The Timelessness of Stone

Thanks to the poets whose poems piled in after last month’s KPAI — keep them coming.  This has enabled me to produce another instalment in the middle of a rushed and busy month — what’s new, poets? And you relax and question, draw pebbles, write sestinas, make collages, wonder about the triumph of evil (Moriarty), and concentrate on the timelessness of stone. Thanks to Morelle Smith, Maggie Mackay, Stephen Mead, David Whippman and Joan Lennon.

To contribute, send previously published poems (published at least three years ago) to which you hold the copyright, by email to sally evans 35 at gmail dot com.

You may send your own images, otherwise I will find suitable copyright-free illustrations, which I quite enjoy doing.  Sometimes it is a challenge. Morelle Smith and Joan Lennon sent their own illustrations for their poems, as well as the collages from Stephen Mead.

I should add that Morelle Smith took the header photo we are using at the moment. It’s of fells near Kirkby Lonsdale, where a substantial stream comes out of a hole in the ground (in field , right foreground) and runs down to the River Lune. To me, that stands for continuous and timeless poetic inspiration. Thanks to Morelle.

See you some time in September.

 


010

 

Morelle Smith
Canal Street Café

The café is empty,
except for me, and the person
who brings me a mug of tea.
He is tall, speaks slowly
has a foreign accent I cannot identify
and an exquisite jawline.
Thick moisture on the inside
of the window.
When I run my finger over it,
water drips down the pane.
And outside, it is raining.
A newspaper lies on the table
next to me.
I am writing in my book
and the footsteps of the man
who served me
move slowly across the café –
measured steps I hear quite clearly
above the whiny chatter of the radio.
I’m just about to look up
when he picks up the paper,
walks back again
behind the counter.
I left most of the mug of tea,
not because it tasted bad
or I didn’t like the mug
or the radio station.
Or because the sound of the knife
being sharpened grated on my ear.
No, I left because I was late for
an appointment.
That’s why I didn’t drink the tea.
It had nothing to do with that
haunting jawline.

The Way Words Travel, UK Authors Press, 2005

 

pebbles 

Maggie Mackay
Picking up the Pencil

Your student hand pencils a heavy mark
on the white space. The stone’s grain
starts to show. Gleaned at low tide,
it smacks of salted beds of pebbles,
washed by North Sea currents and seaweed traces.
Light movements across the space calm your doubts.

Banishing Mrs Smuts you lose your school day doubts,
smudge, rub, blot a heavy line or loose mark,
stirred by the sense of Joan Eardley’s traces,
her footprints on that beach. Another line reveals a grain
of doubt which stops your hand. A second pebble
is a fresh challenge, a chance to stem the tide.

You walk Joan’s sands. Dreamtime… beachcombing at low tide,
your feet drawing faint surface lines. Those doubts
sting your fingers, blotting seal-grey patterns in pebbles,
like synapses in nerve cells. Your eyes lift to mark
the angled detail with smeared grooves of grain.
The room stills. You hear a pencil shift to leave its traces. 

You stare into the image, make traces
of an orange stone, crater blasted, eroded by the tide,
a volcano, bursting gigantic grains
across your sketch page. More fuel for your doubts?
Instead your fingers smear a rivulet to mark
the change of colour, a dark replaced by brighter pebbles.

Six on the table, a daunting huddle of pebbles,
battered by nature, revealing traces
of water, salt, their individual mark
you imitate with your tiring hand as the tide
of indecision grapples with those limpet doubts.
You falter. Not like you to let slip a single grain.

Your teacher intervenes with a grain
of insight. ‘Change your perspective on those pebbles.
Refresh your touch, flex your fingers, chase those doubts
down.’ You erase careless carbon traces,
the hesitating lines of an easy, potent tide,
run a fine and bolder mark. 

The grain of lines and traces take shape in this enlightening life,
as you view the pebbles, imbued with colour by infinite tide;
Your doubts slip away as enduring love of learning makes its mark.

The Lake – contemporary poetry webzine february 2014

 

Bring Color Back to Me -music swims back to me b and w merge 8 x 11

Stephen Mead
Bring Colour Back to Me
collage
(above) from the  print zine, Color Wheel, 1990s

 

sherlock

David Whippman

The Fall of Sherlock Holmes

Called from London, the Great Detective
travels first class. (He will answer for this
when the sink estates rise against Lestrade’s men.)
The famous sleuth looks as always
for clues and reasonable motives – jealously, greed –
but beyond his magnifying glass
the world is creeping up on him
and the pointless murders happen with  genocide speed.
With a final flourish, Moriarty is unmasked
but removes a second disguise. Underneath
he is something much worse
and  this time, he will win.

published by Snakeskin in 2013.

 

P1040215

Joan Lennon
One More Happy Boulder

And if you must,
    then please,
        reincarnate me
retroactively.
I yearn
for the peace of prehistory,
the long slow swing
of years without name,
time marked only by
the occasional
    carefree
        shrug
of continents, or
the meticulous production of sand
    unrestrained
        by hourglass.
Let me join in Scotland’s ancient
centimetric journey from the South,
where tall pre-fossil trees,
serenely stone now in a Glasgow park,
bifurcated greenly
in the soup-like warmth.
That is the journey
I would choose –
    millenial,
        northwards,
where no wrong turning troubled
and no one tired of travel
and there was no one.
Rock me gently in the arms of such
    a respite
        from responsibility.
One more happy boulder
amongst so many
    surely
     could do no harm.

Spectrum magazine, 1994

 

Black Rhino Poem merge 8 x 11

Stephen Mead
collage
Black Rhino
poem published in 2007 on ListenandBeHeard.net

Ravaged by her treasure

Poems of the world and beyond, with Wordsworth’s sonnet to build round. Classical English Poetry has a drive from the sense of phrase that sometimes in contemporary work  gives way to the separate words. Language is a whole , as the world is a whole, and these poems both look at our busy world and look through it, just as Wordsworth wishes to be a quiet pagan again, or whatever it is he means: it’s up to us to interpret the poem.

Thanks to Tony Lewis-Jones, for his post-email connection of cities, and for reminding me to make a July KPA  post as I, too, floudered in my daily world — ravaged by treasure no doubt, as Gary Beck puts it in Bag Lady; and to Judith Taylor for her quirky start to a mundane working day and to Vivien Jones for a startlingly real haiku from Italy, and to Hongri and his translator for the longer poem about a world  behind ours. Dont forget to enjoy the  Chinese calligraphy below Manu’s  translation. The image with The City of Gold was supplied by the poet.

The idea now is that KPAI will continue to bring you a post every month, at any time of the month. It does depend on poets supplying their work and permission: any poems previously published (minimum three years ago) to which you hold the copyright.

email for poems, queries etc sally evans 35 at gmail dot com

montreal

 

Tony Lewis-Jones
Sun in Montreal, rain as usual in Bristol UK

Your loving email arrived today.
Love, you are a treasure
and your news is a delight
at any time. Your newest book
is out there in the World —
you fret like all authors over sales —
the margins beween success and failure
are as thin as ever.

There, the hobos hang out for a fix —
the Ghost of Slavery haunts our every action — 
and the gap between the rich and the poor
has become a chasm only a few can cross.
Soon maybe the city will burn again
with the feral anger of the streets —
but this being an English summer
currently, it just keeps raining.

first published on the Writers Cafe, USA 2012

worlsis too mch

William Wordsworth

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.—Great God! I’d rather be
A pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

from Poems in two volumes (1807).

woman tramp

Gary Beck
Bag Lady

No longer young,
but not much older than me,
I have seen her often
in subway visions,
ravaged by her treasure
simmering in shopping bags,
her eyes the hunger of zoo animals,
with a wrinkled, worried face
that will not allow tomorrows

from Days of Destruction, Slurve Press 2009

van

Judith Taylor
The Dog Warden’s apprentice

Work yawns to take you in again,
reliable as the automatic doors
that wheeze and open into your face.
And through you go, telling yourself you’ll last.
You always do. It’s a shame, though, you’re so early:
you echo, crossing the atrium
alone, like somebody truly doomed.
Fortify yourself. Remember heartening things
you’ve seen – in the street, at the bus-stop;
from the bus. Think of the Dog Warden’s apprentice:
he was young and dark and slim and laughing wickedly
in the passenger seat of the yellow van as it passed.

