Poetry and Book Club: 2021-03-24

Here are the poems shared by the participants on the theme of Lancashire Poets. The theme was interpreted broadly to include poets who had visited Lancashire.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

The Langdales Under Snow.

John Deady

The Langdale Pikes lurk swathed in white
Behind the drab of lesser hills.
Nearing , they cower out of sight
As if they are ashamed, until
The roadway bends and out they leap
In ambush from behind the trees,
Like giant, misdirected sheep;
Then drop again, as on their knees;

And thus, for miles of Lakeland road,
This game of hide and seek is played;
An existential episode,
Nature and I in masquerade.
I’ll live forever with that sight
Of Langdale Pikes, all swathed in white

A Lancashire Doxology

by ‘Miss Muloch’

This poem was published in the Bolton Chronicle July 2nd 1864.

The poem relates celebrations as some cotton arrives in the small Lancashire village of Far[r]ington in order to feed the mill and provide work for the local population, …

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow”,
Praise Him who sendeth joy and woe.
The Lord who takes – the Lord who gives,
O praise Him, all that dies, and lives.

He opens and He shuts his hand,
But why, we cannot understand:
Pours and dries up his mercies’ flood,
And yet is still All-perfect Good.

We fathom not the mighty plan,
The mystery of God and man;
We women, when afflictions come,
We only suffer and are dumb.

And when, the tempest passing by,
He gleams out, sunlike, through our sky,
We look up, and through black clouds riven,
We recognise the smile of Heaven.

Ours is no wisdom of the wise,
We have no deep philosophies;
Childlike we take both kiss and rod,
For he that loveth knoweth God.

Good Words, for July.

Extract from ‘Hard Times’

Charles Dickens

Dickens’ visit to Preston Lancashire is believed to have influenced the writing of this book.

… “Well!” blustered Mr. Bounderby, ”what’s the matter? What is young Thomas in the dumps about?”

He spoke of young Thomas, but he looked at Louisa. “We were peeping at the circus,” muttered Louisa, haughtily, without lifting up her eyes, “and father caught us.“ “And, Mrs Gradgrind,” said her husband in a lofty manner, “I should as soon have expected to find my children reading poetry.” …

Figures of Speech

At boarding school I was teased
for the idiosyncrasies of my speech –
a concoction of accents, each

deaf to the other – not so much the King’s
English or Shakespeare’s as that of the NHS speech clinic.
A lifetime later, dumb –

struck by dementia, words
crumble in my mouth like cheese.
I never could roll my r’s.

Philip Pacey, from REST AND QUIETNESS Poems from retirement 2020

“I began writing poetry when I was a student at Cambridge, encouraged by fellow student Philip Larkin, and influenced by his admiration for R.S. Thomas.”
“I subsequently worked as a librarian in art education, at St. Albans School of Art, and later at Preston Polytechnic, finding encouragement to my creativity”
This new collection is chosen from the best poems I have written subsequently, in retirement, and in some cases after a diagnosis of dementia. I doubt if I will write very much more before lapsing into incoherence. Hopefully, writing these poems may have helped me to keep dementia at bay. At our age premonitions of mortality are everywhere, but if we are lucky they may bring about more chuckles than dread.”

Philip Pacey

I met Philip in 2019 and admired his poetry, which he spoke with reality and a degree of humour, and he kindly sent me a copy of his latest book at Christmas time last year . He has a lovely wife- both in temperament and in looks- and they can get out and about. And so I hope they will come to our group when we are up and running again.

“Rolling Words”

by James Dodding (1931-2018 ). Garstang Poetry Society.

I’m Garstang born and bred
And yes, I’ve got a swollen head
for I am proud to have been raised
In a town I’ve always loved and praised.
My work has taken me far and wide
to places only dreamt of as a child
but now I’m back home from the great rat race
to gradely folk – in a gradely place !

Notes:

James was Professor Emeritus North Carolina, USA. Fellow and graduate of Rose Bruford College of Speech & Drama, Kent, former student of John Masefield. Broadcaster, BBC Radio for Schools. He trained generations of actors and entertainers, many of whom became stars of stage & screen. One of his lasting contributions was his involvement in setting up the Garstang Poetry Appreciation Group in 2009. He will always be remembered for his oft-repeated instructions: “ Roll your words”

Spring and Fall

Gerard Manley Hopkins

To a young child

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Felix Randal

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Felix Randal the farrier, O is he dead then? my duty all ended,
Who have watched his mould of man, big-boned and hardy-handsome
Pining, pining, till time when reason rambled in it, and some
Fatal four disorders, fleshed there, all contended?

Sickness broke him. Impatient, he cursed at first, but mended
Being anointed and all; though a heavenlier heart began some
Months earlier, since I had our sweet reprieve and ransom
Tendered to him. Ah well, God rest him all road ever he offended!

This seeing the sick endears them to us, us too it endears.
My tongue had taught thee comfort, touch had quenched thy tears,
Thy tears that touched my heart, child, Felix, poor Felix Randal;

How far from then forethought of, all thy more boisterous years,
When thou at the random grim forge, powerful amidst peers,
Didst fettle for the great grey drayhorse his bright and battering sandal!