in the garden
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.
Please add your ideas for poems into the comments box below. If you can’t find online versions to share, just tell us where you found your poem so we can look them up. Feel free to comment on any of the poems, or just simply add your own suggestions.
Sending you all much love!
PS The next theme will be ‘Urban Beauty’
Our theme today is ‘In the garden’ – and what a richness of poems we have for you! As Theo Dorgan says so beautifully:
There is a garden where our hearts converse,
At ease beside clear water, dreaming
A whole and perfect future for yourself,
Myself, our children and our friends.
~The Promised Garden’ by Theo Dorgan
Those of us lucky enough to be able to escape to our gardens just now are truly blessed, and I hope these poems will help all of us find the garden’s ‘fair quiet’, if only in our imagination.
We start with a poem from our Poet~at~Home (‘in residence’ feels a bit out of kilter given where we all are right now) Steve Harrison. Steve has been bringing his poems to breakfast for several years now, and we all love them! I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Thanks, Steve.
If you would like a copy of the full text, please ask in the comments.
OUR GUEST POET ~ Thirza Clout
Thirza Clout grew up in Kent and Wales and now lives in Shropshire. Her first chap book, The Bone Seeker, was published by Mark Time Books UK in 2016 and is available directly from email@example.com. In May 2019 her second pamphlet, Aunts come armed with Welsh cakes, was published by Smith Doorstop, and chosen by Carol Ann Duffy in her Laureate’s Choice series. Thirza won the Poetry Prize at the Doolin Literary Festival in County Clare, and her poem Dandelions, see below, has been selected by Carol Ann Duffy for the Write where we are now project. Thirza is now studying for an MA in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.
I do not sheath my spotted hands in gloves
while teasing pallid veins up from the underworld
ground elder betrayed by livid shoots
after winter floods I drink down the blessing of the sun
trace and lift brittle yellow nets
capillaries to feed forbidden crowds of nettles
there is such pleasure to be found in forking through
winter-crusted earth and smelling the damper dark
pushing a steel prong deep down beside each rosette
I am tracing the routes of nurture
isolating before they can flaunt golden heads
before the wind can puff so many ticking clocks
19 April, in my garden under lockdown in Shropshire
Let the creeping buttercups creep, let dandelion clocks
bloom unstopped, fresh green brambles root and spring
in graceful arcs, let bindweed conquer wigwams,
blaze luminous trumpets above the strangled beans.
How tired you are of kneeling down to gouge out
baby blue eyes of speedwells and families of forget-me nots,
how tired you are of slashing juicy stems of nettles, how tired
of digging deep, pulling out each forked root you do not want.
It’s autumn, Roman ground elder has woven a wormy mat
raised white-plumed standards unopposed. A vicious cycle
aches in your bones. Lick your tears, they taste of earth.
from The Bone Seeker
The best poem I know that’s directly about gardens and gardening is Kipling’s The Glory of the Garden. It’s technically more or less perfect in every way.
New Fruit by Ann Drysdale
from 10 Poems about Gardens published by Candlestick Press
Here’s another that’s beautifully put together, to be found in Candlestick Press Ten Poems about Gardens, and by the way I want to hear it read by someone with a voice like Eartha Kitt…
Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year’s horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.
from Above the River: The Complete Poems and Selected Prose, published by the Wesleyan University Press.
I visited the place where we last met.
Nothing was changed, the gardens were well-tended,
The fountains sprayed their usual steady jet;
There was no sign that anything had ended
And nothing to instruct me to forget.
The thoughtless birds that shook out of the trees,
Singing an ecstasy I could not share,
Played cunning in my thoughts. Surely in these
Pleasures there could not be a pain to bear
Or any discord shake the level breeze.
It was because the place was just the same
That made your absence seem a savage force,
For under all the gentleness there came
An earthquake tremor: Fountain, birds and grass
Were shaken by my thinking of your name.
from Poem for the Day edited by Nicholas Albery & Sinclair-Stevenson, published by Vintage
Her Garden by Freda Downie in Sixty Women Poets edited by Linda France, published by Bloodaxe
Planting Crocuses with My Mother by Magi Gibson, from Modern Scottish Women Poets, edited by Dorothy McMillan and Michel Byrne, published by Canongate Classics (now out of print)
The Promised Garden by Theo Dorgan from Poem for the Day edited by Nicholas Albery & Sinclair-Stevenson, published by Vintage
And lastly, my choice is Windowbox by Angela McSeveney from Modern Scottish Poets published by Canongate Classics.
I do hope you have enjoyed your Poetry Brealfast ~ at home. Please feel free to add poems, comments or suggestions in the comments box below. Till next time …
(yes this is still the right email!)
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