First published Koo Press,  Earthlight 2006

sparrow

Vivien Jones
Haiku after Florence

Thick dark chocolate,
roof-top of the Uffizi,
a sparrow underfoot

from About Time, Too, Indigo Dreams 2010

 

001XsPjjzy7bHBL3pwqb6&690

Yuan Hongri (China)
Translated by Manu Mangattu (India)

The City of Gold

Ah! Into a pleasant hallway of gold
Thou didst the crystal of the sky mould.
A shining City of Gold
Chanting unto me from far afield.

Into the golden gate I strode
A palace colossal to behold.
Without, a soaring Tower to dazzle
A towering wondrous Grand Castle.

It seemed to the past a billion years I travelled.
Perchance, a primal giant my eyes beheld;
In the breeze his sleeves fluttered.
A transparent golden Robe uncluttered;

The appearance was holy, hallowed.
With a sweet smile they bellowed
As tall as a mountain they loomed
But as light as birds they seemed.

Into a golden palace I sauntered
To regard the sacred giant
His body was like the Sun
Enveloped by a golden flame.

In the hall at the centre he sat
Where bloomed many a huge lotus
Some golden giants too were there
Sitting on the lotus flaunting a smile.

In that Grand Palace studded with gems
Hung an enormous mould of gold;
A mellifluous song lulled all along
Rumbling like thunder, causing concussion.

On the front wall I saw engraved
In a noble script, an impressive word;
Resplendent and magnificent, the whole palace
Was filled with fragrance – wonderful, intoxicating.

Clouds with golden wings
Were flying over: all a mirage
A blossoming thrice wonderful
Blooming in the garden outside the temple.

I saw a towering Castle
Like a mountain, upright in the sky
Brilliant design, gorgeous styling
As if God had built it Himself

Colourful gems shine like a mosaic,
A medley of all kinds of strange drawing;
A round gold tower
Like a forest stands in space.

A broad circular Gallery then I saw
Surrounded by the golden castle
Each column was as high as ten thousand meters
Carving out numerous exquisite images.

I walked into a great hall,
I saw some huge statues
Like a group of golden giants
Smiling unto me.

I crossed a huge arch
Into a golden hall
To see a huge picture
Hung on the hall wall.

Each portrait of a transparent flash
Could draw a Golden Paradise
As if a three-dimensional space
Magically unfolded before thine eyes

I heard a mysterious music
Which made my heart take wings
A huge picture of the holy girl
On a plucked instrument was manifest.

She sat in a huge palace
A giant circle around the ring seat
Every giant smiled and smiled
Curling around a golden flame

This girl’s elegant posture
Wearing a golden dress
Body shining like a huge halo
Resembling the head of a golden sun.

A huge palace like a fortress
Outside the temple was the endless Garden
Flying golden feather bird
The garden with its pavilions, terraces and open halls

A blossoming of the wondrous exotic
Giving out an intoxicating fragrance
Like a sweet girl
With her model of elegant charm

A sparkling waterfall
Circling along from the hill
As a crystal emerald
Haunting this amazing Garden.

A group of boys and girls:
Dressed in bright and colourful clothes
Some would sit and rest in the Pavilion
Some would walk in the flowers, in the game.

I saw a huge old man
Sitting in a red cloud.
Only a crane flew around
And there was a huge Phoenix.

Another city in the sky
Far from the golden light
At a grand chic
The sky stood in layers

I seemed to hear the call of the divine
The old man came leisurely.
He lifted a huge golden book
And a kind of novel language I heard spoken

I saw a great line of words
Like a row of golden giants
They turned into a ray of light, and,
Suddenly flew into my chest.

My body was sweet and happy
The moment turned momentous
The sacred old man stood beside me
His smile filled the air of the city.

I became a golden giant
Beckoned back to the golden castle
Then came a giant
Who smiled and called out my name

Our bodies were just as big
We were like twin brothers
And Lo! This huge golden castle
Seemed to belong to us.

All on a sudden I saw a vision
I too was a holy giant
In every palace in the city of gold
I too had left my glad imprints.

3.18 .1998

 

黄金城市

远红日

天空的水晶啊

你化成金色的长廊

一座黄金的城市

在远方向我歌唱

我跨进了那座黄金的城门

看到了一座座巨大的宫殿

一座座高耸天外的巨塔

一座座巍峨宏大的城堡

我仿佛来到了亿万年前

看到了一个个远古的巨人

他们的衣袖啊随风飘飘

仿佛是金色透明的袈裟

他们的容颜神圣庄严

又含着甜蜜动人的微笑

他们的身体高大如山岳

却像鸟儿一般轻巧

 

我走进一座黄金的宫殿

见到一位神圣的巨人

他的身体像一轮太阳

环绕一层层金色的火焰

 

他端坐在这座大殿的中央

周围盛开巨大的金莲

一些金光闪耀的巨人

微笑地坐在莲花之上

 

宏大的金殿嵌满宝石

悬挂一幅幅巨大的金像

一种甜蜜悦耳的歌声

像雷鸣一般轰轰震荡

 

我看到一行行巨大的词语

刻满了大殿正面的金壁

整座大殿宏伟辉煌

弥漫着奇妙醉人的芳香

 

一只只翅翼如云的金鸟

飞满了这座金殿的上空

一朵朵巨大绚丽的奇葩

盛开在这座殿外的花园

 

我看到一座巍峨的城堡

像一座山岳挺立云霄

绝妙的设计华丽的造型

仿佛是上帝亲手建成

 

五彩的宝石熠熠闪耀

镶嵌出种种奇异的画图

一座座圆形的黄金巨塔

像一座座森林矗立太空

 

一条宽广的圆形长廊

环抱着这座黄金城堡

每一根圆柱都高达万米

雕刻出无数精美的图像

 

我走进了一座圆形巨厅

看到一些巨大的雕像

仿佛一群黄金的巨人

正在向我迷人地微笑

 

我跨过一座巨大的拱门

走进一座金色的大厅

看到一幅幅巨大的画像

挂满了这座大厅的金壁

 

每一副画像透明闪光

画出一座座黄金乐园

仿佛一个个立体空间

神奇地展现在你的眼前

 

我听到一阵玄妙的音乐

令我的心儿怦然而动

一副巨画中的圣洁少女

正在弹拨着一种乐器

 

她坐在一座巨大的金殿

周围环座着一圈圈巨人

每一个巨人都欢喜微笑

周围缭绕着金色的火焰

 

这少女的身姿端庄优雅

穿着一件金色的裙裳

身体闪放巨大的光环

头顶一轮金色的太阳

 

巨大的金殿像一座皇宫

殿外是一望无际的花园

空中飞翔金羽毛的大鸟

园里是一座座楼阁亭台

 

一朵朵巨大闪光的奇葩

悠悠飘出醉人的芳香

仿佛一个个芬芳的少女

现出各种优雅的风姿

 

一条光芒闪闪的瀑布

从一座金山上飘然洒落

化成一条晶莹的玉带

萦绕着这座神奇的花园

 

一群群欢笑的少男少女

穿着绚丽多彩的衣裳

有的在亭台上静坐休憩

有的在花丛中漫步游戏

 

我看到一位巨大的老人

端坐在一朵红云之上

周围飞翔着一只只白鹤

还有一只只巨大的凤凰

 

天空闪耀另一座城市

远远发出金色的光芒

一座座宏大别致的金殿

层层叠叠矗立在天上

 

我仿佛听到神圣的召唤

悠然来到了老者的身边

他托起一部巨大的金书

念诵着一种新奇的语言

 

我看到一行行巨大的词语

仿佛一排排金色的巨人

他们化成一道道光芒

倏然飞入了我的胸膛

 

我的身体甜美欢喜

一瞬间变得异常巨大

我身边那位神圣的老人

微笑着飘入空中的城市

 

我变成了一个金色的巨人

回到了那座黄金的城堡

这时走过来一位巨人

微笑着呼喊我的名字

 

我们的身体同样巨大

仿佛是一对孪生兄弟

这座巨大的黄金城堡

仿佛本属于我们自己

 

我恍然看到了一幅幅画面

我原本是一位神圣的巨人

这黄金之城的每一座宫殿

都曾留下过我快乐的足迹

 1998.3.18 北京

 

 

Time slowing down, time racing by

April escaped Keep Poems Alive.  Poetry has its own time, like life.  Our time sometimes slowing down, sometimes racing by.  Here are five fine poems to make up for the hold-up. There’s really as much about darkness in them as about time, yet this is the time of year when light comes back, and light is the subject (or the object) of poems about darkness.

