Twitching #birds #calendar #Spring #song #March #wildlife #blog

Hello. This is not a tweet it’s…

my 200th Blog Post! and it’s dedicated to the poets and composers of the sky: Birds.

Take a look at these British Birds – poster babes or calendar chicks. After Winter, comes Spring and its time to start bird-watching. Here’s a lovely line-up of some of our favourites. Listen out for each unique tune…

Pay special attention in towns and cities, above the roar of traffic sing many a songbird. It’s a busy season: new buds, new grubs, new greens, new shrubs…keep ears and eyes open and support our wildlife. 
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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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Looking Rosy #poetry #roses #quotes #March #England #London #Shakespeare

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (Act II, Scene II ‘Romeo & Juliet‘ by Shakespeare).
But I do particularly like ‘The Poet’s Wife’ (Auswhirl) grown by David Austin, English rose aficionado of Great Britain (see photo). This variety was introduced in 2014 and is the first yellow rose of his collection since the ‘Charles Darwin‘ of 2003.

‘Beautifully formed’ ‘Strong and unfading’ ‘Rich and Fruity’ 

Now is the time to start planting these beauties … there are some wonderful names to choose from. Take a stroll around Queen Mary’s Rose Garden in Regent’s Park, London and find hundreds of wonderfully named bedded buds (not yet in bloom, of course, but perfect in sunny June).

‘Why June is the time for a rose to bloom’

The rose is adored by poets from Robert Burns to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  

Who is this poet and who is his wife? 

Ans. ‘Naturally rounded’ and a very fine inspiration for his work, perhaps.

Get searching and share your favourite named roses…
(See previous blog Captivated by Roses -November 2015).

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Kind quotes in constant print (from Shelley to Keats) #Romanticism #JohnKeats #Shelley #poetry #OnThisDay

In kindness, and in sympathy Percy Shelley remembers in poetry, the most fitting and appropriate art form, his fellow Romantic poet, John Keats, who died in Rome, 23rd February 1821.

‘He is a presence to be felt and known

In darkness and in light, from herb and stone…’

‘He is a portion of the loveliness

Which once he made more lovely…’ 

From, ‘Adonais, An Elegy on the Death of John Keats’

by Percy Bysshe Shelley (written June 1821)

John Keats reading at his home in Hampstead, with a portrait of William Shakespeare watching o’er him…

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Devotion and Emotion #Spain #France #poetry #poets #OnThisDay #pilgrimage

Spanish poet from Seville, Antonio Machado, died in Collioure, the little fishing village in southern France on 22nd February 1939.  
As a boy and without financial support, he and his young brother were driven to write and to act to make money. Later as a supporter of the loyalist cause, and living in Madrid at the outbreak of The Spanish Civil War, he was subsequently forced into exile. He and his family joined thousands of refugees on a long, perilous journey on foot over the Pyrenees. One month later he passed away, aged 63.

No, my soul is not asleep.

It’s awake, wide awake.

It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches,

it’s eyes wide open

far-off things, and listens

at the shores of the great silence.

From ‘Is my soul asleep?’ by Antonio Machado, translated by Robert Bly.

A his grave is a site of pilgrimage for the Spanish, French and Catalan communities. All year this man, this poet, is visited and adored; his resting place is a shrine of devotion, emotion, and poetry…

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Scarves, coats, gloves, hats, Sea Fever and Lines for Winter  #December #poetry #poets #Winter #sea

Welcome to December.  

If you are living on Earth, in the northern hemisphere of a temperate climate disposition then this is most definitely a Winter month.

And the wind, rain, grey, dull temperatures, and lack of light confirms it…. 

Sunrise 07:38 Sunset 15:55

‘Tell yourself 

as it gets cold and grey falls from the air

that you will go on

walking, hearing

the same tune no matter where 

you find yourself – 

inside the dome of dark

or under the cracking white

of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow…’

From ‘Lines for Winter’ by Mark Strand (US Poet Laureate from 1990-91)

Poetry, in many forms, can bring a lot of light into your ‘darkened’ world.

A source of comfort and pleasure, on your own or openly with friends and family…start choosing a ‘party piece’ to share this Christmas.

In other news…

Leigh Hunt’s ‘Young Poets’ published 1st December 1816, named John Keats as one of three “young aspirants … who promise to revive Nature and put a new spirit of youth into everything.”

On 1st December 1902, the poet John Masefield was not hopeful the book, ‘Salt Water Ballads,’ which features his most popular poem ‘Sea Fever’, would sell.

He wrote: “they are a rough and tumble lot of ballads dealing with life at sea and drunken sailors…not much romance about them.”

The 500 copies were sold out by the end of the year (ie. a month later).  

Find your Winter Spirit and Keep Warm!

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 “Times they are a’changing”#clocks #time #poetry

This weekend we, UK citizens, put our clocks back, which means an extra hour’s sleep, but sadly a gradual decline in light, early sunsets, long winter nights and steadily darker mornings too.

I found this special ‘Time‘ poem by American poet, Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933) and then continued it with a verse of my own; it’s a helpful exercise in testing your ability to follow through a theme as well as immersing yourself in an idea

Time is

Too Slow for those who Wait

Too Swift for those who Fear

Too Long for those who Grieve

Too Short for those who Rejoice;

But for those who Love

Time is not.

But for those who Love

Time is not a measure.

