Here we have what they call seasons.
Each is a blanket,
Summer can be too heavy,
Winter too light.
Autumn folds us safe against the night
and spring is daybreak
Doctor, I felt such pressure round my head,
like a cider apple in its gloomy press,
waiting for the skin to split
and the juices flow.
That was the deep depression of decreasing light,
but you will find that it has passed.
The screw has ceased to turn.
and now the juice
makes golden bubbles in the glass.
January; the white month,
the misnamed one,
where none look back;
the strong one;
The snow arrived.
Most were happy to see it falling
and it left without asking.
Even the grass had failed to make up its mind
when we woke up to find
on surprised lawns.
Snowdrops, because they are the first,
always remain childish
and a little bit unsophisticated.
The sort of thing they will do is to say,
‘It is our turn to hide,
count up to ten,.
Ready or not
we are coming to get you!’
They always leap out in exactly the same place
and then expect us all to dissolve
in peals of irrepressible laughter.
The grasses were making a statement,
the uncut grasses of summer,
the brown and white.
A strong statement,
for these were the grasses of winter
and it was late
and spring was nearly upon us.
They were a foil to the cold wind
which sometimes buffets men
or blows high in the trees,
but blows now
close to the ground.
Winter is destiny
where a tree growing through moss
and dead grass,
is a tune
waiting for summer
to clothe it in words.
Plants that rely on wind pollination should have no need for visual stimuli to attract insect vectors and there is no obvious reason why the small female flowers of the hazelnut should be brightly coloured.
No flower is more beautiful than the two-
and beneath it,
the slashed red petal
like an open secret.
But what are the colours for?
Can the dry wind see colour,
or is the early spring wind,
driven through the cold air,
refracted and distracted by the barely perceived scent?
I doubt it,
but why are the colours there?
Will the air thicken
as summer hastens towards us?
Will the wind become bees?
In cold February,
when the sky was a blue sea over the earth,
we had taken our boat
and sailed and sailed
across and across
until we made landfall
on a green bank
where summer warmth
was already there,
and violets grew through moss,
while primrose leaves folded back over the grass.
From an article which stated that the reptilian heart, but not the amphibian heart, beats faster in response to emotional stress and proposed that the amphibian/reptilian boundary represented the step from non-
Take me in your cold amphibian arms
and I will, frog-
because my heart, cast once in stone
has never reached the place
from which it came.
I have lived too long in water
that cools the heartbeat
and makes me the same
as all that I am not.
Yet despite that
I can still seek out my mate,
hold her beneath me,
and together we will croak the night away.
The great navy of spring is assembling.
These are the small boats, the most brave,
who make all of the earliest skirmishes,
but will not survive.
They will not see the enemy's flag furled.
These are the cruisers;
when they appear he will shudder,
aware that his dominion is over.
Now come the battleships, whose guns flare.
When they flash yellow flame,
his attack will redouble.
Then come the landing craft to bring gifts
and restore the awakened land.
Everyone has gathered round at the quay-
laughing and shouting and waving their flags
to see them set out.
The amelanchier, a medium-
Bullfinches give no choice
between them, and the white flowers of the amelanchier;
the snowy mespillus.
It was indeed snowy in the years before they found it.
Such easy targets.
I caught one once under a net and held it, alive.
It was like holding my heart in my hand
beating, vivid and red.
Do you not feel the thrill of the spring stream,
swollen after the rain,
and daffodils cold in the grass,
but warm in an upstairs room where she waited alone,
when the Judas tree, its branches bare now,
was about to bloom?
Then he came and we saw no greeting, embrace,
as though each one, finding the blue sea again,
understood that, to set foot in the boat
and cast off from the beach,
might mean nothing at all,
starting to tire of the voyage
almost as soon as the land
passed beyond reach.
Alone on the waves,
the hills and the fields, even the clouds
fading from view
and the kiss,
given and shared,
betrayed in its passion,
the old and the new.
It is hard to imagine a happier place for a wall
where the earth rears like a great wave
waiting to break
Strangers were here once, but there are no ghosts now,
save for the ghosts of the south,
when winds blow.
