Let the Poetry Begin!
For those of us who love their dogs, the imminent loss of the family pet is heart-breaking. A creature who has lived with us for years, shared our happiness and loved us so perfectly is mourned well before its final passing. I wrote this poem, in tears, for Wizard, our golden retriever, who was clearly failing. Tears have sprung back as I re-read it a few minutes ago. Sentimental? Maybe, but, if my dictionary is right, sentimentality is prompted by feelings of tenderness, sadness or nostalgia. That's what losing a friend feels like. That is the stuff from which poetry is made!
Clean out of Rabbits
Wizard, fabled hound,
An old dog,
Like other dogs of war,
Lies, carpeting the hearth
And soaking up the dying embers of the fire.
His own white heat a taunting dream
That haunts his waking day.
Was it only yesterday
He ran away and merrily
At every opportunity,
To tumble and chase
And race rabbits frantic through the field,
Took the family for a run,
Ran ten times more than anyone?
Around the hedge, around the tree,
Ten times, ten times more than we?
Yes, only yesterday.
So now his jaunty days have gone,
His strut has slowed, his weight increased.
Where once he snarled, a fearsome beast,
He now draws back his lips and grins
A toothless late December smile.
The dog of dogs has had his day
And now waits, patient, for the night.
An old dog,
Run clean out of rabbits.
We were in love and on our way to Parnham House to check it over as a venue for our forthcoming production of 'Don Pasquale' with Ruth's opera company, Dorset Chamber Opera.
We bought a punnet of strawberries and climbed a prominent hill, with a clump of pine trees on top, just outside Bridport. We called it Six Pine Hill. We didn't know it was called Colmers Hill. It didn't matter.
Strawberries on Six Pine Hill
They laugh and kiss
With strawberry sips,
The glistening pink
Of their strawberry lips,
And kiss and bite the flesh in half
With lips and teeth and lips and laugh.
And flesh is weak on Six Pine Hill
As Spring awakes, and passion's song
Lulls the afternoon along.
In love, they choose each fruit with care
As flesh and fruit and kiss they share.
© Robert Eshelby 1997
With love to Caroline and Luke who were married this weekend. x
What nicer way to start a poetry blog which is mostly about love, than with the traditional sign of affection...
A thousand lips a thousand meet,
In kisses sad and kisses sweet,
With lips that pout and lips that greet,
And lips that charm and also cheat.
But lips that meet in trust and love,
Are kisses soft as cooing dove,
That sear in soul-consuming heat
And fuse the lips in kiss complete.
So, let us lip with lip entice
And taste on Earth such Paradise!
The world is too much with us - we are out of tune. Wordsworth realised that most of us spend so much time earning our living, being successful and making money that we fail to notice the important things in life. Before we know it, we are middle-aged and then, so quickly, old. We don't spend time measuring the seasons and marvelling in Nature's wonder. Worse, we are too pre-occupied to notice true love when it comes to us and, turning round, find that it has passed us by. There is not a moment to be lost! Look for your love and when you find it, hold it close! Time and tide will not wait.
A Wedding Invitation
I ask a moment of your time,
To stop your work, your hue and cry,
And measure with your busy eye,
The suckle’s honey-helix climb.
Or weigh the ploughed field’s breathless hush,
As, weaving through astonished sky,
The lark bursts forth from heavenly high,
To still the earth’s relentless rush.
And then, one summer’s afternoon,
Before it sinks, to watch the sun,
And haste away, as I have done,
To catch your love before she’s gone.
Oh, the pain of loving and not being noticed! The misery of seeing the object of your love moving quickly away with not a care. You'd do anything just to be noticed! Just a glance ? A smile.......?
Oh, loveliest one,
Oh, lady swan,
Make me the lake
You swim upon,
The newt you tweak
With hungry beak,
The egg you heat
Beneath your seat,
The thoughts you take
When you have gone.
Make me your song
Oh, muted tongue!
And you shall sing
The whole day long.
The feather, pressed
To warm your breast,
The day, the night
That bathe your flight,
The chest to rest
Your sweetness on.
It is May 2020 and the misery of Covid 19 is rising. Ruth and I are in our lovely farmhouse in France, locked down in The Vendee. Out of the blue comes an e-mail from Hector and Iris, our grand-children, with a photo. They have found a blackbird's nest in the garden shed. What joy! And, there is the photo to prove it. Something truly wonderful at a time of misery for so many!
Five eggs nestle,
Sound asleep in thistledown,
Covert in a corner.
Blue and gold, they lie.
Still-life in a garden
Where cuckoos cry.
Slip away on tip-toe,
And, when the world next
Calls its shout and thunder,
Remember the calm,
The eggs of lapis blue -
Robert Eshelby 7th May, 2020
For my grandchildren, Emily, Jack, Iris and Hector
There is a phenomenon, which we can all recognise as displacement behaviour. Picture a dog in front of a blazing fire, turning round and round in his own length to find exactly the right spot before he flings himself down with a sigh to cope with all the complexity of sleeping peacefully until dinner time. He could have just come in and got on with it!
This is the nearest I can get to understanding the speech displacement of some of our younger (and not so young) people. Instead of informing us in a straightforward way that a spade is a spade, we hear that a spade is, 'like, a spade,' or it is a, 'sort of, spade', or even that a spade is 'sort of, like a spade' ! As the joke goes, ' When is a spade not a spade? ' Answer? 'When it 's kind of like, a sort of bloody shovel !' This is, usually, an ingrained habit, not unlike a soldier's scattering of expletives in daily conversation. I've noticed that if someone is inclined to 'likes' and 'sort ofs', these often disappear when the speaker is truly enthused.
So! What is love?
It’s, sort of, like an ever-filling well
Inside, that, sort of, overflows,
And, like, floods the fields
With effervescent water.
It’s like, caring for yourself, sort of,
But having lots left over
For, like, every flower and leaf
And every furry little soul
That lives beneath the hedge
And around the garden.
It’s, sort of, feeling kind
To those you meet, and not
Just kith and kin.
Love is like dipping
Every morning in an icy spring,
To turn and face the world full-on,
Like a tiger, unafraid.
It’s like a mother’s soft fingers
Running through the tendrils
Of her darling’s hair.
It’s not all meek and milksop,
Full of misery and woe.
It’s not like in the movies
Or the television show,
But, sometimes, like a wild bull
Bucking or a stallion kicking,
It’s like a mighty, all-consuming flame,
That changes everything inside,
So you can touch the farthest reaches
Of the world.
And so it sears,
As prisms magnify before the sun,
Intense, until the focus softly drops
And lays you in the sweetest pool.
Love is not like anything we know.
It is kind, it is soft.
It tests, it pains.
It cares and is soothing,
And is breath-taking.
It is all these things,
Rejoicing every day.
Which is not like love,
But it certainly is, like, Love.
Robert Eshelby 1st Feb, 2021
© Robert Eshelby 2021