Week 232: The Sign-Post, by Edward Thomas

April 7, 2017

Asa disquisition on the journey on which our life takes us, I am much taken with these thoughts of Thomas.

David Sutton

This Sunday, April 9th 1917, marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Edward Thomas, on the first day of the Battle of Arras. I will celebrate it with the first Edward Thomas poem that I ever came across, around the end of the nineteen-fifties. At that time Thomas was still far from having the iconic status among general poetry readers that he now enjoys, and he certainly hadn’t figured in my English teacher’s rather conservative version of the school curriculum, which stopped with that daring modernist Wordsworth (and let us never forget that Wordsworth was a daring modernist). But I fell in love at once with Thomas’s combination of close observation, natural speech rhythms and rueful self-examination.

The Sign-Post

The dim sea glints chill. The white sun is shy,
And the skeleton weeds and the never-dry,
Rough, long grasses keep white with frost
At the hilltop by…

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Nature and Place Poetry Competition | Closing Date: 01-Mar-17

February 14, 2017

The Poetry Shed

Nature And Place Poetry Competition 2017


The Rialto working with the RSPB, BirdLife International and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative

Poems are invited that deal with any aspect of nature and place and will be given a very wide interpretation by the judge.

1st prize – £1000
2nd prize – £500
3rd prize – A place on a creative writing course
at Ty Newydd Writing Centre in 2017

A personal tour with Mark Cocker of his most cherished wildlife places in East Anglia.
A personal tour with Nick Davies of his beloved Wicken Fen to learn about his research there.

Tŷ Newydd (Third Prize) National Writing Centre of Wales and offers an impressive range of Creative Writing courses in the beautiful coastal surroundings of north-west Wales. (www.tynewydd.wales).*

Mark Cocker is one of Britain’s most celebrated writers on nature. He is author of the magnificent Birds and People…

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Two poems by Kathy Pimlott

February 10, 2017

Week 222: Field Day, by W.R.Rodgers

January 27, 2017

W R Rodgers was one of the first vivid poets whose work woke me up to precision and accuracy of observation when studying his “A Stormy Day” at school in the late 1950s.
Glad to find another enjoyable poem of his here.

David Sutton

This poem by the Irish poet W.R.Rodgers (1909-1969), about how landscapes, or just odd scraps of landscape, can be numinous for us makes an interesting comparison with Patrick Kavanagh’s poem ‘Innocence’ and his love for ‘The triangular hill that hung/Under the Big Forth’ – see week 10. My own numinous field, the wheatfield that started at the bottom of my garden when I was a child, was not triangular but a great rectangle that dipped and then curved up to a line of woodland. Last time I went back they were building a new housing estate on it. Well, people need places to live, but they also need places to live.

Field Day

The old farmer, nearing death, asked
To be carried outside and set down
Where he could see a certain field
‘And then I will cry my heart out’, he said.

It troubles me, thinking about that man;

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Last night I couldn’t sleep for excitment

January 25, 2017

Roy Marshall

I attach the document to the e-mail. It consists of a title page, acknowledgements page, contents page, fifty-eight poems and a ‘notes’ page, this last being mostly white but for three small paragraphs. I check the attachment has loaded properly, scan the document to make sure nothing has altered.  Take a deep breath. My pulse is slightly elevated. In contrast, the book is serenity
itself.  It adjusts its seat and headrest, flips down the visor on its helmet, tightens belt buckle and shoulder straps, hits play on the music system. The speakers are off on the monitor but I know the book well enough to guess that it has chosen either ‘Gimme Shelter’ by the Stones or ‘Whole Lotta Love’ by Led Zeppelin.  We both know there is no turning back. Only one of us will ever be resigned to this fact. I can delay no longer. We’ll see each other on the other side.  Click.

