The Night is full of stars!

As some people have commented favourably on my earlier poems, I thought that from time to time I would share a few more of my better poems.

This is what is probably my favourite among the many poems I have written and I recite it quietly to myself from time to time.

NIGHT-TIME

O Night! immortal queen of loveliness:
the moon thy crown; the stars entwine
Thy hair and limbs of jet.
Thy breath like dusky wine
That  fills each corner of my sense,
Making the world seem more not less divine.

Spreading wide the borders of my being
With calm that fills my soul; aware
No more of flesh and blood,
A spirit of the air
I seem, and in my thought ascend
Far upward into realms where all is fair.

And heaven’s curtains tremble in the breeze
Of some unearthly wind that blows
From far beyond the seas,
Which to my spirit shows
A fleeting glimpse of hidden things
That half elusive seem and half one knows.

Then soft as sighs my thoughts once more return
To this sad quiet world, now lain
Within thy arms, O Night,
Who soothes away the strain
And restless weariness of life
That never brings forth joy except in pain.

As long as I can remember, I loved the night and spent much time leaning out of my bedroom window looking at the stars. My room faced north and I knew all the northerly constellations.

This poem however I think was begun as I was walking back from the railway station one evening. I was twenty-two. However it does speak of those times I stood at my bedroom window and listened to the night.

And perhaps, as an indulgence, I will add a much earlier poem that is also inspired by the night sky. This was written when I was fourteen and is not an especially good poem but perhaps it captures something.

SILVER NIGHT

The silver sea lapped on the silver shore,
And up above ‘mongst silver stars, the moon,
Wrapped in sacred mystery and awe,
Shone through the silver silent night of June.

The moon serene shone on the earth so clear,
And all around the stars shone out so bright;
No space was vacant in that starry sphere,
And all the earth was bathed in full moon light.

Clustering round the moon, like silver moths, the stars;
As if flitting delighted enchanted around a white rose;
They shone like a thousand shields round the planet Mars,
A silver host gone out to fight his foes.

The silver waves played on the silver sands,
And all around deep harmony and peace;
The silence was like heavenly angel bands,
Deep music that at sound or noise would cease.

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Of Time and Existence

Tomorrow I have an exciting post for you but today I thought I would share this.

I put this together before Christmas when I thought I wouldn’t be ready for a Christmas card post. In the event I had manged to put the angel bookmark cards together and photograph them but since I have the post I thought I would share it anyway!

 I was thinking maybe I would share some more of my poetry.

These were written years ago when poetry was my main creative outlet. But maybe I feel they still have something to say.

In my earlier post I explained how the first poem won the prize for best School Magazine entry.

Well the first of the poems below also got into the school magazine and would have won the prize except that they asked me if I minded if they gave it to someone else as I had won the previous year. Isn’t that sweet? As I spent most of my school life being thought little of and my parents never liked my poems I think this should have surprised me more than it did.

NOW

On time’s infinitesimal isthmus now – we stand
With all our lives set out on either hand:
the past in mists receding – future hid.

What is this life of ours but a fruitless dream,
A hand in the dark that grasps a moonbeam,
An endless journey without stop or stay?

Nothing exists but continuity – which stays
A golden chain that links the hours and days,
the shinning thread of life that Clotho spins.

Life lives in the labyrinth of memory and dreams;
Each thought however real or passing seems
Is but the echo of a distant sigh.

Existence is in all the time through which we live
But presence which we to each instant give
Abides not long enough – to say “I’m here.”

To God all of time is now;
To us as no time at all.

This was written in the Summer of 1965. The following Summer I wrote another poem with a similar theme.

TIME

Time passes like the wind and we stand bound;
More firmly held than ropes or chains can bind;
More surely than by bars encompassed round.

The tree puts forth its buds, the brown leaves fall,
Time’s wheel turns, eternal revolution;
For time is change, mutation, and decay.

The seasons’ cycle, changing, always the same.
Yet time does not return, but ripple like
Spreads undulating to infinity.

Death pierces time, children torn from the womb,
We plunge in to the unknowable void,
And all the things that lie beyond our dreams.

Time moves quicker than we can understand;
The seconds like flashes of lightning pass
And as the cliffs the years crumble away.

Inevitable, inexorable.
Who can halt time’s swift approach?
Or make one second’s space endurable?

That same summer I also tackled the question of the nature of our existence. Containing a little teenage angst perhaps. Thought I didn’t meet the existentialists till years later.

BEING

I did not exist,
But now I am,
And so forever,
Forever.

So it is with you,
But not the same.
We are separate,
Isolate.

I do not know you;
You know not me.
Why am I not you? Nor you I?

