Categories
Poetry

Wishing…

Wishing everyone a peaceful Christmas and 2024.

I want to share this poem, recently posted on WriteOutLoud, by Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, which was published in his 1971 collection Not for the Sake of Remembering, a few years after the 1967 Six-Day War, fought between Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. In 1994, Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shared the Nobel peace prize with Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian National Authority, and Israel’s foreign minister Shimon Peres. Amichai was invited to participate in the prizegiving ceremony, where he read this poem:

WILDPEACE

Not the peace of a cease-fire

not even the vision of the wolf and the lamb,

but rather

as in the heart when the excitement is over

and you can talk only about a great weariness.

I know that I know how to kill, that makes me an adult.

And my son plays with a toy gun that knows

how to open and close its eyes and say Mama.

A peace

without the big noise of beating swords into ploughshares,

without words, without

the thud of the heavy rubber stamp: let it be

light, floating, like lazy white foam.

A little rest for the wounds – who speaks of healing?

(And the howl of the orphans is passed from one generation

to the next, as in a relay race:

the baton never falls.)

Let it come

like wildflowers,

suddenly, because the field

must have it: wildpeace.

Yehuda Amichai

Translated by Chana Bloch

Categories
Poetry

Elegies of Time              

I don’t write many long poems … most of my poems are less than a page,   but occasionally an idea hits me that merits something more – or so I think at the time! These poems take longer to write and usually demand some research work – probably why there are so few of them – only four in my Mostly Welsh collection.

Not so long ago I had this idea to do something on TIME. It has fascinated me for a long (err!) time – how we see it – experience it – understand it – WHAT it is! I remember that it was only just over 100 years ago that we decided to regulate time… as travel and then public transport, became more common, it became more convenient for people in Aberystwyth to know that the train from London would arrive at THEIR 10:30 rather than London’s 10:30… which might have been as much as half an hour adrift from Welsh time! So travel, particularly on the railways helped to control time (some of you may think that the railways still do – though not in a good way!)! Time zones arrived in the world in 1883.

But the whole idea of measuring time is artificial, isn’t it? Who says there are sixty minutes in an hour? Why sixty? And don’t get me started on the physics of time and gravity! Mainly because that is the bit I struggle to understand! And then I heard someone on the radio say that you can never prove the existence of time and that thought was niggling away at my mind, I suppose.

And as it sometimes happens, right at that moment (see my previous post on coincidences) I heard a review of Carlo – I should say Professor Carlo Rovelli’s book – The Order of Time. It is a beautifully written book – written for my simple mind – and he makes a complex subject easy – or easier than it might have been – but that isn’t to say that it is an easy read – I probably understood about a fifth of it! There are frequently simple sentences that require re-reading. Several times. Statements such as

Time passes more slowly in some places

There is no such thing as past or future

Time is the measurement of change (Aristotle)

All require a little thought… and make writing quite difficult! My problem was that our language – our understanding of our world – revolves around the concept (a concept) of time: “The poems take longer to write” – “Not so long ago I had this idea” – “just over 100 years ago” … “the sentence I write next”… and so on.

But the book provided some of the background for what became THE ELEGIES OF TIME.

FIVE of them… making a work as long, I think as any poetry I have written. Fortunately they are poems so you do not have to worry as there is not much science in them! Like – I suppose – many of my poems, they have autobiographical elements – a DWELLING on the past…  on lost times…  on existence… on eternity…

Oh! I have just suggested that the poem dwells on the past! The past that, like the future, like eternity does not exist!!! – what more could a poet want?! A freedom to write of something that only he knows – that no one else – none of his readers – can ever see!

The Elegies of Time appears (appropriately enough!) in Lost Time: Chorus and Other Poems.

