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Songs of Nature







Linda Marshall







© Linda Marshall 08/10/2017



Contents

Earth

Peace on Earth

The Winds

The Ocean

Nature renews us

Four Seasons of Hope

The season's march of joy

Late Spring

Summer’s Arrival

Summer’s Early Departure

September Song

October Scene

Approaching Autumn

Embracing Autumn

Falling Towards Winter

Waiting on Winter’s Coming

Snowcall

The Music of a Snowstorm

When Winter Comes

Winter Gems

After Sunset

Nightfall

The Rising of the Moon

The Dancing Stars

In Praise of Mountains

Snowdon

Mountaineering

The Fountain

Waterfall

The work that leaves and flowers do

The Ornamental Garden

A Plucked Flower

Thorns and Brambles

Frogs

Snail

The Ox

The milk-white foal

Miri chovihani gry (My witch’s horse)

Hawk

Falcons

Tiger

Swallow

The Swallow

Winter Visitor























Earth

The fallen flowers of the field am I,

The crushed berries and cascading rain;

Though countless feet tread me both wet and dry

My yielding body feels no pain.

I drink the drops of dew; I bear the sun

As its hot light beats down, or the moon's rays

Shine gently on me; all weathers are as one

To me, and every season must I praise.

In spring, camellias bud and slowly bloom;

In summer, colour riots in my dress;

In autumn, I make ready for my tomb;

In winter months I lie at perfect rest.

All life that lives once blossomed out of me

I gave it birth and watched it grow and die;

For countless years I made love with the sea,

Whose surf scours me yet leaves my heartland dry.

The rain that falls, the snow that gently sheds

Its cloak of white upon my winter form,

The hot and milder suns that warm my head

All keep me cool or warm.

The maids that once stepped lightly on my face

Will all in turn soon cover up their head

And, when they find the perfect time and place

They will return to me once they are dead.


Peace on Earth

Earth's mountains, streams, even the glittering sky
studded with stars and planets whirling round,
all in their different fashions testify
to what for me's God's grandeur. I have found
beauty in such strange places, just as I
find kindness in unlikely people. Crowned
with magnificent colours, rainbows fly
their pennants high above our mortal ground.
the birds and bees and beasts are part of all
this woven tapestry that gives us life,
fitted for purpose, if our choice is right,
and we prefer to turn towards the light,
rather than pass our days in ceaseless strife,
forgetting how we, truly, are so small

The Winds

The winds are blowing,

The gales are throwing

Leaves stripped from trees,

Strewn everywhere,

By the bustling air.

Buffeted blindly,

Even unkindly

By the harsh breeze,

We shiver and push

Against each wild gust.

Swept away and carried aloft,

The insects who abided in our croft,

Scattered both far and wide

The creatures who love to hide.

The guttering's down,

The wind has blown

Slates from the rooftops

Like leaves from a tiny copse.

The winds make us shiver

As they jostle and quiver;

No hope but to ride out,

There's no hope of hideout.

Where shall we shelter

From the buffeting pelter

Who blows us about,

All into a rout?

On the blue water

The wind makes slaughter

Of the flowers who try

Their living to ply.

No safety, no strength:

Only wait, till at length

The rough winds die down,

And we cast off our frown.



The Ocean

How still the sea is now,

No gentle kisses for the longing land,

Lost in an introspective calm, the waves

Dwindle to the purl of a trickling brook.

Neither the heat of the sun

Nor the absence of light and heat

Wake the sea from its slow contemplation.

Sand and cliff, bird and flower,

Eagerly await the onrushing sea,

Night has cloaked her, stealthily,

In the embroidered armoury of death.

Yet the coming of the moon

Rustles awake the sleeping ocean,

Tides begin to flex their toes

As the silver gleams bright on the sea’s cool mirror.

The clouds, hiding themselves away

Behind the curtain of darkness, advance,

And they shed tears, stinging the bleary eyes

Of the ocean, grieving for her, imagining her dead.

Stung by the rain of their tears, the sea awakes,

And out of that torrent of sorrow an answering cry

Of defiance roars from the sea.

Gazing on earth she begins

To lap it with the kisses of her waves,

Pound it with the stern fists of her stormy weather

And all, moon, sea and clouds, in harmony.

