What is poetry town?

Poetry Town began in 2015 with a weekly poem displayed in the window of Kirkdale Bookshop. Following overwhelmingly positive responses from customers we have decided to partner with Sydenham Arts to build on the idea and fill Sydenham with poetry­ not just by famous poets but by local people, both young and old.
 
Those Winter Sundays 05/12/2018

Sundays too my father got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather…

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Love’s Instant 28/11/2018

I held an instant in my hands The thing that no one understands, The thing most perfect and complete, Most finely fashioned and most fleet, And of myself I let it go, Being afraid to hold it so, Being afraid that overmuch It would be tarnished at my touch. It was as though, thus caught and mine, A flying fish, a silver line With wings of gauze grown softer still, Lay in my hands and at my will, And of my will it was set free, And plunged like moonlight in the sea. And though I surely know if I Should prison beauty, it would die, And though I know that flying fish Are sheathed with subtle spines, I wish That somewhere, someday, I could hold The ice-thin wonder, silver-cold, Until its thorny filigree Had pierced my hands and wounded me, And I would chance that beauty, dying, Were lovelier still than it were flying.

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November 21/11/2018

No sun—no moon!  No morn—no noon— No dawn—no dusk—no proper time of day.  No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,  No comfortable feel in any member— No shade,…

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The Crazy Woman 14/11/2018

I shall not sing a May song.  A May song should be gay.  I’ll wait until November  And sing a song of gray.  I’ll wait until November  That…

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They’ve Come 07/11/2018

Today my mother and sisters came to see me. I had been alone a long time with my poems, my pride . . . almost nothing. My sister—the…

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An Obsessive Combination of Ontological Inscape, Trickery and Love 31/10/2018

Busy, with an idea for a code, I write signals hurrying from left to right, or right to left, by obscure routes, for my own reasons; taking a…

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A Certain Lady 10/10/2018

Oh, I can smile for you, and tilt my head,  And drink your rushing words with eager lips,  And paint my mouth for you a fragrant red,  And…

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A Gentle Wind 03/10/2018

A gentle wind fans the calm night: A bright moon shines on the high tower. A voice whispers, but no one answers when I call: A shadow stirs,…

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Brockley Fox 26/09/2018

Dark encounter on the rim of the park, clandestine manoeuvres, marauders, the sheer audacity of urban foxes, freedom to explore in the safety of shadows the inky depths…

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To Autumn 19/09/2018

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,     Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;  Conspiring with him how to load and bless     With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;  To bend…

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On a Fly Drinking Out of his Cup 05/09/2018

Busy, curious, thirsty fly! Drink with me and drink as I: Freely welcome to my cup, Couldst thou sip and sip it up: Make the most of life…

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September Midnight 29/08/2018

Lyric night of the lingering Indian Summer,  Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing,  Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects,  Ceaseless, insistent.  The…

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Our Tears Are Sweet 15/08/2018

Our tears are sweet, our laughter venomous. We’re pleased when sad, and sad when pleased. We wash one hand in blood, the other we wash the blood off….

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1st Prize We Could Be Heroes ! Mr. Williams 08/08/2018

He swished through the door, his long gown rippling behind him, his dog, Argo, following in its wake.   Mr. Williams.  My hero.   Arms raised at shoulder…

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2nd Prize We Could Be Heroes ! The Longest Wait

Ventnor, Summer 1957, the year before the old wooden hut on the beach was demolished, and Britannia was rehoused. She died three months later.   There was the…

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3rd Prize We Could Be Heroes ! Tommy at Seventy

In appreciation of Harold Gillies’ pioneering work with severely disfigured servicemen   Three score an’ ten.        Yer’d not ’ave bet on it back then, me stuck in…

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Subway Wind

Far down, down through the city’s great gaunt gut       The gray train rushing bears the weary wind; In the packed cars the fans the crowd’s breath cut,…

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Smalltown Dance 01/08/2018

Two women find the square-root of a sheet. That is an ancient dance: arms wide: together: again: two forward steps: hands meet your partner’s once and twice. That…

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The Sand Witch 25/07/2018

Beware, beware the sand witch Who sweeps across the shore And sprinkles sand in ice-cream cones, Wreaks havoc, more and more.   She buries shards of broken glass…

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It’s Raining in Love 18/07/2018

I don’t know what it is,   but I distrust myself   when I start to like a girl   a lot.   It makes me nervous.   I don’t say the right…

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Coal 11/07/2018

I Is the total black, being spoken From the earth’s inside. There are many kinds of open. How a diamond comes into a knot of flame    How a…

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Autobiography 04/07/2018

The sniff of the real, that’s what I’d want to get how it felt to sit on Parliament Hill on a May evening studying for exams skinny seventeen…

