Sunday, 17 February 2019

In This Salford Street

Dear Reader,






There are so many lovely images in the following quotes that I thought I would share them with you.

February 24th, 1798, Dorothy Wordsworth (Somerset)

......The sea, like a basin full to the margin; the dark fresh-ploughed fields;  the turnips of a lively rough green.

February 24th, 1870, Francis Kilvert, (Radnorshire)

The Black Mountains lighted up grandly, all the furrows and watercourses clear and brilliant.  People coming home from the market, birds singing, buds bursting, and the spring air full of beauty, life and hope.

February 24th, 1916, D.H.Lawrence (Cornwall)

Just at present it is very cold.  It has been blowing here also, and a bit of snow.   Till now the weather has been so mild.  Primroses and violets are out, and the gorse is lovely.  At Zennor one sees infinite Atlantic, all peacock-mingled colours, and the gorse is sunshine itself, already. But this cold wind is deadly.

                                                                            *

In This Salford Street

the houses have no eyes,
windows and doors, boarded up.
These houses were home
to someone,
people grew up here,
played life's games, made love, made babies,
made friendships last to the end.

They are all demolished now,
other people saw to that,
damp bricks and mortar,
which had served their time,
dispensable.

Nothing is left.
No shops, no pubs, no parks,
no prettiness,
nothing but rubble, dust, sadness
everywhere,
and a river running with tears.

-----------------------------                                  *

As we have seen nature is so beautiful, urban reality less so.

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Quickening



Dear Reader

Since I have become an enthusiastic bird watcher  I purchased something on line which allows me to hear the song of the garden bird.  I then decided I would learn the songs of which I knew nothing, had no idea which song went with which bird.  But, dear reader, I have found it very very difficult. 

Francis and I test each other every evening and every evening I get them wrong.  At least I thought I knew the song of the blackbird, but no I didn't.  I remember as a child learning that one bird seemed to be saying: 'a little bit of bread and no cheese', but I can't remember which bird it was supposed to be.   Could you let me know if you know the answer.

I mention the "peacock's plume" in my poem for today.  First originating in India, peacocks can trace their history back to biblical times.  They are mentioned in the bible as being part of the treasure being taken to the court of King Solomon.   Peacocks were an important symbol in Roman times, most commonly representing funerals, death and Resurrection. 

Perhaps what peacocks are best known for historically, is their long connection with the sins of pride and vanity.  This arises not only from the their great beauty but also from a tendency to strut when displaying their magnificent plumage.  In his 1836 book On the mental illumination and moral improvement of mankind,  Reverend Thomas Dick calls the peacock "the most beautiful bird in the world'.


                                                                            *

Quickening

I want the pulse of life that has been asleep
to wake, embrace me, put on the light.
To hear the thrush, song-repeat, to keep
my trust in God to hurry icy winter's flight.
I want to glimpse, under sodden leaves, green shoots
to announce life's circle, its beginnings, have begun.
I want to run barefoot, abandon boots,
to walk through primrose paths, savour the sun.
I want to take off winter's dress, change its season,
to see the coloured petticoats of spring, bloom
and show us mortals nature's reason
to start afresh,  admire the peacock's plume.
Cellar the coal, brush the ashes from the fire,
I want to intertwine, my love, quicken, feel desire.

                                                                         *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 3 February 2019

The Perfect B&B

Dear Reader,


                                                                                   Male and female bullfinch



I had the most wonderful treat this week because I saw, on several occasions,  a beautiful bullfinch in the garden.  This is the first time I have ever seen one and it was so stunning it literally took my breath away.  

The adult male bullfinch has a bright pink underpart and a black head and although it is seen in gardens, it is more commonly associated with scrub and woodland.  Unfortunately bullfinch populations have declined by 36% since 1967.  It is typically seen in fewer than 10% of gardens in any week preferring rural gardens connected to small woodlands.  The bullfinch feeds on seeds and shoots of fruit trees and sometimes, in summer, on insects.  However during the spring the bullfinch can sometimes be considered a pest species as they feed on and damage the buds of fruiting trees, such as the cherry.  

