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Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

So clumsy, falling, lying, rising again.

O you have risen as music rises, you died

When all were thinking of Resurrection, when Spring

Was blithe and full and blossoms were everywhere.

Your death was beautiful, all your brothers around you.

O be my hope in your happiness. I have your letter

Full of assurance. I do not pray for you, no,

But to your spirit, one with the other saints.

O teach me how poetry must be selfless, let music

Be new in all that I write, O leave your mark;

Serene encouragement, hope in the purpose of dark.


It is to be found half-way between sleep and waking –

A starting point, a recognition, beginning.

Think of the clouds on this planet lifted away

And the stars snapped off and the day tremendously breaking

And everything clear and absolute, the good morning

Striking the note of the day.

So it was and so it is always and still

Whether you notice or not. Forget that you are

Eyes, nose, ears but attend. So much must go on

Daily and hourly. Wait for the morning to fill

With cockcrow and petals unfolding, the round planet’s power

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1. Doric Light

Grovier, Kelly Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF
Medium 9781847778512

Ice Queen

Clarke, Gillian Carcanet Press Ltd. ePub

This girl holds me at heart’s distance

with the stare of her grey eyes.

She defies me with a brow’s flicker

and the angle of elbow and hip.

Yesterday it snowed. For a while

it was perfect. Over the white lawn

the clothes line curved in exact ellipse.

Suddenly a blackbird dropped on the rope

like a male dancer, and snow

fell on snow cutting a furrow

precise as its own shadow.

Then the grit lorries came and sleet

pitted the whiteness. Yesterday’s snow

over her shoulder drips from the eaves

and abruptly slides from the roof.

The coldness casts perfectly its

shadow from one face to the other.

She falters. I am cut by the snow’s soft lash.

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Out of the Heights

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Out of the Heights

Out of the preening and impetuous heights

Where we look down and do not fear and risk

The snow escaping, the ice-melting flights,

And where we spin the sun a golden disc

And do not care and watch the clouds attend

The tall sky’s dazzling and arched arabesque,

Out of those places where we think we end

Unhappiness, catch love within a final hand,

God, from such places keep us and defend

The innocence we do not understand,

The darknesses to which we must descend.

The Nature of Prayer a debt to Van Gogh’s Crooked Church

Maybe a mad fit made you set it there

Askew, bent to the wind, the blue-print gone

Awry, or did it? Isn’t every prayer

We say oblique, unsure, seldom a simple one,

Shaken as your stone tightening in the air?

Decorum smiles a little. Columns, domes

Are sights, are aspirations. We can’t dwell

For long among such loftiness. Our homes

Of prayer are shaky and, yes, parts of Hell

Fragment the depths from which the great cry comes.

Thomas Aquinas

Thinking incessantly, making cogitations always but as keenly, freshly as the child

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The Moth’s Plea

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

The Cabbage White Butterfly

I look like a flower you could pick. My delicate wings

Flutter over the cabbages. I don’t make

Any noise ever. I’m among silent things.

Also I easily break.

I have seen the nets in your hands. At first I thought

A cloud had come down but then I noticed you

With your large pink hand and arm. I was nearly caught

But fortunately I flew

Away in time, hid while you searched, then took

To the sky, was out of your reach. Like a nameless flower

I tried to appear. Can’t you be happy to look?

Must you possess with your power?

The Moth’s Plea

I am a disappointment

And much worse.

You hear a flutter, you expect a brilliance of wings,

Colours dancing, a bright

Flutter, but then you see

A brown, bedraggled creature

With a shamefaced, unclean look

Darting upon your curtains and clothes,

Fighting against the light.

I hate myself. It’s no wonder you hate me.

I meddle among your things,

I make a meal out of almost any cloth,

I hide in cupboards and scare

Any who catch me unaware.

I am your enemy – the moth.

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Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF
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Richard Carr University of North Texas Press PDF
Medium 9781847770684


Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF
Medium 9781847770684

Dawn, 1998 (UD, uncatalogued)

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF


They talk of genes and then they start to blame

Their parents for some quality which they

Inherit. It’s from these they always claim

That they possess a weakness, seldom say

Some good they well might name.

I have no patience with this kind of thing.

I’m sure I’ve never heard somebody say

‘I am creative,’ ‘I can write or sing.’

‘I know I’ve been most lucky in this way.’

I’d sometimes like to ring

A celebratory bell and tell my friends

I owe my Mother my imagination

But not, alas, her dexterous pair of hands.

My Father gave me intellectual passion

But not a scientific mind which lends

Itself to all creation.

How swift they both were in their different ways,

They come to life now as I think of them.

Upon my poetry their spirit plays

And they are present in each sound and theme,

A debt one seldom pays.

But there’s much more to this whole matter. It

Was learnt by me in how their love was lit.


