An emaciated tree
clinging to its blackened leaves,
the wind snuffles chip-cartons.
The road’s an aerial view
of dirt-dragging streams,
its scabs peeled off by tyres.
Clouds collect exhaust-fumes.
A man takes his beer-gut for a walk,
his wife follows on a lead unseen.
They won’t climb up on plinths
where benches ought to be
and pose like shop-dummies.
Lamp-posts droop their nightly heads,
strays will do the watering.
Graffiti yells, but nobody’s listening.
by Mike Jenkins
When the night’s stallion
approaches us over the yellowing fields,
we see shafts of lonliness
in his eyes. The last wild flowers
have gone with the mares
he whinnied to, over the high-barred gate.
A barbed mockery of thorn-trees
and the two of us – jesting to catch
leaves feathering down – share
the hillside with the coal-hewn stallion.
Once, he had broken free, his spine
bridging the moor and the village,
hooves clicking the tongues of sleep.
Now, pushing flanks against staked branches,
he mules his raked flesh.
by Mike Jenkins
from Invisible Times
I have written down the words
I have long dared not to speak.
Dully the head beats,
This body is not my own.
The call of the horn has died.
The heart has the same puzzles.
Snowflakes, -light- autumnal,
Lie on the croquet lawn.
Let the last leaves rustle!
Let the last thoughts languish!
I don’t want to trouble
People used to being happy.
Because your lips are yours
I forgive their cruel joke…
O, tomorrow you will come
On the first sledge-ride of winter.
The drawing room candles will glow
More tenderly in the day.
I will bring from the conservatory
A whole bouquet of roses.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1910, Tsarskoye Selo)
– from Вечер (Evening, 1912), translation by D. M. Thomas
Here in this spring, stars float along the void;
Here in this ornamental winter
Down pelts the naked weather;
This summer buries a spring bird.
Symbols are selected from the years’
Slow rounding of four seasons’ coasts,
In autumn teach three seasons’ fires
And four birds’ notes.
I should tell summer from the trees, the worms
Tell, if at all, the winter’s storms
Or the funeral of the sun;
I should learn spring by the cuckooing,
And the slug should teach me destruction.
A worm tells summer better than the clock,
The slug’s a living calender of days;
What shall it tell me if a timeless insect
Says the world wears away?
by Dylan Thomas
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
– by William Shakespeare
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
– by John Keats
A touch of cold in the Autumn night –
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded,
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.
– by T. E. Hulme