While snows the window panes bedim

Snow hasn’t arrived here in the west yet,so our window panes haven’t yet been bedimmed,  but there are plenty of places it has been seen. Nor has it been so consistently cold that it really feels like winter – wintry, but not real winter yet. However, decorations are going up around the village, and as I sit here I can see the village hall decked with twinkling lights, and the Christmas tree outside it is beautifully decorated.

Here is some more verses from John Clare’s December entry in his Shepherd’s Calendar:

The block behind the fire is put
To sanction customs old desires
And many a faggots bands are cut
For the old farmers Christmas fires
Where loud tongd gladness joins the throng
And winter meets the warmth of may
Feeling by times the heat too strong
And rubs his shins and draws away

While snows the window panes bedim
The fire curls up a sunny charm
Where creaming oer the pitchers rim
The flowering ale is set to warm
Mirth full of joy as summer bees
Sits there its pleasures to impart
While childern tween their parents knees
Sing scraps of carrols oer by heart

And some to view the winter weathers
Climb up the window seat wi glee
Likening the snow to falling feathers
In fancys infant extacy
Laughing wi superstitious love
Oer visions wild that youth supplyes
Of people pulling geese above
And keeping christmass in the skyes

As tho the homstead trees were drest
In lieu of snow wi dancing leaves
As. tho the sundryd martins nest
Instead of ides hung the eaves
The childern hail the happy day
As if the snow was april grass
And pleasd as neath the warmth of may
Sport oer the water froze to glass

Cottage hearths are blazing high

I’m diving into the middle part of John Clare’s ‘Shepherd’s Calendar’….

Old winter whipes his ides bye
And warms his fingers till he smiles
Where cottage hearths are blazing high
And labour resteth from his toils
Wi merry mirth beguiling care
Old customs keeping wi the day
Friends meet their christmass cheer to share
And pass it in a harmless way

Old customs O I love the sound
However simple they may be
What ere wi time has sanction found
Is welcome and is dear to me
Pride grows above simplicity
And spurns it from her haughty mind
And soon the poets song will be
The only refuge they can find

The shepherd now no more afraid
Since custom doth the chance bestow
Starts up to kiss the giggling maid
Beneath the branch of mizzletoe
That neath each cottage beam is seen
Wi pearl-like-berrys shining gay
The shadow still of what hath been
Which fashion yearly fades away

The dark shadow of a branchy tree

William Alexander who wrote this poem is not William Alexander, 1st Earl of Stirling  and Viscount of Canada, who was born about 1567 in  Clackmannanshire;   Lord Alexander was a courtier and poet, and an adventurer involved in the Scottish colonisation in Nova Scotia and Long Island. That William Alexander is famous for such works as AuroraThe Monarchick Tragedies  and Doomes-Day . He died in London in 1640.

About this William Alexander, I can at the moment tell you nothing at all!

Frost-Morning

The morn is cold. A whiteness newly-brought
Lightly and loosely powders every place,
The panes among yon trees that eastward face
Flash rosy fire from the opposite dawning caught,
—As the face flashes with a splendid thought,
As the heart flashes with a touch of grace
When heaven’s light comes on ways we cannot trace,
Unsought, yet lovelier than we ever sought.
In the blue northern sky is a pale moon,
Through whose thin texture something doth appear
Like the dark shadow of a branchy tree.
—Fit morning for the prayers of one like me,
Whose life is in midwinter, and must soon
Come to the shortest day of all my year!

William Alexander 1824 – 1911

Winter’s ragged hand

As wnter approaches, here’s a sonnet by the master: here’s Shakespeare looking back and looking forward.

 Sonnet 6

Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface,
In thee thy summer, ere thou be distilled:
Make sweet some vial; treasure thou some place
With beauty’s treasure ere it be self-killed.
That use is not forbidden usury,
Which happies those that pay the willing loan;
That’s for thy self to breed another thee,
Or ten times happier, be it ten for one;
Ten times thy self were happier than thou art,
If ten of thine ten times refigured thee:
Then what could death do if thou shouldst depart,
Leaving thee living in posterity?
Be not self-willed, for thou art much too fair
To be death’s conquest and make worms thine heir

William Shakespeare

The stars are glittering in the frosty sky

From last year… beautiful…

I had never come across Charles Heavysege, the Yorkshire born Canadian poet and dramatist until recently. He was born in Huddersfield, I town I know quite well, in 1816. He and his family emigrated to Canada in the 1850’s and eventually worked as a reporter and then editor. here is his sonnet about the sort of winter night we haven’t had many of, haven’t had enough of of these last few months!

