A pea-green boat, a runcible spoon & a lot of nonsense #EdwardLear #poetry #limericks #London #May #nonsense #morals

Poet, Edward Lear, was born in London of Danish ancestry on 12th May, 1812. 
His ‘Book of Nonsense’ was published anonymously in 1846 and holds his most famous poem ‘The Owl & The Pussy-cat’ as well as over 100 limericks.

From the age of six he suffered from epilepsy and asthma. Despite being a sufferer he was still able to write creatively with a unique humour and to decorate his rhymes with fanciful illustrations.

His favourite nonsense word which was his own ‘sweet’ (‘they took some honey and plenty of money’) creation was ‘runcible spoon’ from ‘The Owl & The Pussy-cat.’  The word runcible appeared many times in his writing, defining different objects.

runcible cat’ 

runcible hat’

runcible goose’

As I tap away, scribing this tidy little blog, my iPad already dislikes the word, runcible, stating firmly ‘No replacement found.’ 

Moral 1: don’t let computers say to you, ‘wrong word, stupid.’ How are we to produce anything new, weird and beyond the ordinary?

Moral 2: don’t let being a sufferer stop you from branching out beyond the ordinary and making something work for you.

Since the 1920s dictionaries have come to define the term ‘runcible spoon’ as a fork-like utensil with two broad prongs and one sharp curved prong. 

A grapefruit spoon? A pickles or hors d’oeuvres spoon? Whatever your social habits, Edward Lear created spectacular vernacular.

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Love is on the cards, St Valentines Day #Valentines #hearts #poetry #love #cards #february

St Valentine (died Rome, 14th February 273AD) is widely associated with romance and devotion; many legends surround this saint and martyr. 

Mid-February is also the time birds begin to pair up. Look out for their springtime busy-ness. They are the natural sign and symbol of a new season, breaking away from winter, spreading their wings and preparing for new beginnings.

For the humans amongst us how about a little love poetry to delight and soothe the senses and to remind us that everyone, somewhere, needs love in their life. To find it can be hard, to give it, well a wonderful gift.

Tobias Menzies reads ‘In Fields’ by Kate Barnwell

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Play your cards right, it’s one day, however anti-materialistic you feel: ‘show some love, you ain’t so tough…’


In England – now! #England #Spring #blossom #seasons #poets #writers #weather

‘Seasons change winter to spring’ (so they sang in the film, Moulin Rouge).
Spring leading to summer warms the spirit and the pen, and becomes an inspirational and contemplative period for poets and writers, thinkers and dreamers, wanderers, followers and gatherers.

In May the world’s spin passes The Great Britain of temperate climate, through a gloriously green, flowery, abundant and prospectively fruitful season.  

Whether the weather brings sunny rapture or cloudy repulsion, there remains a gay, optimistic, signal of hope for this early part of the year.

From, Robert Browning, 1845

‘And after April, when May follows,

And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallow!

Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge

Leans to the field and scatters on the clover

Blossoms and dewdrops – at the bent spray’s edge- ‘


To, A. E. Housman, 1890, whose diaries cover two areas of interest, “the variety of the seasons – mainly Spring and Autumn – the weather, and the dates at which flowers come into bloom.”

“Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough…

About the woodlands I will go 

To see the cherry hung with snow.”

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White Apple blossoms framed by the dotted blue of forget-me-nots, in England – now!


First Class Quotations #Shakespeare #quotes #theatre #plays #stamps #StGeorge #Passover

The 23rd April is a very busy date. 

Firstly we must commemorate Mr William Shakespeare of Stratford upon Avon who died on 23rd April 1616, 400 years ago today.  

Shakespeare was also born on the 23rd April 1564.

The 23rd April happens to be St George’s Day; St George is the patron saint of England, often depicted slaying a dragon to rescue the fair maiden.

 “Love is a smoke made with the fumes of sighs” from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.

This quote seems to tie the two together perfectly.

Royal Mail has issued 10 Shakespeare quotes as 1st class stamps. You could have issued a 100 stamps going by the popularity and love of a Shakespeare line:

“To thine own self be true…” A quote for this day of all days, and everyday thereafter.

