Diary of the Plague Year: Day 65 19 May 2020: Quotidian Poetry: THE FLORA: John Lydgate (?1370 – ?1451)

Lat no man booste of conning nor vertu,
Of tresour, richesse, nor of sapience,
Of worldly support, for all cometh of Jesu:
Counsail, comfort, discresioun and prudence,
Provisioun, forsight and providence,
Like as the Lord of grace list dispoose;
Som man hath wisdom, som man hath elloquence –
All stant on chaunge, like a midsomer roose.
Wholsom in smelling be the soote floures,
Full delitable, outward, to the sight;
The thorn is sharp, curyd with fresh coloures;                                            (covered)
All is nat gold that outward sheweth bright;
A stokfish boon in dirkeness yeveth a light;
Twen fair and foul, as God list dispoose,
A difference atwix day and night –
All stant on chaunge, like a midsomer roose.
It was the Roose of the bloody feeld,
Roose of Jericho that grew in Beedlem                                              (Bethlehem)
The five rooses portrayed on the sheeld,
Splayed in the baneer at Jerusalem:
The sonne was clips, and dirk in every rem,                                        (eclipse, realm)
When Christ Jesu five welles list uncloose
Toward Paradis, called the rede strem –
Of whos five woundes prent in your heart a roose.


An Anthology of Poetry and Prose
Compiled by Fiona MacMath

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 58 12 May 2020: A Walk to the Post Office

I had a letter to post so decided to walk to Rosscarbery and back as it was such a stunning day.

One of the things I do miss about my life in London is the walks with friends. Usually organised by M we have had walks on the Pilgrim’s Way to Canterbury, walks in Hampshire, around Chichester Harbour, from Hastings to Winchelsea, all around Shoreham in Kent, around Canvey Island and many others. Usually we would stop for a really good pub lunch.

Any kind of social occasion is beginning to feel so remote, like something from a past life.

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 57 11 May 2020: Wildflowers on my Walk

I finally issued forth on a walk today. I am not exactly a keep-fit fanatic and my vow of walking every day has flown out of the window. Since my previous walk the wildflowers are in lush profusion. The scent from the rose was heady. Walking along the verges was soft and mossy underfoot.

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 46 30 April 2020: Pollarding

Blessed, blessed rain. It rained all night and this morning the garden was shining and varnished with wet. I had started to tackle the far corner – it has been a mess ever since a huge tree fell during Ophelia and the stump was overgrown with a plethora of crazy branches all growing inwards and crossing. So I decided a bit of amateur pollarding was in order. There was a pile of rotten wood in the corner by the wall so I just added any other bits I found and chopped up the cut branches too. Apparently bees and other insects love it. I also trimmed two hawthorns that were horribly ingrown – I could almost feel the relief. There are some fallen slates by the wall which look as if they could provide habitats so left them where they fell.

I have also given myself some DIY pollarding – the dreaded lockdown haircut. I have lopped about six inches off and had to stop as it kept getting shorter and shorter as I tried to even it up. I find that my nails need to be kept very short too for gardening and all the scrubbing and washing of hands generally.

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 44 28 April 2020: The first swallow …

I have just seen the first swallow!

Today I spent most of the day in the shed working on my drawings.

In the late afternoon I walked round zapping the docks. I love docks actually but they do tend to take over and are more-or-less ineradicable. So off with their heads.

As I was walking around I noticed a few flowers …

The first day of the creative writing course arranged by Cork Arts Office. I hope the swallow is a good omen. There seem to be so many birds in the garden this year. The crows actually stand on the windowsills and bang on the glass. Cheeky buggers. Not to mention insects. Sometimes it looks like one of those old fashioned science fictions films with layers of flying machines in the sky only the insects are more haphazard and do not fly in straight formations. I wonder if it is because I will not use any chemicals in the garden whatsoever and only the mildest soap, Dr Bonner’s Castile, in the house. The birds seemed to love it when I mowed the long grass.

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 35 19 April 2020: the Hobbit house under the hill

Afterwards went to my friend J’s to get some veg.

J lives in a magical spot in what I always think of as a Hobbit house under the hill.  It is very protected from the wind so moss and ferns grow in profusion.

Depending on the season I get lettuce, leeks, chard, tomatoes, courgettes, parsley, kale or  mixed leaves. I can honestly say it’s the most delicious veg I have ever tasted and all organically produced.

Today it was chard and mixed leaves.



Diary of the Plague Year: Day 29 13 April 2020: Quotidian Poetry Kathleen Raine (1908 – 2003)



Gather while you may
Vapour of water, dust of earth, rose
Of air and water and light that comes and goes:
Over and over again the rose is woven.

Who knows the beginning?
In the vein in the sun in the rain
In the rock in the light in the night there is none.
What moves light over water? An impulse
Of rose like the delight of girl’s breasts
When the nipples bud and grow a woman
Where was a child, a woman to bear
A child unbegun (is there
Anywhere one? Are the people of dreams
Waiting – where? – to be born?) Does the green
Bud rose without end contain?
Within green sepals, green cells, you find none.
The crude
Moist, hard, green and cold
Petal on petal unfolding rose from nowhere.

But the perfect form is moving
Through time, the rose is a transit, a wave that weaves
Water, and petals fall like notes in order;
No more rose on ground unbecome
Unwoven unwound are dust are formless
And the rose is over but where
Labours for ever the weaver of roses?



Kathleen Raine
Selected Poems

Golgonooza Press

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 27 11 April 2020: Hommage to Hieronymous

Having spent the last few days throwing my little mower around and really putting it through its paces I have grown very fond of it. It has mowed its way through really rough grass and weeds and sometimes to a horrible grinding noise as it came across stones, which it contemptuously spat out – sometimes as far as 15 feet. I am not given to anthropomorphism, especially when it comes to inanimate objects but I feel the little Bosch deserves a name, if only for conspicuous gallantry in the field – “arise, Sir Hieronymous”. It is a machine only meant for mowing small suburban lawns and it, like me, has had to acclimatize to a much tougher country life. Perhaps it dreams of a civilized semi-detached residence in Sunningdale …


I now have a haystack in the corner of the field and three distinct areas of mown meadow.

I have close-mown all around the trees in the orchard and have ordered wildflower seeds.  I had estimated the area by some fantastic amount but actually it is an area roughly 50 metres square. Somehow I had calculated 600 metres square!! I will sow the wildflower seeds here.

The next area is at the back of the house next to the painting shed.  I have close-mown here too and will just see what come up.  Ditto, the area across the path under the tree.

The rest of the meadow has been strimmed to height of about 3 cms and it will be interesting to compare.

It turns out I have done exactly the right thing if I want to sow seeds incidentally so am feeling quite optimistic about the wildflowers.

My lovely neighbour, Fionnuala,  has just given me a big bag of grass see which I really need to vamp up the paths in the orchard.  God, gardening is exciting …