GHOSTS One need not be a chamber to be haunted, One need not be a house; The brain has corridors surpassing Material place. Far safer, of a midnight meeting External ghost, Than an interior confronting That whiter host. Far safer through an Abbey gallop, The stones achase, Than, moonless, one’s own self encounter In lonesome place. Ourself, behind ourself concealed, Should startle most; Assassin, hid in our apartment, Be horror’s least. The prudent carries a revolver, He bolts the door, O’erlooking a superior spectre More near. FROM: Emily Dickinson SELECTED POEMS Unabridged Dover Thrift Editions
AGAINST CONSTANCY Tell me no more of constancy, The frivolous pretense Of cold age, narrow jealousy, Disease, and want of sense. Let duller fools, on whom kind chance Some easy heart has thrown, Despairing higher to advance, Be kind to one alone. Old men and weak, whose idle flame Their own defects discovers, Since changing can but spread their shame, Ought to be constant lovers. But we, whose hearts do justly swell With not vainglorious pride, Who know how we in love excel, Long to be often tried. Then bring my bath, and strew my bed, As each kind night returns, I’ll change a mistress till I’m dead – And fate change me to worms. FROM: The Oxford Library of English Poetry Volume II Sackville to Keats Chosen & edited by John Wain
From: THE RUINES OF TIME A length, they all to mery London came, To mery London, my most kyndly Nurse, That to me gaue this Lifes first natiue sourse: Though from another place I take my name, A house of auncient fame. There when they came, whereas those bricky towres, The which on Temmes brode aged backe doe ryde, Where now the studious Lawyers haue their bowers, Where whylome wont the Templer Knights to byde, Till they decayd through pride: Next whereunto there standes a stately place, Where oft I gained giftes and goodly grace Of that great Lord, which therein wont to dwell, Whose want too well now feeles my freendles case: But Ah here fits not well Old woes but ioyes to tell Against the Brydale daye, which is not long: Sweete Themmes runne softly, till I end my Song. FROM: The Oxford Library of English Poetry Volume I Spenser to Dryden Chosen & edited by John Wain
THE FELIX POST UNIT WAS A DAY CENTRE FOR OLDER ADULTS AT THE MAUDSLEY HOSPITAL. IT WAS CLOSED DOWN IN 2008 FOR NO APPARENT GOOD REASON. MANY OF ITS SERVICE USERS WERE FROM THE BAME COMMUNITIES OF SOUTH LONDON.
THE FELIX POST BOX I will put in my box A confirmation certificate And words of praise for my bishop My husband’s compassion And the heart beat of the sea. I will put in my box Chinese firecrackers that Spit and spark at the devil. Silhouettes of palm trees And lighting during the monsoon. I will put in my box A teenage tomboy Forever-happy climbing mango trees, A far away memory of a mother’s laugh And a fisherman’s hook. I will put in my box Only good stuff A glowing friendship and A sweet cup of tea. I will put in my box My youth and All the fun of the fair With donkeys and candlyflosss. I will put in my box The smell of my first baby A lot of understanding And a day in the New Forest in a church Waiting to hear Dancing Queen playing the organ. I will put in my box A guinea pig from long ago So sensitive and soft, squeezing into a ball like a cat An orange tree I climbed, Scared of nothing and such rewards! I will put it in my box The circus at Blackpool and dancing girls in swimsuits, The smell of a mango And juice of a young coconut. My box is made of Garden scents and music With ribbons and buttons and all sorts On the lid. You can unlock it by wishing quietly. I shall keep my box High on a roll of thunder And watch the dice As they tumble down An evening on the beach. ALICE HAYCOCK CLARICE PORTER SHIRLEY RICHARDS LUCILLE POWELL LIX JELINEK HUBERT CLARKE IRENE PRATT
SIMPLE SONG OF MY WIFE As she comes in, cackles burst from the door, The potted plants all stamp, shaking the floor, A blond streak, small and drowsy, in her hair Cheeps like a frightened sparrow in the straw. Clumsily whirling towards her through the air, The ageing light-flex too lets out a squawk: Everything spins – to jot it down, no chance. She has come back. She has been gone all day. She bears an enormous poppy in her hands To drive death, my adversary, away. 5 January 1940 FROM: Miklós Radnóti FORCED MARCH Translated by George Gömöri and Clive Wilmer Enitharmon Press