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Inscription for a Wayside Spring 27/06/2018

ALL MEN FROM ALL LANDS KNEEL BEFORE YOU GO CUP YOUR HANDS LIKE A BOWL LET ME OVERFLOW READ WHAT THESE WORDS TELL LEAN DOWN AND KNOW EACH…

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People Equal 20/06/2018

Some people shoot up tall.  Some hardly leave the ground at all.  Yet-people equal. Equal.  One voice is a sweet mango.  Another is a non sugar tomato.  Yet-people…

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Naming of Parts 13/06/2018

Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday, We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning, We shall have what to do after firing. But today, Today we have naming…

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Dürer: Innsbruck, 1495 06/06/2018

I had often, cowled in the slumberous heavy air, Closed my inanimate lids to find it real, As I knew it would be, the colourful spires And painted…

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The Moon is Up 30/05/2018

The moon is up There is darkness all around Not even a flicker of light to be found The wind is howling Storms a brewing No one knows…

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Your Life Is a Baby Not Yet Born 23/05/2018

Your life is a baby not yet born, a forest sleeping under deep snow. In Plato’s world, a blank white book awaiting the birth of someone who’ll write…

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in a bookshop 16/05/2018

I hover by the modern novels, turn the accidental page, try to focus. Instead of words I recollect a rainy lunch hour, umbrellas round me opening to sudden…

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Summer in Calcutta 09/05/2018

What is this drink but The April sun, squeezed Like an orange in My glass? I sip the Fire, I drink and drink Again, I am drunk Yes,…

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The Merry Month of May 02/05/2018

O, the month of May, the merry month of May, So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green! O, and then did I unto my…

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The Horrid Voice of Science 25/04/2018

“There’s machinery in the       butterfly;    There’s a mainspring to the       bee; There’s hydraulics to a daisy,    And contraptions to a tree.   “If we could see the birdie…

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Robot Unicorn Attack (a love poem for a videogame) 18/04/2018

Possibility bursts like a horse full of light, accelerating into a star. Explosion. Hit to make your dreams crash into stone. Death. Diatonic chimes of joy. I want…

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some mornings 11/04/2018

sometimes it rains. it is good to experience a train window. you have often laughed at the places i have put my mouth. it is good to experience…

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Pamphlet on Ravening 04/04/2018

You cannot will intoxication, vertigo, a ravening or wild Love. Of wisdom, I have plenty,   Like a keep of potted meats before the blizzard comes. Of sweetness,…

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The Mounting Summer, Brilliant and Ominous 28/03/2018

A yellow-headed, gold-hammered, sunflower-lanterned Summer afternoon: after the sun soared and soared All morning to the marble shining heights of marvellous blue, Like lions insurgent, bursting out of…

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Songs for the People 21/03/2018

Let me make the songs for the people,    Songs for the old and young; Songs to stir like a battle-cry    Wherever they are sung.   Not…

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Morning on Shinnecock 14/03/2018

The rising sun had crowned the hills,       And added beauty to the plain; O grand and wondrous spectacle!      That only nature could explain. I stood within…

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To the Swimmer 07/03/2018

With the waves that rush against you, ever with invincible strength returningNow as I watch you, strong of arm and endurance, battling and struggling   Into my heart,…

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Your World 27/02/2018

Your world is as big as you make it. I know, for I used to abide In the narrowest nest in a corner, My wings pressing close to…

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The Shadow on the Stone 21/02/2018

      I went by the Druid stone    That broods in the garden white and lone, And I stopped and looked at the shifting shadows    That at…

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Now I Become Myself 14/02/2018

Now I become myself. It’s taken Time, many years and places; I have been dissolved and shaken, Worn other people’s faces, Run madly, as if Time were there,…

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John Sees a Stork at Zamora 07/02/2018

Walking among quiet people out from mass He saw a sudden stork Fly from its nest upon a house. So blue the sky, the bird so white, For…

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The Common Cormorant 31/01/2018

The common cormorant (or shag) Lays eggs inside a paper bag. You follow the idea, no doubt? It’s to keep the lightning out. But what these unobservant birds…

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In a V. A. D. Pantry 24/01/2018

Pots in piles of blue and white, Old in service, cracked and chipped— While the bare-armed girls tonight Rinse and dry, with trivial-lipped Mirth, and jests, and giggling…

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On a Theme of Samuel Palmer 17/01/2018

We went along in absolute silence: it was coming on to a dusk of a clear hot day, there was a harvest smell. Armfuls of red apples blushed…

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The Final Poem 10/01/2018

A forge burns in my heart. I am redder than dawn, Deeper than seaweed, More distant than gulls, More hollow than wells. But I only give birth To…