Many thanks  to the wonderful, faithful poets, Tony Lewis-Jones,  Judith Taylor, Mavis Gulliver, Rona Fitzgerald and Tuan Hongra

To send poems, email sallyevans35@gmail.com — poems should be previously published at least three years ago – as long ago as you like — to which you hold the copyright.

Keep trees

Tony Lewis-Jones
Out of the Dark
 

All Winter, she rested up – she could not face
The all-embracing darkness. Then, as the snow cleared,
And rivers were in flood, she ventured out
And back into the World again. But nothing
Was the same – maybe the cold had penetrated
Too far into her this time.
And the Light
She saw so clearly previously, was somewhere else –
Though every so often she could glimpse its power,
From a distance, thru trees, reflecting on water.

First published Writers Café USA 2013

Inchmaholme

Judith Taylor
The Bower

The story was, the Queen of Scotland
loved this boxwood bower on Inchmahome

– but how much love would you feel, really,
for a gaggle of shrubs on a cold, windswept island
where you were kept waiting
three weeks, at the age of six
to be taken somewhere better?

Somewhere better’s the thing, of course.
We’d like to believe a tenderness for Scotland
– or a portion of it –
hung about the heart of that young girl
at the glittering court of France.

We’d like that
in the face of all the evidence

that to her, Scotland was lumber, nothing more:
her oldest family heirloom,
awkward, dark, and crudely made.
That it wouldn’t have broken her heart
if she had lost it. That she wasn’t glad to find it

all she was left with
when the husband died, and the big prize
slid from her pale, finely-manicured hands.
But kings and queens
had always worked that way: the story was

they loved their people better than anyone else did.
And people who think they’re loved
will wait around through almost anything;
will allow themselves to be traded on,
traded away, like chips in a game.

At any rate, the bower you see
is Victorian, no earlier.

A few old trees could not sustain the onslaught
of Romanticism – all that love
that came on the boat
in the early nineteenth century, needing souvenirs.
Step in, then, to imitation shade,

you lonely visitor.
Rest on the park bench
so thoughtfully provided.
And consider how the love is divided out
between the one who leaves – at least
until there is nowhere better left to go –

and the one who stays, all that time believing
their cheek once felt a kiss.

from Gutter 5, 2011

keep shadow

Mavis Gulliver
Savant

His world is literal.
Metaphors a mystery
he cannot comprehend.
Facts flood
from his wrongly wired brain.
Ten thousand books,
each read in an hour,
imprinted on his memory
are placed upside down to show
he has no further need of them.
Zip codes, dates and places
fill his head.
He can tell you the route
to almost anywhere
but cannot go alone
to the end of the street.
He recalls every tune
he ever heard, can pick them out
on the piano with fingers limited
in their flexibility.

Simple tasks elude him.
His father cleans his teeth
buttons his shirt
links his arm as they walk,
everywhere
     together.

He does not know
that the fact he states
repeatedly
is pure poetry.

‘We share the same shadow.’

first published in Purple Patch, no. 119, 2008

Keep Dublin

Rona Fitzgerald
Dark Matter

Swaddled in obsidian layers, hunched, hidden,
wearing his world on his back. He never asks
for anything, searches the bins for waste.  

Sleeping in the air, under soft green bushes in summer
doorways in denuded winter, he spends the day walking
reciting Shakespeare, a fool or a king by turns.  

I once spoke to a woman who slept in the hallway
of the National Library in Dublin. She said the black
helped her to disappear, to care less, to be free.

First published in 2014 in ’Making Waves’ by New Voices Press

 

Keep flowers

Yuan Hongri
Translated by Yuanbing Zhang
Tomorrow In The City

Open your door
I will write the words of fire
On your snow-white wall
Draw a sun
In a forest of stone
Let blue rivers fly
My hands of the dream
Are a flame
Come from the hometown of the sun
I turned over many mountains of emeralds
On the forehead of time
Engraved my name
I’ll open the sun’s cage
Fly tomorrow’s pigeon
At the square of the sky
Let the colorized feathers
Bathe in the sweet sunshine

城市的明天

打开你的门扉
我写下这火的词语
在你雪白的墙上
画上一枚太阳
在一座石头的森林
让一条条蓝色的河流飞翔
我的梦之手
是一团火焰
来至太阳的故乡
我翻过了一座座绿宝石的高山
在时间的额头上
刻下了我的名字
我将打开太阳的笼子
放飞明天的鸽子
在天空的广场
让彩色的羽毛
沐浴甘美的阳光

Ghosts and fears, Giants and galaxies

The Bronte family grew up on the Yorkshire moors

Angela Readman
Brontephobia

My husband’s afraid of the Bronte sisters,
can’t sleep for picturing them, all of six inches tall,
icy hands tiny as snowflakes melting down his sock.

He knows they are biters, small things eat him up.
He can feel shiny nibs on his ankles, scratching
to write their names on his skin; his blood is ink.

Even if they’re not attacking, he hears them at night.
Here, wandering to his belly button to gather feathers
for their quilts, lifting a fallen eyelash to make a wish.

One day, he’s sure, I’ll place our underwear in a glass case,
take the excluder from the door and just let them in.
I’ll join them and he’ll have to look wherever he walks

because I’m so scary small. Just like that, a pen could
unpick his tendons like a stitch. Just like this, he may crush me,
see my bonnet, a bluebell leaving purple on his bare foot.

(published in The Scratching of Pens (ed: angela topping,
like this press 2014)

 

ioliphn001p1

Merryn Williams
Biographer

I sense her. She stands behind me but doesn’t know
how the book ends. Look round and she’ll disappear.
Reading over my shoulder, she seems puzzled;
1998? – that’s the wrong year.

Dead of night, and I’m in a room of the town house
she worked in. Her pens are dry, fireplace swept out.
A daddy-long-legs flops on the desk, attracted
by the steady glare of my anglepoise lamp.

And we’ve arrived at a hot Victorian summer,
1883 I think; magnolia shade
in the garden, hansom cabs, evil news from India,
and black-clothed strangers stopping at her gate.

I see you are reading my diaries, and letters
not addressed to you. The house-dog growled
faintly as I came upstairs, but it makes no difference,
locked doors and window-chains will not keep me out.

I too was a writer, and know the subject
is passive, unvarying, and can’t answer.
Whatever insult you throw, I can but take it;
all power is given to the biographer.

But why do you quote dates from the distant future?
And why may I not see the last chapter?

published in Psychopoetica, the poem is about Margaret Oliphant
KPA g alaxies


Hongri Yuan

The Huge Paradise
translations: Yuanbing zhang

The giants of soul flashing
have a pair of invisible wings
Can fly over the Milky Way in a dream
to those mysterious Kingdoms

Bring the words of the gods
Let the stonebe transparent and smile
Let heaven and earth revolve wonderfully
become a huge paradise

巨大的乐园      

那些灵魂闪光的巨人
有一双隐形的翅翼
在梦中可飞越银河
去往那些神秘的王国

带来诸神的词语
让石头透明微笑
让天地奇妙地旋转
成为巨大的乐园

The Giant’s Song

Give me a mirror of heaven
let me see my tomorrow
Give me a pair of eyes of the gods
let me see the prehistoric city of giants

Oh , the golden country of legend
The angel garden above the clouds
Your soul bird returns from the outer space
Has carried the giant’s song for you

巨人的歌曲      

给我一枚天堂的明镜
让我看到自己的明天
给我一双诸神的眼晴
让我看到史前的巨人之城

哦  那传说的黄金之国
那云朵之上的天使花园
你的灵魂之鸟天外归来
为你衔来了巨人的歌曲

KPA fearful 


Gary Beck

Bipolar

Fearful whispers of imagining
follow us down collusive streets
where people strike us
like stilettos,
eager to collect flesh.
Trophies are dear
to blind wanderers
blown through a hurricane world,
who slink in populated corners,
furred against northern nights,
thonged against southern days
and never cry beware
of fearful imaginings.

from the collection Civilised Ways

We Survive amid Chaos

Friends are finding this a tough time of year. Winter stretches on, spring beckons slowly. Illnesses major and minor and political troubles aside, it is slow going for many of us. We all know about fear and  not wanting to face up to what happens next, or of struggling to keep up a situation that by its nature has no permanence.

