Poem introduction

This was written in London but...indeed most of my poetry was written in London although most of it is based on images and sensations which I experienced in my home village or in the countryside around it but again, strangely enough, I was saying just now, sitting in these deep green fields with the pigeon-filled woods around me the atmosphere is so entirely satisfactory that there's no compulsion to do anything more about it than to just enjoy it. But when I exiled myself from the village, when I left home as it were, when I ran away to seek my fortune, make some money, got to London, got a job here - it was then all the atmospherics, images, furniture of poetry, of that particular village began to pour into my mind and this was where I wrote most of my poetry. This particular poem was written in a dirty old square down by Victoria Station. Others have been written on tops of buses, in underground stations, all sorts...this one I remember very well because of the dirty day on which I wrote it which had no relation to the poem itself. It's called 'April Rise'.

April Rise

April Rise

If ever I saw blessing in the air
I see it now in this still early day
Where lemon-green the vaporous morning drips
Wet sunlight on the powder of my eye.

Blown bubble-film of blue, the sky wraps round
Weeds of warm light whose every root and rod
Splutters with soapy green, and all the world
Sweats with the bead of summer in its bud.

If ever I heard blessing it is there
Where birds in trees that shoals and shadows are
Splash with their hidden wings and drops of sound
Break on my ears their crests of throbbing air.

Pure in the haze the emerald sun dilates,
The lips of sparrows milk the mossy stones,
While white as water by the lake a girl
Swims her green hand among the gathered swans.

Now, as the almond burns its smoking wick,
Dropping small flames to light the candled grass;
Now, as my low blood scales its second chance,
If ever world were blessed, now it is.


from Selected Poems (Penguin, 1985), used by permission of PFD (www.pfd.co.uk) on behalf of the author. Recordings used by permission of the BBC

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