Not just a treasury but a very precious little treasure too. Published in 1947, the poems may no longer be quite so modern but they are still certainly beautiful. Here is one I particularly liked …. ‘deep is the silence.’
| Moonlit Apples
At the top of the house the apples are laid in rows,
And the skylight lets the moonlight in, and those
Apples are deep-sea apples of green. There goes
A cloud on the moon in the autumn night.
A mouse in the wainscot scratches, and scratches, and then
There is no sound at the top of the house of men
Or mice; and the cloud is blown, and the moon again
Dapples the apples with deep-sea light.
They are lying in rows there, under the gloomy beams;
On the sagging floor; they gather the silver streams
Out of the moon, those moonlit apples of dreams,
And quiet is the steep stair under.
In the corridors under there is nothing but sleep.
And stiller than ever on orchard boughs they keep
Tryst with the moon, and deep is the silence, deep
On moon-washed apples of wonder.
The foolish optimist wakes each morning
Still drunk on love and dreams from yesterday.
The sun is shining and the World laughs:
“Wipe that smile from your face,
Put the volume of the day on mute,
Stay stalled in that line of traffic going nowhere,
Wait if you want…
No will come.”
I made the time machine from some bits I found in the kitchen,
Like an old blender that I hooked up to a computer.
It’s whir was like a purr.
“Where do you want to go with me?” I asked.
“Forwards or backwards?”
I knew you’d enjoy either.
“How about we freeze time?” you said.
And I could
And then my time machine exploded.
The heavy, easterly rain eases in,
Slicing nimbly over the hills,
Insistently numbing ground you own.
Unfazed, night eventually evaporates –
Drawn towards opaque dawn eagerly crawling into place.
But on us – this hill –
Only water – magic.
Under cumulonimbus heaven I laugh.
One voice echoing.
Yelling out –
She does the rounds:
Reads the notes at the end of his bed,
Administers pain relief playfully
Whilst talking of sunshine and the promise of Soleros.
She checks his temperature,
His heart rate:
But it’s her heart that races.
Part time job wanted.
A couple of hours on a Tuesday,
Say 5 – 7?
Payment not necessary
I’m happy to volunteer
Just for the experience, of course,
And the company…
I could work front of house?
Perhaps I’m better suited behind the scenes
Where I can get my hands dirty,
Work really hard for you,
Stacking your empty shelves with tins of love,
Just don’t ask for references;
Try me out instead.
Call me up,
See what I have to offer?
Blindfold, whips and cuffs.
Just you and me and stuff.
Without you, all of this is all true.
Without you every morning would feel like going back to work after a holiday,
Without you I couldn’t stand the smell of the East Lancs Road,
Without you ghost ferries would cross the Mersey manned by skeleton crews,
Without you I’d probably feel happy and have more money and time and nothing to do with it,
Without you I’d have to leave my stillborn poems on other people’s doorsteps, wrapped in brown paper,
Without you there’d never be sauce to put on sausage butties,
Without you plastic flowers in shop windows would just be plastic flowers in shop windows,
Without you I’d spend my summers picking morosley over the remains of train crashes,
Without you white birds would wrench themselves free from my paintings and fly off dripping blood into the night,
Without you green apples wouldn’t taste greener,
Without you Mothers wouldn’t let their children play out after tea,
Without you every musician in the world would forget how to play the blues,
Without you Public Houses would be public again,
Without you the Sunday Times colour suppliment would come out in black-and-white,
Without you indifferent colonels would shrug their shoulders and press the button,
Without you they’d stop changing the flowers in Piccadilly Gardens,
Without you Clark Kent would forget how to become Superman,
Without you Sunshine Breakfast would only consist of Cornflakes,
Without you there’d be no colour in Magic colouring books,
Without you Mahler’s 8th would only be performed by street musicians in derelict houses,
Without you they’d forget to put the salt in every packet of crisps,
Without you it would be an offence punishable by a fine of up to £200 or two months’ imprisonment to be found in possession of curry powder,
Without you riot police are massing in quiet sidestreets,
Without you all streets would be one-way the other way,
Without you there’d be no one to kiss goodnight when we quarrel,
Without you the first martian to land would turn round and go away again,
Without you they’d forget to change the weather,
Without you blind men would sell unlucky heather,
Without you there would be
no landscapes/no stations/no houses
no chipshops/no quiet villages/no seagulls
on beaches/no hopscotch on pavements/no night/no morning/
there’d be no city no country
by Adrian Henri
Isn’t this poem beautiful?
I like the idea of how things drift in and out of our lives and the hopeful certainty that like a tide everything eventually comes back…but then I’m a foolish dreamer, what can I say…
The evening advances, then withdraws again
Leaving our cups and books like islands on the floor.
We are drifting, you and I,
As far from another as the young heroes
Of these two novels we have just laid down.
For that is happiness: to wander alone
Surrounded by the same moon, whose tides remind us of ourselves,
Our distances, and what we leave behind.
The lamp left on, the curtains letting in the light.
These things were promises. No doubt we will come back to them.
by Hugo Williams
As weeks go, I’ve had better and today everything seems a little bit pointless, even writing, so I’m just going to borrow someone else’s words. This is a poem that I love written by a person that I love.
I went to the car, to find you the red ink,
Which you’d used to refill your pen that I gave you,
And when I got there I couldn’t find it – it was
Nowhere to be seen. I saw this red ink everyday and thought of you – it was something
Tangible, real, passionate, ardent, heated and absolute.
Yet the absence of it bothers me. I want to locate it and refill you so you can continue writing the story
Of which I am a component,
Until you reach the end of the chapter and you either publish it, or leave it unfinished