‘The fair and the mighty, such characters enthral

Indulge all our senses, give rowdy applause

To rousing great speeches, the lines well rehearsed

The sonnets and quotes, perfect prose of sweet verse…’

From The Bard by K.Barnwell

Today is also The First Day of Passover (Pesach = Hebrew ‘to pass over’) – the freedom of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery by the Pharaohs (rulers over the kingdom of Egypt, considered half man, half god, but not King).  

Only unleavened bread called Matzo is eaten. The festival lasts 15 days.
A Great weekend to come…

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April awakens #April #poetry #Browning #Spring #travel

‘O to be in England

Now that April’s there,

And whoever wakes in England

Sees, some morning unaware,

That the lowest boughs and brushwood sheaf

Round the elm-tree bold are in tiny leaf,

While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough

In England – now!’

First verse of ‘Home-thoughts, from abroad’ by Robert Browning.

This poem was probably written at home in England in April 1845 when Browning was recalling his second tour of Italy

I am currently in South-West France, recalling and reviewing Spring photographs of England. This photo was taken not far from the Marylebone church in which Browning married Elizabeth Barrett in 1846: 170 years ago.  

The tree is a pink-cupped magnolia blossoming against a cobalt-blue sky.

This world is waking up from its winter slumber. Time to spring into action.

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Thumbs up: New release on YouTube  #poetry #TobiasMenzies #YouTube #video

Hello, Greetings and new News

I have just released a Poetry Video on YouTube, a lovely one minute, calming piece.

The poem is ‘Wanderings’ by me, Kate Barnwell and it is beautifully read by actor Tobias Menzies, whose birthday – quite incidentally – it happens to be today: 7th March.  

Tobias is currently performing at The Almeida Theatre, London in Chekov’s ‘Uncle Vanya’ and in the BBC John Le Carre drama, ‘The Night Manager’ (if you are in America, or outside the UK look out for this fantastic 6 part series of espionage, intrigue, plots and swirling locations).

Congratulations all round.

The poem was recorded at Essential Music Studios in Soho, London and features in my second collection book:

 ‘Ever Truly Yours – Reflections on Love’.

It is also available to hear and view in the POEMS section http://www.katebarnwell.com alongside other read works and one other video, ‘In Fields’.

I appreciate the kind comments that have come my way, particularly in a world so competitive, critical, sarcastic and cruel, should it choose to be so. Lovely people unite!

On a happy note follow the LINK


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Two hearts #poetry #Italy #London #poets #love #January

On the 10th January, 1845, poet Robert Browning wrote to poet Elizabeth Barrett declaring
“I love your verses (her latest collection of poems) with all my heart dear Miss Barrett… – and I love you.” 
And so on this day began a courtship by correspondence of two beautiful poets.  

They did not actually meet until the May; Elizabeth was bedridden in a darkened room and suffering from an undiagnosed ailment. Browning waited patiently and longingly and remained undeterred in his affection for her. His weekly visits to Wimpole Street, central London were a restorative to her health.  

Thus proving that love, love-letters, love-thoughts and love poetry are deeply effective remedies.

They were married in secret in September 1846 at The Mary-le-Bone Church in Marylebone, and eloped to the mild climes and less expensive life in Italy.  

Poet, William Wordsworth is reported to have commented, “Well, I hope they understand one another – nobody else would.”

Thankfully (Mr Wordsworth) they absolutely did.

And so to you I say this, find someone who loves and understands you; someone you think about a little bit more than everyone else around you, and tell them…it will make them feel so much better.

‘The face of all the world is changed I think

Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul…’

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: ‘Sonnets from the Portuguese’ VII


‘…And a voice less loud, thro’ its joys and fears,

Than two hearts beating each to each!’

Robert Browning: ‘Meeting At Night.’


