Category Archives: poetry

Spring fever

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Sharing a few images of my work in progress – I am making a new title to sell in my Etsy store – handmade coptic stitched books that connect you to the beauty already in the world – I have found amazing solace and inspiration from writers down the ages – and this little volume focuses on work by Emily Dickinson and Thoreau – both loved observers of the natural world. I have found inspiration for illustration from historical botanical painting, and found the natural complement to the written word. A celebration of new life, from old – Spring always follows Winter. I was recently very moved by a dedication requested by a customer  for my Mindfulness book – and it reminded me why I love making my keepsake books – sometimes we all need a time for reflection and consideration of what is really important – the connection I make with my customers is special.

Etsy store of Handmade books

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Learning from a master

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A portion, of course, from East Coker  ‘The  Four Quartets’ by T. S Eliot, a poem in its entirety that continues to move and intrigue me as I spend my portion of life on an increasingly perturbed island on the edge of Europe, very much greater in it’s own mind than is realistic or desirable.  But then in his words ‘Mankind cannot bear too much reality’

This is where I come in – reality is where I live and it hurts.  I notice others can perform the human dance a lot better than I  – there is a dissembling in order to accommodate and I find it a tricky route. I feel stranger than perhaps I am – a half century on feeling on the edge of a tribe, and never within it.. Even the one I produced myself , of which I am inordinately pleased with.

I would liked to have met Thomas Stearns, spent an evening of ordinary discourse, shared a bottle of wine and a meal. It’s not going to happen. But like Mr W.B. Yeats, he is as much a presence in my life as the living, and a very welcome one that.

I shall be raising a glass to both my companions, and feel gratitude that they were here – in their end was my beginning.

Autumn shots

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The cygnets on Attenborough nature reserve are growing up now – I saw them first when they were teeny – lovely to keep up with them.

The tree is my brothers favourite on one of my dog walks – and therefore deserves some attention – I took a photo and then altered it digitally.

The berries speak for themselves.

 

…and a poem to share – not mine!

The Present

For the present there is just one moon,

though every level pond gives back another.

But the bright disc shining in the black lagoon,

perceived by astrophysicist and lover,

is milliseconds old. And even that light’s

seven minutes older than its source.

And the stars we think we see on moonless nights

are long extinguished. And, of course,

this very moment, as you read this line,

is literally gone before you know it.

Forget the here-and-now. We have no time

but this device of wantonness and wit.

Make me this present then: your hand in mine,

and we’ll live out our lives in it.

-Michael Donaghy

Brief encounter

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It isn’t rare to have an encounter with deer here in the Highlands of Scotland – and in our village at Kinlochleven they frequently come down to the river, or sojourn on the green for a short while. I have been taking out my new rescue Patterdale morning , noon and night – we are more often out than in, and yesterday evening we met a beautiful young stag . He had arrived on the green just as we did, bounded onto the bridge and leapt over following the line of the river.  We caught up with him – the light was still hanging around although it was past ten at night – the village was quiet. Reggie and I stood rapt as the young stag was totally still in our presence. It was as though he had invited us into his space. And then he bowed his head to eat some grass – I bowed mine back – and we mimicked one anothers gestures twice more. Reggie was as quiet as a mouse – no barking, no growling, no pulling – just a three way dialogue of enjoying the meeting. Extraodinary. And uplifting – my spirits are needing more of this.

The place I want to get back to

is where

in the pinewoods

in the moments between

the darkness

and first light

two deer

came walking down the hill

and when they saw me

they said to each other, okay,

this one is okay,

let’s see who she is

and why she is sitting

on the ground like that,

so quiet, as if

asleep, or in a dream,

but, anyway, harmless;

and so they came

on their slender legs

and gazed upon me

not unlike the way

I go out to the dunes and look

and look and look

into the faces of the flowers;

and then one of them leaned forward

and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life

bring to me that could exceed

that brief moment?

For twenty years

I have gone every day to the same woods,

not waiting, exactly, just lingering.

Such gifts, bestowed,

can’t be repeated.

If you want to talk about this

come to visit. I live in the house

near the corner, which I have named

Gratitude.

(c) Mary Oliver

 

With Flowers

With Flowers.

 

South winds jostle them,

Bumblebees come,

Hover, hesitate,

Drink, and are gone.

 

Butterflies pause

On their passage Cashmere;

I, softly plucking,

Present them here!

 

Emily Dickinson remains one of my poets I return to time and again. She was 56 – my age- when she died , and in that span had written around 1100 poems. She didn’t publish in her lifetime, lived a life that has been described as reclusive and yet her writing exposes a fullness of human experience. I am left curious, and moved by her poetry. It is no surprise that her poetry is so enjoyed . I think I may just have my next project!

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Finished!

A Tribute to W.B.Yeats

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Every now and again I manage to complete one of my ongoing projects!  This one has been on the back burner for some time – I already have a title that includes three of this poet’s work , but I wanted to investigate the poet a little further.

I was an early fan of his poetry – the musicality within it is magical – and I really do know how much my life has been influenced by listening to the power of the written word by a genius.  I count my poet influencers amongst my friends – they have informed my thinking and feeling for the majority of my life.  I truly believe they are life savers.

What I really find out when I dig deeper about any of my literary heroes, is how human they are – how full of paradox and confusion – and that endears me more. They above all others have shown me how truly miraculous it is to be human and alive and suffering as well as exalting. I lead a secular existence – and I am no apologist about that – but the spiritual exists within and poets help me to embrace that side of my nature.

 

A deep gratitude to artists everywhere, for the attempt to connect.  And to Mr W. B Yeats – the everlasting love of the listener and the reader.

 

‘Like along-legged fly upon the stream

His mind moves upon the silence’

 

If you are interested in seeing more of my finished tribute, it is going to be available here    Tribute hand made book at Etsy

 

Spells of shivelight and shadowtackle

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Beyond hyperbole,’ The Lost Words’ is a book that demands attention.  It is a classic in it’s infancy – an about to be great. A spell book that weaves it’s magic with immediacy , like shivelight and shadowtackle – Gerard Manley Hopkin’s term not mine, it reminds me of those feelings when I am immersed in nature. Fleeting moments of lightness, beingness, the commonplace miracle.

“We must look a long time before we can see….’ Thoreau told us, exhorting the value of feeling ‘the marrow of nature. As a close observer he wanted to bridge the apparent gap between science and art,  valuing the poetic in the endeavours of the scientific classification of plants and animals prevalent in his age.  “Facts fall from the poetic observer as ripe seeds.”

This is genuinely a gift of a book from a joint venture between wordsmith Robert MacFarlane and the stunning illustrations by Jackie Morris. To share this book with anyone is to share in the joy of being alive

If you are near  you may want to try this –  The Lost Words Exhibition at Compton Verney

From <http://www.comptonverney.org.uk/thing-to-do/lost-words/2017-10-21/>

Alternatively , to get more of a close look at this joint endeavour and to find out about the author and artist , this link is a fabulous introduction, I hope it inspires you to find the book out. Penguin books Q and A