The Generosity – Luci Shaw – Comments

The Generosity

What well-chosen small presents
arrive almost every day, wrapped
in the newspaper of the ordinary!

No ribbons. No gift cards.
Just the coin of the sun glinting
behind a gray broth of clouds.

A knuckle of dark rock exposed as
a freeze lets go and the snow
settles in its own melting. Trees

showing off their good bones, skeletal,
naked—their fractal structures
echoing the repeating patterns of atoms.

Last week a tender rain came and went,
and our roof gutters gurgled their watery
joy at being useful.

And today, a raven feather on
the sidewalk and wings in the sky,
memos from heaven everywhere.

Luci Shaw (1928 –

From ‘Sea Glass’New and Selected Poems

… stop, say thank you for the beauty in the common place … arrive almost every day, wrapped / in the newspaper of the ordinary! … what a nice way of putting it … I have been known to wrap presents in newspaper … and the arrival of the newspaper is quite an ordininary affair

… and a thank you to the creator … the coin of the sun glinting … perhaps the sun is more than the sun … with Son, religious connotations … a gift of priceless value

… depression dissipates by its own destruction … the snow / settles in its own melting … winter (or depression) … cures itself from the inside … and of course time is needed, well known for anyone suffering from depression

… the basics, the essentials of life shown … echoing the repeating patterns of atoms … nature showing the beauty of its core elements in common structuring

… nature, responding to need … a tender rain came and went ... man made structure respond to the gift of rain in joyous personification … reflecting emotional state of the poet LS

… the light touch of God seen in the drift of … a raven feather … as it … wings in the sky … memos from heaven … spiritual communciation in the simpliest of things … great poetic interpretation

Luci Shaw shows her spiritual appreciation of the beauty around us with the poetic art of expressing this in a very acceptable way … stop, accept, appreciate – perhaps the first step in religious life

Details on Luci Shaw


Leaving Nancy – Eric Bogle

Leaving Nancy

In comes the train and the whole platform shakes
It stops with a shudder and a screaming of brakes
The parting has come and my weary soul aches
I’m leaving my Nancy, oh

But you stand there so calmly determinedly gay
You talk of the weather and events of the day
And your eyes tell me all that your tongue doesn’t say
Goodbye my Nancy, oh

And come a little closer
Put your head upon my shoulder
And let me hold you one last time
Before the whistle blows

My suitcase is lifted and stowed on the train
And a thousand regrets whirl around in my brain
The ache in my heart is a black sea of pain
I’m leaving my Nancy, oh

But you stand there beside me so lovely to see
The grip of your hand is an unspoken plea
You’re not fooling yourself and you’re not fooling me
Goodbye my Nancy, oh

And come a little closer
Put your head upon my shoulder
And let me hold you one last time
Before the whistle blows

But our time has run out and the whistle has blown
Here I must leave you standing alone
We had so little time and now the time’s gone
Goodbye my Nancy, oh

And as the train starts gently to roll
And as I lean out to wave and to call
I see the first tears trickle and fall
Goodbye my Nancy, oh

And come a little closer
Put your head upon my shoulder
And let me hold you one last time
Before the whistle blows
And let me hold you one last time
Before the whistle blows

Eric Bogle (1944 –

Eric Bogle left Scotland for Canberra, Australia in 1969. Nancy was his mother and this was the last time he saw her. A very poignant poem (lyrics) the more so for me and anyone who has come to Australia from England and left parents behind; and Eric Bogle captures that moment of departure easily visualised by ‘your eyes tell me all that your tongue doesn’t say’ … it is a moment of such emotional intensity that feelings overwhelm a person negating any attempt at word expression.

There comes a time to leave parents – ‘our time has run out’, just as departure time dictates the leaving of the train. Each stanza has rhyme ‘aaa’ plus the repeat of the lament – ‘Good bye my Nancy, oh’. And the nice rhythm is in line with that of the train as it starts moving, traveling with the same beat of the words of the poem.

The above lyrics are based on his poem of the same name … the poem not having the repetition of the refrain.

There is a very poignant recording of Eric singing this on YouTube.

And details on Eric Bogle on Wikipedia.

Footnote …

There is a difference between metre and rhythm. Meter is the particular formal structure such as iambic pentameter … e.g. – each line = low High (x5) – ‘I love to go a wandering along …’ … whereas rhythm is the beat equivalent to that in music. The underlying beat of a poem is not always stressed by a reader. And a poem may have periodic beat if that is appropriate in the poetic expression of the words.


Colour – Dorothea Mackellar – Analysis


The lovely things that I have watched unthinking,
Unknowing, day by day,
That their soft dyes have steeped my soul in colour
That will not pass away –

Great saffron sunset clouds, and larkspur mountains,
And fenceless miles of plain,
And hillsides golden-green in that unearthly
Clear shining after rain;

And nights of blue and pearl, and long smooth beaches,
Yellow as sunburnt wheat,
Edged with a line of foam that creams and hisses,
Enticing weary feet.