Gary Beck sets the mood of an ordinary day, actually quite cheery that builds up to a sense of pointlessness or disaster to come. In similar light is our awareness of ageing, as shown with some reality and humour in Merryn Williams’ poem.

Ian Blake gives us a more peaceful older figure in the retired professor, who has protected himself from chaos with his bookish routine appearances at the library.

We can be confused and filled with doubt in midstream, as when Vivien Jones asks What Time is it?   Somewhere, perhaps, there’s a philosophical answer to these unsettling questions of chaos, change and time.

Or sometimes the answer lies in stories, accounts of what has to be or has had to be, and how we overcome these situations. We finish with Sandie Craigie’s story-poem, To Make Ends Meet.

Because surviving is not very comfortable. Somehow we have to win.

cl-sand

Gary Beck

At the Shore

The sky is darkening,
faces in the sunset light
glow red.
The beach is quieting…
A lone kite soars higher than a gull.
Mother and daughter
dig the last sand castle.
A small boat races home,
urgent to beat the menacing dark.
The glowering pink sky
growls with the weight
of old sol going west.
A cool breeze
blows across the boardwalk,
WPA built in 1937.
Joggers and runners
pound the boards,
startling old ladies
with pink hair
and faded lace shawls.
Then evening slides in.
The sky succumbs to sullen red.
Another casual day ebbs away.
Darkness claims the promenade,
and thoughts of drink, dance and growing lust
propel the tourists to smoke-filled bars,
as the night cycle goes on
to some formless destination,
preparing adornments
before the final funeral.

from Civilised Ways

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Merryn Williams
Getting Smaller

Light is drawing back from the corners of your room,
revealing less and less, and you hate glasses.
You carry the printed sheet to the window,
hold it at a distance.

You are my contemporary, or nearly,
yet you fumble, while I see clearly.
More than the odd line, or bag under the eye,
these are the signs by which I mark your ageing.

The little sisters who were to have been your bridesmaids,
grown up and with their own husbands.
Our jokes about our old headmistress
(how old now?), the receding line of birthdays.

That much time couldn’t have passed? But it has. I remember
lamps in my grandmother’s house, before our own age reached her.
We grew accustomed to them in the end, avoided
the glare of electricity.

Small, lightless rooms they had in another century;
low, sloping ceilings; tiny windows; daylight
filtered through diamond panes – how many
ruined their sight, reading or sewing by lamplight?

It goes and does not return.
Gradually, sky and sea are drained of colour;
the lumps of amethyst fade, the light
ebbs back. Your room is getting smaller.

Helicon Competition winner

clphone-1052023_960_720

Ian Blake
Emeritus

Twenty years have passsed since he was last
lecturing students. Twenty years retired.
Reverend Professor Emeritus still comes,
though, sadly, now no longer every day,
to push apart the gently creaking doors,
greet the librarian, hang up his shabby coat,
snick latches on his tired attache case
(leather-strapped, initials flaked and worn)
lift out ruled pad, black-ink-filled fountain pen,
remove the yellowing card reserving him
this desk, this book-rest and this shiny chair
which he’s inhabited for fifty years –
illuminate in immaculate miniscule hand
some lost dark corner of his scholarly land.

from Remembering Falstaff and others, diehard 2011

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Viven Jones
What time is it?

I’m cooking scones,
twelve minutes in a hot oven,
time enough to hang out the washing,
or wash the dishes, or feed the cat,
or phone my son to say hello.

Seven hundred and  twenty seconds
in twelve minutes,
two thousand million, and counting, in my life,
the scones will change from raw dough
to lightweight delight  – and me?

The seconds have flown over me,
there must have been special ones
when I first heard Beethoven, fell in love,
my two moments of conception.
There should have been a bell.

There is a buzzer.
Hot, sweet smelling air announces
the scones are complete.
Out there in the cosmos,
does it matter that I am not?

from Short of Breath, Cultured Llama 2014

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Sandie Craigie
To Make Ends Meet

You sit, demanding
the scullery table
its beer-stained
tear stained
scrubbed clean gleam
Images of a lifetime
reflect its waxed finish
every capsized cigarette
burns deep, the scars of toil
now strewn with paper which
mimics your crumpled brow
Yes….I see you now

A rounded back shows
shoemaker years
slender fingers grip tight
an indecisive biro
just for a minute
parting with pen you
twist nervously at
caustic soda fingers

To me, at this time
you appear older
the mocking sun enhancing
the colour of your hair
Perfect white….blemished
by a yellow streak which
follows the path of  a
nicotine-stained hand
and mapping your face

are many lines, I wonder
how many

I look to your eyes
those eyes that can
belie all, and
twinkle shades of
blue when you tease,
now shine in watercolours
and I want so much
to go to you, but
bite my lip, hold
back the tears,  sensing
time with logic older
than my years
This is your time

So I ‘Hud ma wheesht’
and leave…
try to let you tie these ends
ends that never meet

And even now
on looking back
I wish we hadn’t felt
the need to weep
in separate rooms

from Coogit Bairns (Red Squirrel)

We Stay International

Regardless of attempts to wall us apart, it remains one world for us poets, and here is a poem  from China translated into English in India. Hongri Yuan writes about celestial cities and ideas of creation, somewhere beyond our political worries. Back in medieval Europe, Copernicus battles with, could we call it pre-truth, as Vivien Jones dines with him in Ferrara. Morelle Smith’s Destination Uncertain is about how we hold on, through a night in an unknown airport that may or may not be metaphorical.

If we really can’t get out of the country, or even dont want to right now, then we still have the option of going to Wharfedale, via our poem by Lesley Quayle. Climbing: isn’t that another way of finding freedom, escape and hope?

The next Keep Poems Alive will appear towards the end of February. With the co-operation of poet readers, we are aiming realistically for two posts per month. To Keep your Poems Alive, please email previously published poems to sally evans 35 at  gmal dot com. They should be published at least three years ago, and you must own the copyright. Please state where the poem was previously published.

Sci-fi.jpg

Hongri Yuan
Translated by Yuanbing zhang

The Giant’s Song

Give me a mirror of heaven
let me see my tomorrow
Give me a pair of eyes of the gods
let me see the prehistoric city of giants

Oh , the golden country of legend
The angel garden above the clouds
Your soul bird returns from the outer space
Has carried the giant’s song for you

 

巨人的歌曲      

给我一枚天堂的明镜

让我看到自己的明天

给我一双诸神的眼晴

让我看到史前的巨人之城

 

哦  那传说的黄金之国

那云朵之上的天使花园

你的灵魂之鸟天外归来

为你衔来了巨人的歌曲

 

Al Brindisi.jpg

Vivien Jones
Dining with Copernicus
‘Al Brindisi’, Ferrara

Piercing the shadows of narrow alleys,
the dusk sun sneaks a low beam
onto a signboard – Al Brindisi AD 1345 –
yet another ‘oldest tavern in Europe.’

Banquettes, dark wine bottles
behind chicken-wire frames,
a wooden board with cheese
spiralled from mild to ferocious,
the waiters whisper and offer
only expensive wine.

My place mat, made of brown paper,
says that Tasso and Cellini ate here,
so did the student Copernicus,
who, seeing this same sky,
thought up earth-moving heresies.

