Category Archives: Poetry

The White tailed Bumblebee; A persona poem.

Bombus Lucorum’s  Dramatic monologue or Persona Poem

( Her thoughts while being photographed in January at Finca Navasola, Sierra Aracena Spain)

bee close up

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may well know me as just a mere bumbling bee

But I am more clever than you think.

My lineage is pre Linnaeus *and to our own kind

We keep ourselves. It’s only you who can confuse

And give us a Bombus Lucorum complex.

If you observe more carefully

And observe you must

Our whiter than white tails, our yellow bands.

But we are more deceptive than you think:

We will not help to pollinate

We merely take the nectar sweet

With proboscis purposefully evolved,

Or tongue for you non latinates,

Adapted slowly over time.

 

I fear I speak abruptly for your kind of kind.

My life is too worn out with weary work.

My genes do not give me the time

To rest inside a burrowed hole,

Like her, with constant demands for more and more.

 

Today you see us swinging from bright flowers;

The yellow sun was kind when first we left.

Our Lady Queen insistent on our following

The path of workers gone before.

We serve, we serve the future of our kind.

We work and work and have no time

Like you to stand and stare.

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Why does the weather change like this?

The stem I have to cling to fast.

The wind is strong too strong too strong for us.

My sister worker in a gust falls into fallen leaves,

So wet with days of rain, her wings can’t fly,

Too weak with days without the chance of food.

The rain it comes with furious speed.

So wet, too wet on dripping leaves.

So near, so far from the desire to feed

On flowers few in this so cold a Spring.

Why did our Lady think this was the time to breed?

So warm it was and then the weeks of rain.

The wind now stronger I too fear I’ll fall

Be blown away far from the way back home.

I fear today we came too far

Too far.

I fear today we came too far.

 

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*Linnaeus 1761

THANKS TO

  1. Wikipedia for so much information in one place on the White tailed Bumblebee   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White-tailed_bumblebee
  2. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust. And ideas to be  BEE KIND

 

This was prompted by a prompt from Dverse Poets  http://dversepoets.com/ on creating another Persona. This is a great poetry website to check out and follow links to some diverse poetry and blogs on Mr Linky.

At present this persona style is a particular challenge to me with a story I am writing about the wild. I am caught between wanting to keep the creatures wild and not really speaking but also  with the need to create empathy for the struggles they have in our very current climate.

I hope the photos are of white tailed bumblebees. Please inform me if you think otherwise! The ones on the Christmas, Butchers Broom post were the slurred and blurred ones and I have been trying ever since.  With my friend Madeleine’s Fuji camera she took one of the bumblebee on a fallen leaf. The other day when it was sunny in the morning I found two bumblebees on the yellow daisies. They were struggling as the wind was getting stronger and then it started to rain again. One fell somewhere. I put out some sugar water in case they needed more food. I wonder if they did get back to their hive. As there were two they were possibly the worker bees. A queen will usually emerge in early February and look for food and begin to build up reserves and to lay their female worker eggs. I wonder here if these bees have emerged earlier because of the warm weather in December. Nature is so incredibly complex and so well adapted over millennia. At present these bees have certain skills to help them survive but as the climate is less predictable and more extreme there may be more problems foe even the common species.

Clear Skies, Bright Stars. Advent and Hope for Peace.

Here is a seasonal post inspired by  Dverse Poets and the stars.

We are now back at Navasola and although the stars and the sun do shine very brightly here I will miss being with my daughters this Christmas. It will be our first Christmas outside the UK and our first at Navasola. We were first greeted in Seville with grey and overcast skies; same as in London and other parts of the UK over the past month.Today the sun has come out bright,warm and strong and with the clearer skies the stars too are shining bright in the very dark skies we have here in the Sierra Aracena.  The viburnum tinus berries are metallic and bright. A Sardinian warbler, great tit and jays were gathering food by the house and now and again a butterfly flies by! The vultures also enjoyed the thermals when I was out on a walk with Lotti and Ruth. See post on Autumn for Ruth’s photography and links to her art work. She inspires me to draw!

We are looking forward to finding out more about how Christmas is celebrated here and in particular the Feast of the Kings on the 5th and 6th of January. Here there are processions showing this part of the Nativity story and children get presents.

