I walked the woods, where Spring at last bestirred
Herself with bright abandon. All around
Bluebells and windflowers gleamed, and every bird
Rejoiced in lusty song. Then came the sound
Of angry scolding overhead: a coarse
And ragged band of brigands in full cry
As one by one, they swooped and swirled to force
The noble, broad-winged buzzard from their sky.
And thus when I, too, seek release in flight
Or silent solitude, the world’s dark woes
Rise up in loud pursuit, grant no respite
And crowd in, mobbing me like churlish crows.
How many years and miles before I find
A place to rest to my weary heart and mind?
Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary last Saturday has led to this sudden outbreak of sonnets; old and familiar ground, I know, but it’s still my favourite form to work with, and just feels right at this time of year. That said, spring is showing recidivist tendencies this week, with a bitter northerly pegging temperatures in single digits (C) and leaving the flowers wondering if they’ve accidentally skipped a few pages in their diaries. N.
Dare I presume to pen one word for thee,
The greatest of us all, whose works and fame
Ring round the globe? Have I audacity
Enough to dedicate lines to thy name?
The one who crowned great kings, broke lovers’ hearts,
Wrought new worlds, words and wonders on the page;
Unwound this mortal coil and all its parts,
Made us ourselves, and all the world your stage.
But dare I must; I have no other choice
As one alive in England at this hour:
Four centuries have passed, and still your voice
Compels my heart and hand. Such is your power.
Can words of mine do honour to this day?
I am no Will, but I shall find a way.
Had to write something to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of my one true hero, William Shakespeare, on 23 April. It’s a couple of days after the event, I know, but I had to summon enough courage before commemorating the ultimate sonneteer ! N.
What stood here
Where three roads meet
Before those twenty feet of sharp-cut stone?
How many of its litany of loss
Once sat here, as I do,
Savouring a glass
In the long day’s golden hour?
And in that far-off hell
Was this the heaven
That sustained them:
The lych-gate, church, high rectory walls,
The copper beech’s vaulted roof
And this old pub, dark, square and snug,
Infused with wood-smoke, ale and song.
Now as the half-hour chimes
And blackbirds hymn the April sun to rest
Would they sleep easy
Knowing that this little land
They loved and left for good
Stood ready to renounce the bonds
Of faith and friendship they once forged
Fought and now stand remembered for
Where three roads meet,
As we, their proud inheritors,
Consider parting ways?
Sitting outside a local pub last night, I found myself contemplating the war memorial (difficult not to, actually, since it’s right in the centre of the village and really rather enormous) and started jotting down a few thoughts that accidentally became a poem. I’d promised myself I wouldn’t write about the whole EU referendum mess we’ve been landed in by our glorious leaders, but I ended up doing just that. The EU is far from perfect, of course, but the idea of ‘plucky Britannia standing alone’ is one that, to my mind at least, is now way past its use-by date. N.