So do I, walking slowly back,
seeing the full moon through
the open oval above a courtyard,
thinking of the curious Copernicus,
a moment’s dizziness may just
have been the angle of my gaze,
but it felt like the moon sucking.

appeared in About Time Too, Indigo Dreams 2010

airport.jpg

Morelle Smith
Destination Uncertain

Destination uncertain,
so your story goes,
like an overnight traveller
in some foreign airport,
both weary and restless,
relaying desperate messages
of hopeful arrival and hopesless delays –
secure in your passage,
unsure, as a stranger.
you test the ground of your feeling
in case it turns to water,
and you wear it around you
to disguise or protect you
to keep out the cold
in this overnight stay
with the loudspeaker messages
of arrival/departure
and a sense of the movement,
the travelling, the journey,
and an eye on the clock
and an eye on the heart
the ticking and beating
the movement, the rhythm –
the blend of eternity
with the shuffling of minutes
like the card-deck you use –
and your sorcerer’s skill is the art
of the will –
and the ace in the heart.

from Deepwater Terminal, diehard, 1998

wharfedale.jpg

Lesley Quayle
Climb.
Starbotton, Yorkshire Dales

Tonight the endless, neon strikes
of bar lights, the heat and pulse of crowds,
drive me from the city to still, poised silence
of fells. Here is blackness, impenetrable,
unfragmented, till the sky gapes, bears down,
delivers a pale and bloodless moon.

A shining rib of limestone creeps upwards
to the lead mines.  I climb halfway,
legs aching, gathered about by cold.
Far below, a long, grey quill of road
stripes the village, cottages hunker down,
withdraw beneath the  wings of hill.
No sounds.

A breeze exhales the fragrance of damp soil,
lets it drift like a rumour, then carries it away.
In the black grass a rabbit’s scoured out skull,
bleached by wind, glows like a small planet,
as if the world had rolled over, juxtaposing
earth and sky.

(First published Pennine Platform, also in Sessions (Indigo Dreams)

Dealing with Winter

Hello poets and poetry folk. Happy New Year (we say this till Burns Night in Scotland and today is the very date). Happy to announce Keep Poems Alive will continue this year but there will only be one or two issues a month unless submissions come quickly and often. I can do the postings weekly, as I did them for a year through August 2015 – 16, but I cannot also spend time soliciting your poems.

If you like Keep Poems Alive, and I know that some of you do, please help by sending, and also informing your poetry friends. You can submit several poems at once which will be spread out over various issues. You can even send me a book published over 3 years ago with the option to reprint from it. Anything, in fact, to keep this feasible. I will post near the beginning of each month and hopefully near the end of each month too. You can email me at sally evans 35 at gmail dot com. Postal address available via email.

Let us ease ourselves back. The Leaping Hare by Neil Leadbeater brings us into the year. Maureen Weldon’s poem is zany, but very sad, so we must face up to the sadness. Then Mavis Gulliver’s poem, set in winter, brings unexpected colours into a seashore sunrise. And – it is way out of copyright so why don’t we finish with a poem by our own Robert Burns.  Let us be brave and have the Address to the Deil.

leaping hare.jpg

Neil Leadbeater
The Leaping Hare

In open country
chances are he’ll be running.
Knowing the sound of every wind-shift
he’ll cradle his life in the rock-a- bye corn sticks
hind legs bunched for the big bolt forward
to spring over runaway ground.
Today, in the photograph
which I have called “Hare Leaping”,
he will take forever to complete one bound.

“The Leaping Hare” was first published in Red Herring (2001) – a magazine that was produced in Northumberland but has long since ceased publication.

funeral-horses.jpg

Maureen Weldon
Mabel the Chewing Gum Girl

Born 1866, died 1870. Buried, Overleigh Cemetery, Chester.

In a place among the yew trees,
she lies,
always in her ruffle-neck nightie,
always on her head-ducked- dinting pillow.
I was a naughty girl
when I was four;
caught chewing, chewing gum;
ran to my nanny
who chased me round the rocking horse.
Until
I, swallowed it.

Grief. Horror.
She did not remember
their tears.
Nor the four black horses
and top hatted men.
Nor the church bell tolling,
and all saying,
Sad, so sad.
And, What a shame.

Now far, far away
she dances with moonbeams,
and in the dawn,
laughs with the birds.

Published 2001 by ‘Never Bury Poetry’ Magazine. UK
Included in her Pamphlet ‘Earth Tides’, 2002. Published by Poetry
Monthly Press.

sunrise.jpg

Mavis Gulliver

Winter sunrise

The sun, before it rises,
lights the sky.
A watercolour wash
of vibrant shades
suffuses clouds with red
and orange –
dyes the sea
to match.
Bound by the spell
but blinded
by increasing brightness
I turn to the west
where grass and trees
are blushing
and across the surprised sky
pink gulls

are flying.

 

In Earthlove 2008

 

devil.png
Robert Burns
Address to the Deil
 
O thou! whatever title suit thee,—
Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie!
Wha in yon cavern, grim an’ sootie,
       Clos’d under hatches,
Spairges about the brunstane cootie

       To scaud poor wretches!

Hear me, Auld Hangie, for a wee,
An’ let poor damned bodies be;
I’m sure sma’ pleasure it can gie,
       E’en to a deil,
To skelp an’ scaud poor dogs like me,

       An’ hear us squeel!

Great is thy pow’r, an’ great thy fame;
Far ken’d an’ noted is thy name;
An’ tho’ yon lowin heugh’s thy hame,
       Thou travels far;
An’ faith! thou’s neither lag nor lame,
       Nor blate nor scaur.

Whyles, ranging like a roarin lion,
For prey a’ holes an’ corners tryin;
Whyles, on the strong-wing’d tempest flyin,
       Tirlin’ the kirks;
Whyles, in the human bosom pryin,

       Unseen thou lurks.

I’ve heard my rev’rend graunie say,
In lanely glens ye like to stray;
Or whare auld ruin’d castles gray
       Nod to the moon,
Ye fright the nightly wand’rer’s way

       Wi’ eldritch croon.

When twilight did my graunie summon
To say her pray’rs, douce honest woman!
Aft yont the dike she’s heard you bummin,
       Wi’ eerie drone;
Or, rustlin thro’ the boortrees comin,

       Wi’ heavy groan.

Ae dreary, windy, winter night,
The stars shot down wi’ sklentin light,
Wi’ you mysel I gat a fright,
       Ayont the lough;
Ye like a rash-buss stood in sight,

       Wi’ waving sough.

The cudgel in my nieve did shake,
Each bristl’d hair stood like a stake,
When wi’ an eldritch, stoor “Quaick, quaick,”
       Amang the springs,
Awa ye squatter’d like a drake,

       On whistling wings.

Let warlocks grim an’ wither’d hags
Tell how wi’ you on ragweed nags
They skim the muirs an’ dizzy crags
       Wi’ wicked speed;
And in kirk-yards renew their leagues,

       Owre howket dead.

Thence, countra wives wi’ toil an’ pain
May plunge an’ plunge the kirn in vain;
For oh! the yellow treasure’s taen
       By witchin skill;
An’ dawtet, twal-pint hawkie’s gaen

       As yell’s the bill.

Thence, mystic knots mak great abuse,
On young guidmen, fond, keen, an’ croose;
When the best wark-lume i’ the house,
       By cantraip wit,
Is instant made no worth a louse,

       Just at the bit.

When thowes dissolve the snawy hoord,
An’ float the jinglin icy-boord,
Then water-kelpies haunt the foord
       By your direction,
An’ nighted trav’lers are allur’d

       To their destruction.

And aft your moss-traversing spunkies
Decoy the wight that late an drunk is:
The bleezin, curst, mischievous monkeys
       Delude his eyes,
Till in some miry slough he sunk is,

       Ne’er mair to rise.

When Masons’ mystic word an grip
In storms an’ tempests raise you up,
Some cock or cat your rage maun stop,
       Or, strange to tell!
The youngest brither ye wad whip

       Aff straught to hell!

Lang syne, in Eden’d bonie yard,
When youthfu’ lovers first were pair’d,
An all the soul of love they shar’d,
       The raptur’d hour,
Sweet on the fragrant flow’ry swaird,

       In shady bow’r;

Then you, ye auld snick-drawin dog!
Ye cam to Paradise incog,
And play’d on man a cursed brogue,
       (Black be your fa’!)
An gied the infant warld a shog,

       Maist ruin’d a’.

D’ye mind that day, when in a bizz,
Wi’ reeket duds an reestet gizz,
Ye did present your smoutie phiz
       Mang better folk,
An’ sklented on the man of Uz

       Your spitefu’ joke?

An’ how ye gat him i’ your thrall,
An’ brak him out o’ house and hal’,
While scabs and blotches did him gall,
       Wi’ bitter claw,
An’ lows’d his ill-tongued, wicked scaul,

       Was warst ava?