Nature renews us

Rain like tears

Tumbles out of the sky,

Scouring the earth

The breath of living wind

Tousles the clouds and shapes them

Into a sombre dignity

We, the receptive earth, are abandoned,

The chasm between ourselves and the sky

Unbridgeable. Only in dreams

Can we ever climb the rainbow.

Although we live,

Life, like the surging sea, the gusting winds,

Flows through us, blowing us into existence

We are a wintered valley,

Decorated with snowflakes,

Our floor mere ice

Till you awaken us into your springtime





Four Seasons of Hope

I see in Spring

the opening of the buds, an end of frost,

new life appearing with a sudden 'zing'

of colour, fragrance; all the beauty lost

when Winter reigned as queen

no longer seen.

  I see in Summer time

the bees that lurk about the blooming flowers

and as they climb

the stamens in the day's short hours

they pollinate so new life comes to birth

upon the earth

  I see in Fall

the golden leaves that once decked out the trees

cascading down until they sprawl

upon the earth to form a delicate frieze

on which we walk, not guessing its true price,,

nor its full part in God's great sacrifice. .

  I see in Winter tide

the filigree of snow upon the ground,

and we may sail or skate or glide

upon the fine white carpet all around,

Most of all I think of Christmas Day

when He who saved the world first came our way. 

The season's march of joy

the year explodes into March,

the uncoiled spring of the new season

releasing the nascent buds of life

from their prison of winter, freeing the patients

from the mental hospital of cold and gloom,

and of course the dew sweats itself

on the dead grass, and then we hear

the fluttering wings of birds and insects.

sap rises freshly from the veins of parched trees,

even the stones suddenly seem to sing

and the winds now rustle with the delicate music

of harps and flutes, rather than the stentorian crashing

of storms ravaging everything around

we ache to embrace the suddenly blue skies,

to breathe in the heady perfume of flowers,

to climb the ladder of the rainbow

and dance on the clouds, feeling them tremble

beneath our ecstatic feet. our hands reach out

to touch the stars when a cooler night arrives,

and we smooth out the creases in the earth,

exulting in the burgeoning apparition

of bronze statues, Coppelia-like,

emerging into new life

March is much traduced:

the madness is not in the hatter nor the hare,

only in those who choose to linger within

the cadaverous garments of ice and snow,

passing away, rushing in fearful departure

away, away, from the new life that glistens and gleams,

welcoming the new season, greeting the at last unfrozen landscape

Late Spring

Although it is late May

We shiver with the cold,

Lashed by strong rain,

Battered by wind

And even hail pouring from the sky

  No doubt it’s the global warming that they say

Will scorch the Earth beneath a cloak of gold,

And lead us into endless death and pain

As we all find

Tomorrow will not come; we all must die.

  And yet the leaves still glisten on the trees

In spite of most unseasonable snow,

The birds sing on for all the buffeting breeze

That blows us humans busily to and fro.

  And yet the sun is hardly seen at all,

Peeping its timid face out from the clouds

As if an actor waiting for their call

With stage fright, bashful in the face of crowds.

  Where is the coming summer that should soon

Grace our fair land? Where are the sunshine’s rays?

Whatever happened to the ‘flaming June’

We’d all expect to light and warm our days?

  Oh, it’s so cold I’ve got the heating on

When normally at this time of the season

I’d walk around with almost nothing on,

Instead of wrapped in clothes, and with good reason.

  Come, Spring, however late, and set us free

From the late winter’s utter misery!

Summer’s arrival

Though shrouded with mist

The warm sun kisses

The sodden earth below

And all the leaves are out

Upon each bough

Where gentle fires glow

And shrill birds shout

Their triumph over winter now

  The golden ray

That sparkles in these happy days

Shed all the light and heat

On all the fields so sodden not long since

And flowers bloom,

Rejoicing in the ultimate defeat

As proudly summer’s prince

Steps forward and disperses winter’s gloom

  The dark is fled,

And early we rise from our bed,

No touch of frost or snow

As all’s a rainbow hue

In the unclouded firmament,

Softly the glow

Kisses the dew,

Magic is immanent

om of Form

Summer’s Early Departure

Early autumn has stolen
The heat and light away from summer;
Rain makes the rivers swollen,
Fierce winds make the birds' songs grow dumber.
The evenings are overcast,
Skies grey, the clouds purple and bruised;
All gone is our glad repast,
The seasons now utterly confused.
The heart of the land is wrenched
Out of the cycle of earth's seasons;
Buffeted by winds and drenched
With rain, we gasp at nature's treasons.