And emeralds, and sunset-hearted opals,
And Asian marble, veined
With scarlet flame, and cool green jade, and moonstones
Misty and azure-stained;

And almond trees in bloom, and oleanders,
Or a wide purple sea,
Of plain-land gorgeous with a lovely poison,
The evil Darling pea.

If I am tired I call on these to help me
To dream -and dawn-lit skies,
Lemon and pink, or faintest, coolest lilac,
Float on my soothed eyes.

There is no night so black but you shine through it,
There is no morn so drear,
O Colour of the World, but I can find you,
Most tender, pure and clear.

Thanks be to God, Who gave this gift of colour,
Which who shall seek shall find;
Thanks be to God, Who gives me strength to hold it,
Though I were stricken blind.

Dorothea Mackellar (1885 – 1968)

The Australian poet Dorothea Mackellar is better known for the poem ‘My Country’ written at the age of 19 when homesick in England. But this poem was her favourite and it was her request that it be read at her memorial service and it was duly read after she died in 1968. Towards the end of her life she suffered ill health for many years and this poem indicates strong nostalgic reflection after becoming blind.

It is a poem of the landscape she loved and even if her sight was lost by age she still could recall the colours from her own life with mind images forever embedded in her soul ( soft dyes have steeped my soul ). She defines these colours in the poetry of this poem by such words as …

great saffron sunset cloudslarkspur mountainslong smooth beaches, yellow as sunburnt wheat sunset-hearted opals / And Asian marble, veined / With scarlet flame, and cool green jade, and moonstones / Misty and azure-stained

Such words may invoke colour images in the reader from their own experience of landscape, more so perhaps for those who live in or have visited Australia. Akin to ‘My Country’ the poem clearly indicates a strong patriotic sentiment. Also a spiritual recognition of God the creator of the beauty she beholds … Thanks be to God … not only for colours but the power of her mind to hold such colours although blind. Colour beauty and landscape are inextricably connected. Close your eyes go to a special place what colours come to mind?

And of course ‘My Country’ has its own colour images in the well know words …
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me!

And here are her words which give comparison with her experience of England …
The love of field and coppice
Of green and shaded lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins.
Strong love of grey-blue distance,
Brown streams and soft, dim skies
I know, but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

Compare ‘ordered woods and gardens’ with ‘fenceless miles of plain’.

I am reminded too of the expat Clive James who is nearly at the end of his life by some of his words as he too defines his own memories of the Australian landscape and one who exhibits similar sentiments …

from his poem ‘Sentenced to Life’ –
Yet I, despite my guilt, despite my grief,
Watch the Pacific sunset, heaven sent,
In glowing colours and in sharp relief,
Painting the white clouds when the day is spent,
As if it were my will, and testament –
As if my first impressions were my last,
And time had only made them more defined,
Now I am weak. The sky is overcast
Here in the English autumn, but my mind
Basks in the light I never left bebhind.

Footnote …
Australia is certainly ‘sunburnt’ one of the most sunburnt countries in the world and the high incidence of skin cancer in the populace is reflected in this fact!

Dorothea Mackellar on Wikipedia


Seed – Paula Meehan – Analysis


The first warm day of spring
and I step out into the garden from the gloom
of a house where hope had died
to tally the storm damage, to seek what may
have survived. And finding some forgotten
lupins I’d sown from seed last autumn
holding in their fingers a raindrop
each like a peace offering, or a promise,
I am suddenly grateful and would
offer a prayer if I believed in God.
But not believing, I bless the power of seed,
its casual, useful persistence,
and bless the power of sun,
its conspiracy with the underground,
and thank my stars the winter’s ended

Paula Meehan (1955 –

To be revitalised from depression … from a house of gloom … from winter … from seeing the garden destroyed after a storm … and then to see something precious, not destroyed and to give thanks … all is not lost … to bless the power of ‘seed’ … the power of life continuing … the conspiracy of the sun with the underground … growth from depression is like that in nature … sun and underground – very appropiate words

Religious connotations, remember the mustard seed … something so small has a big outcome and getting out of depression is big! … thank you …

A seemingly insignificant event or observation takes on mammoth proportions as a catalyst to new life releasing PM from a deep depression. I think this is true for many who suffer from depression. I can relate to this from my own personal experience. Whether providence plays a part is another matter. In this poem PM gives thanks to the persistent power of seed and nature (and her stars – so perhaps she has friends on high).

It reminds me of Sylvia Plath’s poem ‘Black Rook in Rainy Weather’. … where a Black Rook takes on similar proportions

Paula Meehan is a well respected Irish poet and playwright …   Paula Meehan on Wikipedia


… a lupin in full bloom.

