It’s been a while since I’ve done a poetry video for my blog so, with Easter and spring and a smidgen of hope in the air, here’s a new one – Charlie Comes to the Mountain. I wrote it last year when we went to the Brecon Beacons in South Wales and took a family hike up Hay Bluff. It was a gorgeous day, baking hot, and there was a boy racing up the mountain, leaving his anxious siblings behind. I’d had the last line of the poem in my head for a long time, but it found its home in Charlie. Have a good Easter.
This is a new poem, so not in any collection yet – but click below if you want to find out more about my previous poetry books:
I’m excited to announce that The Things We Thought Were Beautiful is out now on Amazon!
The Things We Thought Were Beautiful is my second book of poetry. It includes poems on our changing feelings and connection to nature and the world around us, the beauty and strangeness of travel, and the places we look for meaning. Poems explore the challenges of living without love, as well as the redemption of home and family.
Here’s a taster:
These are some of the things readers said about Up in the Air, my first collection:
“Beautiful and thought-provoking collection of poems that speak of life, death, love and nature…” Amazon UK
“I love this book. I keep it at my bedside to read a passage or two before getting up to start my day or at night before the lights go out.” Amazon.com
Order your copy now:
Note – this link is to the paperback – you need to search in the Kindle store for the ebook as it takes a few days for the formats to link.
I’m currently working on the final draft of my second poetry book, “The Things We Thought Were Beautiful”. Like “Up in the Air”, I’ve divided this one up into sections, the first of which is called “Another World”. The poems in this section focus on the natural world and our desire to see more deeply into it.
One of my favourite poems is Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”, in which he talks of what the eye and ear ‘half create, and what perceive.’ I’ve always loved that line. It’s as if there really is a transcendent value in nature that we can grasp, or “perceive”.
But when Wordsworth talks about us “creating” it, is that in the sense of making it real – or just us making it up? And how do we know which bits are our own creation, and which bits are real? The true reality behind reality – if there is such a thing – can only ever be understood, or felt, in glimpses. Poetry is one of the best ways of having those glimpses.
To read more about why I love Wordsworth, check out this post.
I’ve been really pleased by the reception of my first poetry book, Up in the Air, which reached the top ten in Amazon’s ‘Inspirational Poetry’ bestsellers category.
I wrote a post about how I started writing poems here. I mentioned it was climbing Scottish mountains and reading William Wordsworth that kickstarted my love for poetry. But citing Wordsworth as an inspiration is hardly hip these days. So I thought I’d tell you why I like him. Then, hopefully, you will too.
There are three reasons I love Wordsworth:
#1 His Idealism
As a young man in the 1790s, Wordsworth travelled on the continent and was excited by the fresh ideals of the politics he discovered. He believed passionately in the French Revolution, that there would be a new dawn of equality and liberty for all humankind. Unfortunately it was followed by the Reign of Terror and Wordsworth ultimately retreated, disillusioned, to his private sanctuary in the Lake District. I’ve got a feeling quite a few of us would like to do that these days.
#2 His Poetry
Obviously. Wordsworth created some of the most inspired and memorable lines in the English language. Look at these for instance:
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!
That best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.
Come forth into the light of things, Let nature be your teacher.
With an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
#3 Above all, his love of, respect for, and insight into Nature
As one of the greatest Romantic poets, Wordsworth described the inner life and value of Nature like no other:
And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.
Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear, – both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.
He understood the mysterious interplay that our thoughts, our minds, have with Nature. Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey is my favourite poem, and I think the lines about what the eye and ear ‘half create, and what percieve’ is a revelation.
I often re-read Wordsworth’s poems, when I arrive in the mountains, or see a new, inspiring landscape. We can never be sure about the inner life of Nature, the force that through the green fuse drives the flower as Dylan Thomas called it, and what our part in it is. But many of us believe that there is something really there beyond dim, blind, mechanics. And we see that, in a semi-objective, semi-imaginative way, we are not only created by it, but have a mysterious role in creating the world ourselves.
Interested in finding out about my poetry? Go here.
This poem was written during a time when I did a lot of volunteering for wildlife trusts and other environmental groups. Amongst other things, I learned how to build a drystone wall, coppice woodland, and lay hedges, in some beautiful parts of the country. There was always something magical about being outside, working with a group of like-minded people, whatever the weather.
A man, a man I could have loved starts to shade, to shade the morning mist.
He is beating stakes, stakes into the clay forcing them past stones, stones and steady roots, the things weak within the earth and the things that hate to move.
As I approach he takes his shape assuredly from the frail and wet white air, a seamster weaving hazel whips through the hedge, outwitting the final challenge of scratch and rip.
In defeat the hawthorn rests its useless claws uneasily against itself, uncertain how to act. Then feels the sap rise, rise again in its veins, and knows that it is elect.
Hedgelayer features in my poetry collection Up in the Air, available here: