Friday 28 June 2013

Even when the light faded

and all colour leached from the beach

this yellow horned poppy

shone like the midday sun.

A poppy grows upon the shore,
Bursts her twin cups in summer late:
Her leaves are glaucous-green and hoar,
Her petals yellow, delicate.
She has no lovers like the red,
That dances with the noble corn:
Her blossoms on the waves are shed,
Where she stands shivering and forlorn.

Shorter Poems Robert Bridges.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Sea shell show and tell

She sells sea shells on the sea shore.
The shells she sells are sea-shells, I'm sure.
For if she sells sea-shells on the sea-shore
Then I'm sure she sells sea-shore shells.

Monday 24 June 2013

Flowers in the house

It's roses all the way here,
looking rather Old Masterish in this dull light.
Rosa Mundi and Graham Thomas
are the only two I can name,
 (raspberry ripple striped and yellow respectively)
but I am very grateful for their strong showing
 this year especially.
More flowers to see at 

Thursday 20 June 2013

For Sue*

I've found some.

* At the inestimable Quince Tree

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Lovely roses this year












Tuesday 18 June 2013

Red sky at night

Cue: delighted shepherds.

Monday 17 June 2013

On the other hand

Then the day grew hotter, and duller,
the gleam went,
everything seemed to be dusty and heavy,
even though there were no clouds at all,
the air was oppressive because of the lack of any breeze,
the stock-stillness of it meant
that you seemed to be re-breathing the same
stale patch in and out, in and out.
Tempers of children frayed, farmers,
their backs brown as walnuts
and wearing canvas hats, worked in the fields,
bringing in the late hay,
dogs lay about under hedges panting wetly,
and in the air, the faint, over-all smell of decay,
a seeping uncleanliness hanging about
in corners and oozing out of ditches,
lingering on the nostrils,
the smell of hot countryside without rain for weeks,
when streams dry up and all the dung-heaps
and drains and cesspit outlets bake in the sun.

Susan Hill goes on to enumerate the
sneezing weather and itching weather
clouds of thrips, tiny black thunderflies biting
sweaty flesh, midges, gnats, fleas, cattle-flies and horse-flies.

Britain is supposedly set for a two week heatwave 
with temperatures hitting 90º F, (32º C).
This forecast is hedged about with gloomy predictions
for unpleasant and oppressive heat
with high humidity and thunderstorms.
Is it really not possible to find and enjoy
 one happy interlude of summery bliss 
to feed off for the rest of the year?

Don a big sun hat, sandals and frock.
Live by the sundial instead of a clock.
Laze in a meadow, splash in the sea,
lie on the grass in the shade of a tree.
Sit by a lake, leave the house without coats,
row down a stream in a small wooden boat.
Open the windows
let in the breeze
silence the boiler,
do as you please.
Go to a country fête, 
Eat strawberry ice cream
Sleep in a hammock.
 A Midsummer dream.

I thank you.

Saturday 15 June 2013

Ever hopeful 2

Summer did come at last and, when it did,
it was one of those summers of poems and stories 
and country pictures,a once-upon-a-time summer,
it was hot day after day, week after week,
so that we slipped into a dream,
where we imagined it never ending,
a paradise world of long golden days.

Time stretched out into the pale far distance
and the mists that girdled the day about,
so that we seemed to be somehow suspended,
floating in them.

The Magic Apple Tree by Susan Hill 1982

Pictures from Great Dixter 2013 on a rare sunny day.

Friday 14 June 2013

Ever hopeful

Summer began late, after a poor spring,
for all there were a couple of weeks of flowers and freshness,
spring was a disappointment, nothing more than
 a backlash of winter, as though the cold season
had a long, long tail that trailed slowly away behind it.
It was a grey, wet spring, dismal and cold,
and even the first ten days of June 
were fires - and lights-on-early days.

The first flush of roses came out on walls

and around doorways and porches,

New Dawn, Albertine, Gloire de Dijon, Sanders White,

all their glory was wasted in rain and scudding skies
and many of them even came down in blustery winds. . .
the fête was postponed,
and then held indoors, outings were cancelled,
picnics abandoned.
Cricket and tennis were played
under lowering, swollen skies on damp grass,
the soil was cold. . .
And then, over one weekend, it changed utterly,
we might have been transported to another country. . .
It rained hard all day on the eleventh of June,
and not again for weeks and weeks,
the sun bore down and the earth baked,
until September.

The Magic Apple Tree by Susan Hill 1982

Tuesday 11 June 2013

The charge of the white brigade

Impelled by who knows what threat,
pulled perhaps by a distant but urgent call
from the valley,
sheep started to stream down the hill 
towards us

their little cloven hooves thundering like race horses'

until finally they slowed to a halt 
and turned to examine us with their 
letterbox eyes,
passive and inscrutable.

Emergency? What emergency?