1476 Chapters
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Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Two by the Sea

We said nothing, we said nothing at all.

We could put out our hands

And link them. We did not.

We have gone

Beyond the frequent touch, the need to cling

Although we know there is a time for these

We watch the sea and in our minds we pack

This bounteous Autumn blue of it. We could

Be the first people in this testing world,

This pomp and ridicule, this power and trust.

The sea is riding in. We watch its spread

Over the castled sand. Now day indeed

Is tired. Nothing at all we said.


Do you remember that dark

Wood where we walked in a heat-wave to find some cool?

You must, I think, since all the trees bowed down

And all the shadows made cool shapes for us.

It was unforgettable, for me, because

Our talk was one with the air and the air washed

Over our hands. Between the different trees,

A few patches and openings let in light.

We were talking of knowledge and wisdom. Now and then we

Fell into silence deep and filled with what

We had said and we meditated on it and when

We started to speak again there were fewer shapes

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A Moment of Childhood

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

More Than Spring

Spring is a secular sacrament. Today

It healed us as we walked the golden streets.

The leafless trees threw handfuls of birds to

The shafts of sun. Winter, for sure, retreats

But goes off with a laggard look resenting

Sequences of light. In spite of cold

We toss our mufflers off, we are acquainting

Ourselves with Spring and all its spendthrift gold.

The snowdrop pushes slowly up. Why do

Tears hurt? It is for more than Spring they come.

We’re back with Eden-longings, want to go

Into Paradise, that fabled home.

A hawk streaks down to kill a mouse and show

What dark we move to, what dark we come from.

A Moment of Childhood

Lizards ran over my palm. I had no fear.

Four or five I was and I knew the bounds

Of my world – the high, white nursery with its air

A mixture of honey and soap. Beneath were grounds

Full of red currant bushes and apple trees

And loganberries and rockeries with plants

Seething over white pebbles. I could please

Myself for hours then. What is it that enchants

Me now, as I fondle a memory of those

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Concerning Imagination (III)

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Concerning Imagination (III)

It is reality, it must be stressed,

And not its opposite.

We place its aura over everything

By our power make it fit

A tiny mood, great art, a way to sing,

It’s more than to exist.

Wallace Stevens made each poem he wrote

Show differences between

Imagination and reality.

And yet for everyone,

By casting his own glow he showed how we

All somehow have brought

The two together. All we imagine is

A bonus to all things.

We heighten every exploit that we know.

Imagining means wings

Which lift the usual, give it light, and so

Our purpose here is this.


The doctor talks. The students gather round.

I’m opposite this patient in a bed

Close enough to hear each separate sound.

I heard each syllable the doctor said

But I am carefully bound

To seeming not to listen. Doctor goes,

Students chat and smile and disappear.

That patient opposite is wrapped in fear,

She turns and pulls her sheets and blanket close.

I am so far though near.

The patient’s name is Milly. Now and then

We’ve talked of trivial things. We’ve never said

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Creators in Vienna

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Creators in Vienna

That dance we have heard of, so far back now that

We do not know who first pushed it gently into

A child’s mind. But Vienna, Vienna, no mere tapping

In rooms or pavements. Ideas were dancing also, especially in

Four men’s minds, ideas to change us, linking and breaking

Like dancers. The other two, a painter, a philosopher.

Four kings crowned now by decades of acceptance,

Two trying to heal – Freud, Adler leaping down our

Apparently never-before-discovered minds, entering our dreams,

Telling us of love and power, changing love and power,

And Kokoschka painting and enriching, purifying, disclosing,

Wittgenstein quietly challenging centuries of speculation.

They are moving, moving still

These men, they pursue us. Time out of mind we

Check them, deny. As we do so they smile at us because

Our queries continually prove them right, their power

Is no Prospero-wand. They have discarded nothing at all

For our minds are brimmed with their voices, our hearts

Dance differently now. We are spellbound. We are islands.

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Escape and Return

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

The Return

One might return with April in his face,

Looking as if a glory had escaped,

A vision missed, yet he had brought some remnants,

Shreds of old dream for you to conjure with,

A Winter unwrapped from him and he giving

Himself, explorer, to you from the snow.

Yet he would never grow to truth from this

As if the travelled pole were nothing to him,

Nothing the all-day, all-night glare of sun

And men resuming something in the waste,

Something made rife and to be grasped in treeless,

Flowerless country. All your south evades

Some issue he explores; the light’s not bold

In sky stretched out as far as it will go

(And seeming to enlarge horizons too)

As in the north, but southern sun drifts round

The flowers and separates, dividing life

From life, nothing in common men with plants.

The altered man returning brings a vestige

Of snow, a hint of how the Arctic looked

However he transfigures his own face

To speak of love for you. Receive him then

Not to that narrow place within your thoughts

But make your mind a country to include

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