Friday, 27 September 2013


The time of parting.

Now is the time to leave the hills
and the summer shades of woodland
where we have lived by shadows,
searching for rare gods
on paths of our own making.
We are no longer bound there
to the earth that holds our dead.
Now is the time of parting
from that half-imagined land
where the very act of speaking
places us apart –
we, the outsiders,
looking in upon a world
where we do not belong

Returning to the garden,
a place of our creation,
we join with Nature
in a solemn contract,
feeling, perhaps,
that for a moment only,
she will accede to our control.
Here there is ground to dig –
sweet soil to feel
that’s fresh and full of life,
whose pure and rich potential
we crumble in our hands.
See! Here there will be beans,
here lettuces and chard,
here garlic,
pungent and lavish-tasting
to mix with fragrant herbs.
In a garden Nature’s vastness is condensed:
feckless roses climb,
but grasped by honeysuckle’s pointing fingers,
and only with our blessing will the foxgloves
exceed their given space.
In this domain the wind is gentler
than when it shakes the beeches
or blows the sea to waves,
and bees and birds and dragonflies
find pleasure in the calm. 

But we make a garden only where we dwell
and, in dwelling, must relinquish
the very freedom that we crave.
Still we hear the echo of the forest,
bringing memories of stranger things
that live in other worlds,
and though the garden’s sanctuary
is made for blessed rest,
still we long for woodlands and for hills.




Crafty Green Poet said...

I enjoyed reading this, I like the way you draw out the contrasts between the managed garden and the wild woodlands

Pete Thompson said...

Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's a contrast that always strikes me when I return from a day's walking in the hills and, much as I love my garden, it's the woodlands and hills that really inspire me (although there are some great places to walk right outside my door). Ever since humans formed settlements and gave up living by foraging, there has been a fear of the wild except in those, like us poets, who are drawn to wild places. I agree with Heidegger when he said that the vocation of the poet is to speak nature - but I'm sure you know that.

Anonymous said...

Recreates the sense and feeling of travelling throughg the landscape!

Anonymous said...

Do you compse the words as you walk or after you have completed the walk??

Pete Thompson said...

To be honest, I do both. I always carry a small notebook so I can jot down thoughts when I'm out and then put the poem together later, adding bits and revising. Sometimes a poem comes almost complete, but others can take weeks or months to get right.