Thick, soft tresses of maidenly blossom cascade – scented surf in a heavenly flood, Pure white dress of the Hawthorn will one day become berry necklaces scarlet as blood At the sight off a-gathering filling my basket I’ll go for a plentiful store Of the berry that brews to a tea with the power to soothe and relax and restore Hawthorn tea you delight me You calm yet excite me When daytime to evening gives way A swift end to anxiety Drunken sobriety Perfect for closing the day
I feel I should probably write a second verse to that at some point, echoing the same stanza structure, but for the moment, there it is.
When I started the poem I was just writing about hawthorn blossom but then it came to be about the tea too. So it leaps from early Summer to Autumn with the line: “pure white dress of the Hawthorn will one day become berry necklaces scarlet as blood.”
The effect of the tea is a recognised one by the way – something to do with opioid receptors and vasodilation – a rush of blood to the head. Only thing I’ve ever found that is comparable to alcohol in it’s ability to take the edge off things at the end of the day, but a healthy alternative. Very effective at lowering blood pressure I understand and great for rounding off a day when you’ve been hitting the Java. Hence: “drunken sobriety” in the poem
The bit about gathering them is poetic license – I did do that a couple of autumns back but now I just buy pre-dried. I use about 50 berries, and I leave them boiling in a pan for about 12 mins, then I stand them for a further ten minutes in the water, steeping, having also added a chamomile teabag, then I sup away. I’ll then give those same berries a second boil but in less water and only for a couple minutes, for a second cup.
If you go down to the woods today you’re in for a big surprise as dozens of darling dinosaurs compete for their opera prize
A phrase from one may establish its rhythm, but then it’s lost as another phrase cuts blithely across it with all the informality of free verse, in rich cacophony
And then that rhythm you heard before will suddenly reappear in a moment of ordered harmony as if made for the human ear
Then it’s gone again, but the sounds still delight – heaven-storming chitterings pulsing scintillating emanations through the sap-irrigated matrix of the Chloromyriad
The Old Romantics oh!’d and ah!’d for they found it uplifting and freeing and now the science is backing them up: It bolters our mental well-being
So bathe in the forest and smell the earthy humus for even now the Star-lungs are warming up their vox-boxes in readiness – may we likewise prep our auro-tubules for sensitive apprecio-resonance with this ancient treasure of our planet!
If you’re on the road to Chitterfest you’d better keep moving fast for tomorrow’s the day the developers come so this chance may be your last
Sing on, sweet birds, sing on your spasmodic gutterations of brain-brightening liquid light! Star-lungs: stars are flowers; flowers is bird; bird is Spring…. No bird, no Spring
Should every bird that ever there was stare mute from under glass – just dozens of dry, dumb dodos – we’ll despair that this came to pass
My gladness of the silver birch I wish To share, that slender goddess of a tree Her shower of silken hair moves in a swish That stirs in me a mystic reverie As turns this verdant, grassy leaf-fringed glade Into her sacred grove, and I, her priest Mid-frisson in the dancing, dappled shade Call druids, bards and ovates to the feast But let us now the details try to trace The little leaves, heart-shaped, serrated trail Along each pliant twig to form a spray That’s bright and airy, made with measured grace Cascading sprays together form the veil That by the gentle breeze is set to sway Her stretch of sky she turns to shimmering show And whispers Summer’s secrets soft and low.
O fine, faff-free and labour-saving key That lets me lock and unlock, with one press, The car remotely and most easily For you my heart now fills with thankfulness Let’s say it’s raining and one stands With luggage in both hands It’s been a busy day and one is tired How glad one feels to then recall A single button press is all That is required!
Hephaestus for the gods with rarest skill Did many a shining bronze device design Some tool that leapt to action at their will Performing tasks befitting lives divine: Their gold cars pulled by brazen steed Through air at such a speed As lighting that precedes the thunder’s rumble We feel ourselves to be their kin When gracefully we enter in Without a fumble
So unimpeded in the car I climb And like a king upon a throne I sit And cruise the country lanes in state sublime Like Bacchus in his magic vine-filled ship And as my homeward way I wend I know at journey’s end There waits for me a happy circumstance: I’ll loose the safety belt and out I’ll get and walk away without A backwards glance.
