When we lived in Northumberland our next door neighbour was a beautiful mare named Millie. Her owner Linda found her a stallion and one day there was a beautiful foal – similar to the one in the video. Below is a link to Ted Hughes poem ‘New Foal’
Today our One Garden group read one of Linda France’s poems alongside a couple of poems by Seamus Heaney. It made a big impact on everyone.
Linda was winner of the National Poetry Competition 2013 for her poem ‘Bernard and Cerinthe’;
Bernard and Cerinthe
by Linda France
If a flower is always a velvet curtain
onto some peepshow he never opens,
it’s a shock to find himself sheltering
from the storm in a greenhouse,
seduced by a leaf blushing blue
at the tips, begging to be stroked.
He’s caught in the unfamiliar ruffle
of knickerbockers or petticoat, a scent
of terror, vanilla musk. If he were
not himself, he’d let his trembling lips
articulate the malleability of wax;
the bruise of bracts, petals, purple
shrimps; seeds plump as buttocks,
tucked out of harm’s way, cocos-de-mer
washed up off Curieuse or Silhouette.
But being Bernard, he’s dumbstruck,
a buffoon in front of a saloon honey
high-kicking the can-can. Can’t-can’t.
He attempts to cool himself, thinking
about sea horses, Hippocampus erectus,
listening to the rain refusing to stop,
soft against the steamed-up glass.
From the Poetry Society website we learn;
First published in 2013.
Winner of the National Poetry Competition 2013.
Filmpoem by Alastair Cook, commissioned in collaboration with Alastair Cook and Filmpoem.
From the judge: ‘This strange narrative of a man being seduced by a plant charmed the judges with its vivid imagery and linguistic wit. Its precisely honed couplets move from elegant description (‘the bruise of bracts, petals, purple // shrimps’) to a tragicomic climax, in which our hero finds himself ‘a buffoon in front of a saloon honey / high-kicking the can-can. Can’t-can’t’. Truly imaginative and richly musical, ‘Bernard and Cerinthe’ is as much a pleasure to read on the page as it is on the tongue, and as such was the unanimous choice of the judges for first place in this year’s National Poetry Competition.’ Jane Yeh
Linda France on what inspired the poem: ‘I remember very particularly the day I wrote this poem, actually. I went to visit a friend of mine who has the most beautiful garden. It was the end of August and there was a plant I’d never seen before: Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’, and I was just astonished by it. It’s a very intense blue and the leaves are a silvery green… they’re quite thick, almost waxy, fleshy. That’s one of the things I’m drawn to about plants, they express this tremendous “Otherness”, but they just stay there and let you respond to them, unlike a bird or animal that disappears….’
You can listen to a podcast of Linda talking about winning the National Poetry Competition – HERE http://poetrysociety.org.uk/competitions/national-poetry-competition/resources/
Linda France, winner of the National Poetry Competition 2013, is based close to Hadrian’s Wall, near Hexham in Northumberland. Since 1992 she has published seven poetry collections with Bloodaxe, Smokestack and Arc, including The Gentleness of the Very Tall, The Toast of the Kit-Cat Club, book of days and You are Her. She has worked on numerous collaborations with visual artists and musicians, as well as public art projects. Linda also edited the ground-breaking anthology Sixty Women Poets (Bloodaxe 1993).
First blooming in the Western Paradise,
The lotus has delighted us for ages.
It’s white petals are covered with dew,
Its jade green leaves spread out over the pond,
And its pure fragrance perfumes the wind.
Cool and majestic, it rises from the murky water.
The sun sets behind the mountains
But I remain in the darkness, too captivated to leave.
— Ryōkan – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ry%C5%8Dkan
from the book – ‘Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf : Zen Poems of Ryokan’
‘The Lark’ – by Mary Oliver
And I have seen,
spin out of the long grass
and into the pink air —
which are neither wide
ploughing and flashing
for nothing but altitude —
and the song
all the while
from the red throat.
And then he descends,
and is sorry.
His little head hangs
and he pants for breath
for a few moments
among the hoops of the grass,
which are crisp and dry,
where most of his living is done —
and then something summons him again
and up he goes,
his shoulders working,
his whole body almost collapsing and floating
to the edges of the world.
We are reconciled, I think,
to too much.
Better to be a bird, like this one —
an ornament of the eternal.
As he came down once, to the nest of the grass,
“Squander the day, but save the soul,”
I heard him say.
— from What Do We Know: Poems and Prose Poems, by Mary Oliver
Maya Angelou, born April 4, 1928 as Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, was raised in segregated rural Arkansas. She was a poet, historian, author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director. She lectured throughout the US and abroad and was Reynolds professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina since 1981. She published ten best selling books and numerous magazine articles earning her Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award nominations. At the request of President Clinton, she wrote and delivered a poem at his 1993 presidential inauguration.
‘Phenomenal Woman’- SOURCE – http://allpoetry.com/Phenomenal-Woman
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
“You must be emptied of that with which you are full, so you may be filled with that whereof you are empty. St Augustine.” ― David R. Loy, The World Is Made of Stories
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”- Matthew 18-20 – NIV
“The intention behind each action determines its effect. Our intentions and our actions affect not only us but also others. If we believe that every intention and action evolves as we progress on our spiritual journey, then if we act consciously we evolve consciously, but if we act unconsciously we involve unconsciously. ”
– Alfred Huang, I Ching
RP Loved this poem that I found here – http://www.julietallardjohnson.com/calendar/41 (A great site!)
A poem written by Mokasiya at our 2014, May retreat day;
is out planting corn
am trying to write
the greatest poem ever,
unbeknown to him
and that cheese grater tractor
not a John Deere,
or the PTO
not a Personal Terrorist Operation
sounds like a dentist drill
that will not stop
grinding at the cavity
of misplaced words
that i fail to plant,
that i cannot hear
that i neglect to find.
Rupert Spira’s videos are here:
“Every soul innately yearns for stillness, for a space, a garden where we can till, sow, reap, and rest, and by doing so come to a deeper sense of self and our place in the universe.
Silence is not an absence but a presence. Not an emptiness but repletion A filling up.”
~ Anne D. LeClaire
- from stillnessspeaks.com