From my hand to the printer’s inbox at a speed of approximately three hundred and six million miles per hour; a lot less than the blink…

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Hygge Feature #1

January 9, 2017

Angela Topping


Photo credit: Rachael Clyne

What She Missed

The cold slow of mornings,
fetching coal, with cloud breath,
to a rupture of rooks,
their throaty rasp
and the winter-bare tree
standing against pallor of sky.
Then henhouse flurry
with its warm-shit smell.
All those lengthening evenings,
coaxing flames to mottle her shins,
as she sank into her armchair-nest,
by the scuttle.  She missed her big iron pot,
brimming with soup-spells.
Never the same twice,
This might taste good with that’.
Curry for parsnips, tarragon for celeriac,
chilli to liven pumpkin.
Always better next day,
flavours melded into steamy comfort.
All these she missed, but mostly
the stillness that drank her to its core.

Rachael Clyne

The Night The Lights Went Out

She took a small canvas bag
from the cupboard under the sink,
filled it with an assortment of nightlights –
vanilla, blueberry, winter spice –
added a couple of…

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Flight Path

January 9, 2017

the other bunny

An ant crawls across the face of a mirror. But the mirror is not a mirror, it’s the sky: an even monotone gray, flat and dull as my hair in the morning. And the ant is really an airplane, so distant I can make out neither the shape of its wings nor the roar of its engines. It moves in such a straight line that it can’t be an ant; ants are notorious stumblers. Sometimes after my morning smoke, I stumble into the bathroom and stare at my bloodshot eyes in the mirror, wondering why I’m still here.

face-to-face with
another day

Elizabeth Alford

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O night divine – Jane Burn

December 26, 2016

The Poetry Shed

O night divine,

bring to us a settle of wished-for snow. Bring ease
to aches, balm to wounds, calm to heads. I feel them
out there – folk who still watch the sky for Seraphims.
Hassled parents cajole their sky-high offspring to bed –
Santa is watching! They might do as they are told. Some
will get what they wanted. Some will get socks. Some
will get nothing. Someone is sleeping rough in the cold.
Each year goes quicker – January is December in less
than a blink. Superstores train us to think it’s coming
for you! bring it on! Bugger the cost. Some turn their backs
to the madness, remembering what, or who they have lost.
A Nativity of tinfoil wings. Dabbings of tears from cheeks
at the tea-towelled shepherds, lisping Magi, tinsel haloes –
Silent Night sung by Key Stage 1. Spare a thought
for Miss Crombie…

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Winter by Wendy Pratt

December 15, 2016

The Poetry Shed

Sheena1Artwork: Sheena Clover

Dog walk on Christmas day

First light, there is the sunrise;
a thin lip of white, warming to colour
in the grey lane. And my dog knows
no difference between this day
and any other. The sheep rumble
in their woolly world, or lay
like granite ghosts along the hedgerows
and the stars fade to blue in a sky
pink enough to warn shepherds.

On main street the delicate magic
of Christmas lights blink against
a new dawn. The village Christmas tree
bows gently in the breeze. The pub
and church are sleeping still,
but some houses are waking,
some children are up, some parents
are bleary, bolstered by coffee.

Other dog walkers raise a gloved hand,
touch their hats, smile and wish
the Christmas day upon us. Any ill will
is drained away with the dark. It is like
love being passed hand to hand in…

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Wild Boar on Christmas Day – Ronnie Goodyer

December 15, 2016

The Poetry Shed

Wild Boar on Christmas Day

We walked into the Christmas morning,
shadows of the trees left russet, delaying
the evergreen paths for another moment
in my life-walks with a collie. This time
his chosen offering to Gaia was a yellow
rubber ring that hung from slightly parted
jaws and had done for most of the morning.
Collie grenade.

Along the cornflake leaves and sparkling
mud, crisped by the night before Christmas,
we were just above the M.O.D. fields when
a louder-than-customary rustle heralded
the entrance of a wild boar. Morning patrol,
the male emerging to stand across the path,
just his protecting frame barring us invaders.
Tank pig.

Still, with his impasto red-brown armour,
his spine bristles erect, his regiment
snuffled behind to the camouflage bracken,
three smaller recruits still in their training
uniform of mink stripes. He rejoined them
on their elliptical circuit, semi-ungulate
tracks left on the softer…

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