Love is not kept within these boundaries

But sealed inside the heart

And shared in great abundance.

Love, turns like time, through the centuries 

Seeking kindred spirits for the time of its Life.

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Foreign Bodies #poetry #poets #quotes #travel

Poets who are buried outside of their homeland, to name a few…

John Keats born in London, 31st October 1795, died, 23rd February 1821 of tuberculosis in Rome and buried in the Non-Catholic cemetery, Rome.

“Nothing becomes real till it is experienced.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley, born in Sussex, 4th August 1792 died in La Spezia, Italy in a boating accident, 8th July 1822, buried in the Non-Catholic cemetery in Rome.

“A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer his own solitude with sweet sounds.”

Oscar Wilde born in Dublin 16th October 1854, exiled and died in Paris, 30th November 1900, buried in Pere Lachaise cemetery, Paris.

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning born 6th March 1806 in Durham, died 29th June 1861 in Florence and buried in the Protestant English cemetery of Florence, Italy.
“Who so loves believes the impossible.”

“I shall but love thee better after death.”

Her husband, Robert Browning died at their son’s house in Venice in 1889 and is buried in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey.
W.B.Yeats born in Dublin 13th June 1865, died in Roquebrune Cap Martin, France, 28th January 1939, repatriated in September 1948 to Drumcliff, County Sligo, Ireland.
“Cast a cold Eye 

On Life, on Death

Horseman pass by.”

Lord George Byron born 22nd January 1788, London, died of fever, 19th April 1824 in Missolonghi, Greece.
“Love will find a way through where wolves fear to prey.”

Rupert Brooke born in Rugby, 3rd August 1887, died of sepsis 23rd April 1915 in a French hospital ship, buried in Skyros, Greece.
“If I should die, think only this is of me

That there’s some corner of a foreign field. 

That is forever England.”

Spanish poet Antonio Machado born in Seville, 26th July 1875, died, 22nd February 1939 and buried in Collioure, France, after journeying over the Pyrenees to escape Franco’s Spain.

“There is no road, lonely wanderer 

Just wakes at sea, only that.”

  

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Famous faces & Casanova’s kisses #Soho

When this clock in London’s Soho district strikes the hour, a fabulous thing happens…
The Italian seducer extraordinaire, Casanova kisses Theresa Cornelys, a soprano and impresario who hosted lavish parties at her home in Soho Square; she winks at us; a bearded Karl Marx takes a sip of a coca cola whilst reading his book, Das Kapitas.
Lots of famous painted faces are gathered in this group from all warps of life and all centuries, from John Logie Baird (inventor of the television) to Percy Shelley, William Blake, Dylan Thomas to Mozart and Canaletto. The flamboyant mural is as theatrical, vibrant and as coloured as Soho herself; a thriving, creative district welcoming and supporting all sorts into its narrow streets and cobbled paths. Come join the fun!

Blue Plaque & Sudden Light

If it wasn’t for Blue Plaques, history books, local knowledge & talking, how would we know about the wonderful history that lies on our doorsteps?
Here in the High Street in Hastings Old Town is the house where painter, designer, writer, translator & leading member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Dante Gabriel Rossetti stayed with his poet & artistic model wife Elizabeth Siddal, they were married in the local St Clements Church (1854).

‘I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.’

The first verse from ‘Sudden Light’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

This poem holds one of his most deeply held beliefs: true lovers occupy an eternal space which defines their relationship, much like a ‘déjà vu’ experience.

[Hastings Old Town, local history, poetry, blue plaque]
[Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Elizabeth Siddal, artists, poets]

‘The bluebell is the sweetest flower’

The Kent & East Sussex counties of England are embracing a soft touch of Spring rain allowing these peaceful purple & blue bells to stir in the wind. If they had a sound they would be a noisy clump! They carpet the deep, rich green woodlands as they have done for years, it is worth taking the car out just to catch sight of them.
American poet Emily Dickinson (1830-86) found her inspiration, across the Atlantic Ocean in New England, from that same little blue bud…

“It is the slight and stately stem
The blossom’s silvery blue
The buds hid like a sapphire gem
In sheaths of emerald blue.”

Short, simple & effective: this is the hardest kind of poetry…now one can look at this tiny flower with an even deeper affection.

I’ve found a Goblin Market!

Here sit a seasonal, succulent selection of plump & luscious market beauties; some blushing, some hiding their sweet faces, some on full display! Every colour is a temptation…

Christina Rossetti’s poem, ‘Goblin Market’ is alive and well: ‘Morning and evening,
Maids heard the goblins cry:
Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy…
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye
Come buy, come buy…
“Take a seat with us
Honour and eat with us”
They answered grinning
“Our feast is but beginning…”‘

These twisted, deep creased tomatoes, and the openness & variety of a market scene provide great inspiration to writers & artists.
There is something definitely odd and goblinly about this box…one bite may lead to another…

The wind, one brilliant day

Here I am at the grave of Catalan poet Antonio Machado (1875-1939) in Collioure, France…this is a great pilgrimage site for both poetry lovers and students…all of whom seem to leave a small memento of their moment….he escaped Franco’s tyranny by a perilous journey across the Pyrenees in 1939 finding freedom and a home here briefly amongst the free Catalans.

“The wind, one brilliant day called to my soul with an aroma of jasmine….”