Winds that waft warm air where larks sing
and winds that cover stones with drifted snow.
......south westerly, moderate to good.
but not the road-
reminding of the farrier with his hammer,
knife and hoof held bent,
or blackbird song like shafts of summer sound
between the clouds.
But there the rain and water meet;
the dancing drops spray,
above two miles of heaving deep
leaving no trace.
And other sights to stir the landlocked heart?
A whale blowing,
or the flapping, buzzing sound of flying fish.
I went into the country in the summer
and in the morning had a most delicious dish
of lark's tongues,
and speedwell flowers
that had just opened.
The power of coincidence is very great.
To take just one example,
I was walking alone
when I saw your name
written in flowers
and within it, my own, completely entwined.
To read either,
it was only required
to render all of the others unseen.
as if that were not enough,
was inscribed at the exact centre
of God's forgiveness.
is not enough reward
to pay for pungent yellow scars,
the rape of earth.
But sunflower fields,
the smell of cricket bats
and fields of blue
like skies brought down to earth
the rape of heaven.
Two things affect the appearance of the full moon and both are independently related to the height above the horizon. The so-
remote as the winter moon
fills the short night with desire.
Winter jasmine, low on the horizon
yellow and close, makes promise surge in the breast
that the summer flowers
small, white and sweet have never fulfilled,
because, in the north,
where the earth is nearest the sun in winter,
passion is soon past.
To compensate, it sweeps every hour in its orbit,
the same area
and there is the hope,
which many have,
that a second earth,
invisible to us,
circles instead where love burns in its full slow fire.
Perhaps the moon swinging out from side to side,
is trying to see it
and report back.
There is another earth moving around the sun
where all that we yearn for goes on,
but travels in the one place we never see.
Every city has them;
the roads south
that lead to the temperate destinations.
the boulevards or lanes
lined with houses that contain grandness,
built by those who
have made, or gathered together,
all that goes on in the city,
but cannot live there.
Their greatness is revealed in clematis.
Their daughters are rare blooms,
so that we say,
it is not that the roads
lead to the south,
only that these are the ways
whereby the south
has entered the city.
Somewhere, near the edge of the world, is a garden
and there it is possible to see
snow falling in summer.
Fuchsia flowers hang
in the bright air.
One falls to lie on its white bed
and, in the minds eye,
I see you kneel
to pick it up.
Pigeons find simple fulfilment
as they contemplate the twofold mystery of creation.
and all summer the same song
with the same wondering concentration.
Two twos are two.
Two twos are two,
two more twos are two
two twos are two
stopping suddenly when they realise
they have passed beyond all reasonable expectation.
The summer air lay still on the land,
making it its own,
but this is the place where the wild storms hunt
and we do not belong.
There are two legends about St Swithin’s Day (15th July) in the south west of Britain. The well-
This is important.
Those that are not christened,
but, those that are,
and, if it should rain upon St Swithin's day,
spend their youth and bloom under grey skies.
Then, when autumn brings the long peace
Is this once again the place where
we lived before the storm broke,
until the time when,
so we believed,
dew would pass by
and lay its finger on our cheeks.
Have you seen how distant summers
appear to lie closer together
like a pleated skirt.
To pass between them, you do not have to climb
over the hills of winter
as we do here.
As though each discarded year has been folded back
and springs and summers lie even between
escarpments of winter and autumn
like a broad valley
grooved with days.
What is happening now is
that the Robin has started to sing.
Either that, or else the other birds have stopped.
A thin melancholy sound
descending from low trees.
A sonorous tone
suggesting a resonant instrument,
not well played.
I heard one once
singing at night in a tree lit by yellow light,
as though the new dawn had arrived.
Later, when the leaves fall,
we shall see you more clearly
and your song grow more distinct,
warming the cold land
against the pure light of winter
and the still earth of bare ploughed fields.
Always the same!
When I say that I am growing grapes in my conservatory,
"Will you be making wine?"
