not too far
from the tree of science.
since I sought and failed
to steal from it,
somewhere within sight
of the tree of poetry
that is eternity wearing
the green leaves of time.
by R. S. Thomas
from Ingrowing Thoughts (1985)
Coming home was to that:
The white house in the cool grass
Membraned with shadow, the bright stretch
Of stream that was its looking-glass;
And smoke growing above the roof
To a tall tree among whose boughs
The first stars renewed their theme
Of time and death and a man’s vows.
by R. S. Thomas
from Song At The Year’s Turning (1955)
In front of the fire
With you, the folk song
Of the wind in the chimney and the sparks’
Embroidery of the soot – eternity
Is here in this small room
In intervals that our love
Widens; and outside
Us is time and the victims
Of time, travellers
To a new Bethlehem, statesmen
And scientists with their hands full
Of the gifts that destroy.
by R. S. Thomas
from H’m (1972)
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 cider-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 (1795-1821)
First published in 1820
Here’s the rain crashing down,
time has stopped.
The clocks go on helplessly knocking.
Grow, grass, you don’t need time.
Speak, Holy Spirit, you don’t need words.
by Даниил Иванович Хармс (Daniil Kharms)
translated by Robert Chandler
Blows the swan wind,
The blue sky’s smeared
With blood; the anniversary
Of your love’s first days draws near.
You have destroyed
My sorcery; like water the years
Have drifted by. Why
Aren’t you old, but as you were?
Your tender voice even more ringing…
Only your serene brow
Has taken from time’s wing
A scattering of snow.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1922)
– from Anno Domini MCMXXI translation by D. M. Thomas
The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold,
When all is told
We cannot beg for pardon.
Our freedom as free lances
Advances towards its end;
The earth compels, upon it
Sonnets and birds descend;
And soon, my friend,
We shall have no time for dances.
The sky was good for flying
Defying the church bells
And every evil iron
Siren and what it tells:
The earth compels,
We are dying, Egypt, dying
And not expecting pardon,
Hardened in heart anew,
But glad to have sat under
Thunder and rain with you,
And grateful too
For sunlight on the garden.
by Louis MacNeice (1907 – 1963)