Poem for a Thursday: Toni Morrison

As Toni Morrison passed away recently, it seemed appropriate to share one of her poems. This one is “Eve Remembering”, and the poem is available on Poets.org.

1

Now these cool hands guide what they once caressed;
Lips forget what they have kissed.
My eyes now pool their light
Better the summit to see.

2

I tore from a limb fruit that had lost its green.
My hands were warmed by the heat of an apple
Fire red and humming.
I bit sweet power to the core.
How can I say what it was like?
The taste! The taste undid my eyes
And led me far from the gardens planted for a child
To wildernesses deeper than any master’s call.

3

I would do it all over again:
Be the harbor and set the sail,
Loose the breeze and harness the gale,
Cherish the harvest of what I have been.
Better the summit to scale.
Better the summit to be.

Poem for a Thursday: Liz Berry


Liz Berry is a poet from Birmingham. She’s quite well known in the UK, but I’ve not read much of her work yet. Recently she recorded a podcast for the Scottish Poetry Library and piqued my interest by talking about the use of dialect in poetry, as well as poetry about motherhood. I decided to splurge and use my remaining Amazon voucher to buy her most recent pamphlet, The Republic of Motherhood.

This poem is called “Marie”. I love that it so well encapsulates the incredible support from other mums you sometimes find, even in the most unexpected relationships, while also conveying the desperation of early motherhood.

"Marie"
 

 I didn’t know when we met
 in the Baptist church hall
 that you would save my soul
  
 Marie, with your black hair,
  
 that I would walk through sleet
 with my pram to your door,
 my heart clem-gutted
  
 Marie, with your black hair,
  
 and you’d be waiting
 with your curtains pulled
 and the flame blue
  
 Marie, with your black hair,
  
 take my hands in yours
 and touch the palms
 saying I know I know
  
 Marie, with your black hair,
  
 you could see I was drowning
 and taking him with me,
 my boy, my baby,
  
 Marie, with your black hair,
  
 you made a wave of your body,
 and like a gasping fish
 I was borne upon it.  

Poem for a Thursday: William Barnes

Today seemed to be unintentionally bird-themed. On my morning cycle to work I said hello to them as I went past, even singing Blackbirdsinging in the dead of night as I went. Then the morning radio program I listen to had a bird-themed feature. And then during our morning meeting I spotted Poems For Birds on the shelf, so how could I resist picking a poem from it?

William Barnes was an English Victorian poet from Dorset. As you can see, he wrote in dialect. This is challenging to read, but I love that it reflects his passion for language. The Blackbird sums up my experience of spring in England and I hope you will like it too. There’s also a Youtube recording of this poem if you’re interested in hearing the dialect. It is a very thick West Country accent, and though Dorset is further south than I am here in Gloucestershire, the accent around here is quite similar.

The Blackbird by William Barnes

O V all the birds upon the wing
Between the zunny showers o’ spring,—
Vor all the lark, a-swingèn high,
Mid zing below a cloudless sky,
An’ sparrows, clust’rèn roun’ the bough,
Mid chatter to the men at plough,—
The blackbird, whisslèn in among
The boughs, do zing the gayest zong.

Vor we do hear the blackbird zing
His sweetest ditties in the spring,
When nippèn win’s noo mwore do blow
Vrom northern skies, wi’ sleet or snow,
But dreve light doust along between
The leäne-zide hedges, thick an’ green;
An’ zoo the blackbird in among
The boughs do zing the gaÿest zong.

‘Tis blithe, wi’ newly-opened eyes,
To zee the mornèn’s ruddy skies;
Or, out a-haulèn frith or lops
Vrom new-pleshed hedge or new-velled copse,
To rest at noon in primrwose beds
Below the white-barked woak-trees’ heads;
But there’s noo time, the whole däy long,
Lik’ evenèn wi’ the blackbird’s zong.

Vor when my work is all a-done
Avore the zettèn o’ the zun,
Then blushèn Jeäne do walk along
The hedge to meet me in the drong,
An’ stay till all is dim an’ dark
Bezides the ashen tree’s white bark;
An’ all bezides the blackbird’s shrill
An’ runnèn evenèn-whissle’s still.

