Category: Norfolk in poetry- Jack Kett

Newly-harvested fields opposite Old School Garden

Newly-harvested fields opposite Old School Garden

‘Suddenly now we see cornfields white,

Ready for harvest, while the summer sun

Shines down with welcome warmth, its brilliant light

Making the heat-haze dance, as one by one

The humming harvesters crawl ‘cross the fields,

And once again good grain the good earth yields.

The roads are busy with the hurrying horde

Of folks on holiday; the heavens are clear

And blue, so very blue, with their reward

For those who have the time to stand and stare.

For there young swallows mount into the sky,

And thistledown upon the breeze dreams by.

Grasshoppers chirr, and where the creeper clings

A peacock butterfly outspreads its wings.’

John (Jack) Kett from ‘A late lark Singing’ (Minerva Press 1997)

See a year’s worth of Norfolk in Poetry by clicking on the category on the right

Old School Gardener


SONY DSC‘The towering clouds recede; the storm has fled;

The dark and angry sky grows clear again.

The thunder faintly rolls, and slowly dies,

And skylarks twitter gladly as they rise.

Now many a flower hangs low a dripping head,

And here and there a patch of levelled grain

Recalls the violence of the summer storm.

The sun returns, the rain-soaked earth grows warm.

Slow and ungainly by the waterside

A solemn toad plods forth, and small snails glide,

Their shining shells enriched by golden rings.

A dragon-fly with wide and wondrous wings

glows like a jewel there among the reeds,

Above the tangle of the water-weeds.’

John (Jack) Kett

from ‘A Late Lark Singing’ (Minerva press 1997)

Honeysuckle_(Lonicera)_Flowers_In_Garden._Hampshire._UK‘Late lingers now the light, and through the night

A glow creeps eastward round the northern sky.

The sun comes early, quickly rises high,

Shines down upon a world of June delight;

On fields of hay, and lanes where grasses sway,

Their graceful panicles in fine array.

Wild roses, soft of hue, and fragrant briar,

And wayside wastes with poppies set afire.

Now family parties picnic by the stream,

Or roam in wonder under mighty trees,

And little children plough through bracken seas,

Wild fancies flying in a waking dream.

At last dusk falls, and shadowy moths appear

Where honeysuckle scents the evening air.’

John (Jack) Kett

from ‘A Late Lark Singing’ (Minerva press 1997)

Stockholm-lilac‘The bright and busy days of May are here;

The countryside’s ablaze with colours rare

In sun and shower. There’s cricket on the green,

And lilies in the wood, and now are seen

Laburnums pouring gold, tall chestnuts decked

With spires of pink and white, where bees collect

A precious harvest, then away go winging

Past lovely lilacs where a blackbird’s singing.

Old gardeners now their long experience bring

To battle with the weeds; the lawns are neat.

A worried thrush scolds by the garden seat

Her wandering, gaping brood. House-martins cling,

Pied master-builders, on the weathered walls,

And from the woods all day the cuckoo calls.’

John (Jack) Kett

from ‘A Late Lark Singing’ (Minerva press 1997)

skylark‘A soft wind stirs a ripple on the lake;

A water-hen calls once, then hides away.

The silver birch tree’s branches gently sway,

And on the water gay reflections make

Of merry multitudes of dancing leaves

Which rustle in the wind. And now on high

A single swallow from the south soars by.

Beside the woodland’s edge the warm earth heaves

With new life bursting forth. Each bush and tree

Now greener grows, as if with real desire

To help the nesting birds, and to conspire

With them to make concealment quite complete,

While waves of rippling song are flowing free

From skylarks rising from the growing wheat.’

John (Jack) Kett

from ‘A Late Lark Singing’ (Minerva Press, 1997)

Celandine_Sward‘The lively breezes fleecy flocks are chasing

Across the sky; from field to field go racing

Cloud shadows, hurrying on beneath the sun.

On every side man’s work is being done,

To profit by his time when all around

The life renewed is springing from the ground.

Dawn’s chorus swells; at dusk the blackthorn’s glowing,

Hedges grow green, and chattering children stray

Along the banks where primroses are growing

With daffodils. And on this first warm day

A butterfly with sunlit, yellow wings

Goes gaily gliding by; a robin sings,

And celandines among the mosses gleam,

Casting their gold upon the busy stream.’

John (Jack) Kett,  from ‘A Late Lark Singing’ (Minerva press, 1997)

Old School Gardener

chaffinch‘In sheltered spots the colours now return.

Brave crocuses and aconites of gold

Form brilliant carpets on the dreary floor

Of winter borders. In the woods unfold

The spikes of cuckoo pint, now showing more

And brighter green than hardy fronds of fern.

There’s colour, too, where tits and finches fly,

Attired already for the affairs of spring.

And, welcome even more, on oak branch high

As daylight fades a thrush begins to sing.

The hazel catkins shiver in the breeze,

In yellow clouds pale pollen drifts away.

A thousand starlings pass above the trees,

And silvered silk the willow wands display.’

John (Jack) Kett

from ‘A Late Lark Singing’ (Minerva Press1997)


OK, I’m not serious. This was how Old School Garden looked on 16th January last year. Day time temperatures were hovering around zero degrees Celsius, compared to the ‘balmy’ level of 5 today.

Still, wintry showers were forecast for today (though they haven’t yet materialised), so I thought with Janaury days fast running out, this was my best shot at publishing the latest poetry offering from Jack Kett’s anthology ‘A Late Lark Singing’. So, all I can suggest is to try and think back a year, maybe use the photo for inspiration, or perhaps more likely, just listen to Jack’s description of a snowy Norfolk January day.

‘Silently came the snow before the dawn,

And in the countryside new beauty’s born.

We see around us on this glittering morn

New wonders now revealed. Small footprints show

where birds and tiny, hungry creatures go;

Gulls, white against the sky, come swooping low,

And turn against the dazzling field to grey.

The sunbeams dancing on the snow convey

A brightness even to the sombre pines,

And where a leaf breaks through the snow it shines

With brilliance that is usually unseen

At times when all around is brown or green.

Deep winter’s here, but though chill winds may blow

They bring to us the glory of the snow.’

John (Jack) Kett

from ‘A Late Lark Singing’ (Minerva Press, 1997)

out-of-focus-christmas-lightsDecember Day

‘This shortest day of all the year was born

When fiery cloud-banks filled the eastern sky.

Concealed in grey since that belated dawn

The sun remains, and all around rise high

The latticed traceries of sleeping trees.

Beneath them now the woodland wanderer sees

So little living, little colour too,

For winter’s dull, damp blanket hides from view

The fallen glory of the year grown old,

And future beauty waiting to unfold.

And so to Christmas, festival of light,

When families in joy and hope unite,

To celebrate the birthday all remember,

Bringing a blaze of brightness to December.’

Jack (John) Kett

from ‘A Late Lark Singing’  (Minerva Press, 1997)

winter-frost-on-plants-132662203503t‘Dull dawn, grey day, and early comes the night,

Now wearisome November’s here again,

With frost to follow frost, then chilling rain,

Or fog comes stealthily, and hides from sight

The dripping world beyond the window pane.

But oh, the glory when the night is clear,

What glittering feast for eyes that scan the skies!

See Jupiter near old Orion rise,

The Bear, the Bull, and Pegasus appear,

And see, a meteor falls, and glows, and dies.

Nearby an owl is calling; now it flies

On silent, velvet wings, while all grows cold.

Frost’s icy fingers woods and fields enfold,

and touch with silver lingering leaves of gold.’

John (Jack) Kett

From ‘A Late Lark Singing’ (Minerva press 1997)

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