Poems for Challenging Times 3

In these days of lockdown, as many of us are having to simplify and slow down our lives, we are also discovering the gift of moments that arise amid this simplicity.

It is a particular blessing that lockdown is coinciding as Nature unlocks into Spring, with lightening evenings and growth to enjoy and cultivate all around us.

An article in today’s  Independent notes that fewer than 10% of us want life to return to how it was before lockdown, with the enforced changes bringing welcome benefits, from a valuing of food and an appreciation of cleaner air to highlighting a serious need to address social inequalities.

There can be unexpected days where despite everything, in the here and now all can feel well with the world and ourselves. The Polish poet Milosz’ poem Gift celebrates such a day in nine lines of ten, assured statements.

The poem evinces a sense of peace, the peace that is a Shalom of complete well-being, not merely an absence of strife – although an integral part of that well-being is what the speaker has let go of: objects of envy, painful memories and physical pain itself.

The poem marks the gift of this day as sheer grace. The pace, with each line end-stopped, is settled and assured. Poet Anthony Wilson describes it as a ‘hymn to letting go.’

Our own days may be up and down, but where we are surprised by those moments of Gift, we may want to write about them in the pattern of this poem: a series of statements, line by line, noting what we see; what we do; what is around us; what we are free of and does not disturb us; how it is with us in body, mind and spirit.

Gift

A day so happy.

Fog lifted early. I worked in the garden.

Hummingbirds were stopping over the honeysuckle flowers.

There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.

I knew no one worth my envying him.

Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.

To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.

In my body I felt no pain.

When straightening up, I saw blue sea and sails.

Czeslaw Milosz

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  • About Julia

    Julia

    From writing stories for my younger brother, to penning poems for the School Magazine and filling a growing pile of personal journals, the written word has always been part of my life’s journey.

    I started out as an English Teacher and subsequently retrained as a Counsellor. I have counselled in a GP Surgery and worked with various Employee Assistance Schemes and Charitable Trusts alongside seeing private clients.

    Although I have done some freelance journalism and written four non-fiction books, creative writing has become my main focus in recent years.

    My poems have appeared online on sites including Amaryllis, Silver Birch Press, Clear Poetry, Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis, Riggwelter and Ink,Sweat and Tears. I have been published in Curlew and Bucks Mill Magazine, and anthologised in Our Hearts Still Sing. My first poetry collection, Chester City Walls, came out in 2015.

    Read more about Julia
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