I Remember

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Photo by luizclas on Pexels.com

I REMEMBER

 

 So well I remember, 
Can I forget 
Those long summer days 
When you and I met? 

The moors were in heather 
And I was in haste; 
My heart it was yearning
Your lips to taste.

But you were indifferent,
Your eyes were elsewhere,
Oblivious to me
And life wasn’t fair.

So I buried my pride,
Gave in to sorrow. 
I’d learnt a hard lesson,
There was always tomorrow. 

Now that day it has come 
And we’ve met up again. 
You express your regret 
For the ache, for the pain. 

But I can’t now rekindle 
Those feelings I had. 
Time has taken its toll,
Our story is sad. 

 

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‘This Is Just To Say’ – William Carlos Williams

[  # 87 of My Favourite Short Poems  ]

Q. When is a mundane note not just a mundane note?
Q. When is a mundane note a poem?
Q. When is a scribbled note stuck on the fridge door to your wife a poem?

A. When William Carlos Williams writes it – as he did here, as long ago as 1934, when it suddenly  became, in 21st century jargon, ‘viral’.

The more times I read the poem below, the more I am able to see the depth in it.
Contentment in a relationship, acceptance, ease, familiarity, intimacy and even love are all here.

Note how pointedly the title becomes the first line . . .

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sliced fruits on pink ceramic plate

Photo on Pexels.com

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox

and which

you were probably

saving

for breakfast

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

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The effect of this poem may be enhanced by watching and listening to this YouTube video in which Matthew Macfadyen reads the poem ‘This Is Just To Say’

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William Carlos Williams ( 1883 – 1963 ) had an English father and a Puerto Rican mother.  He grew up in Rutherford, New Jersey.   He was an American poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright. He was also a physician practising both paediatrics and general medicine.  With Ezra Pound and H.D.Williams he was a leading poet of the Imagist movement and often wrote of American subjects and themes. He became an inspiration to the Beat generation in the 1950s and 60s.  As in the poem above, his poetry was often domestic in focus and was described as “remarkable for its empathy, sympathy, its muscular and emotional identification with its subjects.”

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Bed-side Blues

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“Life is like a half-sucked sweet –
Not what it used to be.”

 

What A Sucker

She brought me gifts to soothe my hurt;
She meant well I suppose,
As in this clinic bed I lay
Attempting just to doze.

She tiptoed gently to my side, 
Pretending not to wake me;
Whispering then into my ear
She raised my spirits greatly.

“Just a few nuts, you’re bound to like,
They’ll help to make you well. 
A peanut a day is good they say,
I don’t know how they tell.

The sickly coating’s not so good, 
So to help you with that cough
I’ve licked them till there’s just the nut
And sucked the chocolate off.” 

 

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Kurt Vonnegut – ‘Two Little Good Girls’

[  # 86 of My Favourite Short Poems  ]

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Known primarily as a novelist, Kurt Vonnegut (1922 – 2007) was an American writer. He published 14 novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five works of non-fiction. He is most famous for his darkly satirical, best-selling novel ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’, published in(1969.

I do like this short poem of his which I came across only recently.  Apparently it was never given a title by Vonnegut and was discovered in a letter of 1961 sent by him to a friend.  It has a delightfully simple and artless warmth which engenders such good feeling and optimism.

 

Two little good girls
Watchful and wise —
Clever little hands
And big kind eyes —
Look for signs that the world is good,
Comport themselves as good folk should.
They wonder at a father
Who is sad and funny strong,
And they wonder at a mother
Like a childhood song.
And what, and what
Do the two think of?
Of the sun
And the moon
And the earth
And love.

 

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A Dream Enriched

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Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones: ‘The Love Song’

A DREAM ENRICHED

 She came to me
A dream enriched
When I was most in need.
Long summers passed
And she was there
She held my hand
Until with time
My troubles did recede

 And then
When age had bitten back
She gave her love to me
Without a qualm
She took my arm
For she was Spring
As Autumn came
And I was home at last.

 

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A Bag For Life

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A Bag For Life

Standing in the queue
at the checkout just last week
I chanced to hear the cashier
to a dear old lady speak,

“Well, my dear, I wonder
if you’d welcome one of these.
It’s called a ‘Bag For Life’,
and will take your goods with ease.”

To which that lady brightly,
with her tongue stuck in her cheek,
Says, “No thank you dear, you see
I’m only here one week.”

