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Poetry Corner April 2022

The obvious choice of a poem for April has to be “Home-thoughts from abroad” by Robert Browning … you’ll know the opening lines I expect but it seems that this month most people are relishing being able to get abroad for the first time in too long rather than pining for home as Robert Browning was. So I’ll restrict myself to the first verse and wonder how many of us will remember seeing an elm tree bole …

Oh, to be in England

Now that April's there,

And whoever wakes in England

Sees, some morning, unaware,

That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf

Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,

While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough

In England—now!

Browning’s poem rightly lauds the joys of nature at this time of the year … I’ve just seen my first swallow of the year and the garden is alive with spring flowers and birdsong.

However, April is a mixed month for me … a mixture of family birthdays and memorials as both my parents died in April (in different years I am pleased to say). So I would like to share a poem that brings to mind the gap between the young and the old - Frances Cornford’s “Childhood.” I first came across this poem when I was at school (a considerable number of years ago) but it’s mere ten lines are still impactful…

I used to think that grown-up people chose

To have stiff backs and wrinkles round their nose,

And veins like small fat snakes on either hand,

On purpose to be grand.

Till through the bannisters I watched one day

My great-aunt Etty's friend who was going away,

And how her onyx beads had come unstrung.

I saw her grope to find them as they rolled;

And then I knew that she was helplessly old,

As I was helplessly young.

We can’t escape the march of time and Spring is a wonderful time to relish in the joy of now. Young, or old, we can enjoy the simple pleasures of our beautiful county including these bluebells in West Woods near Marlborough.

- Submitted by Gill Gibson-Piggot, WFWI Trustee


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