Categories
Poetry

Twixt Pen and Eye

I, poet, may write of love
and in that moment feel
a meaning clear:
yet my soul knows love
my hand will never pen

You, reader, read that word
and think to know my mind  

I say you cannot know the love
my heart placed behind that word, only
your sense of the love you thought you saw

The poet can never truly speak
and have his reader know
his soul’s pain, his heart’s love.
Each word you read is ever stolen
from my page

Categories
Poetry

Recent Writes

I thought it would be useful to provide an index to the poems and the short story that I have written in the first half of 2023. Most are available here; the few that are on external sites are starred and will open in a new tab.

The most recent poem is at the top of the list working back to ‘Annual, again’ posted here in mid-January.

Short storyThe Story Teller

Poems

Summer Night *

Grimalkin

Trecefel

Stars *

The Door

Creation

Who includes diversity… *

Resistant News *

Consequences

Starnight *

Life Tercets

Genesis

Annual, again

Categories
Poetry

Grimalkin

A grey shade in the cottage shadows
a paw lick of sinuous silence
a tail flick of smoke
a pounce on time’s toll

Like a smoke devil escaped the chimney
she inhabits the lounge at night
never settling
she drifts across the hearth

Like the umbral weight of her past
she settles beyond my sight
I sense only the leak
of light left by her passing

Like the presence of an unseen wraith
she is at my supper table
to fill the empty chair
across from me

Like the gentle press of death I feel
her weight as sleep prowls
she makes no noise
as I enter our dream

Later she is an autumnal dawn mist
a purr of a past warmth
an absence that chills
as I greet another cottage day

A grey shade in the cottage shadows
a breath of sinuous silence
a tail curl of smoke
drifting across cottage time

Categories
Poetry

Trecefel

I wrote about the creation of this poem back in March in a post called The Welsh Swagman

The story of Trecefel, a farm near Tregaron begins in 1846 when, following his marriage, it became the tenancy of a man born 28 years earlier near Talsarn in the parish of Llanfihangel-Ystrad in Ceredigion. That man was Joseph Jenkins.

Bryn Du

Above Caron’s dark Teifi flow.
Beneath the white wood.
Beneath the black hill.
Sweet meadows and pastures lie
around a house
                                standing proud
over its land, over river waters 
shining in the Spring sun as sewen
break the stillness of the surface,
over high-hedged fields
bountiful with sheep and cows, and
in proper season with corn and hay.
Beneath the black hill
                               men labour:
the land prospers.

The Master

I was born under an inauspicious star
in the longhouse of Blaenplwyf,
cursed even in my mother’s womb,
I was given a stony path in this suffering universe,
my mouth both my strength and my downfall.
I learned, in a minister’s school,
                                my letters
and, beneath the calling curlews,
all the farming that my father knew.

In a decade beneath the hill
I have made my farm a showpiece
                                in the county.
Now, my plough and my goose quill
are each joyous in my hand.
Before each dawn I walk
the fields and hedgerows of my land;
at day end the candle’s flicker
allows another entry in my journal:
The winter river consumes the land and
I waded shoulder deep
                                to save my sheep.
                                Six lost.

Betty

How the mighty fall:
too many years have I suffered
too many times have I left,
returning to my father’s hearth
in sad despair.
                                Once
our farm was the pride
of the countryside – it prospered:
in the early years at haymaking
neighbours helped our people
with the scything, raking and carting –
now our hay burns and our crops rot.
My man has lost his way
and we cannot pay our tithes.
I will not stay!

The Milford Haven and Manchester Line – the M&M Line – would connect the deep water port in South Wales to the English industrial manufacturing centre. Joseph Jenkins understood the advantages that the line would bring to agriculture and to the rural economy and gave his full support to the project, often delivering speeches and canvassing for support. He was even invited to address a House of Commons committee on the line’s benefit for rural agriculture.

The Cut

Age of steam!
I am persuaded!
                                I see
farms, the community
advanced by the markets
brought to us by this marvel.
I will lend my voice to the cause!
Our lives will be forever changed!

Age of steam!
Now my land is overrun!
Navvies work on the Trecefel cutting –
the workforce is tearing apart my land,
desecrating my hedgerows –
everywhere there is a mess.

