Archive for Poetry

Scotland Small?

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , on September 18, 2014 by telescoper

Scotland small? Our multiform, our infinite Scotland _small_?
Only as a patch of hillside may be a cliche corner
To a fool who cries “Nothing but heather!” Where in September another
Sitting there and resting and gazing around
Sees not only heather but blaeberries
With bright green leaves and leaves already turned scarlet,
Hiding ripe blue berries; and amongst the sage-green leaves
Of the bog-myrtle the golden flowers of the tormentil shining;
And on the small bare places, where the little Blackface sheep
Found grazing, milkworts blue as summer skies;
And down in neglected peat-hags, not worked
In living memory, sphagnum moss in pastel shades
Of yellow, green and pink; sundew and butterwort
And nodding harebells vying in their colour
With the blue butterflies that poise themselves delicately upon them,
And stunted rowans with harsh dry leaves of glorious colour
“Nothing but heather!” — How marvellously descriptive! And incomplete!


by Hugh McDiarmid (1892-1978)

As Summer into Autumn slips

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , on September 10, 2014 by telescoper

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.

by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

After Bank Holiday

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on August 26, 2014 by telescoper

Now deserted are the roads
Where awhile the lovers went;
Vacant are the field-abodes
Where a vivid hour they spent:
Solemn dark
Broods again in lane and park.

‘Tis no matter where are gone
Those warm lives—to halls, maybe,
Festive, or to lodgings lone:
Of the land their tenancy
Now is o’er;
Earth to earth belongs once more.

Gone are they as hourly goes
From the sombre fields of space
Our world, with its little glows—
Passion’s ship that has no place,
Leaves no track,
On time’s endless ocean black.

by Elizabeth Daryush (1887-1977)

JULY 1914, by Anna Akhmatova

Posted in History, Poetry with tags , , , on August 5, 2014 by telescoper

I heard a great poem on Radio 3 last night. It was part of a programme that preceded a late night promenade concert during which, at 10pm, people across the country were invited to turn their lights out and place a candle in their window as an act of remembrance. From what I could see, not many in my street bothered, but I did…



The poem I heard was written by Russian poet Anna Akhmatova on the eve of her country’s entry into World War 1. It’s actually just the first part of a poem called JULY 1914 (the capitalization is deliberate). It perfectly captures that sense of foreboding she felt as the clouds gathered, and the hot weather we’ve been having made it all the more effective:

It smells of burning. For four weeks
The dry peat bog has been burning.
The birds have not even sung today,
And the aspen has stopped quaking.

The sun has become God’s displeasure,
Rain has not sprinkled the fields since Easter.
A one-legged stranger came along
And all alone in the courtyard he said:

“Fearful times are drawing near. Soon
Fresh graves will be everywhere.
There will be famine, earthquakes, widespread death,
And the eclipse of the sun and the moon.

But the enemy will not divide
Our land at will, for himself;
The Mother of God will spread her white mantle
Over this enormous grief.”

by Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966).


The Thunder Shower

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , on July 19, 2014 by telescoper

A blink of lightning, then
a rumor, a grumble of white rain
growing in volume, rustling over the ground,
drenching the gravel in a wash of sound.
Drops tap like timpani or shine
like quavers on a line.

It rings on exposed tin,
a suite for water, wind and bin,
plinky Poulenc or strongly groaning Brahms’
rain-strings, a whole string section that describes
the very shapes of thought in warm
self-referential vibes

and spreading ripples. Soon
the whispering roar is a recital.
Jostling rain-crowds, clamorous and vital,
struggle in runnels through the afternoon.
The rhythm becomes a regular beat;
steam rises, body heat—

and now there’s city noise,
bits of recorded pop and rock,
the drums, the strident electronic shock,
a vast polyphony, the dense refrain
of wailing siren, truck and train
and incoherent cries.

All human life is there
in the unconfined, continuous crash
whose slow, diffused implosions gather up
car radios and alarms, the honk and beep,
and tiny voices in a crèche
piercing the muggy air.

Squalor and decadence,
the rackety global-franchise rush,
oil wars and water wars, the diatonic
crescendo of a cascading world economy
are audible in the hectic thrash
of this luxurious cadence.

The voice of Baal explodes,
raging and rumbling round the clouds,
frantic to crush the self-sufficient spaces
and re-impose his failed hegemony
in Canaan before moving on
to other simpler places.

At length the twining chords
run thin, a watery sun shines out,
the deluge slowly ceases, the guttural chant
subsides; a thrush sings, and discordant thirds
diminish like an exhausted concert
on the subdominant.

The angry downpour swarms
growling to far-flung fields and farms.
The drains are still alive with trickling water,
a few last drops drip from a broken gutter;
but the storm that created so much fuss
has lost interest in us.

by Derek Mahon (b 1941)

Come to the Edge

Posted in Education, Poetry with tags , , on July 12, 2014 by telescoper

Just back home after a very pleasant trip to West Sussex, about which I’ll blog tomorrow. During the course of the afternoon, however, I heard the following short but very effective poem which seems apt to dedicate to all the recent graduates of the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex.

Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It’s too high!
And they came,
And we pushed,
And they flew.

by Christopher Logue (1926-2011)

One July Summer

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on July 5, 2014 by telescoper

What has happened to summer,
That’s what I want to know.
Is she on a vacation -
Who knows where did she go?
Tell, what was she wearing;
A zephyr breeze and rosebud
Or grass and wild berry?
Could she be honeymooning
With spring or early fall
Or has she gone so far away
She’ll not return at all?

by Dorothy Ardelle Merriam.

Does anyone know anything about this poet? I can’t find anything at all about her on the internet!


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