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Epiphany  #epiphany #poetry #Shakespeare #January #quotes #TwelfthNight 

To have an epiphany is to experience a sudden and striking realisation, which would then lead on to extraordinary revelations, like those experienced by Archimedes (mathematics, invention) Issac Newton, (gravity, mechanics, physics) Albert Einstein (theoretical physics) Charles Darwin (Creation & natural selection).  
Please note these are all examples of The Sciences, The Arts are not represented as examples of ‘epiphanies.’ I suggest everyone choose their own…eg. The Sunflowers (painting) by Vincent Van Gogh or A Christmas Carol (book) by Charles Dickens or Bright Star (poem) by John Keats etc. These are wonderful realisations; what they reveal is what you choose to seek and take from them; no formulas, no theories, no statistics, just pure, emotive, personal satisfaction.

In the Christian calendar the 6th of January, the 12th day of Christmas; Twelfth Night is Epiphany: the visit and adoration of the Magi and their realisation of the Virgin Mary’s incarnation and the revelation that Christ is the son of God. (phew!)

Fast forward to the 17th century

On the 6th January 1601 the comedy play ‘Twelfth Night’ by William Shakespeare was entered in the Stationer’s Register.

It’s the beginning of the year, we need some comedy, especially as one realises that the resolutions, so resolutely written, are now starting to dwindle and the still-winter months lie ahead.

The Magi ended their journey to see the new-born babe.

Shakespeare wrote a love song to be sung by the clown Feste to Sir Toby Belch and Andrew Aguecheek (great names!)

‘Trip no further, pretty sweeting;

Journeys end in lovers meeting,

Every wise man’s son doth know…’

From Twelfth Night ‘Sweet-and Twenty’

So it seems we are surrounded by wise men, adoration, revelation, realisation, journeys, love and poetry.

‘What’s to come is still unsure:

In delay there lies no plenty;

Then come kiss me, sweet-and-twenty!’

Shakespeare’s quotes and poetry still widely endure; their greatness, their humility, their magnificence, their grace, their morals… and their beauty.  

They search the soul for the same secret qualities; allow yourself to realise it; no equation or theory required.

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Refuge and Respite in Poetry #poetry #peace #War #France #GreatBritain

Legend has it that during the Second World War, the RAF (British Aircraft) parachuted thousands of copies of the poemLiberte‘ over occupied France. It was written in 1942 by French bohemian poet, and founder of the surrealist movement, Paul Eluard (1895-1952).
This act illustrates the social and spiritual power of poetry in the face of terror, and the delicacy and beauty of hope founded in effective words, which unite, inspire and console people.

Paul himself, was a sickly man; a wounded and scarred (mentally and physically) soldier of the First World War, at one point writing up to 150 letters a day to families, announcing the death of fellow soldiers.  

The War soon over, he wrote home in 1919, ‘We will now fight for happiness after having fought for Life.’ 

He found solace in poetry and in friendships with other writers.
His wife, Gaia, helped him with his poetry verses, and gave him the confidence, encouragement and security he needed to achieve her own belief, that he would be ‘a great poet.’ Never underestimate the power of the woman behind the man.

‘Liberte’ is a poem of 21 short stanzas with 4 lines per verse, each ending with 

‘I write your name’

The verses reflect on daily life: ‘my dog greedy,’ ‘the lamp that gives light,’ ‘the sill of my door,’ ‘the wakened paths,’ ‘desk and the trees’ as well as incorporating powerful images such as ‘naked solitude,’ ‘marches of death,’ ‘soldiers weapons.’  

The final verse states:

‘By the power of the word

I regain my life

I was born to know you

And to name you

LIBERTY.’

When Paul died in November 1952, ‘the whole world was in mourning,’ stated Robert Sabatier. He was buried at Pere-Lachaise cemetery, just outside Paris, where a crowd of thousands had spontaneously gathered in the streets to accompany his casket to its final resting place.

Freedom, Equality, Democracy, Love, Brotherhood and Peace.

For this we fight (and so we write) every day.

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Silence please #remembrance #OnThisDay #VeteransDay #Poppy

2 minutes of silent remembrance is held today 11.11.2015.
On 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, it is customary to take a short, respectful, commemorative moment to remember those who sacrificed the gift of life for freedom, all unknown and known warriors and heroes, during the Great War, the Second World War and all global wars and conflicts.