Age of steam!
Steam engines pass in the fields
                                below the house –
y trên cawl signals our break for lunch.

Who can know what insecurity and depression, what darkness so often filled Joseph’s mind? In his diaries, he often wrote that the fates were against him – ‘I am kicked like a football in this world’ – ‘I do feel that my life has become filled with sorrow and covered in darkness’. And he hated his inability to abstain from drink. In December 1868, he wrote that he could see no sense or meaning in this life – ‘I have lost my way… Life is nothing but a catalogue of misfortune’.

After Dark

And then he was gone,
Cors Caron’s peat piled high in the yard
against the coming winter.
By night he left
                                quietly –
Bont Ffrainc led him away
to walk the railway line north
to Tregaron station.
He entrained for Liverpool and
gained a berth:
                                Eurynome,
goddess of meadows and pastures
carried him to Melbourne
                                Nothing
was left beneath the black hill
but the river, the meadows, the pastures
and the wife

Ophir’s Bounty

Did he believe
as those twenty-five years passed,
                                did he believe
as the Ophir carried him north,
his wife, his children, his farm
had kept a welcome in their hearts.
                                Perhaps
it was enough that Trecefel 
might once again come to know his hand.

But he believed that he had to return: he knew
his heart was too deeply rooted in the land of his birth
he must be buried in his Welsh soil.

I am indebted to:
Joseph Jenkins. Diary of a Welsh Swagman 1869-1894.
Edited by William Evans. Macmillan Australia, 1977
Bethan Phillips. Pity the Swagman: The Australian Odyssey of
a Victorian Diarist. Cymdeithas Lyfrau Ceredigian, 2002

Categories
Poetry

The Door

Unknown reader, be glad that I have opened the door and let out
the dust of my verse for you to see an age after the words first found form on the screen, or
perhaps I have let in your imagination so, turning, you can see a single almond
blossom, pink amongst its pale russet leaves, to tempt your words out

Unknown traveller, on this day, stay, venture out
and, before they fade, gather memories of your Spring in fragrant vases around the room, so
your thoughts today can grace some future verses you may set out

Do not press and dry the blooms

Categories
Event Poetry

Publication Announcement!

… and it’s published! Much excitement at being able to announce the availability (Amazon or here) of my latest collection of poems, Lost Time.

Lost Time brings together a collection of poems written during the last two to three years. There are poems that relate to Place, the Sea (always a strong theme for me), Writing, Memories and Time… and a few poems brought about by Covid and lockdown found their way in at the beginning.

Brought together, the poems are (I suppose) exactly as described in the first of the 17 Life Tercets:

A story about
an old poet
and his cottage

Categories
Poetry

Proofs

We are at the proof-reading stage! Unusually, this has thrown up a couple of minor emendations which – in once case – are easily dealt with. The other is going to take a couple of attempts! The spine – on which would normally appear the author’s name and the title of the book is slim enough that only a small font will fit… so we are experimenting to try and get it as large as possible!

THEN… we will publish!

Nearly there! Really, really, nearly there!

Categories
Poetry

Coming Soon!

Contents

Chorus

Chorus Chorus

Corona Sutra

The First Winter

Longing

Ystrad Fflur: Dusk  

Uchtryd’s Summer Place

Evening Light

Autumn Rain

Legacy

Seeing Starlings with Will

Town

Seaside

The Estuary

Tides

Heatherslade

Innocence

Life Tercets

Sea Story

Shell

Thálassa, Thálassa

Et le feu s’éteignit sur la mer…

Dark Seas Dawning

Ex Libris

The Interface

A Memory of Night

Evening Poem

If Only the Sky Could Dream

Song of Summer

Winter Love

Winter White

A Report on the Memories Held in Rooms

After Leaving Another Adelstrop

Augury

Killing Time

The Elegies of Time

Unredeemable Time

Creation

The Departed