Saturday, June 24, 2006

Poetry Saturday

Being in Gloucestershire this weekend, I thought I would make my belated Poetry selection from the work of Gloucestershire poet and composer, Ivor Gurney (about whom you can learn a bit more from my "other" website).

To His Love

He's gone, and all our plans
Are useless indeed.
We'll walk no more on Cotswold
Where the sheep feed
Quietly and take no heed.
His body that was so quick
Is not as you
Knew it, on Severn river
Under the blue
Driving our small boat through.
You would not know him now.
But still he died
Nobly, so cover him over
With violets of pride
Purple from Severn side.

Cover him, cover him soon.'
And with thick-set
Masses of memoried flowers-
Hide that red wet
Thing I must somehow forget.

The Love Song

Out of the blackthorn edges
I caught a tune
And before it could vanish, seized
It, wrote it down.

Gave to a girl, so praising
Her eyes, lips and hair
She had little knowing, it was only thorn
Had dreamed of a girl there.

Prettily she thanked me, and never
Guessed any of my deceit…
But O Earth is this the only way
Man may conquer, a girl surrender her sweet?

Up There

On Cotswold edge there is a field and that
Grows thick with corn and speedwell and the mat
Of thistles, of the tall kind; Rome lived there,
Some hurt centurion got his grant or tenure,
Built farm with fowls and pigsties and wood-piles,
Waited for service custom between whiles.
The farmer ploughs up coins in the wet-earth time,
He sees them on the topple of crests gleam,
Or run down furrow; and halts and does let them lie
Like a small black island in brown immensity,
Till his wonder is ceased,
and his great hand picks up the penny.
Red pottery easy discovered, no searching needed…
One wonders what farms were like,
no searching needed,
As now the single kite hovering still
By the coppice there, level with the flat of the hill.


To me the A Major Concerto* has been dearer
Than ever before, because I saw one weave
Wonderful patterns of bright green, never clearer
Of April; whose hand nothing at all did deceive
Of laying right
The stakes bright
Green lopped-off spear-shaped,
                  and stuck notched, crooked-up;
Wonder was quickened at workman’s craftsmanship
But clumsy were the efforts of my stiff body
To help him in the laying of bramble, ready
Of mind, but clumsy of muscle in helping; rip
Of clothes unheeded, torn hands.
                  And his quick moving
Was never broken by any danger, his loving
Use of the bill or scythe was most deft, and clear—
Had my piano-playing or counterpoint
Been so without fear
Then indeed fame had been mine
                  of most bright outshining;
But never had I known singer or piano-player
So quick and sure in movement as this hedge-layer
This gap-mender, of quiet courage unhastening.

* Mozart: Piano Concerto No.23 in A major, K.488

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

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