Saturday, 30 April 2016


As always with a Sylvia Plath poem, the writing is powerful and unsettling in its white-knuckled grasp of hard truths.

Spinster - Sylvia Plath

Now this particular girl
During a ceremonious April walk
With her latest suitor
Found herself, of a sudden, intolerably struck
By the birds irregular babel
And the leaves’ litter.

By this tumult afflicted, she
Observed her lover’s gestures unbalance the air,
Her gait stray uneven
Through a rank wilderness of fern and flower.
She judged petals in disarray,
The whole season, sloven.

How she longed for winter then! –
Scrupulously austere in its order
Of white and black
Ice and rock, each sentiment in border,
And heart’s frosty discipline
Exact as a snowflake.

But here – a burgeoning
Unruly enough to pitch her five queenly wits
Into vulgar motley –
A treason not to be borne. Let idiots
Reel giddy in bedlam spring:
She withdrew neatly.

And round her house she set
Such a barricade of barb and check
Against mutinous weather
As no mere insurgent man could hope to break
With curse, fist, threat
Or love, either.

Friday, 29 April 2016

On Vermilion

Confusion - Kenneth Rexroth

I pass your home in a slow vermilion dawn,
The blinds are drawn, and the windows are open.
The soft breeze from the lake
Is like your breath upon my cheek.
All day long I walk in the intermittent rainfall.
I pick a vermilion tulip in the deserted park,
Bright raindrops cling to its petals.
At five o'clock it is a lonely color in the city.
I pass your home in a rainy evening,
I can see you faintly, moving between lighted walls.
Late at night I sit before a white sheet of paper,
Until a fallen vermilion petal quivers before me.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Making Poetry

Today is National Poetry Day Ireland. A day to celebrate poetry! (Share your favourite poem with the hashtag #PoetryDayIRL)

Making Poetry - Anne Stevenson 

'You have to inhabit poetry
if you want to make it.'
And what's to inhabit?
To be in the habit of, to wear
words, sitting in the plainest light,
in the silk of morning, in the shoe of night;
a feeling bare and frondish in surprising air;

And what's to make?
To be and to become words' passing weather;
to serve a girl on terrible terms,
embark on voyages over voices,
evade the ego-hill, the misery-well,
the siren hiss of publish, success, publish, success,
success, success, success.

And why inhabit, make, inherit poetry?
Oh, it's the shared comedy of the worst
blessed: the sound leading the hand;
a wordlife running from mind to mind
through the washed rooms of the simple senses;
one of those haunted, undefendable, unpoetic
crosses we have to find.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Fight of the Year


Well, it really feels like some fight is going on at the moment! And Spring better be the winner!!

The Fight of the Year - Roger Mc Gough

And there goes the bell for the third month  and
Winter comes out of his corner looking groggy
Spring leads with a left to the head
followed by a sharp right to the body
pussy willow

Winter can’t take much more punishment  and
Spring shows no signs of tiring
bunny rabbits
mad march hares
horse and hounds

Spring is merciless
Winter won’t go the whole twelve rounds
bobtail clouds
scallywag winds
the sun
the pavement artist
in every town
a left to the chin  and
Winter’s down!

1 tomatoes
2 radish
3 cucumber
4 onions
5 beetroot
6 celery
7 and any
8 amount
9 of lettuce
10 for dinner
Winter’s out for the count
Spring is the winner!

Monday, 25 April 2016


Tulips - Anne Stevenson 

For my birthday you've brought me tulips.
I want them to fan from a low vase.
This green and white one with a cracked glaze
almost the shape of a bulb looks right.


Tulips were bursting from that same pot
on the same day in New York...maybe 1958.
Twenty-five tulips instead of twenty-five candles,
and we dined by tulip light.


There is always another war, but
thee tall disciplined redcoats
have lost the battle.
Cut down, shipped alive into exile,
for nearly a week they bleed upright.


Two artists: this one, who catches
the incendiary character of tulips
with daring panache.
Now this one, who uses his brush
like hawks' eyesight.


When Nerys in her wheelchair painted tulips
they were strawberry-coloured, like her hair.
She gave them a life far longer
than the one life gave her.
When 'nature imitates art', nature
sometimes loses the fight.