But a’ your doings to rehearse,
Your wily snares an’ fechtin fierce,
Sin’ that day Michael did you pierce,
       Down to this time,
Wad ding a Lallan tongue, or Erse,

       In prose or rhyme.

An’ now, Auld Cloots, I ken ye’re thinkin,
A certain Bardie’s rantin, drinkin,
Some luckless hour will send him linkin,
       To your black pit;
But faith! he’ll turn a corner jinkin,

       An’ cheat you yet.

But fare you weel, Auld Nickie-ben!
O wad ye tak a thought an’ men’!
Ye aiblins might—I dinna ken—
       Still hae a stake:
I’m wae to think upo’ yon den,

       Ev’n for your sake!

1784 I think

From a Distant Heaven above China

An intermediate posting before KPAI resumes properly in January.

These poems by Yuan Hongri are translated by Manu Mangattu, at the department of English, Aruvithura, India. We welcome these poems from two parts of the world not directly involved in our recent political upheavals in the West.

robert-tannahill

A reminder of our ongoing Robert Tannahill Poetry Competition, for poems in the English language and in Scots — the two languages in which Tannahill wrote. Your entries are invited. The competition is currently open, it can be entered internationally by internet and the closing date is 7 January. http://readrawltd.co.uk/tannahillpp.html

andersonskindle

Here’s something else we’re promoting at the moment: A poem by the judge of the Tannahill Poetry Prize, Sally Evans, Anderson’s Piano has been lucky to stay in the kindle bestseller lists since the start of this month, so the least we can do for the publisher is remind you of it: http://amzn.to/2g6bAHD

 

yuan-hongri-2

Three Poems by Yuan Hongri
translations by  Manu Mangattu

Outside the Universe of Sapphire

Don’t you think the key is sweet
If it condenses into a diamond in solitude
And its song unlocks the portals to unseen gold?
You have discovered a new paradise!
Have the eyes of the juvenile once again
You have boarded the platinum ship
And the giants welcome you.
Set off! Outside the universe of sapphire
Explore the Kingdom of the Souls!!

2016.2.15

在蓝宝石的宇宙之外

 难道钥匙不是甜美的吗

当你的清静寂寞凝结成一枚钻石

而它的歌声打开了隐形的黄金之门

你发现了一个新的天堂

让你重新拥有了少年的眼睛

你登上白金的巨轮

巨人们把你欢迎

出发吧  在蓝宝石的宇宙之外

还有多少灵魂的王国

 2016.2.15

Sweet Interstellar Above

The Time has come to blossom and flourish
In my garden the stars will gather
Each star is a singer
From a mysterious country.

The giant from the City of Platinum
Shall bring a bunch of stone-necklace
This then is a song of the soul
On the stylish sweet interstellar above.

 2016.4.7

 

甜蜜的星际之上

 

时间开花的时候

星星将聚集我的花园

每一颗星是一个歌手 

来自一个神秘的国度

 

 那来自白金之城的巨人

 将带来一串宝石的项练

 那是一曲灵魂的歌谣

 流行于甜蜜的星际之上

  2016.4.7

 

Distant Heaven

Often I have a foretaste of the future city of the giant.
The young giants in platinum Villa
The young giants in and out of the great mansion in platinu
And I’m one of them
In the body the sacred flame burns
On the head flickers the signs of zodiac
And the Diamond eyes glimpse the distant kingdom of heaven!

 2015.12.28

 

遥远的天国

 

我常常看见那未来的巨人之城

那年轻的巨人们 进出于白金巨厦

而我是他们其中的一位

身体里燃烧神圣的火焰

头颅里闪烁巨多的星座

钻石般的目光仿佛看见遥远的天国

  2015.12.28

 

The Minstrel Part Two

We are still on sabbatical here, but to include a post for October I am continuing to Part Two  of James Beattie’s The Minstrel– see post in September for the first part. And  I start with the latter end of the poem, this most unusual ending of a long poem, an elegy. The rest of the section will be added later, to provide a copiable internet copy of Part Two, which I have not been able to find.

KPAI will resume in January and poems may now be sent to  this email, titling your emails KPAI or Keep Poems Alive. It is not too early to start sending. sally evans 35 at gmail dot com.

Do not forget to enter our Robert Tannahill Poetry Prize competition, which is the reason we held over Keep Poems Alive, to give time for reading the entries without confusing them with KPA submissions. This is an international competition that can be entered from anywhere via the internet — substantial prizes for poems in the English or Scots languages, the languages Tannahill used.  Robert Tannahill Poetry Prize

James Beattie The Minstel Part Two

james-beattie

(59)
Of late, with cumbersome though pompous show,
Edwin would oft his flowery rhyme deface,
Through ardour to adorn, but nature now
To his experienced eye a modest grace
Present, where Ornament the second place
Holds, to intrinsic worth and just design
Subservient still. Simplicity apace
Tempers his rage: he owns her charm divine,
And clears th’ambigous phrase, and lops th’unwieldy line.

(60)
Fain would Ising (much yet unsung remains)
What sweet delirium oer his bosom stole,
When the great shepherd of the Mantuan plains
Fain would I sing, what transport stormed his soul,
How the red current throbbed his veins along
When like Pelides, bold beyond control,
Without art graceful, without effort strong,
Homer r aised high to heaven the loud, th’impetuous song.

(61)
Adieu, ye lays, that fancy’s flowers adorn,
The soft amusement of the vacant mind!
He sleeps in dust, and all the Muses mourn,
He, whom each virtue fired, each grace refined,
Friend, teacher, pattern, darlingof Mankind!*
Her sleeps indust. Ah, how shall I pursue
My theme! To heart-consuming grief resigned,
Here on his recent grave I fix my view,
And po ur my butter tears. Ye flowery lays, adieu.

(62)
And thou my Gregory, forever fled!
And I am left to unavailing woe!
When fortune’s storms assail this weary head,
Where cares long since have shed untimely snow,
Ah, now for comfort whither shall I go?
No more thy soothing voice my anguish cheers:
Thy placid eyes with smiles no longer glow,
My hopes to cherish and allay my fears.
Tis meet that I should mourn: flow forth afresh my tears.

The Minstrel – To last you a while

Keep Poems Alive is taking a holiday. This will be its last update until January 2017. I will leave you with a longish poem by James Beattie, a Scots writer 1735-1803 (so a rough contemporary of the Paisley poets featured here a few weeks back).  He is not very well known, especially outside Scotland. Like his contemporary William Drummond he was writing in the classical or Latinate English manner often called ‘flowery’, whereas politically the need was for writing in Scots. That is the reason for his obscurity. None the less he was a fine poet and this longer poem ending in an elegy is one of his finest pieces. Another substantial poem by him has recently been discovered in Sir Walter Scott’s library at Abbotsford House but it has not yet been published.

One reason for my taking a break is that I will be judging the Robert Tannahill Poetry Prize from now until January and I need to give myself time for this. Indeed you may add to my pleasant labours by sending in poems in English or Scots — it can be done by email from all round the  world — see the links — or by post (UK).
http://readrawltd.co.uk/tannahillpp.html
and
http://readrawltd.co.uk/poetrycompetition.html
and send them to the competition address on its own email. The poems are sent on to me without the names of the authors. The closing date is 7 January.

During the rest of this year, too, you may email me poems for Keep Poems Alive, poems previously published at least three years ago and to which you hold the copyright,  along with your own images if you wish. Send to sallyevans 35 at gmail dot com. It will be useful to have a back list of poems I can use when I start again in January. Indeed if there is no interest there will be no restart. But it is a nice thing to see your poems up on an internet site being read again, and perhaps  for the first time internationally. Any enquiries to me at the same email address. Au revoir !

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James Beattie
The Minstrel

I.
Ah! who can tell how hard it is to climb
The steep where Fame’s proud temple shines afar!
Ah! who can tell how many a soul sublime
Hath felt the influence of malignant star,
And wag’d with Fortune an eternal war!
Check’d by the scoff of Pride, by Envy’s frown,
And Poverty’s unconquerable bar,
In life’s low vale remote hath pin’d alone
Then dropt into the grave, unpitied and unknown!