It is the end of another blogging year and I have been inspired by so many of the links made to Navasola through nature blogs and many others now. I have managed to read some books by Opher Goodwin and in particular Anthropocene Apocalypse and Ebola in the Garden of Eden. Both very good reads and with current concerns about the future of our planet. Opher Goodwin

 

I am also glad to be linked to Dverse poets who have managed to spark some poetic muse in me. The poem below is inspired by poems by Victoria Slotto and Bjorn Rudberg  about the stars. I have also linked to another poet Malcolm Guite and bought his book with poetry for Advent. These have inspired me to write this poem about the stars I saw above Navasola in the summer months.

Stars over Navasola

Above the silhouette of trees appear a clarity of stars
Numinous and numerous I search for one.
The childhood star my father saw I saw.
The Pole star’s perfect North still guiding some.

 

The wizened faces of the chestnut trees with me stare,
Abandoned olive branches touch the sky I seek to name,
With virtual app- titude we see the lights of Vega and Altair,
Bright threesome pulse with Deneb and the flighty swan.

 

An owl sounds out from Navasola East.

The moon still hides behind the hill.

Through the dark of earth and sky, wander many a beast.

Summer sounds and warmth surround me still.

 

 

Now in December’s dark chill drawn days,
Advent’s hope casts doubts on the prophecies of stars.
What and where is that bright star, the magi say?
How much to know, how far to go, to go, how far?

 

 

 

Haiku for Hope. Flowers for Liberty, Light and Love. Inspired by Dverse Poets.

 

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Wild Iris at Navasola

 Inspired by Dverse Poetsimage

Blue iris stands tall
White blossoms radiate light
Red Poppies seed fields

 

 

I miss the wild blooms
Of Summer’s soothing softness
So all seasons change.

 

 

 

 

The May in May. Hawthorn blossom
The May in May. Hawthorn blossom
Wild garlic in the woods, Dalton
Wild garlic in the woods, Dalton
Camellia in Camellia conservatory
Camellia in Camellia conservatory
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Wild red poppy with coriander flowers
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Wild red poppies in a good friend’s garden.

Wherever the Weather, Whatever the Weather, for Dverse Poets.

Here is a poem about the weather for Dverse poets as I look through my window onto a very London Garden of the past. There is still an old apple tree from when this area was an orchard in the 1920s! How aware are we of how the weather is changing and the causes of this are possibly much more of our own making. When will we wake up to the stronger winds? The British Met Office has decided to name storms. Storm force gales of 80 mph are supposed to be hitting the North of England soon. The weather may be a little quieter in the south,for a while.

Garden and apple tree in London
Garden and apple tree in London
Fuchsia for a dearly loved cat
Fuchsia for a dearly loved cat

In London Town the sun shines bright

After dismal days of rainy grey clouded skies.

Leaves falling with their tints of yellow red,

Tiny blue of tiny tit, pink plumage of wood pigeon

The lilac tones of fuchsia for a dearly loved cat.

A family garden of changing times

In the shade of an ivy clad old apple tree.

The weather is changing, November is now warm,

Am I too changing with the passing seasons.

The sky changes to a stormy grey, the leaves fall fast.
The Met Office wants us to feel storms are friendly too.
By giving names do we accept them more,
The changing times of climate crisis.

Abigail is brewing over the Isle of Skye

Far off in a North West corner of a very British Isle.

Warm and wet is that our future, clustered in a cloud.

Frozen drought and hurricane forces

Are coming further north or further south

The wind is knocking far too gently at our door.

Kew Gardens London UK . Storms and glasshouses.
Kew Gardens London UK .
Storms and glasshouses.

Coddiwompling through Dorset England. For Dverse Poets

This poem is inspired by Dverse poets Dverse and the strange word coddiwomple. This seems to be defined as English slang but as I had never come across this I was gripped by a resfeber feeling( travel fever)  to see if I could find where the word had originated from. It’s not in the Oxford dictionary yet, unlike lolly gagging! However it has a kind of ancient ring to it. Maybe a cross between a cod piece and a wimple.  I am travelling through Dorset to visit a friend. Dorset is stunningly beautiful but has so many strange, odd and rude sounding place names. I always want to find out more.It is also a place for going on a literary tour with Thomas Hardy and others. But most important perhaps in the struggle for equality is Tolpuddle.

