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THE FIRST DAY OF WINTER by Laura Lush

On the first day of winter,
the earth awakens to the cold touch of itself.
Snow knows no other recourse except
this falling, this sudden letting go
over the small gnomed bushes, all the emptying trees.

To read the full poem click here

 

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Sunset by B. John Burr

sunset

Photo by Erik N

 

SUNSET

The noise turned off

The cranking engine of the worked out day

The noise turned off

The bird flock settled in the roosting tree

 

The silence preceding

The stalking silhouettes of night

The silence preceding

The appearing blinks of homely orange light

 

The rituals performing

The bugle sounding out the end of day

The rituals performing

The flag of Nation lowering to the ground

 

The dividing light

The smudge of pink and barley sugar hues

The divining light

The sun’s hot forge of wasting rays

 

The darkening tones

The night closing on the vicissitudes of day

The passing mystic hours

The hope of better blessings rooted in the heart

 

The awakening day

The noise in slippers first proclaiming light.

The noise switched on

The clattering engine of perpetual daily life.

 

by B. John Burr

The word of John Burr and other Surrey Poets can be found in Words in Focus, a collection of poetry and photography currently touring Surrey Libraries.  Click here to view the dates.

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Gloriana Dying by Sylvia Townsend Warner

Gloriana Dying

 

None shall gainsay me. I will lie on the floor.

Hitherto from horseback, throne, balcony,

I have looked down upon your looking up.

Those sands are run. Now I reverse the glass

And bid henceforth your homage downward, falling

Obedient and unheeded as leaves in autumn

To quilt the wakeful study I shall make

Examining my kingdom from below.

How tall my people are! Like a race of trees

They sway, sigh, nod heads, rustle above me,

And their attentive eyes are distant as starshine.

I have still cherished the handsome and well-made:

No queen has better masts within her forests

Growing, nor prouder and more restive minds

Scabbarded in the loyalty of subjects;

No virgin has had better worship than I.

No, no! Leave me alone, woman! I will not

Be put into a bed. Do you suppose

That I who’ve ridden through all weathers, danced

Under a treasury’s weight of jewels, sat

Myself to stone through sermons and addresses,

Shall come to harm by sleeping on a floor?

Not that I sleep. A bed were good enough

If that were in my mind. But I am here

For a deep study and contemplation,

And as Persephone, and the red vixen

Go underground to sharpen their wits,

I have left my dais to learn a new policy

Through watching of your feet, and as the Indian

Lays all his listening body along the earth

I lie in wait for the reverberation

Of things to come and dangers threatening.

Is that the Bishop praying? Let him pray on.

If his knees tire his faith can cushion them.

How the poor man grieves Heaven with news of me!

Deposuit superbos. But no hand

Other than my own has put me down –

Not feebleness enforced on brain or limb,

Not fear, misgiving, fantasy, age, palsy,

Has felled me. I lie here by my own will,

And by the curiosity of a queen.

I dare say there is not in all England

One who lies closer to the ground than I.

Not the traitor in the condemned hold

Whose few straws edge away from under his weight

Of ironed fatality; not the shepherd

Huddled for cold under the hawthorn bush

Nor the long-dreaming country lad who lies

Scorching his book before the dying brand.

 

Sylvia Townsend Warner was born on this day in 1893

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Advice to Grub Street verse-writers by Jonathan Swift

Advice to Grub Street verse-writers

Grub Street

Image from page 184 of “Tom Browns school-days” (1911)

     

 

Ye poets ragged and forlorn,

      Down from your garrets haste;

Ye rhymers, dead as soon as born,

      Not yet consign’d to paste;

 

   I know a trick to make you thrive;

      O, ’tis a quaint device:

Your still-born poems shall revive,

      And scorn to wrap up spice.

 

   Get all your verses printed fair,

      Then let them well be dried;

And Curll must have a special care

      To leave the margin wide.

 

   Lend these to paper-sparing Pope;

      And when he sets to write,

No letter with an envelope

      Could give him more delight.

 

   When Pope has fill’d the margins round,

      Why then recall your loan;

Sell them to Curll for fifty pound,

      And swear they are your own.

 

 

 Jonathan Swift was born on this day in 1667.  You can read more of his work here, and the work of “paper-sparing” Alexander Pope here.    
 
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A Divine Image by William Blake

A Divine Image

Cruelty has a human heart,
And Jealousy a human face;
Terror the human form divine,
And Secresy the human dress.

The human dress is forged iron,
The human form a fiery forge,
The human face a furnace sealed,
The human heart its hungry gorge.

William Blake was born on this day in 1757, you can read more of his work here

 

 

 

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Fairy-tale Logic by A E Stallings

myth

Photo by Garland Cannon

Fairy-tale Logic

Fairy tales are full of impossible tasks:

Gather the chin hairs of a man-eating goat,

Or cross a sulphuric lake in a leaky boat,

Select the prince from a row of identical masks,

Tiptoe up to a dragon where it basks

And snatch its bone; count dust specks, mote by mote,

Or learn the phone directory by rote.

Always it’s impossible what someone asks—

 

To read the full poem click here

Photo by GarlandCannon

 

 

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Stoneleigh Community Library by Trevor Dunford

To celebrate Libraries Week a poetry competition was launched across Surrey.  We looked for poems that celebrated libraries and the individual communities around them.

The response was terrific.  Many poets celebrated libraries as a safe space to dream, learn and, in many cases, meditate.

Even for one who has worked in libraries for many years it was still enlightening to read about the reassurance and support libraries bring to new parents; this poem contrasted particularly well with that of another poet who wrote of overhearing a Rhymetime from elsewhere in the library.   

I am delighted to present the winning poem by Trevor Dunford.

 

Stoneleigh Community Library

There are many great libraries of fame and renown

But many more smaller in village and town

To serve local people and this is the test

That our own local library should be one of the best.

 

First introduced for all books to lend

For the public to read or just tell a friend

For no nation can stand without education

As Charlemagne believed without hesitation.

 

For access to books he thought most essential

To a civilized world it was quite elemental

Now those who desire it study a text

To be thus enlightened and far less perplexed.

 

For every question there is a straight answer

But not to peruse as the casual glancer

The library is there to enhance human kind

To nourish the intellect and expand the mind.

 

For education is a source of great wealth

And just as important as physical health

And libraries provide that strength to society

And now far more so with their greater variety.

 

For now we have access to books at no charge

Horizons to broaden and wiser by and large

For science, art and word awaits exploration

Inquisitive minds to find inspiration.

 

The words of great authors await our attention

Or practical science our eager inspection

Our library expands ever wider and brings

Varying choices of so many things.

 

There is much in our library for celebrating

Clubs for reading, writing and painting

And all just for us and all ages local

To bring us together more worldly and social.

 

All children invited, and with no exception

To enter the world of adventure or fiction

It is the library which is destined to foster

So all those small people will grow up and prosper

 

And so here we are, but sorry to say

There are no librarians to help on our way

But the duty has fallen to our great volunteers

And here’s to them all so hats off, and cheers.

 

But very happy are we locals to date

That our library is in such a vigorous state

For without this service we would certainly rave

And Charles the Great would turn in his grave.

 

Trevor Dunford

Stoneleigh Community Library Creative Writing Group

 

munch_k.JPG

Image by Martin Beek from a painting by Edvard Munch 

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