Poem of the week – January by John Updike

thin-ice-17996_640It’s back! We haven’t had a poem of the week for a little while but Stu, a librarian based at Seacroft has been busy finding some wintery gems that I will share over the coming weeks.

January
The days are short,
 The sun a spark,
 Hung thin between
 The dark and dark.
 
 Fat snowy footsteps
 Track the floor.
 Milk bottles burst
 Outside the door.
 
 The river is
 A frozen place
 Held still beneath
 The trees of lace.
 
 The sky is low.
 The wind is gray.
 The radiator
 Purrs all day.

 

Poem of the week – Pessimism for Beginners by Sophie Hannah

sophie hannahThis weeks poem is from Sophie Hannah. Sophie has published five bestselling collections and this poem is taken from the collection; Selected Poems, published 2006. I think we all have a pessimist in our lives and this made me giggle. This one’s for you Mum!

Pessimism for Beginners

When you're waiting for someone to email,
When you're waiting for someone to call - 
Young or old, gay or straight, male or female - 
Don't assume that they're busy, that's all. 

Don't conclude that their letter went missing
Or they must be away for a while;
Think instead that they're cursing and hissing - 
They've decided you're venal and vile,

That your eyes should be pecked out by an eagle.
Oh to bash in your head with a stone!
But since this is fairly illegal
They've no choice but to leave you alone. 

Be they friend, parent, sibling or lover
Or your most stalwart colleague at work,
Don't pursue them. You'll only discover
That your once-irresistible quirk

Is no longer appealing. Far from it. 
Everything you are and you do
Makes them spatter their basin with vomit.
They loathe Hitler and herpes and you. 

Once you take this on board, life gets better. 
You give no one your hopes to destroy. 
The most cursory phone call or letter
Makes you pickle your heart in pure joy. 

It's so different from what you expected!
They do not want to gouge out your eyes!
You feel neither abused nor rejected - 
What a stunning and perfect surprise. 

This approach I'm endorsing will net you
A small portion of boundless delight. 
Keep believing the world's out to get you.
Now and then you might not be proved right.

Poem of the week – Eating Her Children by Ellen Phethean

BreathThis week’s poem is a day early as it is National Poetry Day today. If you don’t normally read poems you could start today and I think this lovely poem from Ellen Phethean is a good place to start. Ellen was a featured poet with the Read Regional campaign last year which is where I came across her. Her poems feature childhood and family life as well as the cultural landscape of Newcastle upon Tyne and this poem should really resonate with any parents.

Eating her Children

Her babies were milky puddings,
delicate as junket, not quite set,
messy possets that she coddled, rolled
on her tongue, licking and sucking,
wanting it to last. 

Toddlers were finger food, currant-dotted
hot cross buns, eaten on the hoof, at a run,
walloped down. Only after
did she regret
the indigestion. 

She ate her ten year old for breakfast
one sunny morning, a golden croissant,
smelling warm, buttery crisp,
his own perfect curl,
she bit greedily. 

Her eldest went off: sharp as anchovies,
tough as liquorice stick, a bitter unripe olive.
She had to spit him out, go hungry,
knowing some other mouth
would find him. 

Poem of the week – This Lunar Beauty by W.H. Auden

Auden Selected PoemsThis weeks’ poem is taken from Selected Poems by W.H. Auden.

This lunar beauty
Has no history
Is complete and early;
If beauty later
Bear any feature
It had a lover
And is another.

This like a dream
Keeps another time
And daytime is
The loss of this;
For time is inches
And the heart's changes
Where ghost has haunted
Lost and wanted.

But this was never
A ghost's endeavour
Nor finished this,
Was ghost at ease;
And till it pass
Love shall not near
The sweetness here
Nor sorrow take
His endless look.

Poem of the week – Song at the Beginning of Autumn by Elizabeth Jennings

collected poems jenningsThis weeks poem is taken from The Collected Poems by Elizabeth Jennings.

Song at the Beginning of Autumn

Now watch this Autumn that arrives
In smells. All looks like Summer still;
Colours are quite unchanged, the air
On green and white serenely thrives.
Heavy the trees with growth and full
The fields. Flowers flourish everywhere.

Proust who collected time within
A child's cake would understand
The ambiguity of this - 
Summer still raging while a thin
Column of smoke stirs from the land
Proving that Autumn gropes for us.

But every season is a kind
Of rich nostalgia. We give names - 
Autumn and Summer, Winter, Spring - 
As though to unfasten from the mind
Our moods and give them outward forms.
We want the certain, solid thing.

But I am carried back against
My will into a childhood where
Autumn is bonfires, marbles, smoke;
I lean against my window fenced
From evocations in the air
When I said Autumn, Autumn broke.

Poem of the week – A Farewell by Alfred Tennyson

Tennyson Major WorksThe poem this week is taken from The Major Works by Alfred Tennyson.

A Farewell

Flow down, cold rivulet, to the sea
Thy tribute wave deliver:
No more by thee my steps shall be
For ever and for ever.

Flow, softly flow, by lawn and lea,
A rivulet then a river:
No where by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.

But here will sigh thine alder tree,
And here thine aspen shiver;
And here by thee will hum the bee,
For ever and for ever. 

A thousand suns will stream on thee,
A thousand moons will quiver;
But not by thee my steps will be,
For ever and for ever.

Poem of the Week – To Caroline (1) by Lord Byron

Byron Selected PoemsI love finding poems for the poem of the week on this blog. I will admit that although I enjoy poetry I really don’t read enough of it. However in doing this blog, and perusing the poetry shelves at Central library to find poems to add, I have come across some real gems. I would count this poem amongst them. It comes from the Selected Poems of Lord Byron and it is beautiful.

To Caroline (1)
Think’st thou I saw thy beauteous eyes,
Suffused in tears, implore to stay;
And heard unmoved thy plenteous sighs,
Which said far more than words can say?

Though keen the grief thy tears exprest,
When love and hope lay both o’erthrown,
Yet still, my girl, this bleeding breast
Throbb’d with deep sorrow as thine own.

But when our cheeks with anguish glow’d
When thy sweet lips were join’d to mine,
The tears that from my eyelids flow’d
Were lost in those which fell from thine.

Thou couldst not feel my burning cheek,
Thy gushing tears had quench’d its flame;
And as thy tongue essay’d to speak,
In signs alone it breathed my name.

And yet, my girl, we weep in vain,
In vain our fate in sighs deplore;
Remembrance only can remain, -
But that will make us weep the more.

Again, thou best beloved, adieu!
Ah! If thou canst, o’ercome regret;
Not let thy mind past joys review, -
Our only hope is to forget!