For me it’s not where we travel to but how we travel anywhere. Hopefully then our minds can be opened to different experiences and understandings.

If you coddiwomple in Dorset as I am doing now

You pass by place names so fun and strange.

Some will tempt you back to visit

Some will remind you of the past

Some will scare your wits away.

Fiddleford is one where maybe someone fiddled by a stream

But what they fiddled may have been a dream

If they could happily wander up the the river Piddle

And excuse themselves with just a little widdle

Dorset farming folk out in the cold.

From Roman times in Blandford Forum

No slave could ever make a quorum

The ancient chalk giant at Cerne Abbas

Still well endowed with great prowess

His private part gives hope for future births

Dorset folk of old from Celt to Roman bold.

Down to the coast to find a woman’s love

For her lieutenant looking out to sea

Lyme Regis, royal and proud

Among the fossils of prehistoric swamps

Ammonite from Jurasiic Times.

Dorset fossil hunters find a kind of gold.

To roll along on paths through Hardy’s  heavenly hills

Farming folk and friends of Tess

Characters in dark distress

Obscured within the depths of native woods.

Good folk must prevail for Dorchester jail.

The devil never far away with rocks thrown down

To make Old Harry and Aggleston

Places like Dewlish are devilish and Grim’s Ditch

Makes the Pokesdown goblins twitch.

Dorset folk beware the uncanny in the air.

But now in modern times when we’re coddiwompling along

To pass by Puddletown is easily done

We go too fast on the new highway

And can now by pass the place of martyred men

Tolpuddle and its meeting tree

Dorset folk who wanted to be free.

From coach window travelling to Dorset.

A poem on the loss of my First Friend and our wild childhood in West London

I have been inspired to write this poem because of two posts on the loss of friends and the importance of making sure in our busy lives that we spend precious times with those we love and care for.  These are Victoria Slotto and A Poetry Pub Post.

It is almost a year that I lost my oldest friend. She was just 60 but we had known one another for almost 56 years. We were neighbours  and friends in our childhood and were neighbours again when my children were young.

In our childhood we were always playing outside and there were many open spaces for us to discover. We grew up in a place that was not so popular and posh then by the river Thames. We had the streets, alleys, allotments, reservoirs and Barnes Common when older to run off to with friends.

MY FIRST FRIEND

My first friend is the first, of my friends, to leave me,

And how I miss the mulling over of mindful memory.

Different understandings of the way things were.

Unlocking distant sounds, intensifying colours

To share for tea or coffee in our November years.

First, we would have played inside each other’s houses.

In mine, there were the many furry beasts to care for.

In hers, we taught and tended to the tiny dolls.

With mothers close by, ready to prepare our tea.

From the inside to the outside, first, we went into our gardens,

Or were these more just backyards behind the tall terraces.

A sparkling outside toilet I got locked in.

A perfect patch of grass was all we had to sit on.

Further first we ventured, out beyond the gates,

Into a shared back alley and a ruined place.

A building for our nightmares an alley for our games.

Budge, In the River, Hide and Seek and planes.

A first to wander further, faster up the street,

Legs pushing scooters or roller blading skates.

Further on we ventured towards the open skies

Into the green spaces of our childhood friends and games

First we wandered near her father, digging deep into

The turf of his allotment, just up the terraced street

Dodging folk along the paths to our mysterious marsh,

To the deep dug out waters of the then so many laughs

Further first when we were older with guide dog pups to walk

From Surreyside to Middlesex, to Hammersmith upon

the bridge of dreams, suspended from its mighty girders,

Staring through the gaps down to the swirling currents.

First to go together to Saturday Morning Pictures.

First to take the bus to different swimming pools.

First to take ourselves to picnic on Barnes Common.

First to wander wild along the river’s Surrey side .

We shared a kind of childhood that we think should be remembered,

A childhood that was free to explore green and vibrant spaces,

Letting us run so far and deep in the breath of the wild.

With the passing of the years we pray we don’t lose that child.

Bird Biodiversity Poem 0n the Sea Shore

Today we are going to do identification of birds,
Birds on the seashore, birds out at sea,
Birds whose names meant nothing to me.
I must now make a spell and chant out the words.