In Victorian times the bullfinch was a desired captive bird because of its beautiful plumage and call.  It is believed that the caged bird could be trained to mimic music and it became a popular pastime to play a special flute to the bird.

The female bullfinch has a much lighter colour and I think it looks a bit like a chaffinch.

                                                                            *

The Perfect B&B

Soft red brick, covered in roses,
the hall floor Cotswold stone,
the doors and furniture
applewood, mahogany, old pine,
chintz curtains in pretty bedrooms,
thick woollen carpets
and large white towels,
long and lovely views of distant hills,
sweet smells of lilies and lavender,
fresh asparagus for dinner,
duck and strawberries.

On the garden table,
its soft green feathers
ruffled gently by the wind,
lies a dead linnet.


                                                                          *
                                                                      
With best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Only Cotton



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           



Dear Reader,

Lots of my cherished books I have kept for years and 'Understanding Poetry' by James Reeves is still one of my favourites. It first came out in 1965 but I think everything he writes about poetry is pertinent to today.  I thought I would share these quotes with you.

'poetry has existed from the earliest times as a manifestation of the human spirit and a relief from, or expression of, emotion.  The forms of poetry have changed, and its uses and purposes have varied from age to age but one thing is certain: the primary purpose of poetry is magic.

'The desire to communicate to express, to give voice to emotion, is the root from which all poetry springs.  All poetry has to do with communication; but it is not merely saying something in a special way, it is a special form of words which has the power, magical power, to evoke certain responses in
the hearer or the reader, and this power never leaves it.

'But the reason poetry has virtue at all times lies in the need of man for magical formulations, word-patterns, which give expression to emotional or intellectual situations perpetually recurrent in the human condition'.

 I have always wondered where lines of poetry came from that come into my head and am very happy to know that there is a sort of magic that goes with them.

                                                                      *









Only Cotton

In the Southern Punjab
the sun scorches, the insects hum,
small pieces of cotton dust
fill the air,
whirl, suffocate, poison.
Aruni and Paloma, ten and twelve,
bend and pick, bend and pick,
hour after hour.
Scratches on their arms
scab and bleed,
their heads ache,
their vision blurs,
their drinking water canisters
contaminated with lethal spray.
At dusk they crawl home.
At dawn, they start another day.

                  *

Mrs. Anne Hudson-Berry
selects a cool cotton dress
adorns herself,
hails a taxi
has lunch at the Ritz.

                                                                *

With very best wishes, Patricia
                              



























Sunday, 20 January 2019

January Weather

Dear Reader,


A few years ago a very dear friend had a terrible accident at a cross roads near here in which the driver of the other car was killed.  Apparently it was all due to the January sun being very low in the sky.   What was all this about I wondered and here are a few thoughts about what I found.

During the autumn and winter months the sun is naturally lower in the sky.  This means that when light hits the surface it will also reflect that lower angle. In summer the sun is much higher in the sky. According to the AA in the UK, sun glare causes over 2,900 accidents annually on British roads.
Sun glare impacts your sight even after you have been exposed, which means that for a few seconds you won't be able to see things ahead of you.  This experience has been described as 'blinding'.

I expect this is what happened to the Duke of Edinburgh and lots of people will be advising him not to continue driving.  But I do hope that he doesn't attend to this and carries on as long as he feels able.  As an old person myself I hope to be able to drive as long as I can without causing any trouble on the roads, thus keeping my independence.

                                                                         *

January Weather

We know from recorded history,
that in St. Merryn
a hundred years ago,
there blew great winds
and the sea was smoking white.

We know it was warm in Kent,
where the thrushes thought spring
had come, and piped away.
And primroses were a yellow carpet
in North Norfolk,
or so the parson wrote.