What must they think of me?
An old man, corpulent, bloated,
who floated up against the ceiling,
spilling from his golden goblet,
streams of crimson liquid,
intercepted in mid-
by laughing cherubs,
or an elegant satyr who leans,
one elbow on the sideboard
talking to a lady
with explaining eye
naked and greedy,
and wants to take his goatskin trousers off,
but never can.
This is the time of year
when summer creates the illusion
of lasting forever,
that the betrayal of Autumn
will not happen.
Winter will not return
and Spring has made its promise
for the last time.
How does this differ from the green resurrection of spring?
They grow from the spoils of a seasons decay
as the soul returns in its muted dream
‘Here in the midst of death
we are in life.’
It was either the Hunters, or the Harvest moon,
lying like a translucent ball on the hill,
dwarfing the trees and ready to roll.
That night the fox came
and scattered death like stars on the grass.
Were these things connected?
Of course they were.
Someone, watching the moon,
had failed to shut the hen-
November is to winter as February to spring,
like a boy wearing a tight cap
that curves over his dark hair,
then descends on the far side
to a jaunty peak
shine blue eyes
and a bright grin.
Why should bonfire night remind me of a city
whose broad industrial edge touches the grass,
where men can lie in the sun,
freed from the pain of gain
for ever and ever,
and, reaching in,
draw a potato from the flame
with hard black skin;
the charcoal taste on the tongue.
The heart, leaning back on the dark
absorbing the heat of more than a million souls
big brother of spring corn,
deceived by autumn,
finding what others do not seek,
roots probing broken frost-
can these bones live;
For if they can
then we will be cast down
restore the barren wilderness
to lifeless green.
Can the wind ever prevail?
And what will we see
when the wind wins?
Trees that lean to the east.
And what can this mean?
It depends whether the wind wins in winter or spring.
In one case
the tender shoots bend.
In the other,
the wind supports the distorted frame
with invisible hands.
It is November
and we have fallen among the dark ways.
Fingers pull down the eyelids in sleep
and we have fallen amongst the dark days.
These were flowers that didn’t believe in winter.
Most likely they thought
it didn’t believe in itself.
But, they were wrong.
Holly is poor,
but its love burns,
its crown, thorns.
Ivy is rich,
birds nest in its leaves,
its life ease,
its strength false.
One cold as winter in summer,
the leaves and the berries so sharply defined.
The other warm as frost in sunlight,
where summer and winter lie close, entwined.
This is the place
where the blue sky
lies on the earth.
In June, when the blue
lies over misty brown
we know that the light airs
of warm space
have come down.
as cold light falls
in the afternoon
the time will soon come
when the blue
is one with the black night.
Time must be full of forgetting,
waiting to strike
out of the dark,
stealing the purse
and leaving the gold.
I had never forgotten delight,
but waking, under my dream,
that winter had come
and I had forgotten you.
Taking the purse and leaving the gold is from the remarkable novel ‘ A voyage to Arcturus ‘ by David Lindsay.
Two pheasants, wearing Christmas plumage
in the early morning, meeting.
Male, and the weight of proof was on them.
Did they know what lay before them, greeting?
Such leaping, thunder;
such cavorting, such gyrations.
Such texture, pattern, stillness;
I said to the man
who stood at the gate of the year,
Have you got the right time?
and he said,
This is the time of year
when none of the clocks are right.
And I said,
It is very cold here,
give me a light mister.
And he said,
That is the light over there,
but things will only get worse,
as you still continue to pay
for what you have not got.
The day thou gave us Lord
has not ended,
but like a cornucopia,
continues to overflow
with things we no longer need or enjoy,
all over the world
bright day dawns.
Spring came to us then,
moving at four miles an hour
across open ground,
(faster than man can walk)
it eased itself over hills
and flooded valleys.
Summer stretched away down the coast,
lost in the blue and white.
After a while Autumn returned.
Resting by day
and journeying only at night
it moved soundlessly
as the light in the auditorium folds in.
The curtain rose
and in one stride
winter was here.