Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Roman Wall Blues

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Off to visit my parents this weekend for my Dad’s 75th birthday.  We live almost on top of the Roman wall outside of Corbridge.  I thought this poem that reminds you of what it must be like being a soldier away from home, whether Romans or Syrian archers back in the first few hundred years AD, or as a soldier nowadays in Afghanistan or anywhere away from home.

Roman Wall Blues

Over the heather the wet wind blows,
I’ve lice in my tunic and a cold in my nose.

The rain comes pattering out of the sky,
I’m a Wall soldier, I don’t know why.

The mist creeps over the hard grey stone,
My girl’s in Tungria; I sleep alone.

Aulus goes hanging around her place,
I don’t like his manners, I don’t like his face.

Piso’s a Christian, he worships a fish;
There’d be no kissing if he had his wish.

She gave me a ring but I diced it away;
I want my girl and I want my pay.

When I’m a veteran with only one eye
I shall do nothing but look at the sky.

W. H. Auden

Autumn Poems

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Perhaps Autumn is a time for poetry.  So here are a few poems that conjur up the period for me. 

I found the poem by Keats in an ancient copy of “The Golden Treasury” inscribed by my great aunt with the words “Elfie Steenberg July 1 1918″:

Ode To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run:
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With sweet kernel; to set budding more
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease;
For Summer has o’erbrimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen Thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinéd flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Aye, where are they?
Think not of them, – thou hast thy music too,
While barréd clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river-sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing, and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Or perhaps something more modern from Ted Hughes‘ book of poems “Season Songs”:

Leaves

Who’s killed the leaves?
Me, says the apple, I’ve killed them all.
Fat as a bomb or a cannonball
I’ve killed the leaves.

Who sees them drop?
Me, says the pear, they will leave me all bare
So all the people can point and stare.
I see them drop.

Who’ll catch their blood?
Me, me, me, says the marrow, the marrow.
I’ll get so rotund that they’ll need a wheelbarrow.
I’ll catch their blood.

Who’ll make their shroud?
Me, says the swallow, there’s just time enough
Before I must pack all my spools and be off.
I’ll make their shroud.

Who’ll dig their grave?
Me, says the river, with the power of the clouds
A brown deep grave I’ll dig under my floods.
I’ll dig their grave.

Who’ll be their parson?
Me, says the Crow, for it is well-known
I study the bible right down to the bone.
I’ll be their parson.

Who’ll be chief mourner?
Me, says the wind, I will cry through the grass
The people will pale and go cold when I pass.
I’ll be chief mourner.

Who’ll carry the coffin?
Me, says the sunset, the whole world will weep
To see me lower it into the deep.
I’ll carry the coffin.

Who’ll sing a psalm?
Me, says the tractor, with mu gear grinding glottle
I’ll plough Up the stubble and sing through my throttle.
I’ll sing the psalm.

Who’ll toll the bell?
Me, says the robin, my song in October
Will tell the still gardens the leaves are over.
I’ll toll the bell.