CYPRESS BOAT Tossed is that cypress boat, Wave-tossed it floats. My heart is in turmoil. I cannot sleep. But secret is my grief. Wine I have, all things needful For play, for sport. My heart is not a mirror, To reflect what others will. Brothers too I have; I cannot be snatched away. But lo, when I told them of my plight I found that they were angry with me. My heart is not a stone; It cannot be rolled. My heart is not a mat; It cannot be folded away. I have borne myself correctly In rites more than can be numbered. My sad heart is consumed. I am harassed By a host of small men. I have borne vexations very many, Received insults not a few. In the still of night I brood upon it; In the waking hours I rend my breast. O sun, ah, moon Why are you changed and dim? Sorrow clings to me Like an unwashed dress. In the still of night I brood upon it, Long to take wing and fly away. FROM: The Airs of Bei 26-44 THE BOOK OF SONGS The Ancient Chinese Classic of Poetry Translated by Arthur Waley Grove Press
DREAM OF WINTER These were the sounds that dinned upon his ear – The spider’s fatal purring, and the grey Trumpeting of old mammoths locked in ice. No human sound there was: only the evil Shriek of the violin sang of human woe And conquest and defeat, and the round drums Sobbed as they beat. He saw the victim nailed against the night With ritual stars. The skull, a ruin of dreams, Leaned in the wind, merry with curl and thorn. The long robes circled. A penitential wail For the blue lobster and the yellow cornstalk And the hooded victim, broken to let men live, Flashed from their throats. Then all the faces turned from the Winter Man. From the loch’s April lip a swan slid out In a cold rhyme. The year stretched like a child And rubbed its eyes on light. Spring on the hill With lamb and tractor, lovers and burning heather. Byres stood open. The wind’s blue fingers laid A migrant on the rock. FROM: The Faber Book of 20th Century Verse Edited by John Heath-Stubbs & David Wright
SONG XII from TWELVE SONGS
For something a bit different – here is SONG XII set to music by Benjamin Britten.
Peformed by Karen Coker (soprano) and Eric Jenkins (Piano)
MARINA Quis hic locus quae Regio, quae mundi plaga? What seas what shores what grey rocks and what islands What water lapping the bow And scent of pine and the woodthrush singing through the fog What images return O my daughter. Those who sharpen the tooth of the dog, meaning Death Those who glitter with the glory of the hummingbird, meaning Death Those who sit in the sty of contentment, meaning Death Those who suffer the ecstacy of the animals, meaning Death Are become unsubstantial, reduced by a wind, A breath of pine, and the woodsong fog By this grace dissolved in place What is this face, less clear and clearer The pulse in the arm, less strong and stronger – Given or lent? more distant than stars and nearer than the Eye Whisper and small laughter between leaves and hurrying Feet Under sleep, where all the waters meet. Bowsprit cracked with ice and paint cracked with heat. I made this, I have forgotten And remember. The rigging weak and the canvas rotten Between one June and another September. Made this unknowing, half conscious, unknown, my own. The garboard strake leaks, the seams need caulking. This form, this face, this life Living to live for a world of time beyond me; let me Resign my life for this life, my speech for that unspoken, The awakened, lips parted, the hope, the new ships. What seas what shores what granite islands towards my timbers And woodthrush calling through the fog My daughter. FROM: Collected Poems 1909-1962 T.S. Eliot Faber Paperbacks
From: BEOWULF AND GRENDEL Attend! We have heard of the thriving of the throne of Denmark, how the folk-kings flourished in former days, how those royal athelings earned that glory. Was it not Scyld Shefing that shook the halls, Took mead-benches, taught encroaching foes to fear him – who, found in childhood, lacked clothing? Yet he lived and prospered, grew in strength and stature under the heavens until the clans settled in the sea-coasts neighbouring over the whale-road all must obey him and give tribute. He was a good king! FROM: Beowulf and Grendel A Verse Translation by Michael Alexander Penguin 60s