showers and sunshine

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 ‘Showers and Sunshine’ and I’m very excited that poets Liz Lefroy and Jean Atkin have both sent poems for us to enjoy. It’s our new feature: guest poets!

Take hope, and be of good heart.

Sending you all much love!

Anna x

PS The next theme will be ‘In the Garden’

You can listen to Tom reading lots of poems at Spoken Verse

Anna Dreda

Poetry Breakfast

April Rise by 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.

from A Nature Poem for Every Day of the Year, edited by Jane McMorland Hunter, published by Batsford  

The Sun Has Burst The Sky by Jenny Joseph

The sun has burst the sky
Because I love you
And the river its banks.

The sea laps the great rocks
Because I love you
And takes no heed of the moon dragging it away
And saying coldly ‘Constancy is not for you’.
The blackbird fills the air
Because I love you
With spring and lawns and shadows falling on lawns.

The people walk in the street and laugh
I love you
And far down the river ships sound their hooters
Crazy with joy because I love you.

 

Jo Bell has written a wonderful piece about this poem by Jenny Joseph

 

Thank you Hilary for choosing this poem: A History of Weather by Billy Collins

Anna Dreda

Poetry Breakfast

 

And I like In a between world by Louis MacNeice – but I’m sorry I don’t know where I found this poem – can anyone help?

How we rode after haytiming

Soft weft of halters slapped our sides in our dash 

to the paddock for the fastest.

Then the calling and the catching,
ponies wiry-lipped at pockets. 

We led them out through a gate hinged on string
 
and slid the slippery shine of bareback

fingers twisted into manes, neck-reined,
fast trotting up the track 

for tack, leaned back against the jolting, the joking.

Then in Long Field we were sharp and skinny
on hard old saddles,

greyed our knuckles on flashing shoulders. 
Out on the stubble, squinting at sun, we held the yaw 

and flare of ponies in their weaving line – 
tightened the rising lightness on the bit 

– till a shout 

hairtriggered them to flight – 

 
and with stomach’s lurch of thrillful risk
and roaring air in underwater ears – 
we hurled our ponies 

full belt down the light.  

near Todleth

in a field of docks rain falls on us

here are white hanks of sheepswool 

pegged like washing

between drying posts

we breathe in lanolin and damp

by clouded reeds a tatty ewe  

her off-fore lame 

lurches away with her twins 

her bag all lumpy with mastitis  

you said it wouldn’t last

we follow   

an orange tip butterfly over a stile

 

Both of these poems are by Jean Atkin and are published in  How Time is in Fields (IDP, 2019)  available at https://jeanatkin.com/publications/

Thank you so much Jean, for allowing us to include them here

SHREWSBURY, FRIDAY MORNING, 27TH MARCH 2020

My bicycle’s the new order of freedom:

she folds out of the hallway onto the road

and into an extraordinary morning.

She freewheels headlong down Wyle Cop,

knowing that later I must pedal her back up –

it’s this shared thing we’ve got going.

We cycle on, meander round the path

which skirts the Severn’s loop. The latest flood’s

backed down, shrunk between the banks.

Out in the clear, we hear what blackbirds

have sung for brief generations,

and don’t understand all of it,

but know it’s to do with the fresh swell

of spring, falling blossom, feathers,

this very minute, flight.

The grass in the park is fresh-cut –

how we’d like to stop, drop to the ground,

loll about in the sun, risk sap and earth,

but we’re compelled to keep going,

warning head-bowed walkers of an approach,

ringing our bell like a leper’s warning.

LIZ LEFROY

Shrewsbury: 27 March 2020

Thank you so much Liz, for use of your poem, which is featured in Carol Ann Duffy’s project to create a platform where poets can write about the pandemic and their personal experience of it.

THIS MORNING by Esther Morgan

 

I watched the sun moving round the kitchen,
an early spring sun that strengthened and weakened,
coming and going like an old mind.

I watched like one bedridden for a long time
on their first journey back into the world
who finds it enough to be going on with:

the way the sunlight brought each possession in turn
to its attention and made of it a small still life:

the iron frying pan gleaming on its hook like an ancient find,
the powdery green cheek of a bruised clementine.

Though more beautiful still was how the light moved on,
letting go each chair and coffee cup without regret

the way my grandmother, in her final year, received me:
neither surprised by my presence, nor distressed by my leaving,
content, though, while I was there.

 

 Thank you Esther, for allowing us to use your poem here.

