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My Seasons

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Remember that the berries and the flowers

You took indoors to die

Have their own strange recuperative powers.

I took them up. They lie

Sprouting already in my hands. I’m quick

To push them in the ground until a tree

Drops healing herbs for you, new buds for me.


Orchestra floats a quiet theme

To take the argument. Two seem

Once to have quarrelled and can’t find

The words for mending. To the mind,

The music stretches. We are sure

That quickly there will be some clear

Words of requital. Shame will go,

Its coward self walk out tip-toe.

We shall see all that we have known

In early hours, sometimes alone,

But here a public act is done

Though private lovers will have won

With music, music always near

When words dare not speak of men’s fear

And where the whispered happiness

Is sacramental and will bless.

My Seasons

I am a kind of Persephone perhaps

Would gladly be underground or asleep in the dark

Winters, would certainly hibernate if I could.

I count so many Springs since a hint of one

Excites. I have never learnt the way of seasons

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The Near Perfection

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

First Admirers

In those early days it was a game.

I didn’t know the rules

This didn’t matter. I lived in a dream

Of love. So many love poems and love tales

Turned out to be quite true at this beginning.

The world shone clear for me.

There was no trickery or any cunning.

Men admired me and I honestly

Do not think I toyed or trifled with

Their feelings. Very soon

One would wound me. Love can be dark beneath

This sweet long dance, the working of the moon.

The Near Perfection

This was all sweet and leaping, reciprocal,

Love took off from ground and we were two

Fitted together in body and mind also

Compassion crowned the royal state of love,

This glory of the senses when they are

Controlled, the eager longing that the other

One should always share

Or more than share this love which did indeed

Happen at first sight. Two Summers through

Love was our city and our state of mind,

It painted and it lit up everyone

But all was broken and I don’t know why,

Perhaps I thought perfection could endure.

That kind of love, I think, belongs to Spring.

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XL (i) (‘I know not if it is the longed-for night’)

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF


Reason is sympathetic when I claim

To find in love a lasting happiness.

With strong examples and true words, my shame

Reminds me of the weakness I possess.

She says, ‘The living sun can only give

Death, not a phoenix, now to one like you.’

He who himself has no desire to live,

No hands can save, however willing to.

I understand the truth and know my fate:

I have another heart which cruelly

Kills me the more I yield to its demands.

It is between two deaths that my lord stands.

One baffles me, the other one I hate.

In such suspense body and soul will die.

XL (i)

I know not if it is the longed-for night

Of its first maker that the spirit feels,

Or if some old and honoured memory steals

The heart and makes its beauty shine so bright;

Or maybe fame or dreams themselves can bring

A lovely object to the eyes and heart.

From such a vision many tears can spring

And many memories remain to hurt.

I know not what I feel or seek, or who

Guides me, or where I should true guidance seek,

And yet I feel that someone points the way.

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Love in Three Movements

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF
Medium 9781847770684

The Harbour

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Loses its interest. A quick escape,

One will accuse, you must come up and choose

In your own element of land the shape

Of what you love. Water, he thinks but knows

Waves were indifferent and the mainland asks

A chosen attitude, a dive more deep.

The Planners

Some who fell in love with lack of order

And liked the random weather, were made angry,

Accused the planners thus ‘It is not brick

Only you set upright and scaffolding

And the roof bending at a perfect angle,

But all our love you end in measurements,

Construct a mood for any moment, teach

Passion to move in inches not by chance’.

And swarming from the forests to new houses

They chipped the walls a little, left footmarks

Across the thresholds, would not scan each other

By clock or compass, terrified the silence

With rough words that had never been thought out.

And builders, poets fell upon them, saw

A just disorder for their alteration,

Would turn the conversation into music,

Tidy the house and from the lovers’ quarrel

Shape a whole scene with middle, end, beginning,

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