Tag Archive: poetry


Sweet Chestnuts

chestnuts-by-Marc-Lagneau-via-flickr-e1417006664193

‘How sweet the woods were! Not a redbreast whistled

To mark the end of a mild autumn day.

Under the trees the chestnut-cases lay,

Looking like small green hedgehogs softly bristled.

Plumply they lay, each with its fruit packed tight;

For when we rolled them gently with our feet,

The outer shells burst wide apart and split,

Showing the chestnuts brown and creamy-white.

Quickly we kindled a bright fire of wood,

And placed them in the ashes. There we sat,

Listening how all our chestnuts popped and spat.

And then, the smell how rich, the taste how good!’

John Walsh

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withered tree dementia

‘Not a twig or a leaf on the old tree,

Wind and frost harm it no more,

A man could pass through the hole in its belly,

Ants crawl searching under its peeling bark.

Its only lodger, the toadstool which dies in a morning,

The birds no longer visit in the twilight.

But its wood can still spark tinder.

It does not care yet to be only the void at its heart.’

Han Yu (translated by A.C. Graham)

Beech Leaves

autumn-beech-leaves-fallen

‘In  autumn down the beechwood path

The leaves lie thick upon the ground.

It’s there I love to kick my way

And hear the crisp and crashing sound.

I am a giant, and my steps

Echo and thunder to the sky.

How the small creatures of the woods

Must quake and cower as I go by!’

James Reeves

 

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)

My wife and I spent a few days in Devon recently, visiting my Mother – in – Law. We had superb weather – unusual on the edge of Dartmoor – so were able to get out and about to see some beautiful places. I’ll feature a few of the great gardens we saw over the next few weeks, but almost our first outing was to a famous Dartmoor nature reserve and ancient copse, called ‘Wistman’s Wood’. Some of the trees are at least 400 years old – gnarled and almost dwarf oaks – and I managed to get some photographs to capture our afternoon visit in the sun. It’s such a mysterious and peaceful place I was moved (not been that for a while) to try my hand at some ‘poetry’ to accompany the pictures, so here goes….

‘In Wistman’s Wood

In Wistman’s Wood
A tumbled dwarf in valley ‘scape,
Rising with a greying ghostly hue.
Ancient Oaks clinging to life, entombed in rocks.
All engulfed in mossy fernery and silver beards,
Branch and trunk home to more lowly life,
In Wistman’s Wood.

In Wistman’s Wood
Strong sun casts a net of shade
Not yet filled by new young leaves.
And what of night or winter time?
Moonlight, mist and chattering cold-
Apt setting for moorland fairy tales,
In Wistman’s Wood.

In Wistman’s Wood
Sounds gentle on a spring day;
Rushing of the young Dart and
Bathed by the soft breeze,
Cut with children’s shout and ‘copter whirr.
Lone sheep a munching on meagre growth,
In Wistman’s Wood.

In Wistman’s Wood
Hear still and little life;
See nature stretched;
Smell moorland peaty damp;
Touch stone and twisted, mossy wood.
Taste sweet water
In Wistman’s Wood’

And here is a series of photos just in case that was all a bit too vague…

 

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Old School Gardener

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

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