No 1 - Spring 2001
A walk along the shore and common praise –
But when she changed direction I was lost
And definitions were inadequate;
For weather, even where the stone is mossed
Or leaves wind-tossed, is much more intricate
Than any physics, lessening its laws.
The shoreside flowers, splendid still but dry
With May, the breeze indefinite, the sea
Green in the shallows, so she changed and I
Was lost again, as I would always be.
Dryness has caused the bloodred poppies to fade
Though some among wild oats are bloodier
And bloodier still amid the goldburnt wheat.
At dawn and dusk the latest insects whir
And the new swallows dip to take their meat
With crazy cries and flash their poppy-red.
At noon the sun whirs just as loud, although
We cannot hear it. Our familiar path
Scratches our ankles, keeps our progress slow
Whenever wind is tumbling, rude, and rathe.
A whole hillside of purple-flowering thyme;
The bees are drunk with wonder and with work;
The scents wafts down with buzzing and sea-salt.
With all his lazy energy I shirk
All dull depictions of the rooted fault
And hope for honeyed metres in my rhyme
To have it in my head when I return,
My clothes smelling of thyme and touched with burrs,
To write it down, and only later learn
Whether or not my lowly mind concurs.
She says the light for images is weak
And hazes definition out of form.
Essential oils ooze from thick leaves and ooze
From bushes goats have bruised and made more warm
And heady. And their odor soaks our shoes,
Our shirts, and hair, and holds on for a week.
She says the light for images is not
Defining of the forms we see and have
Within. And if true definition is what
1 sought, well then, there is something more to save.
George Herbert strove to make his Poetry
Without the Feminine and he succeeded –
Unless his Church held Muses in disguise
To pose, cajole and play their Hymns as needed,
A music to his inner ears and eyes
Contrasting him whose life and lines are free.
Is it God or Self he grappled with among
The Architecture and the Symbols? Human
Destiny still is tragic in its Song:
Say Death, say God, say Salt Sea Light: say Woman.
The butterflies are filled with greens and reds
(High summer's will be blue and white) and the dog
Gives leaping chase, careful not to step
On aromatic thorns, but any bug
Distracts her. A green low lizard makes her creep
Like a cat. She catches nothing. Dried daisy-heads
And rock-rose petals stick themselves to her fur
As they stick to us who saunter (as Thoreau
Would say) though also slowed by years. Yet her
Delight in leaping cheers us as we go.
A hedgehog scrabbles through the brush and does
Not mind the dog; its 'one good trick' will save
It from smart fear, and anyway it's mating
Season now, which maketh all creatures brave
And heedless. A hidden bird's repeated grating
Chirrup of love o'ertops the insect buzz
The woman gathers sea-lavender to dry
As ornament for summer's shaded table.
A crumbling climb away the dog and I
Scramble up as quickly we're able.
In a spreading mastic shrub she's found a nest
Of Sardinian warblers nestled in and tight;
The nestlings, low, never cry out for food
Lest snake or cat or weasel find them out.
They're big, as cherries with big beaks, a brood
Of tinyness and fluff; but now it's best
To back away to let the cock and hen
Hovering close deliver with a click
Of relief their caterpillar meat and when
We're not too close they leave with a dark-winged flick.
Yeats walked through murmuring woodland paths for years
And never noticed anything green but his
Unquiet mind. Then he'd look up, awake
Outdoors for twenty minutes – birds and skies
And trees with not a metaphor at stake –
And make a wordwood that actually appears.
So I look at waves of the Aegean sea,
Greek sky, honey of rock and hill, of dove
And goat, of house and woman, to see
Not myself but, though weakly, unwritten love.
A rumbling truck, a steamer’s horn, some dog
Made frantic by his leash, pierce wind and wave
Too distantly to disrupt the insect-buzz
Or bird-chatter. We watch Nature behave
As though she were the garden that she was
Before we came or went like morning fog.
Her formed elements root and rearrange
But not for us; her colors the round sun,
As day waxes and blazes, fades; they change
To stone – to mock the sage's "all is one."
The imitations any man can see,
The art that makes the heart's most dull hours prone
To pleasure that is sweet and circular
And common as a honeybee's purple throne
In sun or shade, the capacities are
Not limited by disability
Of route or union. Morning's evil news
Is useless for a moment's habitation:
The day depends on random open views
More than on beating hearts of consecration.
The marble-colored acanthus, mauve mallow,
Sharp purple thistle, skyblue chicory,
Yellow spurge, golden-horned poppy, charlock,
Thyme thickets that are opposite to sea,
The dark mountain ravines, the bleaching rock,
The fallen walls, the highest fields gone fallow,
Black crows on land, white gulls at sea, the swifts
That soar and swoop uncatchable all day:
The heaviness of light that cuts and lifts
The looping mind from emptiness, will stay.
Seferis made Aegean land- and seascape
An analogue to spiritual loss,
And kept his language sere; long heritage
Was sunk in images. The broken boats that cross
Such desolation like ants on a blank white page
Still vaunt a first Hellenic grace. Doves scrape
The faded air with their white wings and mean
Before they mean what, changing, we assign
To them. The twigs they carry home stay green.
Seferis' marble pebbles are their sign.
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The