We know of cutting winds in Hampshire,
of icicles and frost, and
in Skiddaw on a mild day,
a brown spotted butterfly was seen.
We know that hungry church
mice ate bible markers,
hungry people died of cold.

And we know that this dark winter month
had days of snow, that wild clouds
gathered in the sky unleashing icy rain,
churning up the plough.

And yet again, we also know
the sun shone in that distant year,
it was warm enough to push through
early snowdrops, and Holy Thorn.
Light was glimpsed, here and there,
all life struggled for its moments.


                                                                         *

With very best wishes, Patricia




Sunday, 13 January 2019

In Her Spare Room

Dear Reader,


                                                                            Toad, Badger, Mole and Ratty



I have been reading an excellent book given to me at Christmas about Kenneth Grahame's life by Matthew Dennison called 'Eternal Boy'.  As most of you readers will know 'The Wind in the Willows' is one of my very favourite books and I thought you might like a snippet of information about the author's life. 

In January 1879 Kenneth arrived for the first time at the Bank of England and started work in the position of gentleman clerk.    He was nineteen years old, serious-minded, tall, and broad-shouldered.  He had not been keen to work in a bank and had hoped to go to Oxford University  but his uncle, John Grahame, refused to fund a university education.  He  thought a good job in a bank was what Kenneth should have and procured him a place at the Bank of England.  Kenneth had read a piece by George Augustus Sala, published in 1859, which painted a sober picture of the clerk's working day.   He described a 'great army of clerk martyrs....settling down to their loads of cash-book and ledger-fillers' each morning like clockwork.  Sala apostrophised their wretchedness...

During his life,  Kenneth wrote many essays rejecting commercial, cooperate and committee life, celebrating the 'escape' of city men from the daily grind. His real love was the countryside and in particular, waters and rivers.   Long after his retirement when asked to write about his experiences at the Bank of England he replied  'Nothing doing ....much too dull a subject.'

                                                                         *

In Her Spare Room

I see these books,
draw in a breath,
as cherished memories
race into my head.

These are:

Akenfield
Portrait of an English Village
Swallows and Amazons 
The Speckledy Hen
The Little Flower of St. Francis
My Friend Flicka
The Wind in the Willows
Tales of an Old Inn

The owner of this house
is unknown to me,
but her collection
of treasured books
tells me a little of her,
what makes her who she is,
what makes me who I am.

                                                                          *

Very best wishes, Patricia




 

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Waif

Dear Reader,



                                                                                         Waifs
 Dear Reader,

I have had a bad cold and cough this week so haven't thought of something interesting to tell you  but I have read 'The English Year Book' and thought you might like some of the quotes.

January 4th, Richard Hayes, 1764 in Kent.

'Our roads are very full of water, I never saw the London turnpike so much cut with the carriages, by having almost continuous rains little or much.'

January 4th, S.T. Coleridge, 1804 in Westmorland.

Horsedung echoing to the merry (Foot) traveller on a frosty morning.

January 5th, Katherine Mansfield, 1915 in Buckinghamshire

'Saw the sun rise.  A lovely apricot sky with flames in it and then a solemn pink.  Heavens, how beautiful!  I heard a knocking, and went downstairs.  It was Benny cutting away the ivy.  Over the path lay the fallen nests - wisps of hay and feathers.  He looked like an ivy bush himself.  I made early tea and carried it up to J., who lay half awake with crinkled eyes.  I feel so full of love today after having seen the sun rise'.

                                                                          *

Waif

The waif lived in a tent
on the beach.
He was cold, he was hungry.
He was always hungry.

He met a boy from a big house.
They played together
on the sand, picked up winkles
and shells, ran down to the sea.

The boy took him to his house
cut large slices of bread,
buttered them, piled cherry jam on top,
gave them to the waif who
wolfed them down.

When autumn came the boy
went back to boarding school.
The waif missed his friend,
screwed his fists into his eyes
as the tears gathered.
Wept for the loss of friendship and food.

                                                                          *

With best wishes, Patricia