Monday, 16 February 2009

Mary Webb's poetry: The Wood

Ancient maiden oak tree in the Deer Park, Dinefwr Castle.

Last time we went to Laugharne, I came across this copy of The Collected Work of Mary Webb - Poems and The Spring of Joy. It has an inscription dated 1935 and cost me £6. Here is one of the many delightful poems within its covers.


Tall, feathered birches, on the tides of air,
Wash to and fro, like seaweeds fine and fair,
And deep in leaf and blossom from all eyes
The ropewalk of the honeysuckle lies.
There, crimson foxgloves taper slenderly,
And the brown-seeded brake grows ten feet high.
There are strange, flaming toad-stools, and the berries
Of ash and rose, that shine like scarlet cherries.
The rose-bay willowherb, in her bridal hour,
Bloom, and the larch sets forth her rosy flower.
Kestrels are there, and tawny foxes play
Amid the shadows in the early day
Low cry the sheep, and leave their shining fleece
On the long vines of purple blackberries.
High in their minstrel gallery above,
Hidden in fretted leaves, dove answers dove,
And like a distant bell, melodiously
Haunting these glades, the music of the bee
Chimes all the summer . . . Like a bird, with wings
Dusky and silent, I would flit through spring's
Wistful, immaculate colours; through the dream
And hush of summer; down the rush and gleam
Of autumn; and when winter, with a moan,
Swept through the freezing wood aloof, alone,
Prisoning the pine needles in shining, hollow
Cases of ice, yet the brown bird would follow.
Light as a last year's leaf I'd flutter by,
With the sad note of finches in July.
Still would the foxgloves gather, spring by spring,
till should the feathered birches wash and swing
Upon the tides of air, and in the sun
Each autumn should the little foxes run,
While I in shadow dwelt. Dark on the sky
Should kestrels anchor, watching warily
For small brown birds: but in the meadow green
I'd fearless flit, beneath their gaze unseen.
Cases of ice


sukipoet said...

I love Mary Webb's novels, but didnt know she was a poet too. Wow. Love it.

Anonymous said...

ooooh - JEALOSY - I wish I had found that copy !!

I must search the jumble of books littered around our house and re-read Precious Bane. Thanks for sharing your find.

Bovey Belle said...

WSC - Precious Bane is quite my favourite book of hers. We're off to Hay-on-Wye today . . . MAY just look around under W's . . .

Sukipoet - yes, and a good poet too. Despite having poor health, and being housebound in her latter years, she never lost her love and knowledge of the countryside.