O key ingredient of the harmony Of Spring, dear Songbird stay, we beg you, stay! The dead must feel an equal agony To hear you not, nor see the light of day Should silence fall within the woodland dells We’d mourn as if the Sun had left the sky Or all the flowers lost their honey smells As from their petals drained the coloured dye We love those trills that irrigate the mind With water from a laughing, babbling stream Your calls explore a secret sylvan space And by the echoes somehow is defined Within our human thought a painted scene Of all that’s filled with natural, verdant grace Sweet Songbird stay and ever, ever sing for once you’re gone it never could be Spring
We’ll take whatever course for you is best Ensure the fields from poisons are kept free Keep dogs instead of cats, to spare your nest And anywhere you need it plant a tree We’ll plant such bowery covert as you need We’ll plant so you can shelter, roost and call We’ll plant the plants that give you food to feed We’ll plant them if we value Spring at all We love each sound you sing, o darling bird All notes that issue from your quavering throat Each lilting warble, chirrup, cheep and coo By which the silent sleeping air is stirred These sounds now through my open window float To broach the Gates of Dawn, and bring the New! Sweet Songbird stay and ever, ever sing for once you’re gone it never could be Spring
When work is done, thoughts turn to home’s warm glow Behind me has now closed the office gate Bright images shine forth that lift me so Familiar smiles of little ones who wait And onward leaps my heart to say To them that I’m well on my way And echo back the joyous, radiant cheer Returning is a Treasured Thing That makes my Soul and Spirit sing For they to me are infinitely dear.
This love must be the fire that warms the tale Of he who journeyed far on leaving Troy And neither towering wave nor raging gale The will to reach his loved ones could destroy Nor could the lulling lotus flower With all its hedonistic power Obliterate the thoughts of wife and child Nor could the cyclops rude and strong Nor sirens with their luring song Prevent him reaching his beloved isle.
Our old savannah tribes would send a band Of huntsmen, ranging far in search of prey By reading clues laid down by hoof in sand To guide them on for days upon their way Until, at length, the prize attained, They yearn to see those who remained In camp, awaiting that long hoped for sign: When finally the band they spy Across the grassland wild and dry Their hearts explode for joy, and so does mine.
At dim-lit dawn on Platform 1 in sombre throng we stand forlorn in flat, sense-numb routine until from trackside trees bright breaks the redbreast song: clear, lucent water in a crystal stream We tend to think that we’ll not hear such music at this time of year yet chiffchaff, thrush and finch brave Winter’s squall Untensing, in my mental eye I spread my wings; I rise and fly upon the soothing sound set free, and then recall
how Branwen’s hope lay likewise in her feathered friend as she in miniature set down her news: ‘Come soon! I, Queen of Eire am by brute force detained Your sister, Bran, they torture and abuse’ She ring-wise rolls her chosen words and gently takes the docile bird’s frail form and round a tiny leg she ties the note. A kiss, to wish it well then through the window of her cell releases it and skyward, swift the starling flies
It lands, it sings, they read, they sail, but sail in vain: A fire claims her child – she can’t but grieve and though Bran’s fleet a wood had seemed upon the main Just queen and seven soldiers live to leave And these in shock, with aching hearts Then board their ship and disembark Across the sea in saddest state they sail When finally they reach their home She dies of grief with one last moan In sympathy the voices of the songbirds fail.
How heavy sat the sorrow of these seven men While songbird silence held the land in thrall They travelled on together through the gloom and then They came to Harlech with its feasting hall And here a wondrous sound they heard Of great Rhiannon’s mystic birds And suddenly sweet bliss displaced their pain And here for seven happy years This magic kept away their tears As I too am uplifted waiting for my train.
For aromatic oils in herbs and shrubs Let thanks rise to the gods, from whence they fell When one but holds the leaves and gently rubs There issues forth a mystic, fragrant smell The living plants will ornament A tended garden plot The plants will then provide yet further gifts For sprigs of these ingredients When added to the cooking pot The taste uplifts
Hellenic folk in golden ages old These perfumes of the plants sought to explain With stories down the generations told Of how such shrubs some pretty nymph contain How when Apollo yearned to kiss Sweet Daphne, she, forlorn With all speed did attempt to run away Then saving metamorphosis The pretty maiden did transform To odorous bay
O Sage! O Thyme! O Rosemary! I praise Your power to boost our health, our pain to ease Our memory to strengthen, moods to raise Our sense of sight and smell and taste to please It must have been when we first burnt Dry incense, or with mint We first less pleasant tastes and smells disguised That we, now that at last we’d learnt To add a subtle herbal hint Were civilised
O Effortless Discoverer! O Wine! Two-Things-at-Once! Dark Sunshine! Old-but-Young! Bestir to tripping dance the Muse of Rhyme Great Uninhibitor, loosen her tongue Send forth your shelt’ring leaves over my mind Embrace with dappled shade the grapes of thought Protect them from the light of Trying-to-Find Lest nude in Reason’s burning glare they’re caught For season after season we entrust This treasure to the cave of rustic stone As silently the ruby liquid dreams Long slumb’ring in the cellar’s dark and dust What secret mysteries to you were shown By under-dwelling nymphs of chthonic streams? O gen’rous partner in the poet’s art Now set the pen in flight, and help me start!