An’ there in bwoyhood I did rove
Wi’ pryèn eyes along the drove
To vind the nest the blackbird meäde
O’ grass-stalks in the high bough’s sheäde;
Or climb aloft, wi’ clingèn knees,
Vor crows’ aggs up in swaÿèn trees,
While frightened blackbirds down below
Did chatter o’ their little foe.
An’ zoo there’s noo pleäce lik’ the drong,
Where I do hear the blackbird’s zong.

Poem for a Thursday: Amy Lowell

A few weeks ago I started poem a poem each Thursday, inspired by Jennifer at Holds Upon Happiness. In spite of being late one week and forgetting entirely another week, I’m enjoying having the routine of something to do each week. It’s also helped me get some other post ideas circulating (though who knows when I’ll be able to focus enough to sit down and write something!).

I have been selecting poems either by raiding my bookshelf (it’s the perfect excuse to look through my small but lovely collection) or by looking at the Academy of American Poets website, or occasionally the Scottish Poetry Library website. Both have extensive, easily searchable collections.

Amy Lowell is a well-known early 20th century poet in America, though I did recently find out she’s less well known in the UK. It’s a shame as her work is beautiful. This one is called “Dawns”. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

I have come
from pride
all the way up to humility
This day-to-night.
The hill
was more terrible
than ever before.
This is the top;
there is the tall, slim tree.
It isn’t bent; it doesn’t lean;
It is only looking back.
At dawn,
under that tree,
still another me of mine
was buried.
Waiting for me to come again,
humorously solicitous
of what I bring next,
it looks down.

Belated Poem for a Thursday: Gillian K. Ferguson

Oops, it’s Friday! Having started a second, temporary, job a couple of weeks ago in addition to my normal one, life is a little bit up and down at the moment and we are still finding our feet with the new routine. Overall this is fine because I know we’ll adjust, but in the meantime I do often forget which day of the week it is.

Anyway, I thought I would still share a poem today. Better late than never, right? I found this one on the Scottish Poetry Library website. I used the browse option and browsed till I found a topic, then poem, that resonated. It’s an approach I would definitely recommend! This one by Gillian K. Ferguson is short and really very sweet. It makes me think of Mabel and her little friends, and I think it does poetry’s job of producing a very individual and yet very universal image exceptionally well.

Learning to Stand

On the earth a stretched second
you stood, balanced. Gravity

glued dolly shoes. You wore
the sky on your head, jauntily,

light blue paper hat plumed
with feather clouds, as air’s

transparent gloves cuddled
you upright. Padding paws

forgot themselves in hands.
You learn the trick of standing

as the world spins, hurtles,
turns you upside down

in darkness. Already
you’ll lean less on me.

Poem for a Thursday: Dorianne Laux

Blossom

What is a wound but a flower 
dying on its descent to the earth,
bag of scent filled with war, forest,
torches, some trouble that befell
now over and done. A wound is a fire
sinking into itself. The tinder serves
only so long, the log holds on
and still it gives up, collapses
into its bed of ashes and sand. I burned
my hand cooking over a low flame,
that flame now alive under my skin,
the smell not unpleasant, the wound
beautiful as a full-blown peony.
Say goodbye to disaster. Shake hands
with the unknown, what becomes
of us once we’ve been torn apart
and returned to our future, naked
and small, sewn back together
scar by scar.

Poem for a Thursday: D.H. Lawrence

This is just a quick post; we celebrated Valentine’s Day by staying up to watch a movie (The Shape of Water) after putting Mabel to bed, so I am very tired!

This poem by D.H. Lawrence is one we included in our wedding ceremony. The sentiment behind it is just beautiful, and the last line is a stunner. (Also, I am a sucker for our wedding memories, so the picture I’ve chosen is from our Save the Date bookmark!)

Fidelity

Man and woman are like the earth, that brings forth flowers
in summer, and love, but underneath is rock.
Older than flowers, older than ferns, older than foraminiferae,
older than plasm altogether is the soul underneath.
And when, throughout all the wild chaos of love
slowly a gem forms, in the ancient, once-more-molten rocks
of two human hearts, two ancient rocks,
a man’s heart and a woman’s,
that is the crystal of peace, the slow hard jewel of trust,
the sapphire of fidelity.
The gem of mutual peace emerging from the wild chaos of love.