Dawn comes up

Slowly, softly

In silence of power

In colour, of new

Shades for a rainbow

No sound, no sound

Not yet the birds

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On Making

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Yet must go deeper still, must move to love

Where thought is free to let the water ride,

Is liberal to the rose giving it life

And setting even its own shadow aside;

Till flower and water blend with freedom of

Passion that does not close them in and hide

Their deepest natures; but the heart is strong

To beat with rose and river in one song.

On Making

All you who build, whether the marvellous columns

Or the splendid stanza echoing itself,

Is there a place for you to stand and watch

And truthfully swear ‘My part in this is finished’

With a mind quite empty of its images

That fit best in another kind of freedom?

There is no place at all. Your satisfaction

Fails with the last brick laid, with the final word.

There is no place for minds to stand at ease

Nor any mood where passion may partake

Of stillness and be still. Move on, move out

Riding your mind with reckless animation.

Look there are men living within your houses,

Look there are minds moving through your poems,

Proving how much you left unmade, unsaid.

Your work is done yet there is no completion.

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Her Birth

Rebecca Goss Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF
Medium 9781847770684

Christmas Request

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Christmas Request

Cast aside all trappings, let

Tinsel tree and bauble be

Put away, and no more light

For this child’s nativity

Than the brightest star you find

As you pace through almost ice.

Bring it down into your mind

Like a wordless prayer for peace.

Shepherds shall draw back. Alone

Shall the young girl with a smile

Clasp a God which is her own

Flesh to feed a little while.

Ours much later, ours as bread

Now let wonder be our gift.

See, that star shines overhead;

All we thought we took is left.

Words for the Magi

‘Shall I bring you wisdom, shall I bring you power?’

The first great stranger said to the child.

Then he noticed something he’d never felt before –

A wish in himself to be innocent and mild.

‘Shall I bring you glory, shall I bring you peace?’

The second great stranger said when he saw

The star shine down on entire helplessness.

The gift that he offered was his sense of awe.

‘Shall I show you riches’ the third one began

Then stopped in terror because he had seen

A God grown-up and a tired tempted man.

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Two Ways, c.1963–66 (UD, 186/2/48)

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Two Ways

Two ways I think I have known love. The first

Is passionate and restless, knows no peace.

It knows of aching hunger and of thirst

Of pain and longing, and of jealousies

And even if requited, it can’t find

A certainty, a peace, a sense of trust.

It cannot stop the movements of the mind,

Or live apart from every human lust.

The other love is friendship, and demands

Nothing, not even something still returned.

It asks no questions, quickly understands

In friendship every lustful thought is spurned.

And yet I know that neither is enough

Alone. I need the two like everyone.

I want a sure return of my own love –

The pain, the passion and the two made one.

A Year Later

In two more days it will be one

Year exactly since the thing

I thought I wanted then was done.

All detail still remains to bring

The madness (was it madness?) back

Behind my eyes tears want to break.

And all the time I long to tell

Someone what happened, need to blame

Myself each minute, speak my shame.

The whole event is with me still.

No other crime or sin seems bad

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Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF


I’m glad that there were some who did not speak

Their youthful love, I’m glad that I was shy

And marvelled how the heart might seem to break

Yet happily. It’s good when we don’t try

To urge ourselves or others to set round

Them shadows of our own. Words held me back

When I was in my teens. I heard their sound

But did not use them. Thus we learn how lack

Yields riches that no forcing will obtain.

Our first love stories are of fairyland

And maybe our last too. There is sweet pain

In thinking how we learnt to understand

Love first in little losses. Now they mean

Houses of gold which we’ve learnt to defend.

Katie: A Portrait

Katie has an animated face

Full of questions and discoveries,

Abounding still in childhood’s easy grace,

She does not judge or bask in reveries

But fits the way the world would have her taken –

In outings to a friend, in pools of sun

Which she stands in unselfconsciously, unshaken

As yet by growing-up. Maybe she’s one

Whose adolescence will not send her on

Journeys of introspection. May she have

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Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Friesian Cows

Muddy-booted and with an acrobatic way

With churns and electric milker,

He calls the litany of these docile Friesians

Who wait with a world’s patience to have their milk

Sucked from their bloated udders.

I can, at this distance,

With the memory of the cowman’s ‘Honey, Snowdrop’,

Understand entirely the vegetarian.

More, I can see the point

Of the ‘Protection of Animals’ people,

‘But let them be milked,’ I say, ‘But not misused,

Let the cow keep her calf for longer than

A day …’ You interrupt and you are right.

‘My child needs that milk.’ I stammer

‘I’m sorry,’ and go away with a dream of milkers

Grazing in Paradise. I have shut the gate.


Lover of natural sky-scrapers, builder in

Face of East winds, and any winds indeed,

Acrobat whose tight-rope is a branch,

And a thin one at that, you survey

The stripes of fields, clutch of cottages here,

And there the factories with their blinds and humming,

There, a motor-way.

No one has called you king of anything,

You rook, you wary traveller, you who don’t

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