Tuesday, 29 June 2010


I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you - Nobody - too?
Then there's a pair of us?
Don't tell! They'd advertise - you know!

How dreary - to be -  Somebody!
How public - like a Frog -
To tell one's name - the livelong June -
To an admiring Bog!

Emily Dickinson

At the time of her death in 1886 only about one per cent of her 1,775 known poems had been published. In 1955 an accurate edition finally appeared.

Friday, 25 June 2010


Montague Dawson
British Painter

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the winds like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

John Masefield

From  Sea Water Ballads, published 1902.
Masefield said of them "They are a rough and tumble lot of ballads dealing with life at sea and drunken sailors, and i can't say there's much romance about them." At that stage he had not been hopeful about their chances of selling, but the 500 copies, at 3s 6d each, were sold out by the end of the year.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


Unfold the table: cut and deal the cards.
It would be perfect, if you only lacked
That strange hypocrisy: but deal the cards.
These pictured Kings and Royalties contract
The great dishevelled world of my distress
Into an unsuspected tenderness.

What story did you tell behind my back?
I know it: from my worst you made your best.
You are the knave, the liar in the pack,
Too human always, childheart, to be honest.
Yet something we have shared compels your claim
To an emotion that I cannot name.

You are as brutal as a child, yet shy
And like a child: my memories turn to ink:
Buried in all our pasts are greed and lies,
Anger and hateful actions: and I think
That frigid chumminess of my boyhood
Came closest to a deep material good.

O now we stare, sight with lost stances blended,
Each to himself a shadow on a screen.
Tomorrow our accustomed life is ended,
Plans must be made, this dull familiar scene
Be done with, roots torn up where we began.
Smiling at you, I know we shall not smile together again.

Dom Moraes
Goan Poet
July 1938-June 2004

Friday, 18 June 2010


John Gielgud as Prospero

Act IV, Scene 1

Be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.


W. Raleigh commented in his book Shakespeare (1907) that "The Tempest was probably his last play - in the sense, at least, that he designed it for his farewell to the stage. The thought which occurs at once to almost every reader of the play, that Prospero resembles Shakespeare himself, can hardly have been absent from the mind of the author   ...   In all the works of Shakespeare there is nothing more like himself than those quiet words of parting  -  'Be cheerful, sir; our revels now are ended."

Sunday, 13 June 2010


Jules-Alexandre GrĂ¼n (1868 - 1934) 

Music: breathing of statues. Perhaps:
stillness of pictures. You speech, where speeches
end. You time,
vertically poised on the courses of vanishing hearts.

Feelings for what? Oh, you transformation
of feelings into  . . . .  audible landscape1
You stranger: Music. Space that's outgrown us,
heart-space. innermost ours,
that, passing our limits, outsurges, -
holiest parting:
where what is within surrounds us
as practised horizon, as other
side of the air,
no longer lived in.

Rainer Maria Rilke

(The property of Frau Hanna Wolff)
From the uncollected poems of 1906 to1926

Saturday, 12 June 2010


I am the wind which breathes upon the sea,
I am the wave of the ocean,
I am the murmur of the billows,
I am the ox of the seven combats,
I am the vulture upon the rocks,
I am a beam of the sun,
I am the fairest of plants,
I am a wild boar in valour,
I am a salmon in the water,
I am a lake in the plain,
I am a word of science,
I am the point of the lance in battle,
I am the God who creates in the head the fire.

Who is it who throws light into the meeting on the mountain?
Who announces the ages of the moon?
Who teaches the place where couches the sun?


Wednesday, 9 June 2010


Photograph by David Clapp

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on - on - and out of sight.

Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away . . . O, but everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing
will never be done.

Siegfried Sassoon

Monday, 7 June 2010


Don't say, don't say there is no water
to solace the dryness at our hearts.
I have seen

the fountain springing out of the rock wall
and you drinking there. And I too
before your eyes

found footholds and climbed
to drink the cool water.

The woman of that place, shading her eyes,
frowned as she watched - but not because
she grudged the water,

only because she was waiting
to see we drank our fill and were

Don't say, don't say there is no water.
That fountain is there among its scalloped
green and grey stones,

it is still there and always there
with its quiet song amd strange power
to spring in us,
up and out through the rock.

Denise Levertov

Wednesday, 2 June 2010


Dried up old cactus
   yellowing in several limbs
sitting on my kitchen window
   I'd given you up for dead
but you've done it again overnight
   with a tasselled trumpet flower
and a monstrous blare of red!
   So it's June, June again, hot sun
birdsong and dry air;
   we remember the desert
and the cities where grass is rare.
   Here by the willow-green river
we lie awake in the terrace
   because it's June, June again;
nobody wants to sleep
   when we can rise through the beech trees
unknown and unpoliced
   unprotected veterans
abandoning our chores
   to sail out this month in nightgowns
as red and bold as yours;
   because it's June, June again.
Morning will bring birdsong
   but we've learnt on our bodies
how each Summer day is won
   from soil, the old clay soil
   and that long, cold kingdom.

Elaine Feinstein

Tuesday, 1 June 2010


No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

John Donne