II.
And yet, the languor of inglorious days
Not equally oppressive is to all.
Him, who ne’er listen’d to the voice of praise,
The silence of neglect can ne’er appal.
There are, who, deaf to mad Ambition’s call,
Would shrink to hear th’ obstreperous trump of Fame;
Supremely blest, if to their portion fall
Health, competence, and peace. Nor higher aim
Had he, whose simple tale these artless lines proclaim.

III.
This sapient age disclaims all classic lore;
Else I should here in cunning phrase display,
How forth The Minstrel far’d in days of yore,
Right glad of heart, though homely in array;
His waving locks and beard all hoary grey:
And, from his bending shoulder, decent hung
His harp, the sole companion of his way,
Which to the whistling wind responsive rung:
And ever as he went some merry lay he sung.

IV.
Fret not yourselves, ye silken sons of pride,
That a poor Wanderer should inspire my strain.
The Muses Fortune’s fickle smile deride,
Nor ever bow the knee in Mammon’s fane;
For their delights are with the village-train,
Whom Nature’s laws engage, and Nature’s charms:
They hate the sensual, and scorn the vain;
The parasite their influence never warms,
Nor him whose sordid soul the love of wealth alarms.

V.
Though richest hues the peacock’s plumes adorn,
Yet horror screams from his discordant throat.
Rise, sons of harmony, and hail the morn,
While warbling larks on russet pinions float;
Or seek at noon the woodland scene remote,
Where the grey linnets carol from the hill.
O let them ne’er with artificial note,
To please a tyrant, strain the little bill,
But sing what Heaven inspires, and wander where they will.

VI.
Liberal, not lavish, is kind Nature’s hand;
Nor was perfection made for man below.
Yet all her schemes with nicest art are plann’d,
Good counteracting ill, and gladness woe.
With gold and gems if Chilian mountains glow,
If bleak and barren Scotia’s hills arise;
There plague and poison, lust and rapine grow;
Here peaceful are the vales, and pure the skies,
And freedom fires the soul, and sparkles in the eyes.

VII.
Then grieve not, thou to whom th’ indulgent Muse
Vouchsafes a portion of celestial fire;
Nor blame the partial Fates, if they refuse
Th’ imperial banquet, and the rich attire.
Know thine own worth, and reverence the lyre.
Wilt thou debase the heart which God refin’d?
No; let thy heaven-taught soul to heaven aspire,
To fancy, freedom, harmony, resign’d;
Ambition’s groveling crew for ever left behind.

VIII.
Canst thou forego the pure ethereal soul,
In each fine sense so exquisitely keen,
On the dull couch of Luxury to loll,
Stung with disease and stupified with spleen;
Fain to implore the aid of Flattery’s screen,
Even from thyself thy loathsome heart to hide
(The mansion then no more of joys serene)
Where fear, distrust, malevolence, abide,
And impotent desire, and disappointed pride?

IX.
O how canst thou renounce the boundless store
Of charms which Nature to her votary yields!
The warbling woodland, the resounding shore,
The pomp of groves, and garniture of fields;
All that the genial ray of morning gilds,
And all that echoes to the song of even,
All that the mountain’s sheltering bosom shields,
And all that dread magnificence of heaven,
O how canst thou renounce, and hope to be forgiven!

X.
These charms shall work thy soul’s eternal health,
And love, and gentleness, and joy, impart.
But these thou must renounce, if lust or wealth
E’er win its way to thy corrupted heart;
For, ah! it poisons like a scorpion’s dart,
Prompting th’ ungenerous wish, the selfish scheme,
The stern resolve, unmoved by pity a smart,
The troublous day, and long distressful dream –
Return my roving Muse, resume thy purposed theme.

XI.
There lived in Gothic days, as legends tell,
A shepherd-swain, a man of low degree;
Whose sires, perchance, in Fairyland might dwell,
Sicilian groves, or vales of Arcady;
But he, I ween, was of the north country:
A nation famed for song, and beauty’s charms;
Zealous, yet modest; innocent, though free;
Patient of toil; serene amidst alarms;
Inflexible in faith; invincible in arms.

XII.
The shepherd-swain of whom I mention made,
On Scotia’s mountains fed his little flock;
The sickle, sithe, or plough, he never sway’d:
An honest heart was almost all his stock;
His drink the living water from the rock:
The milky dams supplied his board, and lent
Their kindly fleece to baffle winter’s shock:
And he, though oft with dust and sweat besprent,
Did guide and guard their wanderings, wheresoe’er they went.

XIII.
From labour health, from health contentment springs,
Contentment opes the source of every joy.
He envied not, he never thought of kings;
Nor form those appetites sustain’d annoy,
That chance may frustrate, or indulgence cloy:
Nor fate his calm and humble hopes beguiled;
He morn’d no recreant friend, nor mistress coy,
For on his vows the blameless Phoebe smiled,
And her alone he loved, and loved her from a child.

XIV.
No jealousy their dawn of love o’ercast,
Nor blasted were their wedded days with strife;
Each season look’d delightful, as it pass’d,
To the fond husband, and the faithful wife.
Beyond the lowly vale of shepherd life
They never roam’d; secure beneath the storm
Which in ambition’s lofty land is rife,
Where peace and love are canker’d by the worm
Of pride, each bud of joy industrious to deform.

XV.
The wight, whose tales these artless lines unfold,
Was all the offspring of this humble pair.
His birth no oracle or seer foretold:
No prodigy appear’d in death or air,
Nor aught that might a strange event declare.
You guess each circumstance of Edwin’s birth;
The parent’s transport, and the parent’s care;
The gossip’s prayer for wealth, and wit, and worth:
And one long summer-day of indolence and mirth.

XVI.
And yet poor Edwin was no vulgar boy;
Deep thought oft seem’d to fix his infant eye.
Dainties he heeded not, nor gaude, nor toy,
Save one short pipe of rudest minstrelsy.
Silent when glad; affectionate, though shy;
And now his look was most demurely sad,
And now he laugh’d aloud, yet none knew why.
The neighbours stared and sigh’d, yet bless’d the lad;
Some deem’d him wonderous wise, and some believed him mad.

XVII.
But why should I his childish feats display?
Concourse, and noise, and toil, he ever fled;
Nor cared to mingle in the clamorous fray
Of squabbling imps, but to the forest sped,
Or roam’d at large the lonely mountain’s head;
Or, where the maze of some bewilder’d stream
To deep untrodden groves his footsteps led,
There would he wander wild, ’till Phoebus’ beam,
Shot from the western cliff, released the weary team.

XVIII.
Th’ exploit of strength, dexterity, or speed,
To him nor vanity nor joy could bring.
His heart, from cruel sport estranged, would bleed
To work the wo of any living thing,
By trap, or net; by arrow, or by sling;
These he detested, those he scorn’d to wield:
He wish’d to be the guardian, not the king.
Tyrant far less, or traitor of the field.
And sure the sylvan reign unbloody joy might yield.

XIX.
Lo! where the stripling, wrapp’d in wonder, roves
Beneath the precipice o’er hung with pine;
And sees, on high, amidst th’ encircling groves,
From cliff to cliff the foaming torrents shine:
While waters, woods, and winds, in concert join,
And Echo swells the chorus to the skies.
Would Edwin this majestic scene resign
For aught the huntsman’s puny craft supplies?
Ah! no: he better knows great Nature’s charms to prize.

XX.
And oft he traced the uplands, to survey,
When o’er the sky advanced the kindling dawn,
The crimson cloud, blue main, and mountain gray,
And lake, dim gleaming on the smoky lawn;
Far to the west the long, long vale withdrawn,
Where twilight loves to linger for a while;
And now he faintly kens the bounding fawn,
And villager abroad at early toil. –
But, lo! the sun appears! and heaven, earth, ocean, smile.

XXI.
And oft the craggy cliff he loved to climb,
When all in mist the world below was lost.
What dreadful pleasure! there to stand sublime,
Like shipwreck’d mariners on desert coast,
And view th’ enormous waste of vapour, toss’d
In billows, lengthening to th’ horizon round
Now scoop’d in gulphs, with mountains now emboss’d!
And hear the voice of mirth and song rebound,
Flocks, herds, and waterfalls, along the hoar profound.

XXII.
In truth he was a strange and wayward wight,
Fond of each gentle, and each dreadful scene.
In darkness, and in storm, he found delight:
Nor less, than when on ocean wave serene
The southern sun diffused his dazzling sheen.
Even sad vicissitude amused his soul:
And if a sigh would sometimes intervene,
And down his cheek a tear of pity roll,
A sigh, a tear, so sweet, he wish’d not to control.