What is this barrier
Like the cell wall,
That keeps us apart,
Inviolate.

We are like snowflakes,
Thousand, thousands,
All are different,
Yet alike.

Individuals,
Lone and lonely,
whom no-one ever
Understands.

There is perhaps an answer to the above in the last poem I will share today, written during the following summer and called –

LOVE

A kiss
peace.
love
pulsing vibrating
peace
joy.
you I
one
unity.
not you, not I
us.
essence
being
complete.

I wonder if I should go back to writing poetry but I have never been good at writing to order. When I was young poems just happened!

Beauty and Truth

Today I don’t have anything new to show you of crochet, knitting or recipes or even photographs so I will share something that has been in the back of my mind for some while.

‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’

So writes Keats at the end of his poem “Ode on a Grecian Urn”.

All my life I can see that there are two things that have been supremely important to me: the first is Truth, which I always defined to myself not in terms of words and statements but as ‘reality – what is’, the second is beauty.

When I create something in crochet or knitting I am always looking to create something that is not only functional but also beautiful. That is why I love rainbows, because to me the gradually progression of colours in a rainbow is intensely beautiful.

A rainbow also has an element of truth because it shows us the colours that are hidden in white light.

As a small child my father would read to me from “Palgrove’s Golden Treasury” and when I was about eight I started trying to write poetry myself.

Neither my father nor my mother ever liked my poetry but when I was seventeen I entered one of my poems for the school magazine and won the prize for the best entry. My father called the poem ‘precious’ and hated it.

But it was one of my poems where I was trying to capture a sense of both beauty and the fragility of life. You may agree with my father but I will share it below so you can see.

A GIRL DROWNED IN WINTER

frozen,

dead,

like the sleeping princess,

as if but a kiss would wake her.

her hair in studied perfection lies,

her hands composed in calmest grace.

 

her face,

fair.

those cheeks where roses bloomed,

her petal eyelids, fringed with gold,

so lightly closed in dreamless sleep,

our whispers could almost wake her.

 

But no.

Cold.

icy brows, frozen lips

that once were parted with sweetest breath.

no more, no more only the tomb

shall hear her soundless wordless cries.

 

and here,

still.

youth’s beauty transfixed

by the might of the cruel sea;

drawn down to the darkness of death,

daylight no more, forever night.

 

Late I wrote an even more fanciful poem that was meant to capture a similar reality.

It is called

THE ROSE

 

A rose growing in the dawn

Of the morning of the world:

Incandescent beauty

Glowing pink, white and golden.

 

Each petal stirs like a flame

As the bud unfolds:

It’s life reality – beauty

Beyond apprehension.

 

And then I saw

Walking across the Eastern sea

 

A maid with eyes like stars

And hair of flame,

Wrapped in a rainbow mantle

Of flowing iridescence.

 

The sea so calm and grey

Beneather her feet like pearl.

 

Across the sands she came

Towards the living rose

Stretched out her trembling hands

Like opals and carved jade.

 

She broke the stem like glass

And all the world was still,

Then turning she bore the rose

Beyond the rising sun.

 

I can see that this combining of truth and beauty is why I like photography and especially photographing flowers.

It is also why I resist the idea of editing my photos to make them into art works as for me capturing the truth of the moment is what it is all about.

Here is what I consider one of my best photgraphs ever because it capture’s that perfect moment.

0203-waterlily

 

Signs of Autumn

On Tuesday afternoon I set out to look for signs of Autumn.

Oh how I would love to live in New England where the Autumn colours are so gorgeous but I don’t so I did what I could.

Normally, in search of Autumn, I would head for Southampton Common but riding on the bus a few days before I realised that I might find as much to photograph by going to the city parks which are just as close.

The weather in the afternoon was not as good as it had promised in the morning so all these photographs were taken in Watts Park or along the way there and back.


Autumn has always held a special fascination for me and when I was younger I wrote several poems celebrating the beauty of autumn.

Now I know that I am not a great poet, not even a good one perhaps. Nonetheless I would like to finish this post with a poem I wrote when I was nineteen that has always stayed with me.

Autumn

Autumn,
Sadder than winter,
Lovelier than Spring.

Sadder
with the sadness
of a dying world
that makes
each leaf a tear,
each breath a sigh.
Sadder
than winter’s bleakness
and sterility
for the dying
deserve more pity
than the dead.

Lovely!
The trees now shine
clad in copper golds
among the yet green trees
and tall dark pines.
While sun
like new washed gold
filters palely through
and in the dawn
hang filmy cobwebs
bright with dew.