 

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‘I wish I loved the Human Race’

[  # 85 of My Favourite Short Poems  ]

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Image from Wikipedia

Not to be confused with his more famous namesake who played such an important role in the early colonisation of North America, (1582 – 1618), Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh (1861 – 1922) was an English scholar, poet, and author.  He was born in London, the fifth child and only son of a local Congregation minister.   Raleigh is buried in the churchyard of the parish church of St. Lawrence at North Hinksey, near Oxford.  His son Hilary edited his light prose, verse, and plays in ‘Laughter from a Cloud (1923).  He is probably best known for the poem “Wishes of an Elderly Man, Wished at a Garden Party, June 1914”.

It is this poem, bitter-sweet and with its pessimistic view of mankind, but not without its wry humour, which I have chosen to remind my readers of today . . .

 

I wish I loved the Human Race

I wish I loved the Human Race;
I wish I loved its silly face;
I wish I liked the way it walks;
I wish I liked the way it talks;
And when I’m introduced to one,
I wish I thought ‘What Jolly Fun’.

 

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RYE, East Sussex, England

[ Photo Gallery # 90 ]

RYE is an English town near the coast in East Sussex.  It was one of the original Cinque Ports and parts of the original walls and town gates, once built to guard against invasions from the French, still remain.  Over the centuries, however, the sea has receded leaving Rye Harbour and the coast of the English Channel about 2 miles (3.2 km) downriver from the town.  In the town centre, cobbled lanes like Mermaid Street still exist lined with medieval, half-timbered houses. The redbrick Lamb House was once owned by writer Henry James. Nearby, the tower of the Norman St. Mary’s Church overlooks the town. 

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Low tide on the River Rother at Rye

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Ancient Rye Mill, reconstructed in 1932 after a fire destroyed much of the superstructure

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Fascinating weather-worn textures in part of the ancient town walls

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Looking uphill along the cobbled Mermaid Street to Lamb House at the top right

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View across the roofs of the town from the roof of St. Mary’s Church tower

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Another view across the roofs of the town from the roof of St. Mary’s Church tower

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View towards the River Rother from the roof of St. Mary’s Church tower

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A Burne-Jones stained-glass window in St.Mary’s Church

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A lovely corner window in the town

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House front near St.Mary’s Church

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One of the ancient town entry gates

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The green plaque is inscribed ‘Radclyffe Hall (1880 – 1943), Novelist, lived here.’

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The Lark Ascending

The Lark Ascending

THE LARK ASCENDING

 

As the morning lark ascends 

So my spirits fly,

Replaying my life. 

The memories spill

Across the cloudless sky,

And I consider time well spent 

Because it was spent with you.

And what the future has in store 

Holds no fears for me. 

The past was rich; 

We caught the wind,

Soared with each new gust,

Through dips and dives

We stayed alive.

Fruition came anew.

With each new swoop,

Each twist and turn,

A new path was revealed.

We that were two

Are now as one,

Our destinies are sealed.

 

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A poem written to keep in my memory the thoughts engendered by the music played at my wife’s funeral eight weeks ago today.  Composed by Vaughan Williams, ‘The Lark Ascending’ was very much her favourite piece of classical music.  The version used was played on the violin by the Scottish violinist, Nicola Benedetti, and can be heard on YouTube at: ‘The Lark Ascending’

 

 

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‘Who’s Who’ – Benjamin Zephaniah

[  # 84 of My Favourite Short Poems  ]

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Benjamin Zephaniah

 

 

‘Who’s Who’

I used to think nurses

Were women

I used to think police were men

I used to think poets

Were boring

Until I became one of them.

 

Benjamin Zephaniah

 

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Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah (born 15 April 1958) is a British writer, poet and Rastafarian.  He was included in The Times list of Britain’s top 50 post-war writers in 2008.  Zephaniah was born and raised in the Handsworth district of Birmingham which he has called the “Jamaican capital of Europe”. He is the son of a Barbadian postman and a Jamaican nurse.  A dyslexic, he attended an approved school but left aged 13 unable to read or write.

He now writes that his poetry is strongly influenced by the music and poetry of Jamaica and what he calls “street politics”. His first performance was in church when he was eleven, and by the age of fifteen, his poetry was already known among Handsworth’s Afro-Caribbean and Asian communities.

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