‘At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them…’

From ‘For The Fallen’ written in 1914 by Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

This is the Pride of the Poppy; the symbol of ‘the few’

A simple, yet profound statement: “this is my thanks, I remember you.”
A picture paints a thousand words…a picture speaks volumes…picturing this field at the Tower of London in November 2014 was extremely moving…888,246 ceramic red poppies. 
Two weeks later, there was a knock at the door, a postal delivery for me, and then a tear of joy and a tear of sadness at the realisation of the gravity of the moment, for One of these beautiful Poppies is now mine.

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Paths of Autumn  #poetry #Autumn #OnThisDay

American poet, Henry Van Dyke was born on this day, 10th November 1852 (died, 10th April 1933).
I recently discovered a seasonally-fitting, romantic poem by this man entitled:

‘Autumn in the garden’

‘When the frosty kiss of Autumn in the dark

Makes it mark

On the flowers and the misty morning grieves

Over fallen leaves…’


He imagines himself, on an autumn day, walking around his garden and along the paths once paced, traced, and wandered by previous generations; their thoughts and feelings, their struggles and strife as they dealt with own lives, treading these same paths.  

There is the sense of passing and of grief; of patience, sadness and sorrow, all delicately enhanced by the imagery of Autumn. The season in which the trees renounce their brown leaves and the naked flowers give their bodies to the earth, enriching the soil.
My favourite lines come at the end, after a gentle, contemplative stroll through the garden with him…


‘Let us walk in the garden, dearest heart
Not apart!

They who know the sorrows other lives have known

Never walk alone.’ 

Perfect.  

After Autumn, and Winter, we shall have the re-awakening, new life and hope of Spring.  

For now we have the vibrant-leaf colours, the moist clouds and damp earthiness of Nature’s cycle.

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Words, words, words #words #poetry #BritishLibrary

It is greatly upsetting when you pass by someone who swears loudly and profusely, using every unpleasant word you can think of in all its many variations (verb, adjective etc.).  It is, furthermore, intensely upsetting if these words are directed at you for no other reason than the liberation of one man’s angst and frustrations. Yes, this happened to me at the start of the day…so how to proceed if you are a sensitive type? 

Actually it struck me as sad and pitying to think that so many people know so many ugly words when there are so many beautiful ones. 
Poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge maintained that “the true end of poetry is to give pleasure through the medium of beauty.”

Wonderful words to strengthen and enrich us; to be shared, enjoyed and passed on… like those in verse, prose and poetry.

“Quieten down, hear the sound

The sound of the world spinning round

Around the corners of your lip

He will plant a daring kiss

A kiss disappears like a whispering prayer

But the sound of his voice lies everywhere

Wherever I pass or travel through

His soft words shall journey too.”



It doesn’t hurt to have the last word on the matter.

This photo shows the British library in London whose vast collection holds the original, hand-written documents of Jane Austen, Winston Churchill, John Lennon, President Roosevelt…to name a few great writers; those who used words to change the world, to make our lives and enrich ourselves.

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Neutral Ground #poetry #sea #EastSussex

The British coast line of East Sussex

 
What is it about the land known as a beach or the coastline?  It seems to possess some kind of unexplained magic within the human psyche and soul.

A vast, free space of solitude and magnitude and belonging to no one but he who seeks its solace.

Observe the Cretaceous cliffs, 120 million years old (twice the more famous Jurassic period) crumbling with a countless battering of strain and strife.

To live as free as a bird and as wild as the wind, winding itself up into a swirling whirl of dizziness, is momentarily wonderful!

In one week I came across two British poets, Laurie Lee and Sir John Betjeman who have both described the sea as ‘neutral.’

Laurie Lee (from ‘As I Stepped Out One Mid-Summer Morning‘) stated his position at sea as “a salt stung neutral nowhere.”

Below in the engraving of Betjeman’s verse he is jubilant, joyful and comforted by the freedom of the sea.

Perhaps in the sea lies Neutrality and in Neutrality lies Peace.
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Waking with words and Walking the world #words #poetry #coast #quotes

‘Sometimes, leaving the road, I would walk into the sea and pull it voluptuously over my head, and stand momentarily drowned in the cool blind silence, in a salt-stung neutral nowhere.’