*****     *****     *****     *****     *****

No tall dark pines among these photographs, I would have needed the Common for that, or dewy cobwebs I am afraid. Maybe another time.

A poem and a recipe

Seeing my daughter’s poem has given the courage to share my Good Friday poem with you. I wrote it a long time ago but I remember it every Good Friday.

THE CROWN

Bright are the crowns of kings with diamonds
And heavy as ceremony the gold
That rings their anointed brows.
But for Him,
The King of Kings and Lord of Lords,
Only a crown of bitter thorns,
In mockery wrought by scoffing men.
Harsh thorns, that tear His hair and pierce His flesh;
Yet not so sharp, as sin’s thorn in his heart,
Or man’s heart-blindness to His saving love.
The blood in streams pours down His tender face.
Behold, the Man: the thorn crowned King of Grace.

*****     *****     *****     *****     *****

And so as it is Good Friday tomorrow I am also going to share with you the Hot Cross Buns I made this year.

I decided to use the ‘no-knead artisan’ method as found here http://attic24.typepad.com/weblog/2014/01/artisan-bread.html for making and cooking them.

I have added metric measurements to the recipe but they are not exact conversions so use either imperial or metric measurements – don’t mix them.

Hot Cross Buns

With added photos of better looking buns made the following year.

You take 8 oz (200 g) of wholemeal and 8 oz (200 g) of white bread flour.

0249-flour

Add 1 tsp of easy yeast and 1 tsp salt. (I would have used twice as much yeast if making them in the normal way).

0249-Yeast&salt

And 2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp mixed spice. (I like my buns spicy and am especially fond of cinnamon).

0249-spice

And mix together in a large bowl.

You put 2 oz (50 g) butter and 3 oz (75 g) dark brown sugar in a saucepan and melt gently.

0249-butter&sugar

Add 8 fl oz (200 ml) milk and 2 fl oz (50 ml) water. (The water is extra becaus of the ‘no-knead artisan’ method).

0249-liquid

Beat 2 eggs

0249-twoeggs

and add all the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients

0249-liquidadded

and mix well.

0249-mixture

Add 5 oz (125 g) mixed dried fruit (I didn’t have any ‘dried fruit’ so I used sultanas instead and also added the zest of an orange – because I had one!)

0249-fruit

Mix again

0249-finalmixture

cover with cling film and leave for the 12 hours or more in a warm place. Since the weather is mild, I simply left the bowl on the table in the kitchen overnight.

When the dough is ready put a large covered casserole in the oven at 450 deg F or 220 deg C for 30 mins.

0230-pot

Meanwhile, shape the buns.

As the buns would need more room than a loaf I decided to cook them in two lots.

0249-nine

and

0249-seven

As you can see I am not very good at shaping! but also I didn’t want to handle the dough too much.

Decorate the top with crosses.

I decided to make the crosses by piping on a flour and water mixture which I haven’t tried before as I am not much good at piping either.

0249-flour&water

Here They are

0249-crossed

I decided that next time I will make the mixture a little thicker.

Next year I made half quantities and made the cross flour mixture thicker and they were better

2015 buns with crosses

Add buns to pot and cook for 20 mins. (I wasn’t sure how long to do them for but guessed 20 minutes and I think it was about right.)

Uncover and cook for a further 5 mins. (Again this was approximate but seemed to be okay.)

Brush with a sugar and water mixture while still hot to glaze.

0249-nineglazed

As you can see they have risen well and squashed together.

The seven which were more widely spaced have still joined but more loosely

0249-sevenglazed

But the next years look so much better

2015 buns cooked2015 buns glazedOf course I had to eat one just to show you the inside even though it is not Good Friday until tomorrow.

0249-texture

And yes! I did add butter after I had taken the photograph. Yumm! Rich and spicy.

Of course if you used only white flour, white sugar and less spice you could make a much blander version but would you want to?

I do like this no-knead method of making yeast dough. Less effort and it rises so well.

Drowning In The Deep

As someone who has lived in Southampton or nearby for over forty years I felt that I would like to reblog this poem (especially as it is written by my eldest child).

Creative Geekery

I’ve always known of the Titanic, as long as I can remember and her fate has always moved me. Today, on the 102nd anniversary of her sinking I found myself inspired to write this poem.

Drowning In The Deep

Drowning in the cold deep ocean,
Falling, alone, into the dark,
Cut by a thousand daggers
I am frozen with cold.

My dreams are dying with me.
The future I might have known,
The life I should have led,
All lost to the sea.

Will you recall my name
When you look at the sea?
Remember my fear
Of this cold grave?

Will I live on
In your stories?
Can your memories
Save me?

Can you?
Save
Me.

© CMB

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