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Poetic Wanderings

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            Phantasmal fears,
            And the flap of the flame,
            And the throb of the clock,
            And a loosened slate,
            And the blind night's drone,
Which tiredly the spectral pines intone!
            And the blood in my ears
            Strumming always the same,
            And the gable-cock
            With its fitful grate,
            And myself, alone.
            The twelfth hour nears
            Hand-hid, as in shame;
            I undo the lock,
            And listen, and wait
            For the Young Unknown.
             In the dark there careers — 
            As if Death astride came
            To numb all with his knock — 
            A horse at mad rate
            Over rut and stone.
            No figure appears,
            No call of my name,
            No sound but 'Tic-toc'
            Without check. Past the gate
            It clatters — is gone.
            What rider it bears
            There is none to proclaim;
            And the Old Year has struck,
            And, scarce animate,
            The New makes moan.
            Maybe that 'More Tears! — 
            More Famine and Flame — 
            More Severance and Shock!'
            Is the order from Fate
            That the Rider speeds on
To pale Europe; and tiredly the pines intone.
Thomas Hardy 'A New Year's Eve in War Time 1915-1916'

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The Second Coming 

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Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer; 
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; 
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, 
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned; 
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity. 
Surely some revelation is at hand; 
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.   
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out   
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi 
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert   
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it   
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.   
The darkness drops again; but now I know   
That twenty centuries of stony sleep 
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   
And what rough beast, its Hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? 

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Oh dear, once again I failed to check if I was at the last entry, or just the page with my last entry.  Sorry.


But who are ye in rags and rotten shoes,
You dirty-bearded, blocking up the way?

We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go
Always a little further: it may be
Beyond the last blue mountain barred with snow,
Across that angry or that glimmering sea,
White on a throne or guarded in a cave
There lives a prophet who can understand
Why men were born: but surely we are brave,
Who take the Golden Road to Samarkand.


James Elroy Flecker - from 'Hassan'

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Darkness begins a
retreat: the cold light flows back

over the dead land. 

Put the tree out now:
hang nuts on its branches — see feathered
decorations come.

Take down the Christmas
cards: arrowheads in the dust
point to spring cleaning.

Pull down the paper
chains: the room grows tall, the floor
deep in coloured snow.

Cold bites deep: warm your
mind at Christmas memories
and look for snowdrops.

~ Michael Richards, 

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The Three Kings by Ricaredo. Demetillo

We had to start from darkness, Darkness around and in us: In us, the will’s decay, Leaves shaken by the wind; About us hooves, the frightful shrieks of horses, Stampede to farther darkness.

 Even in darkness we had sensed the light: First as an inkling in the blood As spring is rumored by the winds of March, Why did we mope that darkness would not lift?

Camels gave out; And since we could not hire an equipage We walked. The pebbles hurt our feet, But we traversed the grey penumbras. The fogs had lifted The winds no longer spouted sleet.

How celebrate the miracle of light? By day, the bonfire of the sun; By night, the lustrous drowsiness of stars, And in our thoughts, light merging into light, Word cradled by the word.

Light dazzled us at first, We who were used to grope, We squinted at the sun and made a face, But our bodies tanned, got used to light, Deserts made way before our staves.

 Rulers were sly. They bent, politic, to our words, But all the time we sensed the fox-tongue shape their words. One saw they had such vested interests That they would rather slaughter innocents Than yield what they had got Along the roads, the mobs sold and were sold.

We could have stayed to watch the sights And even glean a joke or two from each, For we are used to shades of dark, We feared to grow more callouses.

What did we hope to find? A kingdom’s heir perhaps deep-canopied Pillowed by proud love on downy coverlets?

We must admit we had such things in mind For we rehearse bright fairytales To cheer us in the cold, indifferent nights.

Still we must strip the lie’s integument, No special star shone on our path. We heard no visitation in the hovering dusk Only the rustle of a leaf. That was enough.

So, at the journey’s end, We learn humility anew. We kneel before truth cradled in the homely fact.

Now we depart another way. No doubt we’ll glimpse long avenues of trees, White columned porticoes draped with clematis, And lovers lolling in the shade of trees, Perhaps a romping child.

But also rubbish heaps: Flies blackening the crusts. Within our ears the moaning of the sea, Sand in our shoes.

 But we have seen and understood.



Is it just me, or does anyone else find a strong echo of T S Eliot's The Journey of The Magi in this poem?




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I agree - there are certainly parallels.


“When He is King we will give him the King’s gifts,
Myrrh for its sweetness, and gold for a crown,
Beautiful robes”, said the young girl to Joseph
Fair with her first-born on Bethlehem Down.