This beautiful quote was written by Laurie Lee in his book, ‘As I walked Out One Midsummer Morning.’
Laurie Lee (26th June 1914-13th May 1997) was both a poet and a writer and in this case the two art forms have merged into one and created an incredibly atmospheric sentence. This is just one line, but it is how he presents his world to us...poetically.

How many ways can you be a poet in life?

1. A poet is someone who writes poetry and is defined as being a person with great imagination and creativity.
From 13th century Latin ‘poeta‘, from Greek ‘poietes‘ meaning maker and poet, from ‘poein’ to make.
2. Poetic, poetical, poetise…characteristic or befitting of poetry; to be elevated or sublime; to put into poetry.
3. Poetry…the art or craft of writing verse with qualities of spirit and feeling, rhythm and beauty.
4. Poetics…the study of the principles and forms of poetry.
5. Poetic licence...a justifiable departure from the conventional rules of form, fact, and logic…just as you find in gloriously creative poetry.
The world not as it is first seen, plainly and simply, but observed, described and presented in countless extraordinary and beautiful ways…which brings us back to Laurie Lee.
To criticise a poet is to deny their feelings, their interpretations and their imagination.
It is poetry that allows all these elements freedom…so set yourself free, walk differently and enjoy the wave of the world and the wonder of words. Wow!

I happened upon an apple and it led to many things… #poem #autumn #apples #NewYork #remembrance

‘The russet, crab and cottage red
Burn to the sun’s hot brass
Then drop like sweat from every branch
And bubble in the grass…’

second verse of Apples by Laurie Lee

‘How sweet the flesh and blemished skin
Crisp crunch the ripened bite
A thirsty juice of crimson dew
Bulging beauties of delight…’

one verse of Apples by Kate Barnwell
(Written on an Apple Ipad)

Create your own luscious verse to celebrate the picking of ‘new season’ apples.

With respect and remembrance for those who passed away and for those who were badly scarred by attacks on September the 11th 2001 in New York (The Big Apple).

Whilst on the subject of firstly apples and then the tragedy of 9/11 further extraordinary connections and coincidences can be made.
That day the towers fell poet Robin Robertson was in France and had just completed his second book, the concluding poem of which was ‘Fall‘ (written after the German poet, Rilke’s work ‘Herbst‘ meaning Autumn). Rilke had composed his poem soon after arriving in Paris in 1902, on September 11th. Extraordinary!
The first verse of Robertson’s poem, read one month after the attack to an audience at New York University is below…

‘The leaves are falling, falling from the trees
in dying gardens far above us; as if their slow
free-fall was the sky declining.’

And finally…
Poet and Writer D.H.Lawrence was born on 11th September 1885 (130 years ago).
I have picked out this particularly appropriate last line from his poem ‘Piano

Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.’

Lots to think about today.

Captivated by Roses #roses #poetry #love #YouTube

The dear ROSE: no other flower features more often in poetry than ‘the symbol of a high romance and a loved one.’ Its colour, its fragrance, its long blooming summer season, its flamboyant eccentricities, its wrapped and curled baby bud, then open in full costume with loose petticoat petals and soft underbelly and complimented by it’s slender, tender, thorny (look, but don’t touch) stem and fine, pretty leaves. Here you have a ROSE.
So many splendid varieties, but we all have a special favourite.

‘Nothing is gained by not gathering roses.’ Asking for Roses by Robert Frost.

‘O my Luve’s like a red, red rose.’ A red, red rose by Robert Burns.

‘I went to my pretty rose tree
To tend her by day and by night.’ My Pretty Rose Tree by William Blake.

‘Gather ye rose buds while ye may
Old time is still a-flying…’ To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time by Robert Herrick.

