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015


The heart can be described in many ways in poetry, but oh so many of them here. Lovely!

Heart - Dorianne Laux
The heart shifts shape of its own accord—
from bird to ax, from pinwheel
to budded branch. It rolls over in the chest,
a brown bear groggy with winter, skips
like a child at the fair, stopping in the shade
of the fireworks booth, the fat lady's tent,
the corn dog stand. Or the heart
is an empty room where the ghosts of the dead
wait, paging through magazines, licking
their skinless thumbs. One gets up, walks
through a door into a maze of hallways.
Behind one door a roomful of orchids,
behind another, the smell of burned toast.
The rooms go on and on: sewing room
with its squeaky treadle, its bright needles,
room full of file cabinets and torn curtains,
room buzzing with a thousand black flies.
Or the heart closes its doors, becomes smoke,
a wispy lie, curls like a worm and forgets
its life, burrows into the fleshy dirt.
Heart makes a wrong turn.
Heart locked in its gate of thorns.
Heart with its hands folded in its lap.
Heart a blue skiff parting the silk of the lake.
It does what it wants, takes what it needs, eats
when it's hungry, sleeps when the soul shuts down.
Bored, it watches movies deep into the night,
stands by the window counting the streetlamps
squinting out one by one.
Heart with its hundred mouths open.
Heart with its hundred eyes closed.
Harmonica heart, heart of tinsel,
heart of cement, broken teeth, redwood fence.
Heart of bricks and boards, books stacked
in devoted rows, their dusty spines
unreadable. Heart
with its hands full.
Hieroglyph heart, etched deep with history's lists,
things to do. Near-sighted heart. Club-footed heart.
Hard-headed heart. Heart of gold, coal.
Bad juju heart, singing the low down blues.
Choir boy heart. Heart in a frumpy robe.
Heart with its feet up reading the scores.
Homeless heart, dozing, its back against the Dumpster.
Cop-on-the-beat heart with its black billy club,
banging on the lid.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

September Lovers

'The Dryads' by Josephine Wall 

It's September. And saying goodbye to summer is like saying goodbye to a lover. 
September (from 'The Months') - Linda Pastan
Their summer romance
over, the lovers
still cling
to each other

the way the green
leaves cling
to their trees
in the strange heat

of September, as if
this time
there will be
no autumn.