Thursday, 29 September 2016

The Mower

 Image result for hedgehog
Always serious Larkin, but my, does this poem pack a punch. Its brevity and starkness considerably powerful.
The Mower - Philip Larkin 
The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found   
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,   
Killed. It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.   
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world   
Unmendably. Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence   
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind   
While there is still time.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

After Apple Picking

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This is one of Frost's most famous poems and it's easy to see why. Frost is a master of the metaphor and if you substitute the apples here in 'After Apple Picking' for harvests reaped in life, then you will discover many philosophical depths to this seemingly simple poem.

After Apple-Picking - Robert Frost

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Late September Song

Image result for autumn leaves falling off trees

Late September Song - Linda Pastan

With the sound of
a freight train
through the trees,
the first strong

of autumn
makes each
sing the song
of its own

Sunday, 25 September 2016

The Gift

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The GiftMary Oliver

Be still, my soul, and steadfast.
Earth and heaven both are still watching
though time is draining from the clock
and your walk, that was confident and quick,
has become slow.

So, be slow if you must, but let
the heart still play its true part.
Love still as once you loved, deeply
and without patience. Let God and the world
know you are grateful.That the gift has been given.

Friday, 23 September 2016

The Seven Sorrows

Image result for autumn leaves falling

 Autumn, a season of goodbyes and sorrows.

The Seven Sorrows - Ted Hughes
The first sorrow of autumn
Is the slow goodbye
Of the garden who stands so long in the evening-
A brown poppy head,
The stalk of a lily,
And still cannot go.
 The second sorrow
Is the empty feet
Of a pheasant who hangs from a hook with his brothers.
The woodland of gold
Is folded in feathers
With its head in a bag.

And the third sorrow
Is the slow goodbye
Of the sun who has gathered the birds and who gathers
The minutes of evening,
The golden and holy
Ground of the picture.

The fourth sorrow
Is the pond gone black
Ruined and sunken the city of water-
The beetle’s palace,
The catacombs
Of the dragonfly.

And the fifth sorrow
Is the slow goodbye
Of the woodland that quietly breaks up its camp.
One day it’s gone.
It has only left litter-
Firewood, tentpoles.

And the sixth sorrow
Is the fox’s sorrow
The joy of the huntsman, the joy of the hounds,
The hooves that pound
Till earth closes her ear
To the fox’s prayer.

And the seventh sorrow
Is the slow goodbye
Of the face with its wrinkles that looks through the window
As the year packs up
Like a tatty fairground
That came for the children.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Autumn Equinox

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Mabon - Annie Finch

For Mabon (fall equinox), Sept. 21
Our voices press
from us
and twine
around the year's
fermenting wine

Yellow fall roars
Over the ground.
Loud, in the leafy sun that pours
Liquid through doors,
Yellow, the leaves twist down

as the winding
of the vine
pulls our curling

Glowing in wind and change,
The orange leaf tells

How one more season will alter and range,
Working the strange
Colors of clamor and bells

In the winding
of the vine
our voices press out
from us
to twine

When autumn gathers, the tree
That the leaves sang
Reddens dark slowly, then, suddenly free,
Turns like a key,
Opening air where they hang

and the winding
of the vine
makes our voices
turn and wind
with the year’s
fermented wine

One of the hanging leaves,
Deeply maroon,
Tightens its final hold, receives,
Finally weaves
Through, and is covered soon

in the winding
of the vine—

Holding past summer's hold,
Open and strong,
One of the leaves in the crown is gold,
Set in the cold
Where the old seasons belong.

Here is my crown
Of winding vine,
Of leaves that dropped,
That fingers twined,
another crown
to yield and shine
with a year’s
fermented wine.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

A Memory Lies in Me

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Aren't some memories 'splendid sorrows', providing both pain and ecstasy? Memories we can never let go of; that lie deep in us, have become part of us. Anna Akhmatova explains it exquisitely here.

Like A White Stone - Anna Akhmatova

Like a white stone deep in a draw-well lying,
As hard and clear, a memory lies in me.
I cannot strive nor have I heart for striving:
It is such pain and yet such ecstasy.

It seems to me that someone looking closely
Into my eyes would see it, patent, pale.
And, seeing, would grow sadder and more thoughtful
Than one who listens to a bitter tale.

The ancient gods changed men to things, but left them
A consciousness that smoldered endlessly,
That splendid sorrows might endure forever.
And you are changed into a memory.

Monday, 12 September 2016


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Trust - Thomas R. Smith

It’s like so many other things in life  
to which you must say no or yes.                                   
So you take your car to the new mechanic.  
Sometimes the best thing to do is trust.  

The package left with the disreputable-looking  
clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit,  
the envelope passed by dozens of strangers—  
all show up at their intended destinations.  

The theft that could have happened doesn’t.  
Wind finally gets where it was going  
through the snowy trees, and the river, even              
when frozen, arrives at the right place.                       

And sometimes you sense how faithfully your life  
is delivered, even though you can’t read the address.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

September 11th (and Since)

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"How are we not part of each other?"

I love the message of this poem, its empathy and truth. Powerful.

September 11th - Sharon Olds

On each September eleventh, I think about
the family - the young mother,
the young father, and their small child -
whom my relative killed, with his car, one sunny
day. And when he killed them, as if
stepping on the balsa figures of the creche,
I remembered that we had killed Jesus,
too. And I thought of everyone
killed in our name - without our having been asked.
Today we kneel, we bow down
to the families of September - and to all those
since that September, to whom what we feared
would happen has happened. We kneel to families
everywhere. How are we not part
of each other? It looks as if, someday,
we will all go up in smoke, together,
back to nothing. But look! Out of air,
of water, fire, and earth, we came, and then there
blossomed, from us, love itself,
love in a thousand languages,
each one to die for.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Summer to Autumn

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As Summer into Autumn slips - Emily Dickinson

As Summer into Autumn slips
And yet we sooner say
"The Summer" than "the Autumn," lest
We turn the sun away,

And almost count it an Affront
The presence to concede
Of one however lovely, not
The one that we have loved -

So we evade the charge of Years
On one attempting shy
The Circumvention of the Shaft
Of Life's Declivity.