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New Year 03/01/2018

a child carrying flowers walks toward the new year a conductor tattooing darkness listens to the shortest pause hurry a lion into the cage of music hurry stone…

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A New Year’s Resolution to Leave Dundee 27/12/2017

Welcome! thrice welcome! to the year 1893, For it is the year I intend to leave Dundee, Owing to the treatment I receive, Which does my heart sadly…

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The Christmas Beetle 20/12/2017

When Christmas comes the Christmas heat’ll bring once more the Christmas Beetle The first inflammatory breeze’ll set him buzzing like a diesel. Hear him open up his throttle…

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The Struggle Staggers Us 13/12/2017

Our birth and death are easy hours like sleep        and food and drink. The struggle staggers us for bread, for pride, for simple dignity.            And this is more…

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What I am for You 06/12/2017

A doe eating fragrant grass out of your hand.            A dog that follows everywhere in your footsteps.            A star twice as bright and sparkly just for you.            A spring rippling snake-like at your feet.            A flower whose honey and whose scent are yours alone. For you I’m all of these, I gave you my soul in all its guises. The doe, the dog, the heavenly body and the flower, the living water flowing at your feet.            My soul is all            for you, my            Love.

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To Waken an Old Lady 29/11/2017

Old age is a flight of small cheeping birds skimming bare trees above a snow glaze. Gaining and failing they are buffeted by a dark wind – But…

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Coffee Lips 22/11/2017

The guest who came in to the street people’s suppers last night, An elderly man with a lost smart little boy’s face and a look   As if…

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Mirrors 15/11/2017

The mirror is always slightly taller than I It laughs a moment after I laugh Turning red as a boiled crab I cut myself from the mirror with…

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Don’t Bother the Earth Spirit 08/11/2017

Don’t bother the earth spirit who lives here. She is working on a story. It is the oldest story in the world and it is delicate, changing. If…

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What I Learned from the Incredible Hulk 01/11/2017

When it comes to clothes, make an allowance for the unexpected. Be sure the spare in the trunk of your station wagon with wood paneling   isn’t in…

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Hoop Dance 25/10/2017

It’s hard to enter circling clockwise and counter clockwise moving no regard for time, metrics irrelevant to this dance where pain is the prime number and soft stepping…

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Two Women 18/10/2017

Please – please come in. Easy smile, pregnant with meanings                                   –  masks on the back wall –  this is an open house, my heart is open see all…

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Friday 11/10/2017

Quiet Friday  deserted Friday  Friday saddening like old alleys  Friday of lazy ailing thoughts  Friday of noisome sinuous stretches  Friday of no anticipation  Friday of submission.     Empty…

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Translation 04/10/2017

We trekked into a far country, My friend and I. Our deeper content was never spoken, But each knew all the other said. He told me how calm…

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If I Had Known 27/09/2017

If I had known   Two years ago how drear this life should be,   And crowd upon itself allstrangely sad,   Mayhap another song would burst from…

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Disregard 20/09/2017

Overhead, the match burns out, but the chunk of ice in the back seat keeps melting from imagined heat, while the old Hudson tiptoes up the slope. My…

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From Space to Time 13/09/2017

on a day when we were dark and not so full of light we met     what did we find? nothing. everything, when we closed our eyes which…

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What Is Poetry 06/09/2017

The medieval town, with frieze Of boy scouts from Nagoya? The snow   That came when we wanted it to snow? Beautiful images? Trying to avoid   Ideas,…

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Dusting 30/08/2017

Thank you for these tiny particles of ocean salt, pearl-necklace viruses, winged protozoans: for the infinite, intricate shapes of submicroscopic living things.   For algae spores and fungus…

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The Good Life 23/08/2017

When some people talk about money They speak as if it were a mysterious lover Who went out to buy milk and never Came back, and it makes…

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My Final Gift to Life 16/08/2017

Death would be my final gift to life. Then: if I must die, I must. Let the progeny of stars light my path to heaven. ‘Me’ will be…

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cutting greens 09/08/2017

curling them around i hold their bodies in obscene embrace thinking of everything but kinship. collards and kale strain against each strange other away from my kissmaking hand…

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My Woman’s Transparence 02/08/2017

my woman’s transparence has the whole sea as its mirror   my sea-spray is born of the salt of its peaks   my voice plays echo to its…

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The City a Wrecked Ship 26/07/2017

I feel I am alone tonight; and the city, with its ghosts and tall buildings, is a wrecked ship that pirates looted long ago and sent to the…

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Dyeing 19/07/2017

Weave for me beautiful patterns and skeins of silver thread and gossamer. I shall sit a while longer at your loom while you thread together the scissored shreds…

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Her Lips Are Copper Wire 12/07/2017

whisper of yellow globes gleaming on lamp-posts that sway like bootleg licker drinkers in the fog and let your breath be moist against me like bright beads on…

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I Have a Rendezvous with Life 04/07/2017

I have a rendezvous with Life, In days I hope will come, Ere youth has sped, and strength of mind, Ere voices sweet grow dumb. I have a…

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Desire 28/06/2017

My desire is always the same; wherever Life deposits me: I want to stick my toe & soon my whole body into the water. I want to shake…

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London Is The Place for Me 21/06/2017

London is the place for me London this lovely city You can go to France or America, India, Asia or Australia But you must come back to London…

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Nina’s Blues 14/06/2017

Your body, hard vowels  In a soft dress, is still.    What you can’t know  is that after you died  All the black poets  In New York City …

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And I Have You 07/06/2017

Rain has drops  Sun has shine  Moon has beams  That make you mine Rivers have banks  Sands for shores  Hearts have heartbeats  That make me yours Needles have…

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An Anglo-Saxon Riddle 31/05/2017

Mec on þissum dagum      deadne ofgeafun fæder on modor;      ne wæs me feorh þa gen, ealdor in innan.      Þa mec an ongon, welhold mege,      wedum þeccan, heold ond…

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On Another’s Sorrow 24/05/2017

Can I see another’s woe, And not be in sorrow too? Can I see another’s grief, And not seek for kind relief?   Can I see a falling…

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The Sunlight on the Garden 17/05/2017

The sunlight on the garden Hardens and grows cold, We cannot cage the minute Within its nets of gold; When all is told We cannot beg for pardon….

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Flirtation 10/05/2017

After all, there’s no need  to say anything    at first. An orange, peeled  and quartered, flares    like a tulip on a Wedgwood plate  Anything can happen. …

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When Ecstasy Is Inconvenient 03/05/2017

Feign a great calm; all gay transport soon ends. Chant: who knows— flight’s end or flight’s beginning for the resting gull?   Heart, be still. Say there is…

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Haiku 26/04/2017

さまざまの事おもひ出す櫻かな Samazama no  koto omoidasu  sakura kana   How many, many things They call to mind These cherry-blossoms!

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Pleasures 19/04/2017

First look from morning’s window The rediscovered book Fascinated faces Snow, the change of the seasons The newspaper The dog Dialectics Showering, swimming Old music Comfortable shoes Comprehension…

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Requiem for a Nest 12/04/2017

the winged thang built her dream palace amid the fine green eyes of a sheltering bough she did not know it was urban turf disguised as serenely delusionally…

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The Spring 05/04/2017

Spring has returned! Everything has returned! The earth, just like a schoolgirl, memorizes Poems, so many poems. … Look, she has learned So many famous poems, she has…

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In Memory of W. B. Yeats (final section) 29/03/2017

Let the Irish vessel lie Emptied of its poetry. In the nightmare of the dark All the dogs of Europe bark, And the living nations wait, Each sequestered…

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The Eyes of My Regret 22/03/2017

Always at dusk, the same tearless experience, The same dragging of feet up the same well-worn path To the same well-worn rock; The same crimson or gold dropping…

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The house was quiet and the world was calm 15/03/2017

The house was quiet and the world was calm. The reader became the book; and summer night   Was like the conscious being of the book. The house…

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Two Women 08/03/2017

I know two women, and one is chaste And cold as the snows on a winters waste, Stainless ever I act and thought (As a man, born dumb,…

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To Keep a True Lent 01/03/2017

Is this a fast, to keep                 The larder lean ?                              And clean  From fat of veals and sheep ?  Is it to quit the dish                  Of flesh, yet still …

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I Build an Orange Church 22/02/2017

I build an orange church and put inside it a little orange minister in a pulpit that’s dandelion yellow. I make a ceiling of intensest blue. The seats…

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Invitation to Love 15/02/2017

Come when the nights are bright with stars Or come when the moon is mellow;  Come when the sun his golden bars  Drops on the hay-field yellow.  Come…

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Sonnet 43 08/02/2017

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of…

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Mirror in February 02/02/2017

Mirror in February, by Thomas Kinsella (b. 1928) The day dawns, with scent of must and rain, Of opened soil, dark trees, dry bedroom air. Under the fading…

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Afternoon Tea 25/01/2017

Afternoon Tea, by Charlotte Mew (1869 – 1928)   Please you, excuse me, good five-o’clock people, I’ve lost my last hatful of words, And my heart’s in the…

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I Look at the World 18/01/2017

I look at the world From awakening eyes in a black face— And this is what I see: This fenced-off narrow space Assigned to me. I look then…

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I Passed by His Garden 11/01/2017

I passed by his garden, and marked with one eye, How the Owl and the Panther were sharing a pie; The Panther took pie-crust, and gravy, and meat,…

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