Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Lenten Poems

This is a re-post. When I first found these poems I was readjusting to life in the 'city' of Oxford. I thought the place too busy and fast for my nature, and I longed to be back where I belong, among the woods and the trees, with the animals, the birds and the insects. I found life moved too fast.

Now, I am working in Slough, and commute everyday down one of the busiest motorways in the UK. I cannot say this gives me pleasure. But, working in the school I do, and teaching the children I teach energises me. I love my job. In the course of the day I move in a whirlwind of activity, and only rest in the calm of the evening, or the luxury of a 'no alarm' Saturday.

Of course, I wish I lived closer to school. I wish I lived in a country cottage with a few cats and dogs, chickens, a bird table, and perhaps a pig in the garden. I don't though. So for the moment, I remember. I remember what it was to walk so slowly I noticed the seasons. I remember and I wait. I wait for each weekend to look, I wait for each sign in the trees, each glimpse of change from the window, each battling sign of life I see through the impassive concrete. I watch, and I thank God when I see it.  

"In my parents garden the birds are feeding, the snowdrops are out, the sun is shining, but the trees are still bare, lagging behind in the depths of winter. This can only mean one thing: Lent is upon us. But today, I am going back to the city for the first time in a few months, and although Oxford is full of parks and meadows in which to spy the seasons, there is also always, for me anyway, a sense of detachment there. It is harder to spot the subtle signs of change amongst cold stone buildings.

Lenten Signs

Here in the city
where impassive pavements
light no signals for seasons,
fingers of woodland
point to the river

Mottled ivy
wipes off winter dust,
burns greener: a thorn tree
is beginning to sweat
white tears

Gnarled japonica
bursts into globules of blood,
beading leafless bones;
sunshots dazzle
through crossed boughs

of park lopped trees
and tearing nails of briars.
Robins extemporise
red warnings
of outrageous spring
Joyce Weldom-Searle
20th Century


Lent is a tree without blossom, without leaf,
Barer than blackthorn in its winter sleep,
All unadorned. Unlike Christmas which decrees
The setting up, the dressing up of trees,
Lent is a taking down, a stripping bare,
A starkness after all has been withdrawn
Of surplus and superfluous,
leaving no hiding place, only an emptiness
Between black branches, a most precious space
before the leaf, before the time of flowers;
Lest we should only see the leaf, the flower,
Lest we should miss the stars.

Jean M. Watt 20th Century"

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