Happy Easter, friends and poets. I spent all Saturday thinking it was Friday (as you do) so the only course left for your compiler was to pretend this was always intended as an Easter special.
    To have something seasonal, I have fallen back on Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’. But I suspect this is one of those poems of which many people know the title better than the words. Nor indeed do they get the title right: it’s I wandered lonely as a cloud.  So here are the words again. What a peaceful poem.
    In case any of you think, for some strange feminist reason,  that Dorothy must have really written ‘Daffodils’,  I am adding three women’s poems, the first by Janice Fitzpatrick Simmons whose poem of loss and survival I find very moving and Easterish, followed by two rather comical confessions of young women’s lives, by Geraldine Green and Lynne Viti. Lynne’s is about a house share in the States, while Geraldine and her friend take time out to watch the submariners at Vickers Yard in Barrow in Furness back in the 1970’s.
     Henry Mair’s more severe poem about men at work also belongs to the seventies, but it was written then, rather than looking back from a more recent year. Henry Mair really did rebel alone. A friend of MacDiarmid, he went to Russia to meet poets there, and ran a trail-blazing poetry competition in Irvine for nearly thirty years, but never gave up his job in a factory.
     So that’s an unexpected mix for Easter and I hope you all have a good week, despite disasters and politics.
     Thanks to the poets, except William of course who is out of copyright and not able to respond. I hope he’d be touched to see us still reading his all but notorious poem. I tried to  find a picture of clumps of small daffs such as you would see in the wild, rather than large modern masses.

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William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

First publsihed in first version, 1804.

 

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Janice Fitzpatrick Simmons
Threshold

Adrian said grief is beautiful too …
He was thinking of my husband
And of his sister. He meant beautiful
Because we can make music of loss.
I could feel him rolling up
his sleeves, digging into the earth, planting
love in the middle of the graveyard.

What rose for me was a scent
like night-scented stalk, tingling the senses.
What shone was the evening sun sinking into vast waters –
sorrow something I could live with, breathe in.
I was alive at the dark door of my dwelling,
words from the depths of self
swarming like shades.

(From The Bowspirit, Lagan Press: 2005)

 

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Lynne Viti
Brantwood Lane Miscellany

August to August, we made a little family.
The house was too big for us.
That year there was always a confluence of menses.
A stream of lovers, either too young or too old
sent by well intentioned matchmakers
passed through the door. None stayed long.

We were barely women then, more like girls:
One insomniac,
One losing her hearing,
One itching to go north to New Haven or Boston.

We came and went by the front
turned away the Jehovah’s Witnesses
shutting the door hard,
laughing nervously.

At night we drank scotch
or shared a joint.
Mornings, two of us drank coffee,
One wouldn’t touch the stuff.
I cooked, Martha did the washing up.

Our mascara stained the white towels.
Our laughter annoyed the neighborhood.
When we left for good
the garden was just bearing fruit.
We missed out on that harvest.

Workdays, the AM morning all-news station
was pouring from the upstairs bedroom,
And sometimes one was
startled out of sleep at 3 a.m. by twin noises,
the vacuum and the stereo.

 First published in Meat for Tea: the Valley Review, in  February 2013.  

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Geraldine Green
me and janine

vickers shipyard, barrow-in-furness, 1973
legs swinging and us licking ice creams
on the submarine dock our platform shoes
cool and wonderful and the men whistling
and shouting hey love, gi’e us a lick!
and when we turned and gave them you know a
sidelong look they laughed but me and janine
we knew they didn’t mean anything by it they
were just joshing so anyhow we sat there
with our ice creams trickling down the side
of the cones golden and crisp the flakes falling
onto our mini skirts and we knew we’d have to
go back in soon but the day was warm it was warm
it was summer we were seventeen and we looked good
and we knew it and we loved it when the sailors came —
foreign submariners from argentina israel the middle east
and russia and us listening to their funny accents
and they came here to vickers to board their subs
and our own being built alongside revenge
and resolution and them going on patrol
in the baltic or the pacific and me and janine
dreaming of smuggling ourselves on board
to wake up in a foreign port somewhere —
which was just about when the hooter would go
and we had to go back in to our dusty offices
on the sub dock with the sun blocked out
and snopake and pens and a deep pile of papers
with typos to correct.

First published in The Other Side of the Bridge, Indigo Dreams 2012

 

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Henry Mair
Assembly Line

Bolts nuts bolts nuts
Presses lifting presses falling
Bolts nuts bolts nuts
Hurry up the foreman’s calling
Bolts nuts bolts nuts
Hurry up the boss is looking
Bolts nuts bolts nuts
Bolts nuts bolts nuts
Time is swooping
Bolts nuts bolts nuts
Hurry up you nutty men
Hurry up and start again
Bolts nuts bolts nuts
Faster production faster men
Bolts nuts bolts nuts
Excuse me again
Bolts nuts bolts nuts
40 years at this game
Bolts nuts bolts nuts
And still I’m sane
Excuse me sir
Where do I put
This brain
Bolts nuts bolts nuts
Nuts bolts Nuts bolts
Nuts nuts bolts bolts bolts

First published in Alone I Rebel, Irvine, 1975

 

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