‘It was a little budding rose
Round like a fairy globe…
Sweet was the slight and spicy smell.’ A Little Budding Rose by Emily Bronte

‘I dream of a red rose tree
And which of its roses three
Is the dearest rose to me.’ Women and Roses by Robert Browning

George Eliot’s poem Roses speaks almost childishly but so honestly about the joy of roses, you feel she may have quoted this carefree passage as you walked around the rose gardens together…

‘You love the roses – so do I. I wish
The sky would rain down roses, as they rain
From off the shaken bush. Why will it not?
Then all the valley would be pink and white
And soft to tread on. They would fall as light
As feathers, smelling sweet; and it would be
Like sleeping and waking, all at once.’

If you would like to hear my poem ‘In Fields’ read by actor, Tobias Menzies, with a YouTube video featuring roses, follow the link and fall in love…
http://youtu.be/9yK8e0trvrQ

Doing the plumbing #rhymes #fruit #tradition #poetry

The Victoria plum: a classic English autumn fruit, turns from a raw, sour green to a plump, luscious, beautifully blemished pinky-purple plum palette with a sweet, juicy, light-yellow flesh circling a slim pointed stone.

This is the plumbing work of the garden… No spanners, no pumps, no overflows, no leaks (only plums!) just a slender hand is required to reach through the leafy branches and gently twist and pluck the meaty morsels from their stems.Now what to do? Perfect as they are, whole or sliced, try compotes, jams and preserves – preserving means a happy surprise at Christmas to find an autumn plum amongst your feast – adventurous pies and crumbles, add cinnamon and warm it up!

Little Jack Horner
‘Little Jack Horner
Sat in the corner
Eating a Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,
And said “What a good boy am I”‘

An English language nursery rhyme; the earliest reference to the verse was in ‘Namby Pamby,’ a ballad by Henry Carey, published 1725.
These are the common modern lyrics.

‘Earth has not anything to show more fair’ #London #poetry #quotes #art

On the 3rd September 1802 William Wordsworth, aged 32 years, completed his sonnet ‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge.’

The double meaning of composed is particularly poignant.
Composed as a verb means to make up, to put together, to form and to construct…
Wordsworth has ‘fashioned’ this poem upon Westminster Bridge.
Composed the adjective means serene, relaxed, poised, tranquil and sedate…
Wordsworth is ‘calm’ upon Westminster Bridge.

It’s an incredibly evocative poem, deep, beautiful, fulfilling, tender and expansive…capturing emotion, sensation, imagery and creative description.

‘Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty…’ WW

Let us also not forget Dorothy, the diary-keeping sister of Wordsworth, who wrote a very vivid journal (The Grasmere Journal) and from which he would have found an extra source of stimulation. She scribbled these notes as the Dover coach pulled out at Charing Cross…

“The houses were not overhung by their cloud of smoke and they were spread out endlessly, yet the sun shone so brightly with such pure light that there was even something like the purity of one of nature’s own good spectacles.” DW

The last three lines of the sonnet read:

‘The river glideth at its own sweet will:
Dear God! The very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!’

Picture: The Thames below Westminster, 1871 by Claude Monet

Young love #poetry #W.B.Yeats #love #gardens

Down by the Salley Gardens from The Wanderings of Oisin & Other Poems, 1889
By W.B Yeats (1865-1939)

‘Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;

She passed the salley gardens with little snow white feet.

She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;

But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.’


Q. What is a salley?

Ans. A sallow tree, closely related to a Irish saileach: a willow tree.
Q. What happened next Mr Yeats?
‘In a field by the river my love and I did stand,

And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow white hand.

She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;

But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.’


Ans. You should have listened to her! But don’t cry, try to woo her back, read her wonderful poems, under a salley tree, walk in fields, don’t make life complicated…cry tears of happiness at finding (in this huge, wide world) someone to call my love.  This is time well spent.

The Shore-sign Contemplation #art #beach #poetry

Ideas for Poetry can pop up in all sorts of places: promenading along the beach, caught in a crowded city, cruising the countryside, stuck on the underground, rambling in summer pastures, travelling to foreign lands, and at any time, from early morning to late at night. 

Inspiration continues to be an unusual and unpredictable sensation …whatever your tool (painting, writing, acting, baking, singing, composing…) you feel compelled to make the best use of it, to interpret it into something distinctive, unique…
Some signs wash up on the shore…!