Poetry Blog by Chris Armstrong

Pastoral

For Gwen, Anne and Eryl

 

In that happy heady grass-green Spring of my years

A time of lambent lamb slow lamb full days around a whited cottage

Lent us space and ease beneath the sun long sky

Golden glorious hours together in a single thought

With close chicken scrape and distant herd

When the swallows dipped to the fly buzz

When the kite climbed to a gliding speck

     ...

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Cambrian MountainscountrysidecowsEndymionfarmsfieldshorseslovemoonnightpastoralSelenesheepstarssunWales

Mostly Welsh

I grew up in Wales

Around the Swansea docks

I walked beneath huge cargo ships

Held up with props and blocks

 

I was made in Wales

Around the southern ports

I watched the big ships dock

My family guessed my thoughts

 

I was mined in Wales

Near valleys black with slag

And closing pits and picket lines

With many a mine lodge flag

 

I was forged in Wales

...

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docksexperienceheritagehistorylifemerchant navyportsseafaringshipsSwanseatravelWalesWelsh

One people

I will not fight, I will not stand

For border, nor for any land

I need not know, am not concerned

Your place of birth or language learned

Too many wars are fought, too many die

Over province, pride, triumphal lie

 

I will not guard, I will not bar

The stranger landed from afar

They need a home, and wish to settle

Want to work, to show their metal

We can only profit...

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culturecustomsemigrantsexileshomelandincomerslanguagepacifismrefugeesstrangerswars

Danger! No Swimming

A poem for Manchester Art Gallery

 

Lily of the water, Nymph thou art

Perfect buds rising from cold dark depths

Flower faeries with alabaster skin emerging

Waxen ivory clothing a golden heart

 

Show love! Watch over this foolish boy

Who would risk all amongst your beauty,

Careless haste for pleasure clouding wisdom

Your ancient roots may yet ensnare his joy

 

Th...

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dangerHylasNymphaeaceaeNymphsswimmingwater lilies

ἀλκυών

O, where roams your delicate soul

Does it yet travel the seas

                gliding afar with the Arctic tern

                or is its delight in quieter waters

                in dappled river pools or streams

Is it content to rest in the cool damp shade of the willow

watching minnows play

                diving among the nymphs

                and sacred lotus

 

...

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Alcedo atthisAtthiscalmdesireHalcyonHylasKingfisherlosslovepassion

A dream itself is but a shadow

In the grey cloudlight of a pre-dawn moon

something stayed my dream

a stray insistent noise heard through sleep

the uncertain call of the hunting owl:

I am knelt naked at the window -

beneath, the frosted grass glimmers in the pale creamglow

hazy through the early swirls of mist

but not a shade or waft disturbs the spectral scene

although my flesh seems chilled by some slig...

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dreamsghostsHamletmoonlightowlsphantasmsshades

Aberystwyth Scenes, 1970

It was always The Cabin

before her lectures

                coffee

                and Flic demolishing

                                The Times crossword,

                                sharing the clues but

                                writing the answers

                                as she read, smoked,

                                pushed her blond hair

   ...

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1970sAberystwythCeredigioncoffeeCwrt MawrPrice AlbertSkinners Armsstudent lifestudentsstudyTalbotThe Cabinuniversity

Letters

Those love letters from the seventies

I could not bear to read again

and could not bear to throw

 

Those airmail forms

those tortured lonely twelve page laments

that I read and read so many times

in my cabin off Cape Town,

in Melbourne and Sydney:

So many words

So  much love

 

But in the end

They were just ash

And I scattered them

 

Ashes to her ashe...

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letterslovelove letter

The Man on the Mountain

In the inky winter darkness

A rough track from the lane

Leads upward onto the mountain:

                A small glimmer hints at life

                and we wonder where we are being led.

Out of the blackness, a dark shape shows in the slight mist

                The lights in a window flicker dimly yellow

                and the smell of peat smoke drifts down in the still ai...

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1970sCeredigionCottageMynydd BachPeatPurdeyshotgunsWales

Gower

The sand was always hot

                beside the white dunes and the coarse grass

               

The sea was always blue

                between the black rocks and the horizon haze

 

The beach was always ours

                between the seagull shout and the distant crowd

 

We were always alone

               between the far world and our near union

 

We swa...

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beachdunesfutureGowermarriagesandseasouth walesswimmingWales

Rooms

from an idea by Conrad Aiken

 

The Lounge

Netted windows with fawn roller blinds

lowered a little by their macramé tassels for his forty winks

Shush! Be quiet, he's having his nap, don't make a din -

or completely, when at night

he shovelled the last coal from the bin

concealed in its wooden cabinet

and lowered the heavy lid on the fire to keep it in

 

The Playroom

...

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Aikenlifememoriesrooms

The Poet's Problem

Impulse is the best linguist

So Mr Thoreau thought

And often what is written here

Is spoiled by what is later brought

 

Yet

All I write and sometimes rhyme

Falls on the page untaught

So needs some tender love and care

Before you see it as you ought

 

So

The lines you read from any page

Should by your ear be caught

As best words ordered to flow well

With...

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DraftingEditingPoemsPoetryThoreauWriting

Hen dŷ

This old farm cottage of mine

keeps all my years safe

for it knows my secret ways

and remembers

 

There are shadows in the shadows

but in some rooms

my sons have hidden smiles

to lead me in

 

There is more solitude indoors

but here and there

she has retained a past caress

to warm me

 

The old mirror we found at market

still retains her ghost

which...

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cottagedreamsfamilyfarmhouseghostsmemoriessonsspectres

Trout

The lake is still in the evening sun

A little breeze make the longer grass sway on the bank

and a ripple disturb the surface:

A mayfly lands

A swallow drinks and is gone before I see

With a rattle, a duck takes off from behind the island

Then it is still again

Beneath the reflections are fish

Sometimes - but not yet tonight -

A circle of ripples flows out from a rise

...

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castingdamselfliesfishfishingflieslakespastoralpeacequietsummertrout

Prometheus Redux

Semper animus libera

 

PROMETHEUS:

O Thou that watches over all

And marks the good in man

Unnamed Godhead of all the thronging spirits

Who guard thy mortal worlds -

When skies darken and the plunging waves roil through

When the mountains themselves spit ruddy fire

And melt into valleys or crash steaming into the ocean deeps -

To keep thy people safe in those mortal li...

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DemogorganfaithJupitermythologyMythsold mythspraisepriestsPrometheusreligion

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Recent Comments

Chris Armstrong on Pastoral (2 days ago)

Martin Elder on Pastoral (3 days ago)

Chris Armstrong on Mostly Welsh (4 days ago)

David Taylor-Jones on Mostly Welsh (4 days ago)

Colin Hill on Mostly Welsh (5 days ago)

Pat Hughes on One people (7 days ago)

keith jeffries on One people (8 days ago)

M.C. Newberry on One people (8 days ago)

Chris Armstrong on ἀλκυών (11 days ago)

Colin Hill on ἀλκυών (11 days ago)

Chris Armstrong on A dream itself is but a shadow (13 days ago)

Colin Hill on A dream itself is but a shadow (14 days ago)

Chris Armstrong on Aberystwyth Scenes, 1970 (14 days ago)

raypool on Aberystwyth Scenes, 1970 (Sat, 10 Feb 2018 08:19 pm)

Tony Hill on Aberystwyth Scenes, 1970 (Sat, 10 Feb 2018 02:53 pm)

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