The Garden of Love – William Blake – Analysis

The Garden of Love

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And Thou shalt not, writ over the door;
So I turn’d to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires.

William Blake (1757 – 1827)

A poem of innocence to experience … youth, represented by playwhere I used to play on the green … to age and church restriction … the freedom of love desecrated as flowers became tombstones.

The gates to the ‘Chapel’ shut … (the term chapel usually refers to a place of prayer and worship that is attached to a larger, often nonreligious institution) … the original ‘Chapel’ was a much different ‘Chapel’ that of the glorious flower of innocent love as a child.

The ABCB rhyme scheme is broken in the last stanza … perhaps in line with the break of innocence. Note also that green in the first stanza has been replaced by black.

The duality of Blake is clearly expressed by his distaste of the restrictions of religion in suffocating the natural expression of human desire.

In Australia in 2017, over 200 years since the birth of Blake, we have approval of same sex marriage (marriage-equality). Enjoy the freedom of love this Valentines Day.

… William Blake on Wikipedia …

Lovesick – Carol Ann Duffy – Analysis


I found an apple
A red and shining apple
I took its photograph

I hid the apple in the attic
I opened the skylight
and the sun said Ah!

At night I checked that it was safe,
under the giggling stars,
and the sly moon. My cool apple.

Whatever you are calling about,
I am not interested.
Go away. You with the big teeth.

Carol Ann Duffy

Well, I am sure you have been in love and perhaps you can remember that first time. Can you remember that new found feeling – a red shining apple and how it affected your demeanour. Maybe it was something so personal you wanted to keep forever (by taking a ‘photograph’ if you could photograph a feeling). And being a little shy you probably wanted to keep this lovesickness hidden. You had to open up to your surroundings with this joy. The sun of course new and said Ah. And at night time you could bathe in this sickness with delight – such a delight to be in love! – so cool under the giggling stars. A female perspective of the situation is evident. But let’s face it friends and family might just happen to see any change exhibited from your new found happiness state!

But this love sickness, this little euphoria, is very vulnerable. The actual presence and development of a new relationship will destroy or should I say cure any mental heaven – especially if your lover has big teeth.

No other fruit but an apple!

If we consider Estella and Pip from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations then Pip had a very red apple. And even on continual meetings when Estella snubbed his advances he was not perturbed and was quick to convert a greening apple back to red as soon as he was away from her presence. Love can be so mental, so individual.

This is a totally brilliant poem from Dame Carol Ann Duffy who was appointed Britain’s Poet Laureate in May 2009. Here is a Wikipedia link …


The Fly – William Blake – Analysis

The Fly

Little Fly,
Thy summer’s play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink, and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath
And the want
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

William Blake (1757 – 1827)

A five-stanza poem with a dancing careless rhythm that fits well with the ending in the last lines, the first four stanzas are ‘abcb’ and the final stanza ‘aabb’. The short lines reflect the nature of passing life and the poem itself perhaps produced from a passing thought when disturbed by an annoying fly.

The subject is life, nature, existence and death with a comparison between the fly and man. Blake controls the life of a fly that came to close just as fate, God or luck could equally determine the fate of Blake.

The poem concerns thought and action. Thoughtless action can cause death. Will some blind hand deal with Blake in the same way that Blake deals with the fly?

Thought always motivates action no matter how fleeting a thoughtless response. Thought dominates life. If life is totally in the mind then it is a happy life free from worry when the mind is so developed.

William Blake on Wikipedia

The Red Cockatoo – Po Chu-I – Comments

The Red Cockatoo

Sent as a present from Annam –
A red cockatoo,
Coloured like the peach-tree blossom,
Speaking with the speech of men.
And they did with it what is always done
To the learned and the eloquent:
They took a cage with stout bars
And shut it up inside.

Po Chu-I (772 -846)
Translated by Arthur Waley

Annam – the southernmost province of China

This eight line Chinese poem is divided into two distinct components each of four lines. I would prefer to see a blank line between the change to give sufficient pause. A distinct image is taken and presented to the reader. A present from a foreign land, a spectacular bird visually and red being so appropriate to the theme of the poem. And a bird that relates to mankind – speaking with the speech of men –this line is the link to second part.

The outcome of the gift is stated – what happens to the bird, what happens to the words of the learned and the eloquent. Mankind suppresses and the gift is caged and is not appreciated and freedom lost. This simple poem makes a powerful statement so often defining the unfortunate plight of mankind but hopefully not what is always done. I am reminded on what happened to Nelson Mandela.

Some information on Po Chu-I – apparently he tested the accessibility of his work by ensuring it was understood when presented to an old country woman … see the following …

and another Blog Site on this poem …