Poems in the Waiting Room

Winter 2008

Poems in the Waiting Room

Winter 2008

When Icicles Hang by the Walls
From Love's Labour Lost

When icicles hang by the walls,
and Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipped and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-whit,
Tu-who! A merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And bird sits brooding in the snow,
And Marion's nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-whit!
Tu-who! A merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

From Jubilate Agno

For I will consider my cat Jeffrey.
For he is the servant of the living God, duly and daily
serving Him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East,
For he worships in his way.
For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in...

For when his day's work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord's watch in the night against the adversary.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is the tribe of tiger.
For the cherub cat is a term of the angel tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction, if he is well fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he's a good cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon...
For the dexterity of his defence is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For he is tenacious of his point.
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery....

For, though he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadruped.
For he can tread to all the measures upon the music.
For he can swim for life.
For he can creep.

Christoper Smart (1722-1771)

Silver

Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep;
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

Walter de la Mare (1873-1956)
The Literary Trustees of Walter de la MareThe Society of Authors

While I have Vision

While I have vision, while the glowing bodied,
Drunken with light, untroubled clouds, with all this cold sphered sky,
Are flushed, above trees where the dew falls secretly,
Where no man goes, where beasts move silently,
As gently as light-feathered winds that fall
Chill among the hollows filled with sighing grass,
While I have a vision, while my mind is borne
A finger's length above reality,
Like that small plaining bird that drifts and drops
Among these soft-lapped hollows,
Robed gods, whose passing fills calm nights with sudden wind,
Whose spears still bar our twilight,
Bend and fill wind-shaken, troubled spaces with some peace,
With clear untroubled beauty,
That I may live, not chill and shrilling through perpetual day,
Remote, amazed, larklike, but may hold
The hours as firm, warm fruit, This finger's length above reality.

Peter Quennell (1905 -1993)
Reproduced with permission of Curtis Brown Group Ltd London
on behalf of the Estate of Peter Quennell Copyright Peter Quennell

Winter Hyacinths

Pink stalwarts come to chase January -
crinkle-mouthed bells cascading my window,
parading prim and upright
awash with scent:
what are you promising an end to grey?

Stage-struck, you leave me bracing -
bunched harbingers, carrying summer on your stalks.

Katherine Gallagher (1935-
Circus-Apprentice Arc Publications 2006

Hearth

My mother had the trick of it
holding a broadsheet page (The Cambrian News)
against the leaded grate. She made it fit
tight on the hood, stretched above sullen coals,
kneeling, her fingers fanned out, pulling taut
the paper's risk. Behind the melting print
we'd hear that first shy crack as kindling caught,
then flickered louder. Still she knelt
holding the glow, hiding the heat until
just as the newsprint scorched, she pulled it back.

A solid flame roared up. The chimney gulped.
The coals sang in their scarlet surplices.
A stubby poker gleamed.
Then the browned page biscuit-crisp and folded, tucked by the fender
for tomorrow's turn. Don't touch, she warned,
growing the fire to draw us closer in.

D A Prince (1947-
Nearly the Happy Hour HappenStance Press 2008

Journey

Watery fields, a flicker of sunlight
return me to farmland,
to flat summer days

through deeps, into shallows
to wade in the brook,
sweep carefree through corn;
to dry seasons, high seasons,
blue and mellow,
to plough and furrow,

chug and caw,
chug and caw,
breezy flap
and shadowed rain.

Map rivers, clear as
veins on a trembling hand
show me wisdom and wistfulness,

minds me I'm held
by your reasoning still.
I am whom you set going;
your gentle push
almost prepared me for this.

No parting waters to guide me home;
just winter fields,
watery,
but changed.

Dorothy Nelson (1948-

Royal Vintage

A court of princes froths from the school gate,
each one is crowned, lord of delight,
in gold card, glitter gems, foil sapphires
clear as eyes. Fresh from nativity and tight
with cake and games and lemonade
they light the street's too early night
bubbling, fermented, sun-drenched crop
fizz towards Christmas, bauble-bright.

The hand-held adults, wholly in their thrall,
will store this vintage in the cellars of the mind
to uncork radiance when the prince is tall.

Maggie Butt (1955-
Lipstick Greenwich Exchange 2007

PitWR Editors pitwr@blueyonder.co.uk

Michael Lee & Isobel Montgomery Campbell