XXIII.
‘O ye wild groves, O where is now your bloom!’
(The Muse interprets thus his tender thought).
‘Your flowers, your verdure, and your balmy gloom,
Of late so grateful in the hour of drought!
Why do the birds, that song and rapture brought
To all your bowers, their mansions now forsake?
Ah! why has fickle chance this ruin wrought?
For now the storm howls mournful thro’ the brake,
And the dead foliage flies in many a shapeless flake.

XXIV.
‘Where now the rill, melodious, pure, and cool,
And meads, with Life, and mirth, and beauty crown’d!
Ah! see, th’ unsightly slime, and sluggish pool,
Have all the solitary vale imbrown’d;
Fled each fair form, and mute each melting sound,
The raven croaks forlorn on naked spray:
And, hark! the river, bursting every mound,
Down the vale thunders; and, with wasteful sway,
Uproots the grove, and rolls the shatter’d rocks away.

XXV.
‘Yet such the destiny of all on earth;
So flourishes and fades majestic man.
Fair is the bud his vernal morn brings forth,
And fostering gales a while the nursling fan.
O smile, ye heavens, serene; ye mildews wan,
Ye blighting whirlwinds, spare his balmy prime,
Nor lessen of his life the little span.
Borne on the swift, though silent, wings of Time,
Old age comes on apace to ravage all the clime.

XXVI.
‘And be it so. Let those deplore their doom,
Whose hope still grovels in the dark sojourn.
But lofty souls, who look beyond the tomb,
Can smile at Fate, and wonder how they mourn.
Shall spring to these sad scenes no more return?
Is yonder wave the sun’s eternal bed? –
Soon shall the orient with new lustre burn,
And spring shall soon her vital influence shed,
Again attune the grove, again adorn the mead.

XXVII.
‘Shall I be left abandon’d in the dust,
When Fate, relenting, let’s the flower revive?
Shall Nature’s voice, to man alone unjust,
Bid him, though doom’d to perish, hope to live?
Is it for this fair virtue oft must strive
With disappointment, penury, and pain?
No: Heaven’s immortal spring shall yet arrive;
And man’s majestic beauty bloom again,
Bright through th’ eternal year of Love’s triumphant reign.’

XXVIII.
This truth, sublime his simple sire had taught,
In sooth, ’twas almost all the shepherd knew.
No subtle nor superfluous lore he sought,
Nor ever wish’d his Edwin to pursue.
‘Let man’s own sphere (quoth he) confine his view,
Be man’s peculiar work his sole delight.’
And much, and oft, he warn’d him to eschew
Falsehood and guile, and aye maintain the right,
By pleasure unseduced, unawed by lawless might.

XXIX.
‘And, from the prayer of Want, and plaint of Wo,
O never, never turn away thine ear.
Forlorn in this bleak wilderness below,
Ah! what were man, should heaven refuse to hear!
To others do (the law is not severe)
What to thyself thou wishest to be done.
Forgive thy foes; and love thy parent’s dear,
And friends, and native land; nor those alone;
All human weal and wo learn thou to make thine own.’

XXX.
See in the rear of the warm sunny shower,
The visionary boy from shelter fly!
For now the storm of summer-rain is o’er,
And cool, and fresh, and fragrant, is the sky!
And, lo! in the dark east, expanded high,
The rainbow brightens to the setting sun:
Fond fool, that deem’st the streaming glory nigh,
How vain the chase thine ardour has begun!
‘Tis fled afar, ere half thy purposed race be run.

XXXI.
Yet couldst thou learn, that thus it fares with age,
When pleasure, wealth, or power, the bosom warm,
This baffled hope might tame thy manhood’s rage,
And disappointment of her sting disarm. –
But why should foresight thy fond heart alarm?
Perish the lore that deadens young desire!
Pursue, poor imp, th’ imaginary charm,
Indulge gay Hope, and Fancy’s pleasing fire:
Fancy and Hope too soon shall of themselves expire.

XXXII.
When the long-sounding curfew from afar
Loaded with loud lament the lonely gale,
Young Edwin, lighted by the evening star,
Lingering and listening wander’d down the vale.
There would he dream of graves, and corses pale;
And ghosts, that to the charnel-dungeon throng,
And drag a length of clanking chain, and wail,
Till silenced by the owl’s terrific song,
Or blast that shrieks by fits the shuddering aisles along.

XXXIII.
Or when the setting moon, in crimon died,
Hung o’er the dark and melancholy deep,
To haunted stream, remote from man he hied,
Where Fays of yore their revels wont to keep;
And there let Fancy roam at large, till sleep
A vision brought to his entraced sight.
And first, a wildly-murmuring wind ‘gan creep
Shrill to his ringing ear; then tapers bright,
With instantaneous gleam, illumed the vault of Night.

XXXIV.
Anon in view a portal’s blazon’d arch
Arose; the trumpet bids the valves unfold;
And forth a host of little warriors march,
Grasping the diamond lance, and targe of gold.
Their look was gentle, their demeanour bold,
And green their healms, and green their silk attire.
And here and there, right venerably old,
The long-robed minstrels wake the warbling wire,
And some with mellow breath the martial pipe inspire.

XXXV.
With merriment, and song, and timbrels clear,
A troop of dames from myrtle bowers advance:
The little warriors doff the targe and spear,
And loud enlivening strains provoke the dance.
They meet, they dart away, they wheek askance
To right, to left, they thrid the flying maze;
Now bound aloft with vigorous spring, then glance
Rapid along: with many-colour’d rays
Of tapers, gems, and gold, and echoing forests blaze.

XXXVI.
The dream is fled. Proud harbinger of day,
Who scar’dst the vision with thy clarion shrill,
Fell chanticleer! who oft has reft away
My fancied good, and brought substantial ill!
O to thy cursed scream, discordant still,
Let Harmony aye shut her gentle ear:
Thy boastful mirth let jealous rivals spill,
Insult thy crest, and glossy pinions tear,
And ever in thy dream the ruthless fox appear!

XXXVII.
Forbear, my Muse. Let Love attune thy line.
Revoke the spell. Thine Edwin frets not so.
For how should he at wicked chance repine,
Who feels from every change amusement flow?
Even now his eyes with smiles of rapture glow,
As on he wanders through the scenes of morn,
Where the fresh flowers in living lustre blow,
Where thousand pearls the dewy lawns adorn,
A thousand notes of joy in every breeze are borne.

XXXVIII
But who the melodies of morn can tell?
The wild brook babbling down the mountain-side;
The lowing herd; the sheepfold’s simple bell;
The pipe of early shepherd dim descried
In the lone valley; echoing far and wide
The clamorous horn along the cliffs above;
The hollow murmur of the ocean-tide;
The hum of bees, and linnet’s lay of love,
And the full choir that wakes the universal grove.

XXXIX
The cottage-curs at early pilgrim bark;
Crown’d with her pail the tripping milkmaid sings;
The whistling plowman stalks afield; and, hark!
Down the rough slope the ponderous waggon rings;
Through rustling corn the hare astonish’d springs;
Slow tolls the village-clock the drowsy hour;
The partridge bursts away on whirring wings;

XL.
O Nature, how in every charm supreme!
Whose votaries feast on raptures ever new!
O for the voice and fire of seraphim,
To sing thy glories with devotion due!
Blest be the day I scap’d the wrangling crew,
From Pyrrho’s maze, and Epicurus’ sty;
And held high converse with the godlike few,
Who to th’ enraptur’d heart, and ear, and eye,
Teach beauty, virtue, truth, and love, and melody.

Deep mourns the turtle in sequester’d bower,
And shrill lark carols clear from her aereal tower.

Transcription in progress

The image is not a copy of The Minstrel, but a decorated poetry book of similar date and style – from an 1835 set of Milton,  in fact

Transcription In Progress.
There are 60 stanzas in Book One and 63 stanzas in Book 2, which ends in such an unusual way with the mourning and elegy. I’m going to type them in because they are not easy to find on the internet outside pay/membership sites. But it may take me a week or so gradually.
And it is a poem I would like to help keep alive. Come back for more