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Remembering Bibbiena in Tuscany

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Arrival in Bibbiena, Tuscany

A huddle of shadows and

Small lights down all the slopes. Dark had come down

And we were racing now through the sweet warmth

Of Tuscany with its slit moon

And its imperial crown.

How fitting it is always to arrive

By night in foreign places. They give hints

Of royalty tomorrow, sovereign sun

At its full height, but now it was the moon,

A goddess, a madonna with full hands

Offering simple, therefore holy things.

Her child had gone to sleep as we drew near

Our destination. No need now to speak.

No words were needed, simply being there,

And feeling night’s soft arms, was strong and dear.

Remembering Bibbiena in Tuscany

Green hills assemble in this Northern dawn.

The first birds whisper and there is a haze

Suggesting heat. O Tuscan hills draw near,

Counsel my memory. You walk to me

In a strange landscape, English in a Summer

Not seen till June. You churches,

Little Romanesque ones, lend me prayer

When I pass here or enter ugly ones.

What coolness haunted me. It haunts me still

As those brisk swallows did in Tuscany.

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A Realisation, August 1992 (GU, uncatalogued)

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF


How does it feel to live so high

That you are acquainted with

The nearest stars, have access to sky

That almost takes your breath

Away? The lift must have to go

So high it must take quite

A while before its final slow.

You must have much more light

If you’re close to

The sun. Skyscrapers must

Teeter in the wind

I don’t like heights so I don’t think I’d trust

These buildings. In my mind

I see an accident. And yet

What views are given these

Scrapers of stars. What sights await

Sky-dwellers, what hills, what trees.

A Realisation

Sometimes I think I have it

And now is one. As the Autumn leaves are falling,

As Summer steps slowly back and disappears

In a mob of shadows. I am moved to the quick

By such sweet sadness. Now I seem to catch

The plan of the universe, now the arguments

For lack of meaning pause. My mind is full

Of light and time is quiet, the air is still

And in my almost favourite time, past midnight,

The idea of purpose sheds an enormous beam

Of light on my thoughts which now seem one with feeling.

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Richard Carr University of North Texas Press PDF
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Medium 9781847770684

Partly Tamed

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Partly Tamed

The soul of a child is a bird who is partly tamed.

It flies – I remember it well – from roof-top to tree-top,

It consorts with rooks in their high places,

Is down on the lawn with the speckled thrush, and it enters

The bodies of sparrows pressing under the starlings

Or startled away by a pigeon. I can remember

Flights indoors, then out of the Summer windows,

I dallied on ledges and stood on the lawn with my head cocked,

Hearing the underworld.

My spirit was fiery and preened itself in the sun

And O at rare times I was a gull cavorting,

Slowing and veering, landing on wave tip and wind-tip,

Then soaring over the green sea, skimming the toppling

Easy breakers, gathering bread and pennies

For I was also a magpie.

My feathered spirit knew the contours of clouds,

The reclining gardens, ha-has and rockeries,

I skirted ash leaves and oak leaves,

Would sing like a blackbird, cheerful, rejoicing

For I loved the world in a wisdom of not understanding.

I was instinct coupled with climbing imagination,

I ignored the clocks. Tossed by spread winds, I was merry

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