Poems from lockdown

This month we bring you the last of the poems we received during April and May, in an email exchange that coincided with the start of lockdown. The poems have kept coming over the past few weeks, and capture a lovely glimpse into people’s moments of reflection during this period. Some people have been inspired to write their own words, others have chosen poems that are close to them in some way. We have so enjoyed reading the contributions from people and hope you will too.

And Yet the Books
By Czeslaw Milosz

And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings,
That appeared once, still wet
As shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn,
And, touched, coddled, began to live
In spite of fires on the horizon, castles blown up,
Tribes on the march, planets in motion.
“We are, ” they said, even as their pages
Were being torn out, or a buzzing flame
Licked away their letters. So much more durable
Than we are, whose frail warmth
Cools down with memory, disperses, perishes.
I imagine the earth when I am no more:
Nothing happens, no loss, it’s still a strange pageant,
Women’s dresses, dewy lilacs, a song in the valley.
Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,
Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.

From Jenny Maxwell in  Herefordshire

When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes – Sonnet 29

By William Shakespeare

When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee—and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

From Sally Simon in Richmond, Surrey

What We Leave 
By Pru Morrison

What was there,
In those letters?
A man who cared,
Who shared,
Encouraged and
Led from the front.
Who saved the words
Of others, and wrote
His own.
Who travelled far,
Served and worked;
Above all, communicated
As his letters show,
And now I know,
If I did not do so
Before; how aspiring
And admired, how
Reliable, and affable
A man he was
To all who worked
With and knew
Him for who he was –
Was George.

From Nicky in Australia, who says, “My mother’s poem (Pru Morrison) on finding and going over my deceased father’s letters in his office (Professor George Morrison at Birmingham University, March 2015). I keep this poem on my laptop desk top – and often look at it. My mother now has dementia but she still writes poems daily which we have collected together and self published for her – to her surprise she opened the poem book on Christmas day whilst here with me in the Blue mountains (over 80 beautiful poems).”

Le Petit Prince

By de Saint Exupery

È una follia odiare tutte le rose perché una spina ti ha punto, abbandonare tutti i sogni perché uno di loro non si è realizzato, rinunciare a tutti i tentativi perché uno è fallito. È una follia condannare tutte le amicizie perché una ti ha tradito, non credere in nessun amore solo perché uno di loro è stato infedele, buttate via tutte le possibilità di essere felici solo perché qualcosa non è andato per il verso giusto. Ci sarà sempre un’altra opportunità, un’altra amicizia, un altro amore, una nuova forza. Per ogni fine c’è un nuovo inizio.

It’s madness to hate all roses because a thorn has stung you,
abandon all dreams because one of them has not come true,
give up all attempts because one has failed.
It is madness to condemn all friendships because one has betrayed you,
not to believe in any love just because one of them has been unfaithful,
throw away all the possibilities of being happy just because something
did not go in the right direction.
There will always be another opportunity, another friendship,
another love, a new strength.
For each end there is a new beginning.

From Laura Sangiorgio


A Few Words to Share
By Julia Welchman, 2nd April 2020

A few words to share.
It’s bright and cold the prospect fair.
Heaven sent, the Spring is here.
And in your place, over there, how is the day?

We are together, peace and quiet reign, no Planes here,
Long may that last, the air is clear!
We miss so many people and wonder how they fare,
A chat with any one is rare , but now so special,
On the phone, you’re not alone,
Do call one and all.

From Julia Welchman, Kew Gardens, Surrey


By John Lennon

Love is real
Real is love
Love is feeling
Feeling love
Love is wanting
To be loved

Love is touch
Touch is love
Love is feeling, feeling love
Love is asking to be loved

Love is you,you and me
Love is knowing we can be

Love is free
Free is love

Love is living, living love
Love is needing to be loved

From Karen Ward, who wrote, “I was listening to this John Lennon song recently and it really moved me. I have copied the lyrics for you which are so simple but to my mind beautiful but I encourage you listen to the song.”

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
By William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

From Dinah in Richmond, Surrey, who says, “A poem from Yeats, who I love, partly because my mother-in-law, who was Irish, read him aloud.”

Look to this day
By Kalidasa

Look to this day for it is life, the very life of life
In its brief course lie all the truths, virtues and realities of your existence;
The glory of action, the bliss of growth, the splendour of beauty
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision
But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope

Look well therefore to this day.

From Nina Blight

Keep right on to the end of the road

By Sir Harry Lauder

Ev’ry road thro’ life is a long, long road,
Fill’d with joys and sorrows too,
As you journey on how your heart will yearn
For the things most dear to you.
With wealth and love ’tis so,
But onward we must go.

Keep right on to the end of the road,
Keep right on to the end,
Tho’ the way be long, let your heart be strong,
Keep right on round the bend.
Tho’ you’re tired and weary still journey on,
Till you come to your happy abode,
Where all the love you’ve been dreaming of
Will be there at the end of the road.

With a big stout heart to a long steep hill,
We may get there with a smile,
With a good kind thought and an end in view,
We may cut short many a mile.
So let courage ev’ry day
Be your guiding star alway.

From Bill Trotter, Samye Ling monastery, Dumfriesshire