A POEM FOR MY DAUGHTER

To have a child, as you know well, is to have

someone always with you – their shadow,

their echo, their breathing – whatever

has happened, whatever may happen.

To have a daughter is to shape the future.

 

When we lived in a Victorian third floor

attic flat, that had been the nursery

and the children’s bedrooms, and the trees,

planted when the house was built, touched the panes,

and you were only a few weeks old

fifty years ago now,

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AMAZING GRACE

From my desk I can see the Methodist Church

opposite, built during the first quarter

of the last century entirely by subscription,

with its decorative buttresses, Welsh slate roof

and faux Romanesque leaded windows.

If the doors are open and the wind is right

I can hear opening chords on the organ

and ‘How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.’

I watch the congregation age and the hearse

draw up – modest folk, worthily dressed,

not averse to jumble sales and laughter.

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AT PEAK’S POND, GUILDFORD CASTLE

The castle was one of the first the Normans built.

Its earthen motte rises some fifty feet

or so above this late Victorian pond –

the keep, with its Romanesque windows,

built from local golden Bargate stone and strips

of knapped flint for decoration, fifty more.

As yet she is innocent of all that –

only what moves, makes noise, can be held, climbed

or eaten: like the lemon drizzle cake

a pair of lovers offers her; like the steps

by the pond she ascends and descends;

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UNPREMEDITATED ART

Hail to thee, blithe spirit!

Bird thou never wert

That from heaven or near it

Pourest thy full heart

In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

ODE TO A SKYLARK, P.B. Shelley

 

A round, purple balloon with a silver tail

is rising fast above our neighbourhood.

(I hear a distant shout or cry). It soars

in the thermals of this stormy summer’s day.

I watch it rising to five hundred metres,

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1967

While Che Guevara was shot in Bolivia,

Siegfried Sassoon died in his bed,

the US bombed Hanoi,

Biafra declared independence,

Israel gained the Golan Heights,

a heart was transplanted in Cape Town,

the Beatles sang ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’,

the Supremes ‘Love is here and now you’re gone’,

the Cartwrights roamed the Ponderosa,

the Cookie Monster ‘Sesame Street’,

‘The Prisoner’ confounded,

‘Jackanory’ revolved,

‘The Naked Ape’ sold,

‘Rosemary’s Baby’ appalled,

the Abortion Act was passed,

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