Winter Robin

Recently I enjoyed trying to capture in words the little bird that would perhaps better be portrayed by a camera…so here are both!

Quick Robin 

Still,
Poised
Against the breeze
(The February freeze)
Alert
With song of beak,
Spike of claw,
Spark of eye,
Tuft and tilt of tail,
Fluff and fern and frond of feather;
Ready to spring from the wall and feel
The gift of air,
The lift and drift
Of wing and wind:
Quick robin
Poised,
Still.                                             

© Lizzie Ballagher

 

bird-robin-erithacus-rubecula-13603325680yq[1](Thanks to PublicDomainPictures.net)

 

Hope and a happy new year to all who follow this blog!

This strange winter, bringing floods and winds to so many, occasionally brings delight to others. Until a few days ago, midsummer honeysuckle was alive and well and flowering in the holly trees along the edge of our small garden. I wasn’t quick enough in all those dark, wet days this month to photograph it, so I’ve cheated with a seasonal shot instead. To me, those tiny, creamy flowers spoke of hope, light and warmth at a time of year that is challenging, dark and cold for many. So, to one and all, a joyful, hopeful new year!

December Surprise

No surprise: there falls

Snow in the winter holly trees,

Wet flakes drifting in stillness,

Speared on savage leaf-points,

Vanishing in salty, mistletoe air.

 

No surprise: there shines

Scarcely a peep of light today,

Except for the crackling red

Of holly berries, the lively green

Of prickling leaves along the wall.

 

But now: a midwinter surprise!

If you look closely here, see,

Threading in among the glossy growth

Midsummer’s honeysuckle still in flower:

Fragile cream & butter petals

 

Twined within close holly trees,

Wreathing the deepening gloom

Of a winter’s afternoon;

Breathing out mild, wild sweetness—

No icy frost-flowers, these.

 

© Lizzie Ballagher

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The darkest days in northern lands

It may not be as cold as usual for December, but the gathering darkness is just as deep, the days growing shorter still for another eighteen days yet.

In spite of winter’s chilly iron will, however, light and colour come bursting in from the air, especially around dawn. Here I celebrate that wonderful fact in the poem “By Bird Light”. I’m pleased to be able to report that Poetry Space has chosen this as one of its Winter Showcase poems—please visit the Poetry Space website to see more!

By Bird Light

At the morning’s opening show, my eyes
Are little more than dimmed footlights quenched

By first light:
Curtains of colour streak the east
And a silent dew leaks,
Seeps from hawthorn & holly leaves.
Ruffled, a pigeon-loft yawns;
Silver birds explode from the wings,
Whir & wheel & whirl around the rising maypole sun,
Laughing in a promenade more practised
Than all the jabbering moves of motley flocks:
Those extras—!  huddles of speckled sparrows
And startled backstage starlings on their props.

Half light:
The tree’s green lungs exhale goldfinches &
Dragonflies diaphanous in backlit gossamer;
Drafting their own migration paths, swifts & skimming swallows
Figure-skate on the thin, iced pane of the sky.
In the chorus robin answers robin
With a necklace of white song, dropping seed-pearl notes
As delicate as ballet steps on points
Among the gaudy, berry-beaded branches,
Among the spider webs that trap dawn’s light
In shivering cracked mirrors.

Daylight:
Now melodramatic blackbirds caught
In the surprise of a breeze
Exit stage right (stage fright)
In arcs of flashing dark fire;
Then settle—fluttering, muttering—fields away;
Meanwhile, deep in bruised hawthorn shadows,
A brimstone butterfly opens primrose wings,
Takes flight
On hazy, airy stairs
To boundless dancing spaces:

Light fantastic, feather light—
By bird light.

© Lizzie Ballagher

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May peace and joy be yours this Christmas

I know I’m not alone in finding winter a difficult time of year. But when I look closely at what’s around us, I feel hope for what’s to come.

No Death in Winter

Whoever says these trees are dead
Come here, and see upon the brown
The small bud swelling.

And you, who say the birds have gone,
Stand still, and hear the thrushes’ song,
The wild birds’ calling.

Who says the frost will kill and chill?
Who says the ice has drawn its dagger?
Who says the wind will pierce the seed?

I say that sun will come again,
That melted ice will feed the seed,
That warming winds will draw the shoot,

That bud will break; that green will grow,
That flower unfurl—for winter shall conceive the spring.
© Lizzie Ballagher

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Exciting New Opportunity

Poet in Residence for the South Downs Way – this is a new opportunity I’ve just been given to celebrate one of Britain’s longest and most wonderful national trails. Follow the link below to read the trail manager’s blog and see the start of a new venture for me as a writer. Who ever said poetry was a purely indoor activity?

http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/south-downs-way/news/lizzie-ballagher-becomes-sdw-first-poet-residence

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TOMORROW and SUNDAY! Christmas Poems and Christmas Gifts

To all who live in South-Eastern England: bring your family and come to the wonderful annual Christmas Fayre at The Friars, Aylesford, Kent on 29th or 30th November, entry between 10a.m. and 4p.m. both days. Full of all sorts of Christmas present ideas, including framed poetry by Lizzie Ballagher and watercolours by Jackie Trinder. Not to be missed. Oh, and bring your ice skates, too!

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