Somewhere inside the earth
The summer sun is hidden from our sight,
Waiting to come to birth,
Bring back the warmth that is our heart's delight.

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

September Song

September skies
Are full of mist and rain;
The clouds, little spies,
Watch us, waiting to arraign
Us in the court of weather for our faults,
And make us scurry into our brick vaults
To escape the penitential lashings they
Dole out upon us night and day.
The clouds high up
Are tousled cotton wool
Or else they sup
On the dark nimbus broth that, like a ghoul,
Batters us in its fury. When they break
The ground is glad of moisture that will slake
Its thirst after the summer drought; we see
Even within this weather, much of beauty,
And when no colour in the sky appears -
Only the everlasting cloak of grey -
What can we say?
The sleeping sun peeps out behind our tears.

October Scene

the thorns are crowned

with the fallen petals of flowers,

forming a garland

  among the branches of the stripped trees

robins with their crested redness

chant as if defying the year's turning

  the heady scent of perfume

lost now from the flowers

and fainter odours call to us

  even now

butterflies dance and spread their wings

across the withering flowers

  as daylight fades

the apple tree shines with the last rays of sun

before fading into shadow and then darkness

  soon the branches will be bare,

their leaves no more than a distant memory

of summer's glory

Bottom of Form

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Approaching Autumn

Earth puts her box of paints aside,
Closed down the shutters of each room
So all's in gloom;
Grass and flowers falter,
Leaves stripped of their pride
Lay on Earth's merciless altar.
The music of swallows and swifts
And their joyful cadenzas
All gone now; we hardly remember
The sound, as Nature's voice stutters,
Growing silent as snowdrifts
Or leaves choked in the gutters.
Summer's all ended now;
Autumn and silence and night
Cover the radiant delight
That once was the Earth.
No green on the bough
Till spring brings new birth.
Only winter to come,
When cold and dark rule us all,
And the senescent Fall
Seems almost benign
As under the thumb
Of winter, we pine.  

Embracing Autumn

our youth flees as the seasons do;

as the leaves fall from the trees

so too we age

  shards of summer remain,

but the mushy jetsam

is trodden underfoot, unnoticed

  all the rich plumage of summer

abandoned on the sodden earth,

a child’s now unwanted toy

  the branches of trees

bend in the inclement wind

and try to resist his mating cries

  they wait in their turn

for the coming time when the wind will shake

like a cocktail from the sky the first snowflake

  the rocks, the little stream

flowing through the wood

will be decked out in frost and crystals of ice

  summer is gaudy, a fashion parade

of garish colour;

autumn is sober, burnishing life in russet and brown

  when the light around fades

the sky sheds its colour,

trees become shadows in the wood

  it is not yet the barrenness of winter

but the mellow ripeness of too rich fruit

that autumn brings

  so we embrace you, autumn;

promise that though we too perish and change

we will return, endure

Falling towards Winter

The flowers that graced our fields lie withered now;
The summer birds fled to a southern clime
As the stripped trees stand in the cold sublime
Minimalist landscape; long dead the plough
That drove across the earth to slough the slime
Away, for crops to grow. The proud "hausfrau"
Now bottles jam from fruit long past its prime.
Walking on carpets of shed leaves, I trudge
Through the still dying year where heat and light
All vanish in a black hole; we must drudge
To make a go of autumn’s troglodyte
Closing in on us. Oh, how soon the nudge
From summer's songs to winter's Carmelite
Coldness. A snap of frost we cannot budge,
Nor hope to shift this all-consuming blight.

Waiting on Winter’s Coming

Among these slowly turning russet woods

we celebrate the enduring colours; green

continues in its pallid way to shine

as we wade sure-footed through the flash floods

  we are awake to bud and leaf and branch

and the occluded cavities of stone

on which we tread, happy: though summer's gone

we listen to the seasons' singing conch

  we traverse the forever changing earth

as slowly brightness fades to muted hues,

and sober sense displaces all our mirth

  all the elation that once shaped our muse

trammelled to grooves in which we journey now,

waiting the near arrival of the snow

Snowcall

Sometimes, when walking, the snow

clings to my feet appealingly,

a timid prisoner

of the winter’s weather


The Music of a Snowstorm

The wind shouts out of its breath,
the driven and bullied trees dance at its whip 
then the heavens above are suddenly quiet
before out of the silent marble throat of the grey sky
a soft melodious tinkle is heard, the delicate tone of a clarinet playing  
then the first diamonds of you fall softly through wafted air
with only the faintest tremor of murmurs as you descend on the exposed body of earth
one, two, twenty flakes of you, then a sudden rush, a sharp crack of sound
with an outpouring of snow blossom and the whirling down of you 
on the branches of trees and rooftops of houses
where your whiteness settles with a gentle rapping
and your softness thuds on to the hardness below
on pavements and soil the music you play is louder,
the clink of glasses touched together in a promise of warmth
the flutter of snowflakes is lighter than the beating of wings,
a rich rustling through air yet flimsy as a sheet of transparent paper
the stealth of the muffled traffic from air to ground sifting out points of weakness,
lying on the earth at last in a hush that froze and silenced the voices of birds,
the whispering leaves and branches, even the sound of talking deadened in the air, 
and the utter stillness of its carpet of white once established, firm in its calm possession,
before the first footfalls trudge in upon its peace, 
the purr of engines and the rhythm of wheels break that enforced quietness


When Winter Comes

When the snow lays its carpet on the ground,

And the earth's hair itself is dressed in white,

And coldness in the air grips our throats tight,

So that we make no slightest sound,

And then I say: 'The earth grows ancient now,

And all her hair has turned to snowy white,

And all the green she wore is withered quite,

So that no farmer pulls his steady plough,

Nor may the children play among the fields,

Or the young lovers walk across the meadows

Clasping their hands. Earth is a world of shadows,

And to its cold and darkness, all must yield.

Even the sun high up smiles down no more,

Now that the earth's no longer dressed in green;

With veiled eyes he flees the winter scene,

Like seas receding from a distant shore.

When the spring comes again, earth will forget

The snowy garments that she used to wear,

And the white colour of her covered hair,

And she, without regret,

Will open up the eyes of aconites

And snowdrops, so that spring is truly seen,

And soon the earth once more will dress in green

And not her winter shroud of white.

New flowers shall grow again and push through earth

In radiant colour and in briny green;

Our hearts will gladden at that vernal scene,

Watching the new life coming into birth.

Winter Gems

ice embroiders

the earth, sewing together

its delicate filigree

on trees, over grass,

quilting us when we step outside

with jewellery of cold on face and nose



After Sunset

as the sun set,

its red-gold flames slipping into dusk,

we turn our torches on, and wander home,

climbing the footpath back to where we started

  now that the natural light

has fled from the sky, we think of sleep,

hurry our way along where earlier

we gladly dawdled. As we come in sight

of the farmhouse, we tread slowly and gently,

knowing there'll be a welcome, some cold food,

and made-up beds for us to slumber in.

  in the distance

owls begin to hoot.

the line of trees

recede from our view

  our hearts beat faster

as we enter the door

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Bottom of Form

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Nightfall

as the sun fades from view,

limping away beyond our human sight,

the blinds are pulled down; slowly the night

draws shut the curtain

taking an unseen cue

as, with the spring, a blooming aconite

emerges like a penitent troglodyte,

so too the uncertain

gleaming of the moon in the dark heaven

lights the gloom, bringing us the leaven

of its silver sheen, its steady gleam

displays the glittering stars, their burning

sparklers somehow comforting our yearning

for the safety of day. The moon rinses the sea

and flakes of light are shaken out, their dazzle

dancing as we live the happy dream

of night, its primal, Bacchic ecstasy,

as in our joyful razzle

we answer the dancing moon and stars

dark and silent? Not to those with eyes

and ears; we feel the very earth turning,

in the least rustle busily discerning

music as delicately loud as a guitar's

melodious twang on our attentive ears,

so, in this disguise

of silent night the sky above us cheers

all those who love the scent

of misted flowers, their hooded eyelids close,

yet their rich perfume swimming in our nose

we are content

the peace of night, passing all understanding,

loudening with the aerial waves

of the slightest wind moving across the trees,

rustling the leaves, quietly commanding

us to engrave

our imagination deep upon the breeze

and we, a bubble of foam on earth, in air,

find ourselves lodged on the frontiers of infinite space,

each of us uttering a silent prayer

that when we pass from here, we find God's grace

The Rising of the Moon

out from the clouds

slowly the moon

thrust up from the cumulus waves

and though she stood

apart from the earth

the tides of the sea

and the tides of women

felt her arrival

  the moon arose,

leaning across the earth,

her mild light falling

on everything beneath,

and her reflected light

shone warmly

on our little planet

The Dancing Stars

they say the stars are fixed
yet when I gaze
they twinkle and dance
over the sleeping trees
they cast their shimmering light
and their glow transforms them
they say no stars can dazzle us
or dance within the sky,
nor bring a change of state
on all that's constant on planetary earth,
nor that the twinkles in the eyes of stars
mean that they smile at us
ah, but they have not seen
the dipping, flashing lights shaking
across the landscape of the night,
nor the warm gleaming messages they bring
as earth lies sheltered and asleep
certainly we have seen them
smile and dance
for all the fixity they say they have,
and we who watch in the attentive night
see sky and earth both answer to their call,
leap in excitement, join them in the dance,
their faces streaked with swear and the hot flush of heady passion
rejoicing in fulfilment
the stars glow,
the boughs and leaves beneath them glisten,
and all around we see the light stellar waltz
sweeping across earth’s ballroom  

In Praise of Mountains

They call you terrible

When they who know you not gaze coldly on you.

Yes, your forbidding peaks

Are like the heights of love,

Alluring and yet difficult to scale.

On your lofty summit

The wisdom of the ages proudly perches,

And though you lie in lonely majesty

Sometimes the snow that crowns your tops

Slides down and forms an avalanche.

When the snows melt or tumble

A miracle of green appears upon you;

Walking is easy up those mountain paths,

Crampons no longer needed.

Who knows what mighty thoughts

Lie buried in your hidden breast?

Who knows your history,

And what processions time has set before you?

Who knows what shrines to God lie in your crags,

And if at times upon your very peaks

God spoke with you face to face.

We, weak humans, fear you.

You are full of mystery and beauty, yet

Your solitude and danger frighten us.

Our footing slips on your ice-cold crags;

We fear your silence.

Only we mountaineers,

Who come to you in reverence and love,

Can understand and share your silent beauty,

And your austere perfection.

We know

You are a model of the infinite heavens;

We know that God

Has always revealed himself

Among the mountains.

Snowdon

The mountains stand around me, still and splendid.

The air is cool, and only moonlight gleaming

Reminds me that the life is knew is ended

As surely as the glistening moonlight streaming

Down in the huddled valleys from below

Will soon be gone, just as the frosty peaks

Will melt in time, shedding their load of snow,

All in a few short weeks.

I shall not hear

The gentle sliding sound the water makes

As it runs down, soft and crystal clear,

Upon the world below that soon will wake.

The caps of Snowdon proudly stand

In all their massive beauty high above.

O, from their mighty tops you see the land

And even where the waves lap at the coves,

Hearing the music of the rushing sea

Clattering hard against the shore,

Till, like the weary heart that beats in me,

There is an end to the ocean and its roar.

And when I call, my echoing voice resounds

All round the mighty rocks of Snowdon's peaks

Until once more quiet reigns, and nothing sounds,

Even the slow tears pouring down my cheeks.

Like some old Druid in a grove of trees

I stand on Snowdon, waiting for a sign.

All nature scorns me, will not hear my plea,

Seems utterly malign.

I catch my weary breath,

Leaning across the summit as I gaze

Into the distance where I cast my wreath

Of withered gathered flowers down, and raise

My angry voice up to the silent hills,

That mock me with their empty majesty.

The wind blows strongly, and the night is chill:

I, like a refugee,

Turn and begin my melancholy climb

Down the high mountain paths, and make my way,

Leaving the scene of my meditated crime,

Down slowly to the earth. My mortal clay

Had not the stomach even to achieve

Its first ambition, to remove myself

Out of this heartless world I sought to leave

When standing senseless on a narrow shelf

Of rock. There is no love or joy or even hope

To light me homewards. Somehow, I descend,

And reach the bottom with my axe and rope.

The misery of life, it never ends.

Mountaineering


1)

I mount

the mountain,

surmounting

my morning of mourning,

instead I count

the steps I cut in the ice,

the frozen crystal fountain,

stoppered by cold, amounting

to a stern warning

which I of course ignore,

bent on scaling the peak

to reach the distant shore,

however bleak

2)

battered, shattered,

glaciers carving graffiti on your bones,

torn and tattered,

winds through clefts echoing your moans,

your cold lips pressing

(without the suspicion of blessing)

upon my own,

yearning to find my home

3)

only a heartbeat away from heaven,

in this thin air I climb, I clamber

in search of the spirit's eternal leaven

to sweep away the accumulated lumber

that lies, desiccated, heavy on my soul,

weighing me down with its burden of memory,

your crags beckon me on like a sail

wafting me up to a distant granary

4)

Olympus, Sinai, Horeb, Parnassus,

towering symbols of perfection,

the night I spent at Cader Idris -

scorning the lure of putrefaction -

made me a poet. Your ravines shelter and hug

my coldness with your frosty overcoat,

till I am warm and snug,

prophetic songs rising within my throat

5)

only a large hill,

a mound of earth, measurable in fact,

yet I am sensible

that on a mountain all seems bigger; smacked

by your boisterous kisses, I ascend,

longing for heart's desire at journey's end

6)

the passion of your resistance!

for all your wilful ways

I win my path upwards towards your summit.

it isn't sheer persistence

leads me on to see the sun's pallid blaze

from your peaks, makes me risk the threat I might plummet

for all the crampons, ice-picks, all the years

I've fought with mountains, blinking back the tears

when the snow blinds you, knowing my endeavour

like you, to stand outside illusory time,

bid farewell to the shadow puppet's mime

and be at one with the true, the pure, forever

The Fountain

Yes, as you throw your trumpets

Of water high up in the air;
Yes, the glittering stars admire
Such slender music.

  Upon the lawn within the public park
Others serenely walk, unnoticing
The miracle of gravity defied
That you achieve daily.

  Oh, I watch and wait
As the cascading coolness of you
Nourishes everything around it
with your water of life

  I bend my ear
Closer, to catch the cadence
Of your falling rhythms that yet
Rise up for all their diminuendo

  Oh, spring of living water,
Here, in this pretty pastorelle
Of nature tamed, yet your wildness hangs
Over all this delicate parterre.

  Come quickly to the fountain,
Watch the dance of molecules within,
Listen to the music of her rising,
And be as one with its glistening display

Waterfall

bright water tumbling from the cascade

skating down the mountain, yet not dislodging

its core of earth, anchored as ship in harbour,

peak perched in serene arrogance in the sky

where the clouds, like air itself, grow thinner

and out of this strange interchange of rock and water

a perpetual hatching of chrysalis to buttefly

captured in endless moments, repeated rushes

of flowing movements, freeing themselves effortlessly

from the obstacle of hillside, unchafed as they shape

the emptiest space into a rippling tapestry

without footholds, steps, scaffolding or even

much in the way of ledges, their living tears

scouring the land around, writing their names

in the mutable surge of water under cloud,

sure of their target below.

The work that leaves and flowers do

the cerulean and chlorophyll of you,
the mists that cling about you like a shawl,
the fingered flakes you flourish,
flashing above us all
the gloom and light of you,
the narrow filigree of your veins,
the beadwork of you threaded
into a tapestry of emerald
the intensity of the light you shed
in your muted brooding radiance,
your still yet perfectly shaped
garlands of greenness
light in your movements, the wind
rustles you as a girl tosses her hair,
dancing and laughing in all your playful joy
you float away and you return once more
our eyes gaze upon you
with the same rapt wonder
that at night we give the sparkling stars
poised heavily in the sky above
with each breath you take
you nourish life on earth,
breathing out what to you is poison
but to us is the very essence of life
waving at us
in your endless love
you tease us with your smile yet always
deliver on your promise

The Ornamental Garden

The sunlight streams down from the sky, touching the flowers blooming in full colour, the wind gentle rather than fierce, the statues in the garden standing sentinel as if a guard of honour for the trees. The rockery writhes with its Alpines, and the herb bushes waft their fragrance throughout the mellow air.
Behind the walls that enclose this place where form and natural beauty collide and join the gushing of the fountain plays in its bed of solid earth.

A Plucked Flower

Rose, out of earth,

Withering already,

Its petals dropping,

Prolific only in thorns

  Rose white no more,

Not even pink,

But red as haematite

Rose in the air,

Suspended in time and space,

Waiting for the inevitable

Drowning in water

  How early you bloomed,

And how soon you perish,

Lifted up and dropped

Into the watery grave of a vase

  There you sit and wither,

All around admiring

And desiring

  But the possession

Of your once pure flower

Renders you fit

Only for the compost heap

Thorns and Brambles

in your wildness

few would call you beautiful;

you rasp and cut

the hand that seeks to pluck you,

the feet that dare to wander

through your forbidden terrain

  but in you dwells no malice,

simply the self-protection that knows

without your harshness

the beauty of the flowers and leaves you guard

would be utterly destroyed

by our grasping hands,

beneath our incautious feet

Frogs

a mesh of green and mottled greyish-brown
flecks your bottom-heavy body; your mouth
pops open and closed, snapping on flies
like the locking and unlocking of a door
water is your need, yet
you move between two elements:
when the sun is temperate, you bask
on leaf or stone; when its heat oppresses you,
threatens even to overwhelm you, you retreat
into the water of life
in your delirium of muddied light
you hide inside your unique perspective,
stately and serene in your own way

Snail

my soft frame carries on my back a shell
that is my tent, my roof, my living home,
gypsified as animal can be, I dwell
within myself, and slowly, very slowly, roam
across dry land, though out of ocean made,
seeking for plants upon which I may feed,
crawling through earth, eternally afraid
my shell will break, and my black blood bleed
upon the hostile landscape of the soil,
making a final end of all my useless toil

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The Ox

Your neck bends to the farmer's yoke

And you plough the farmer's field;

In quiet bondage surely you choke

To be so forced to yield.

Your strength, your manliness, brought low

That we may eat;

And do you somehow know

One day you'll be man's meat?

The ox is harnessed to the human plough,

And pulls to till the earth;

Was it that you might toil and bow

Your mother gave you birth?

The Milk-white Foal

By the riverside,

Where the water is wide,

While taking a stroll

I saw the milk-white foal.

White as the fallen snow

The coat she wore,

A mane that seemed to glow

Like shimmering lights beside the shore,

Her mother near,

She showed no fear

As she saw me there

With my dark hair.

When Spring was young

And blossom grew

Love's secret tongue

She knew,

And then her mighty stallion sired

A brood of horses swift as fire

That never tired,

Strong as wire.

Swiftly she flew

Through grey and blue

Skies up above

In her heady love.

Gladly her foal

Nuzzles her as she plays;

See her cajole

Her mother on the earth's green baize.

Swift as the chiding wind

The foal is disciplined

And learns the horses' way.

Hear in her steady neigh

How she has learned

Trot, canter, gallop and turn.

Watch how she lifts her weight

Over the gate.

Now spring has fled,

And summer departed,

Even fall's leaves are shed,

Winter has started.

The colour of snow

Bids her tarry, be slow,

Till spring comes again

She must chafe and remain.

Like the seasons, like life,

She'll be mother and wife,

And then she will fade,

Be laid in the shade,

For even the earth must die.

For all her proud speed

This lofty steed

Cannot hope to fly.

Like her we must wither

Into the bracken;

At death's 'come hither'

We may not slacken,

But, like the milk-white foal

Give him our body and soul.

Miri chovihani gry (My witch's horse)

Beneath a sullen grey and misty sky,

Where the bright air itself lay harshly choked

By the conspiring dampness of the earth,

I turned a moment, gazing out across

The fields that formerly were lush and green,

And watched you as I stood there by the gate.

You flew across the damp and sodden earth,

And, as I watched in awe your piebald beauty,

Admired your grace and strength and speed,

I longed to hold you closer than the wind

Which, breathless, followed you.

Ah, but your dancing feet were surely winged

That day, as I admired and grew to love

You, as you cloved the earth beneath your hooves,

Galloped through mist and darkness as you sped

Across the mushy fields, in search of what

Horse heaven may be.

Then in a sudden turn

You pulled up sharp and bowed your freeborn head;

I, who so longed to own your gift of speed,

Chovihani of the winds, I saw you then,

And whistled softly, 'come to me, la bruja;

Come, you chovihani; let me ride you once,

And feel your hooves pounding the sodden earth,

While I am borne by you along the ground

Fleeter than any merely human mare

Could carry me.' Oh, and the mare was still,

As if she knew me; then she let me mount,

And we both flew across the mushy land,

Then, in the end we both rejoiced and rested.

O, my la bruja! O, miri chovihani!

What capers did we ride upon that day!

Now the sun's out; we may no longer play.

Hawk

Only a wing-tip away from food,

he cuts the air in a rush of hunger,

claws hold the victim as his beak

takes what he needs to carry on.

Oh God, this endless cycle of life and death:

Must humans too rob humans of their breath?

Falcons

As falcons hang in air with beating wing
I watch with joy and pride their swerve and swing;
The falcons wheel and turn with perfect grace,
Never a gaucherie in their majestic pace.
The falcons riot in the steady air,
And yet their carnival's sedate and grave;
I think they tread with me the winding stair
Into the western shore's eternal wave.
Their claws that clutch in anger at the sun
Can hook their prey before an instant's gone;
Their beaks that caw and rook in the wild fen
Fade early, prey torn, till they kill again.
And I recall the wild joy in my heart
When, killing done, they wheeled with natural art
Into the black horizon, all light spent;
Their prey escaped, the falcons turned and went.
But hooded falcons swing with perfect power
Into the dark undressing of the world;
Never such beauty was as in the hour
They swept away with brazen wings unfurled.
Their claws were cruel and chilled me with their light,
Their brilliance caught my heart, repelled my sight;
Their beaks flung joy within my wondering mind,
That questioned how such beauty came unkind.
The crystal image fades upon the wing.
The falcons turn, they glide away and swing
Into their world of beauty strange to find:
Too strange to comprehend for my poor mind.

Tiger

the daylight sparkles with the touch of sun,

sleeping in the dense cover, cubs around

but then a twitch of your nostrils,

a distant sound of movement on the plain,

and all alert at once, suddenly poised

in a new attitude, tense with expectation

of the approach upon the prepared landscape

of the destined prey

  a flicker of paws, a sniff, a sudden crouch

as in anticipation of a pattern of motion

and not the least suspicious of your presence,

not the smallest whisper of you or hint of approaching danger,

no shadow passing across the plain

  then, with a sudden leap and dive,

a scream of the prey as jaws snap shut

and the startled victim unwillingly yields up life

as the last cry of the wounded animal

is lost in the now silent plain

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Swallow

fly, swallow, fly,

into the free air

above the trees and houses

and you

not breaking sweat

as into the far horizon

you merge and vanish

  oh, as I stand

rooted in earth

watching your flight

I long to sit on your shoulders

and glide as smoothly as you

on the currents of air

without which we are never alive

The Swallow

With a scream of triumph as the tree is forded

in your aerobatic movements, swooping and diving

over the pylon, the roofs of houses, discarded

twigs and leaves attract your attention as, roving

constantly, your harsh yet musical cry

breaks on the stony ground, arousing the pebble

out of its sleep like a schoolward-bound boy

who now must arise and abandon his feeble

pretence that he cannot hear your songs,

nor see the motion of you as it whirs

across the earth in a cavalcade of wings

bright enough to glisten like the stars

Winter Visitor

The robin walks among us in the snow,
knowing we'll welcome him as the earth
bars its door against him. His crest
shines and glows resplendent in the chill
and even the wind cannot tousle him
or make him waver from his purpose of food
his wings cruise smoothly through the air's eddies
and settle within our garden,
the magnetic pull of human habitations
lifts him above the coldness,
brings him safely to harbour
the delicate flakes of snow
brush lightly against his wings
but are shrugged off in his brief flight,
no gale or blizzard will deflect him
from his quest for our attention
he is not scattered like leaves blown
with a contemptuous indifference
by the swirling winds
rather, he flutters
safely through the storm
and the bright shadows of winter
to find a sanctuary
in our human hearts

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