poetry for troubled times
Poetry Breakfast ~ at home
As we are unable to meet together for our Poetry Breakfasts, I invite you to join us for a virtual session instead. So, with the help of Tim, Ali and Hilary, I will share ideas for poems, on the theme of each Poetry Breakfast already on our (now redundant) calendar, on a weekly basis.
Today’s theme for the week is ‘Poetry for Troubled Times’ and to be honest, the difficulty was knowing when to stop! Do please share poems that you are finding helpful …
Although I’m not including it, ‘I thank you God for most this amazing day’ feels very present for me just now as spring magnificently erupts all around us – take cheer, and be of good heart.
Sending you all much love!
PS The next theme will be ‘New Beginnings’
Thanks to everyone who told me I had to listen to this!
“This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.”
by John O’Donohue
from Benedictus: Book of Blessings
tonight Fionnuala is your nurse.
You’ll hear her voice sing-song around the ward
lifting a wing at the shore of your darkness.
I heard that, in another life, she too journeyed
through a storm, a kind of curse, with the ocean
rising darkly around her, fierce with cold,
and no resting place, only the frozen
rocks that tore her feet, the light on her shoulders.
And no cure there but to wait it out.
If, while I’m gone, your fever comes down —
if the small, salt-laden shapes of her song
appear to you as a first glimmer of earth-light,
follow the sweet, hopeful voice of that landing.
She will keep you safe beneath her wing.”
From A Quarter of an Hour by Leanne O’Sullivan, published. by Bloodaxe Books
Leaving Early by Leanne O’Sullivan
Count that Day Lost by George Eliot
If you sit down at set of sun
And count the acts that you have done,
And, counting, find
One self-denying deed, one word
That eased the heart of him who heard,
One glance most kind
That fell like sunshine where it went —
Then you may count that day well spent.
But if, through all the livelong day,
You’ve cheered no heart, by yea or nay —
If, through it all
You’ve nothing done that you can trace
That brought the sunshine to one face–
No act most small
That helped some soul and nothing cost —
Then count that day as worse than lost.
I worried by Mary Oliver
I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?
Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
from Swan: Poems and Prose Poems, Beacon Press
Thank you Hilary for choosing these two wonderful poems!
Toaster by by Olga Dermott-Bond
Each Sunday morning
the bread would often get stuck
or launch itself high
across the kitchen
where dad would catch it, juggling
each flapping bird with
blackened wings. His dance
made us laugh. Tea, marmalade,
homemade jam, honey –
again and again
we would wait for its metalled
cough, to watch salmon
leaping through currents
of sun. I ate six slices
one weekend, enthralled
with how happiness
was the colour of butter,
best eaten hot. Toast.
I believed I could
save each tiny crumb of you,
thinking aged just four
that every Sunday
would stay like this, love landing
soft, the right way up.
from Hilary’s copy of Ten Poems about Breakfast, published by Candlestick Press
This larger dome of blue and white is just what we have, here, today.
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