Ringed plover
Ringed plover

Kentish plover, Ringed plover,
Little ringed plover too,
Golden plover, Grey plover,
Dotterel make a few,
and let’s not confuse
Dunlin, Sanderling, with Knot,
Green Shank with Red Shank
Or take a Stint or two.

Grey plover in adult winter plumage. Pluvialis squatarola.
Grey plover in adult winter plumage. Pluvialis squatarola.

That’s just the start
of the spell we need to weave,
If we go to the seashore,
Where there’s a chance to breathe.

Breathe deep and wonder
The vast variety of birds.
Stand in awe and thunder
Storms brewing words

Words we never knew
Words which are a sign
Words in different languages
For birds at the end of a line.

Will we never know
How many we have lost
Far out at sea
Can we count the cost?

Cabanas Sunday 032curlew back

The curlew is out there
With its haunting cry.
The whimbrel is whimpering
The waters have run dry.

Kentish plover, Ringed plover,
Little ringed plover too,
Golden plover, Grey plover,
Dotterel make a few,
and let’s not confuse Dunlin,
Sanderling, with Knot
Or lose a Stint or two.

Cabanas Sunday 013

Last of the summer flowers: And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

Final farewell fotos of flowers  on the finca.  August 2014. Summer is passing…….

In August in Spain the weather is usually too hot and dry in the summer. The flowers start to fade and all seems rather dried out. Some flowers resist the parched conditions but most decide to allow their seeds to finish developing and be ready to disperse. This helps survival of the species  through a long dry summer. Deep roots keep the trees and other bushes in business.

Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare and a different interpretation based on the natural world.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate,

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Hoary Mullein
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Candytuft
Knautia  - small blue/ purple
Knautia – small blue/ purple

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;

And sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, ( the very hot sun as in Spain?)

And often is his gold complexion dimmed; ( English weather with clouds in the summer!)

And every fair from fair oft times declines,

By chance or by nature’s unchanging course untrimmed;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;

Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou growest:

So long as men breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

Silene
Silene

Shakespeare’s sonnet reflects the transience of beauty with the beauty of summer. But nature like the focus of his sonnet has an everlasting and ever changing beauty, beyond the flower! This is my  interpretation of a sonnet often thought to be about love. Maybe it can be about the intricate workings of nature that go beyond the transient beauty of a flower or a young man or woman! When we understand the true beauty of a person or of nature we can truly appreciate the deeper aspects of love, life and the natural world. Or was Shakespeare just trying to immortalise himself or his’dark lad..y’ love  with words?  His words offer such richness and are open to interpretation and appreciation through the ages and to different cultures.
I think I have found another angle on this sonnet and an admiration for what goes on beyond our sight within the seeds creating the changing seasons.

Inspired by Keats,gardens, and a poetry workshop by Daljit Nagra

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The peony poem in one of my previous posts inspired me to try out a poetry workshop at Keats’ House during the Keats’ festival. I was also interested to find out that the poet Daljit Nagra was to take over as poet in residence there and was leading this workshop on how to write an ode. I have followed from a distance Daljit Nagra’s progress from an aspiring English teacher in a school I worked at to an inspiring poet and much quoted now from many GCSE anthologies. He is a truly modern British poet and very innovative not just with ideas but also language.

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We attempted a Sapphic ode and this meant we had to be concise and focus on a tight structure. This was to be the slightly longer length of 11 syllables to 3 lines and the fourth line with five. Instead of a more traditional 10 syllable the 11 suggests a more ‘falling’ tragic tone.  We were introduced to terms used for poetic structure but the focus of this ode was to address a person with a sense of absence, loss, time passing.  As an example we were shown a modern ode written with this structure and the example was very moving but also was inspired by a poet I was introduced to when I stayed in Karachi in 1984. Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
We had to go and sit in the garden of Keats house and had about 25 minutes to write a Sapphic style ode! My mind was filled with so many memories of Chris Abbas and her garden in Karachi. It had lovely trees and flowers but also a little white dog, a parrot and a turkey she had been given for Christmas and had kept rather than ate. The dog inspired my Jabbu Jabbu stories. His name was Jabbu and he was a cheeky miniature Samoyed type dog. Chris was a trained artist from the Slade school and she had met her husband, Ghulam Abbas, an Urdu short story writer, in London. They had had three daughters and lived in Karachi but sadly she had recently been widowed. She had invited us to stay with her while I was volunteering to help children learn to read. She had many inspiring artistic ways of helping children draw and trace letters.