Spring Shower, Metheringham Fen by Rory Waterman

We watched the storm drift in across the Fen,

swallowing farms, flushing out blue.

dragging wheezing gusts of oily rain

that slalomed down the windowpane

and pattered millionfold across the wheat.

Ants filed through the cracks in grouting

jostling like potatoes in a chute.

The window whinnied. Half a mile

beyond the barn, an artic’ slamming through spray

flicked on its headlights, went on its way.

We saw the storm slide through and out again.

a chirrup burst from the sycamore,

earthworms glinted like morsels on the tar

and sunshine drew us through the door

to cold, sweet air and puddles full of sky.

from Tonight the Summer’s Over by Rory Waterman published by Carcanet

Thank you, Rory, for letting us use this poem, (I’m so glad you included it in your collection!)

I hope you’ve found something here to enjoy, feel free to add your own choices to the comments section below.

7 Comments

  1. tim cook

    I’m pinching someone else’s choice (again) but if you didn’t hear the Today Programme’s daily poem on Wednesday chosen by Frank Gardner, here it is. For obvious reasons.

    There Will Come Soft Rains
    by Sara Teasdale (1884-1933) (published July 1918)

    There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
    And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

    And frogs in the pools singing at night,
    And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

    Robins will wear their feathery fire
    Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

    And not one will know of the war, not one
    Will care at last when it is done.

    Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
    If mankind perished utterly;

    And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
    Would scarcely know that we were gone.

    Reply
  2. Jude Walker

    Think I’ve gone off on a tangent. Please forgive me.
    As soon as I saw the theme ‘Showers and Sunshine’ I thought of the image of the ‘liquid sun’ from Imtiaz Dharker’s ‘Blessing’ – created not from the rain but a burst pipe that a showers a congregation who’ve gathered to celebrate.
    I know it evokes a very different picture to the April showers and sunshine that we’re used to but, funnily enough, I found myself celebrating yesterday evening’s rain (especially as it watered the leeks and carrots I’ve planted) even though it’s only been a few weeks of dry sunny weather. I can’t begin to imagine the taste, feel, sight, smell and sound of treasured rain after months of dry heat…
    I especially love the last two lines of this poem.
    Here it is:

    Blessing – by Intiaz Dharker

    The skin cracks like a pod.
    There never is enough water.

    Imagine the drip of it,
    the small splash, echo
    in a tin mug,
    the voice of a kindly god.

    Sometimes, the sudden rush
    of fortune. The municipal pipe bursts,
    silver crashes to the ground
    and the flow has found
    a roar of tongues. From the huts,
    a congregation: every man woman
    child for streets around
    butts in, with pots,
    brass, copper, aluminium,
    plastic buckets,
    frantic hands,

    and naked children
    screaming in the liquid sun,
    their highlights polished to perfection,
    flashing light,
    as the blessing sings
    over their small bones.

    Reply
    • Anna Dreda

      Thank you so much Jude – and please don’t ever apologise for going off at a tangent: the theme is only ever there as a starting point! I love what you’ve written, and this is a gorgeous poem from Imtiaz, thank you for choosing it!
      Love, Anna x

      Reply
  3. Nicky Bennison

    It is lovely to read the Esther Morgan poem again – I love it, and used it when I was training to be a shared reading practitioner. I admire the way it brings together what seems like a simple description with something much deeper about acceptance and living in the moment.
    The Billy Collins is wonderful too. i’ve yet to find a poem of his I don’t like. I’m enjoying the poetry readings he is doing at the moment on Facebook, although I don’t always remember to watch them. He seems like such a nice bloke!

    Reply
    • Anna Dreda

      Hi Nicky, thank you for this! I didn’t know Billy Collins was doing Facebook readings – you can find him by going to Facebook and searching for Billy Collins poet – lovely! I agree re the Esther Morgan, and she always seems to have such a womanly perspective somehow, which I really enjoy. Anna x

      Reply
  4. Steve Harrison

    Sadly I’ve only just come across US poet Billy Collins , had him confused with a Leeds footballer from the 1960’s -both his poetry and thoughts about writing are a lesson I’ve been missing; his Ted talks are entertaining and sharp to equal degrees. Thank You for Liz Lefroy’s poem, I was with every pedal of her bike ride and her last line is one to die for.

    Reply
    • Anna Dreda

      Thanks Steve, yes I had missed Billy Collins too (in my head it was always Billy Connolly!) but luckily, Tim put me right by regularly sharing the most wonderful poems by him. Glad you cycled along with Liz, what a poem! Anna x

      Reply

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