Sunday, April 12, 2020


Odd, the feeling of appearing to be at the whim of Events.  Surprising, disconcerting, interesting, and by turns a great deal else.  One's thoughts range from "Am I going to perish in the plague?" to "What if I run out of toilet paper?"  Not to minimize the situation in which we find ourselves, but those two queries (or ones of a similar nature and import) could have been posed a year ago -- or at any time between the present moment and the moment when each of us emerged out of the darkness into the bright World.

Well, then, here we are.  The Events have arrived.  Or perhaps they have been with us all along.  What shall we do?  Think back.  Hasn't that always been the pertinent question?


Sometimes, when walls and occupation seem
A prison merely, a dark barrier
Between me everywhere
And life, or the larger province of the mind,
As dreams confined,
As the trouble of a dream,
I seek to make again a life long gone,
To be
My mind's approach and consolation,
To give it form's lucidity,
Resilient form, as porcelain pieces thrown
In buried China by a wrist unknown,
Or mirrored brigs upon Fowey sea.

Then to my memory comes nothing great
Of purpose, or debate,
Or perfect end,
Pomp, nor love's rapture, nor heroic hours to spend --
But most, and strangely, for long and so much have I seen,
Comes back an afternoon
Of a June
Sunday at Elsfield, that is up on a green
Hill, and there,
Through a little farm parlour door,
A floor
Of red tiles and blue,
And the air
Sweet with the hot June sun cascading through
The vine-leaves under the glass, and a scarlet fume
Of geranium flower, and soft and yellow bloom
Of musk, and stains of scarlet and yellow glass.

Such are the things remain
Quietly, and for ever, in the brain,
And the things that they choose for history-making pass.

John Drinkwater, Loyalties (Sidgwick & Jackson 1919).

Harold Jones (1904-1992), "The Black Door"

In this part of the world, we are walking in the warm sunlight amidst snow showers of pink and white petals -- cherry, plum, and pear. What else can one do?

     Simply trust:
Do not also the petals flutter down,
     Just like that?

Issa (1763-1827) (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 2: Spring (Hokuseido Press 1950), page 363.

Adrian Paul Allinson (1890-1959), "The Cornish April"


John Ashton said...

Stephen, The poem by John Drinkwater is quite new to me, thank you for posting it. The last three lines are particularly lovely and themselves remain quietly in the brain.
In this part of the world too blossom is on the trees. I walked through a local park a couple of days ago and stopped to watch two song thrushes, a common sight in my childhood, but rarely seen now, searching for food in the sunlit space between blossoming trees. I watched for a long time, filled with joy at seeing them, the blossom and other birds singing close by.
The lines of Issa say more than any more words of my own can.

Stephen Pentz said...

John: I'm pleased you liked "History." His poetry, though all but forgotten now (except, perhaps, for "Moonlit Apples"), contains -- as you know -- many lovely gems (including "Moonlit Apples," "Reciprocity," "The Wood," and "Politics") which have appeared here before. Well, I will do my small part to keep his work alive.

I'm happy to hear that you are able to get out to a park under these circumstances. Yes, the birds: they are always charming to hear and see, but even more so now.

As for Issa's haiku, I entirely agree with you: there is absolutely nothing to add, is there?

I hope you and your loved ones are safe and sound. Thank you very much for taking the time to visit, and for sharing your thoughts.