All of theses memories were flooding into my mind and I had to cut out so much in order to write an ode to her but the parallel of sitting in an English garden and enjoying time with her in her Karachi garden seemed to be the focus. I was able to feel I finished an ode and reading it out later at the workshop it seemed to work. Now as I reflect on it and have more time to count the syllables accurately I am not so sure! I also feel I want to slightly change the structure by adding just a few more lines! Writing seems to be such a difficult art as there are many ways to express ideas but it needs to feel right or fitting.
The poem isn’t quite ready yet but is an ode to her and her inspiring and diverse garden. In the blog are some pictures of Keat’s house and garden and it is here that he wrote some of his most famous poems in his very short life. The window view is from his upstairs study.

 

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A poem for Peony: The Wild Peony Forest; cycle of change from March to May, paeonia broterii,

Dverse poets have suggested a prompt based on ecopoetry. Do check out this inspirational poetry group at  Dverse  . The poetry bar is open and serving up so many different ideas most of the week. Ecopoetry seems to be a different term being introduced by groups such as Green Spirit and Resurgence. Alice Oswald is also mentioned and I find her a fascinating poet who has such an observant style that also brings out deep emotions. I’m not sure I want my own writing to be put into a category and I had never come across this term before but I certainly seem to be focused on my own and others relationship with the natural world at this point in time.

Trevor organised a nature course here some years ago and it was led by the botanist Teresa Farino. This started my inquiry into the plant kingdom. I was also given a mother’s day present of the Alice Oswald anthology, Weeds and Wild Flowers.  I loved the Snowdrop one ,’ A pale and pining girl,head bowed, heart gnawed’ ……. ‘ her wildflower sense of wounded gentleness’

I wrote this poem early on in blogging inspired by the wild peonies here at Navasola and in the Sierra Aracena. It is January 2016 now but on our return from our special birthday trip to the Azores within 10 days there have been changes. The invasive mimosa is out in its bright yellow headdress, the almond blossom is delicately feeling for the early bees, and the peonies are beginning to thrust through the cold ground. Some are near paths so I stick sticks around them so we don’t forget and tread on these wild sisters of the many cultivated ones.

 

A Poem for Peony and all those wild loving sisters

Ms Peony Broterii

Wild genes live dangerously

Not cultivated carefully

Like your gardened sisters.

But your barb is in your poisonous roots,

Anchored, aching deep in chestnut groves,

In the shade of veteran friends, long standing,

Bringing you your strength, uprightness, roots rooted.

Unlike the myriads of visitors ready to be satiated

In your open sensuous bloom.

Bringing a light touch on velvet petal,

A rubbing of stamens, a staining of pollen,

Buzzing bodies beating,

Intoxicated with your nectar.

They stay only for their own satisfaction.

You may have some regrets, a sense of loss

As petals fall and breezes betray your beauty.

But your thrill is in your seed pod,

Ready to ripen, always ready,

To begin again, always hopeful

To survive into another Spring.

Only the danger of the human mind
Can threaten you.

Georgina Wright

 

 

Wild peony forest January/February

Mid May
Mid May, seed pod, ripening and hopefully fully fertilised by an amazing range of insects that have loved being inside this peony!
Part of peony forest in full bloom - April to May
Part of peony forest in full bloom – April to May
Early May
Early May
Pollination
Pollination, fully open to the sun and all insects!
The first Peony bloom in Navasola East, by an old chestnut, attracting insects.
The first Peony bloom in Navasola East, by an old chestnut, attracting insects. April.
Wild peony forest January/February
Wild peony forest –  Early March.
Peony Plot in Kew gardens. Over 30 different types of peonies and now reclassified!
Peony Plot in Kew gardens.
Over 30 different types of peonies and now reclassified!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to Dverse   For the ecopoetry prompt  January 2016

With thanks to the poems by
Alice Oswald, Weeds and Wild Flowers ( Faber and Faber ) and to the peonies and photos taken at Navasola among the ancient chestnut trees.

Originally written in 2013 and posted then.