Bethlehem Down is full of the starlight
Winds for the spices, and stars for the gold,
Mary for sleep, and for lullaby music
Songs of a shepherd by Bethlehem fold.


When He is King they will clothe Him in grave-sheets,
Myrrh for embalming, and wood for a crown,
He that lies now in the white arms of Mary
Sleeping so lightly on Bethlehem Down.


Here He has peace and a short while for dreaming,
Close-huddled oxen to keep Him from cold,
Mary for love, and for lullaby music
Songs of a shepherd by Bethlehem fold.


Bruce Blunt - 'Bethlehem Down'

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What studied torments, tyrant, hast for me?
What wheels? racks? fires? what flaying? boiling?
In leads or oils? what old or newer torture
Must I receive, whose every word deserves
To taste of thy most worst? Thy tyranny
Together working with thy jealousies,
Fancies too weak for boys, too green and idle
For girls of nine, O, think what they have done
And then run mad indeed, stark mad! for all
Thy by-gone fooleries were but spices of it.
That thou betray'dst Polixenes,'twas nothing;
That did but show thee, of a fool, inconstant
And damnable ingrateful: nor was't much,
Thou wouldst have poison'd good Camillo's honour,
To have him kill a king: poor trespasses,
More monstrous standing by: whereof I reckon
The casting forth to crows thy baby-daughter
To be or none or little; though a devil
Would have shed water out of fire ere done't:
Nor is't directly laid to thee, the death
Of the young prince, whose honourable thoughts,
Thoughts high for one so tender, cleft the heart
That could conceive a gross and foolish sire
Blemish'd his gracious dam: this is not, no,
Laid to thy answer: but the last,—O lords,
When I have said, cry 'woe!' the queen, the queen,
The sweet'st, dear'st creature's dead,and vengeance for't
Not dropp'd down yet.


Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale III/ii

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It is not that the trees put on their green,

It is the green that reassumes the tree.

The green that wandered in the crystal air,

Anonymous, a white amnesia,

Homeless save for a refuge here and there

In moss or lichen on a frozen branch,

Or, fitfully, the emerald of ice,

Now claims its patrimony of the earth.


It is not that the summer moves in green,

It is the green that breathes the summer out.

Green is the rhythm of the drumming sun,

It is the will of green that this be done.


I have no idea who wrote this.  It was on a poster on the wall of my English classroom.  No sign of it on internet searches.

Edited by Heather
I remembered 2 more lines.

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I think this should be a February poem, but there are snowdrops already out in my garden, so in honour of them and the coming spring...



The first day of this month I saw

Their active spearheads. Dry and raw


They rose from grass, beside my pond,

In a white stockade. And now, beyond


Far evergreens, more gather, and

Advance on dead ground. Dour they stand


As if numb earth depended on

Their stolid hold. And what has gone,


Or will go, when they give, means time.

Time to be emptying ponds of slime.


Time to be slow, time to work hard.

I see them thicken, yard by yard.


These are the first of our strong flowers

Before the spring, or April showers,


They teem with loyalty, and fight

For a place in the sun. Static in flight


Their icy lances pierce with green

Last year's downed leaves. I touch one. Clean


And moist upon my reaching palm.

I feel its energy, its calm.


George Macbeth






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Four ducks on a pond,
A grass-bank beyond,
A blue sky of spring,
White clouds on the wing;
What a little thing
To remember for years -
To remember with tears!


William Allingham - 'Four ducks on a pond'

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No, they were not told of the willing lanes,

               The black mill-pond

               Of which he was fond;

The warm and the narrow, the shadowed, the queer

As opposed to the open, the broad and the clear,

These strange dark patterns of his heart's designs

That would only respond to secret signs


That signalled in attics and gardens like Hope,

               And ever would pass

               From address to address,

As he watched from windows in the failing light

For his world that was always just out of sight

Where weakness was part of the ordinary landscape

And the friendly road knew his footstep, his footstep.


Philip LARKIN, "The house on the edge of the serious wood", last two stanzas

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1 hour ago, jfp said:



               The black mill-pond


It's supposed to be a different link word to the one used in the previous poem

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How about this?


Shine out, fair Sun, with all your heat,
Show all your thousand-coloured light!
Black Winter freezes to his seat;
The grey wolf howls, he does so bite;
Crookt Age on three knees creeps the street;
The boneless fish close quaking lies
And eats for cold his aching feet;
The stars in icicles arise:
Shine out, and make this winter night
Our beauty's Spring, our Prince of Light!


George Chapman - 'Shine out, fair Sun'


It can link to 'spring' in the Allingham poem, or 'black' in the Larkin poem.

Edited by Heather

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