Winter Skies

The stars are glittering in the frosty sky,
Numerous as pebbles on a broad sea-coast;
And o’er the vault the cloud-like galaxy
Has marshalled its innumerable host.
Alive all heaven seems! with wondrous glow
Tenfold refulgent every star appears,
As if some wide, celestial gale did blow,
And thrice illume the ever-kindled spheres.
Orbs, with glad orbs rejoicing, burning, beam
Ray-crowned, with lambent lustre in their zones,
Till o’er the blue, bespangled spaces seem
Angels and great archangels on their thrones;
A host divine, whose eyes are sparkling gems,
And forms more bright than diamond diadems.

 Charles Heavysege  1816 – 1876

 

More from the dragons –

It’s a couple of months since two friends and I published an anthology of prose, poetry and other writing.It’s called The Moving Dragons Write and it’s available on Amazon.

Here is the introduction:

For a couple of years, the three of us,  Lois, John and Richard, have successfully shared our thoughts with the world through our blog; The Moving Dragon Writes is a medley of stories, poems and articles, a whole kaleidoscope of different writing. Our name came from the symbol of the county where we live, the Somerset dragon, and the well-known words ‘the moving finger having writ…’
Since we started The Moving Dragon Writes, we have collected readers and followers from around the world – especially from North America, and we have opened our blog to others. We have supported and encouraged new writers of all genres, promoting and sharing their work too, giving a platform for many people who have never had the confidence or opportunity to do so before. We continue to do this and welcome new writers.
As well as the blog, we have pursued our own writing goals, individually publishing our novels, short stories and poetry. It was at one of our dragonmeets, on a spring afternoon, when it occurred to us… we could publish an anthology together, “our own Dragon Writes book which can include some of the best of our work from the blog!” This anthology is, we hope, only the first, and we are tentatively planning volume II – Earth, Fire, Water.

… and here are our biographies:

Richard – I joined the Royal Navy from school, following this with an engineering career in industry. I studied geology and creative writing with the Open University from 2008 until I graduated with a BSc in July 2014. I found my writing voice during my time with the OU. There was a pause in the Earth Science courses so I filled it with two short writing courses. I was hooked and now find that I have to write, every day and anything. The odd day that I don’t write, I spend thinking about writing, usually out on the hills. I live in Somerset, where I enjoy writing, hill walking, researching and writing about geology and practical geology, trying to understand the geological history of the local area.

Lois – I have written all my life but it was only when I was able to give up the day job of teaching that I was able to write full-time. Writing is my passion; I write every day, I write from the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed. When I am not writing, I am still thinking about it and following my stories in my head. I live in a small village by the sea in Somerset, and when I’m not writing I like relaxing in my local, watching the world go by, and going to live music events.

John – I was born and bred in Somerset and had a fairly extrovert life working in insurance; it was only on retirement that I started to write poetry. It then seemed to me that here, as in other arts of our age, uncertainty and complication, rather than classical spontaneity was now the norm. My aspirations in writing certainly veer towards the latter, which, I believe, still has a large following. I hope you will find my work enjoyable, or at least easily understood.

Nature, heartless, witless nature

As we approach the end of November, here is a poem by A.E.Houseman:

Tell me not here

Tell me not here, it needs not saying,
What tune the enchantress plays
In aftermaths of soft September
Or under blanching mays,
For she and I were long acquainted
And I knew all her ways.

On russet floors, by waters idle,
The pine lets fall its cone;
The cuckoo shouts all day at nothing
In leafy dells alone;
And traveller’s joy beguiles in autumn
Hearts that have lost their own.

On acres of the seeded grasses
The changing burnish heaves;
Or marshalled under moons of harvest
Stand still all night the sheaves;
Or beeches strip in storms for winter
And stain the wind with leaves.

Possess, as I possessed a season,
The countries I resign,
Where over elmy plains the highway
Would mount the hills and shine,
And full of shade the pillared forest
Would murmur and be mine.

For nature, heartless, witless nature,
Will neither care nor know
What stranger’s feet may find the meadow
And trespass there and go,
Nor ask amid the dews of morning
If they are mine or no