Old tulips, getting ready to die,
swan on their wondering necks away
from their source in mother water,
obsessed with an airy faith in light.


These sad women in mauve - making up for
painted wrinkles with pinker hair -
drunkenly spill themselves over the bar.
Lips, lips, without love or appetite.


But look. At the core of each flower,
a black star,
a hope-pod, a love-seed
the seminal colour of night.

(Remembering Nerys Johnson, painter)

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Shakespeare in Love

Still keeping with the Shakespeare theme today... a gorgeous love poem from Carol Ann Duffy.

Anne Hathaway - Carol Ann Duffy 

‘Item I gyve unto my wife my second best bed …’
(from Shakespeare’s will)

The bed we loved in was a spinning world
of forests, castles, torchlight, clifftops, seas
where we would dive for pearls. My lover’s words
were shooting stars which fell to earth as kisses
on these lips; my body now a softer rhyme
to his, now echo, assonance; his touch
a verb dancing in the centre of a noun.
Some nights, I dreamed he’d written me, the bed
a page beneath his writer’s hands. Romance
and drama played by touch, by scent, by taste.
In the other bed, the best, our guests dozed on,
dribbling their prose. My living laughing love –
I hold him in the casket of my widow’s head
as he held me upon that next best bed.

Saturday, 23 April 2016


Today is William Shakespeare's birthday and also the 400th anniversary of his death in 1616, which occurred on his 52nd birthday.

There are many Shakespearean works I love but the sonnets will always remain close to my heart. 154 articulate pieces of love and yearning, all written for someone Shakespeare loved so much he wanted to immortalise in verse. Apart from the genius of his plays, there is something very human and beautiful about Shakespeare's sonnets.

The first two lines of this one have been rhyming around in my head the past few days.

Sonnet I - William Shakespeare

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content
And, tender churl, makest waste in niggarding.
    Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
    To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Song of a Second April

Song Of A Second April -  Edna St. Vincent Millay

April this year, not otherwise
Than April of a year ago,
Is full of whispers, full of sighs,
Of dazzling mud and dingy snow;
Hepaticas that pleased you so
Are here again, and butterflies.

There rings a hammering all day,
And shingles lie about the doors;
In orchards near and far away
The grey wood-pecker taps and bores;
The men are merry at their chores,
And children earnest at their play.

The larger streams run still and deep,
Noisy and swift the small brooks run
Among the mullein stalks the sheep
Go up the hillside in the sun,
Pensively,—only you are gone,
You that alone I cared to keep.

Monday, 11 April 2016

The Lives of the Heart

The Lives of the Heart - Jane Hirshfield

Are ligneous, muscular, chemical.  
Wear birch-colored feathers,  
green tunnels of horse-tail reed.  
Wear calcified spirals, Fibonaccian spheres.  
Are edible;are glassy;are clay;blue schist.
Can be burned as tallow, as coal,  
can be skinned for garnets, for shoes.
Cast shadows or light;
shuffle;snort;cry out in passion.
Are salt, are bitter,
tear sweet grass with their teeth.  
Step silently into blue needle-fall at dawn.  
Thrash in the net until hit. 
Rise up as cities, as serpentined magma, as maples,  
hiss lava-red into the sea.  
Leave the strange kiss of their bodies
in Burgess Shale. Can be found, can be lost,  
can be carried, broken, sung.
Lie dormant until they are opened by ice,  
by drought. Go blind in the service of lace.
Are starving, are sated, indifferent, curious, mad.  
Are stamped out in plastic, in tin.
Are stubborn, are careful, are slipshod,
are strung on the blue backs of flies
on the black backs of cows.
Wander the vacant whale-roads, the white thickets
heavy with slaughter.
Wander the fragrant carpets of alpine flowers.,
Not one is not held in the arms of the rest, to blossom.
 Not one is not given to ecstasy's lions.
Not one does not grieve.
Each of them opens and closes, closes and opens
the heavy gate --violent, serene, consenting, suffering it all.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

The Night Has a Thousand Eyes

The Night Has a Thousand Eyes - Francis William Bourdillon 

The night has a thousand eyes,
And the day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
With the dying sun.

The mind has a thousand eyes,
And the heart but one:
Yet the light of a whole life dies
When love is done.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Dear Spring

Yes, hurry up Spring! 

Dear Spring - Charles Simic

Will you please hurry with your preparations?
We are freezing up north as you procrastinate
Like a rich lady with too many gorgeous outfits
To choose from, spending hours in front of
A mirror, trying them on and unable to decide,      
While we trudge to the mailbox through wind
And snow, extract our unwilling fingers
From a glove to check if there’s a letter                       
From you, or just a bitty postcard, saying:
I’m leaving Carolina today, hurrying your way
With my new wardrobe of flowers and birds.               
The tease! I bet she starts and forgets one of her
Hand-painted silk fans and has to go back,
While we stamp our feet and wipe our noses here,
Worrying the wood for the stove is running out,
The snow on the roof will bring the house down.      

Friday, 8 April 2016


Blossom - Mary Oliver

In April
the ponds open
like black blossoms,
the moon
swims in every one;
there’s fire
everywhere: frogs shouting
their desire,
their satisfaction. What
we know: that time
chops at us all like an iron
hoe, that death
is a state of paralysis. What
we long for: joy
before death, nights
in the swale - everything else
can wait but not
this thrust
from the root
of the body. What
we know: we are more
than blood - we are more
than our hunger and yet
we belong
to the moon and when the ponds
open, when the burning
begins the most
thoughtful among us dreams
of hurrying down
into the black petals
into the fire,
into the night where time lies shattered
into the body of another.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

April Rise

April Rise - Laurie Lee

If ever I saw blessing in the air
I see it now in this still early day
Where lemon-green the vaporous morning drips
Wet sunlight on the powder of my eye.

Blown bubble-film of blue, the sky wraps round
Weeds of warm light whose every root and rod
Splutters with soapy green, and all the world
Sweats with the bead of summer in its bud.

If ever I heard blessing it is there
Where birds in trees that shoals and shadows are
Splash with their hidden wings and drops of sound
Break on my ears their crests of throbbing air.

Pure in the haze the emerald sun dilates,
The lips of sparrows milk the mossy stones,
While white as water by the lake a girl
Swims her green hand among the gathered swans.

Now, as the almond burns its smoking wick,
Dropping small flames to light the candled grass;
Now, as my low blood scales its second chance,
If ever world were blessed, now it is.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Once More It Is April

Before A Departure in Spring 

Once more it is April with the first light sifting
      through the young leaves heavy with dew making the colors
remember who they are the new pink of the cinnamon tree
      the gilded lichens of the bamboo the shadowed bronze
of the kamani and the blue day opening
      as the sunlight descends through it all like the return
of a spirit touching without touch and unable
      to believe it is here and here again and awake
reaching out in silence into the cool breath
      of the garden just risen from darkness and days of rain
it is only a moment the birds fly through it calling
      to each other and are gone with their few notes and the flash
of their flight that had vanished before we ever knew it
      we watch without touching any of it and we
can tell ourselves only that this is April this is the morning
      this never happened before and we both remember it

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

April Beauty


Love this poem!

April - Linda Pastan

A whole new freshman class
of leaves has arrived

on the dark twisted branches
we call our woods, turning

green now—color of
anticipation. In my 76th year,

I know what time and weather
will do to every leaf.

But the camellia swells
to ivory at the window,

and the bleeding heart bleeds
only beauty.

Monday, 4 April 2016

It's April! It's Spring!

 'it's april(yes,april;my darling)it's spring!'

I've posted this poem maybe several times before but what the heck. No other poet can describe the exhilaration of spring and April quite like ee cummings. This poem is  a shot of zing to springify your day. Yes you'll be dancing, dancing inside after reading it! :)

when faces called flowers float out of the ground - ee cummings

when faces called flowers float out of the ground
and breathing is wishing and wishing is having-
but keeping is downward and doubting and never
-it's april(yes,april;my darling)it's spring!
yes the pretty birds frolic as spry as can fly
yes the little fish gambol as glad as can be
(yes the mountains are dancing together)

when every leaf opens without any sound
and wishing is having and having is giving-
but keeping is doting and nothing and nonsense
-alive;we're alive,dear:it's(kiss me now)spring!
now the pretty birds hover so she and so he
now the little fish quiver so you and so i
now the mountains are dancing, the mountains)

when more than was lost has been found has been found
and having is giving and giving is living-
but keeping is darkness and winter and cringing
-it's spring(all our night becomes day)o,it's spring!
all the pretty birds dive to the heart of the sky
all the little fish climb through the mind of the sea
all the mountains are dancing;are dancing)

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Over the Land is April

'Hear you the songs of spring?'

