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Burt, Dan Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF
Medium 9781847770998

(Sonnet to Queen Elizabeth)

John Gallas Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

(Sonnet to Queen Elizabeth)

An only thought – that safes me and alarms – bitter and sweet – changes endless in my heart – clouds on me between doubt and hope while peace and calm fly from me.

So – sister dear – if this letter draws on the fond desire to see you that makes me forward thus – it is because I am condemned to pain and sadness if some answer does not quickly come.

I have seen a ship drop anchor upon the high tide – near to port – and the bright sky cloud.

Thus I am in worry and in fear – not from you but from unsteady times when Fortune breaks – its double – sail and rigging.

(Sonnet written at Fotheringhay Castle)

Ah what am I? – and what use my life? –

I am no more than a body stripped of its heart – a nothing-shadow – a thing of misery – with nothing now more than a death in life.

O enemies – envy me no more – who has no more desire alive for greatness.

I have done with too much sadness – and cannot see your anger quickly tempered.

And you – my friends – still truly dear – remember that – heartless and lifeless –

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And We Die Like Tomorrow

John Gallas Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF
Medium 9781847770684

Song for the Swifts

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Song for the Swifts

The swifts have now returned.

They volley, parry, play with the new light,

Dance under pieces of cloud then, out of sight,

Tease us with the pleasure of their flight,

Become our luxury too. The wind’s weight

Is once again to be learned,

To be taught to us by each swift.

Melancholies are carried away in the stride

Of the tamed clouds and Spring has opened wide

Its windows, these birds assisting. They have defied

Drowning waves, peaks few men have tried

And they have come to lift

Our minds and natures too.

Envy cowers with so much to be shared,

Love revives as we count up the paired,

Unthinkingly mating birds. Cold winds are repaired

By South the swifts have brought and we are snared

By joy, know what to do.

However dark our lands,

Wisdom is in our bloodstream not in brain

Alone and we take instinct on again

Watching these birds and the soon-to-bear-fruit grain,

And what we never thought we could attain

Falls, the uneaten apple, in our hands.


As the sky

Unfolds every morning in Spring, slipping the sun

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A Death Alive

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF


What is this? Why are there so many questions?

Why do you ask so much and want so much?

I lie on my back under an equable sun

And do not want any words,

The mischievousness of language,

Its long misunderstandings.

Love is silent at best.

Who wants words for it?

Whatever you love always answers itself.

Whether you hold a vast God in your mind

Who shows you the universe,

Or you love the faults and the little injustices

Of one who will not leave your dreams alone.

I know all the questions and I know too many answers

And I do not know which are worse.

A Death Alive

This is a grief I never thought to have.

Ten years ago I learnt the grief of death.

For days I could not speak and all belief,

Trust and the like died with my then-dead love,

His sudden end of life.

Time was too present, memory was shame

And guilt and dark reproach. The years have passed

And I have learnt of love and do not blame

Myself again. I thought grief could not last

But now it’s back, the same

Ice in the blood, the wrestle in the night.

My life means grief. No other word will fit

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