Hello April! My favourite month.  Yellow and cheery and bright.

(I'll be posting poems on April all week here - the most popular month to be penned in verse. Join me in the celebration of this most loveliest month!) 

Over the Land is April - Robert Louis Stevenson

Over the land is April,
Over my heart a rose;
Over the high, brown mountain
The sound of singing goes.
Say, love, do you hear me,
Hear my sonnets ring?
Over the high, brown mountain,
Love, do you hear me sing?

By highway, love, and byway
The snows succeed the rose.
Over the high, brown mountain
The wind of winter blows.
Say, love, do you hear me,
Hear my sonnets ring?
Over the high, brown mountain
I sound the song of spring,
I throw the flowers of spring.
Do you hear the song of spring?
Hear you the songs of spring?

Saturday, 2 April 2016


 '...some new script made from the old.'

Today ends my week long posting about the poetry of the Easter Rising. The Rising ended on the Saturday, six days after it began.  After the GPO was almost completely destroyed by British artillery and the rebel garrison within had to retreat to neighbouring Moore Street, Pearse agreed to surrender unconditionally to prevent further civilian casualties. A few weeks after, sixteen rebel leaders, including the seven signatories and Sir Roger Casement (who helped organise the arms from Germany) were executed and thousands imprisoned.. 

These 'sixteen dead men' that Yeats speaks of here were to turn the fate of Irish history. The executions changed public opinion drastically. Suddenly, the country was ablaze with respect for these men who had sacrificed their lives heroically and a new zeal of revolutionary nationalism was born. Things would never be the same again, 'the boiling pot', as Yeats called it, was stirring. 

The second poem here is by contemporary Iish poet Theo Dorgan, commissioned especially for the Centenary commemorations. It can be found inscribed beneath the Children of Lir statue (pictured) in the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin, a space that honours all those who died in Ireland's independence struggle. (The Children of Lir is an old Irish legend about children who were turned into swans by their stepmother.) The poem speaks for itself quietly but profoundly.


Sixteen Dead Men - WB Yeats

O but we talked at large before
The sixteen men were shot,
But who can talk of give and take,
What should be and what not
While those dead men are loitering there
To stir the boiling pot?

You say that we should still the land
Till Germany’s overcome;
But who is there to argue that
Now Pearse is deaf and dumb?
And is their logic to outweigh
MacDonagh’s bony thumb?

How could you dream they’d listen
That have an ear alone
For those new comrades they have found,
Lord Edward and Wolfe Tone,
Or meddle with our give and take
That converse bone to bone?

Remembrance -Theo Dorgan

To escape the pull of memory
as difficult as for a swan
with wings of bronze
to lift over silent water
and gain the sky.
Somehow the thing is done,
gravity cancelled by force
of art, by will,
and the swan soars.
These braids of air
spiralling from each wingtip,
how else to read them but
as lines drawn up from clay,
some new script made from the old.

Friday, 1 April 2016



Eva Gore Booth, poet and activist, was the sister of Constance Markievicz, one of the main instigators involved in the Rising. Markievicz was aformidable figure, leader of the Fianna (a youth army) who worked closely with Connolly's Irish Citizen Army. She was sentenced to death, but had the sentence changed to imprisonment due to the fact that she was a woman. Eva, her sister took the more pacifist route, but this poem by her expresses an unwavering affinity with her fellow rebels, including her sister. Its tone of defiance is a marked feature as well as its precise language. 


Eva left, Constance right

Comrades - Eva Gore Booth
The peaceful night that round me flows,
Breaks through your iron prison doors,
Free through the world your spirit goes,
Forbidden hands are clasping yours.
The wind is our confederate,
The night has left her doors ajar,
We meet beyond earth’s barred gate,
Where all the world’s wild Rebels are.