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CHILDREN’S POEMS
21 Oct 2021

CHILDREN’S POEMS

Post by Rowena Hill

ANCIENT SCENES

On the Road

The earth is very wide,
people few and scattered,
and a long road divides
goodbye from welcome.

The barefoot beggar,
the poor man with his donkey,
merchants on fine horses,
trace lines traveling
over the face of the earth,
and where they cross
eyes meet, words linger
on the air, marking
a moment’s society.

Even the great prince
in his gilded chariot,
devouring distances,
too proud to hail,
can’t escape the weight
of time and vastness
and in his heart salutes
with common gratitude
the humble pilgrim.

Pan Pipes

The whole valley
in the late sun’s rays
glows like a halo.

A goat on tiptoe
nibbles thorns, one
wicked eye staring.

From the hillside
into the bright air
drop three soft notes,
woody yet clear
as water; they repeat
playing with each other,
swelling, and spill over
into a tune that binds
land and sky as though
it’s their creator.

The Pig-Sticking

White on white
a pigeon sits
on piled snow.

Wine pours red
into clear glasses
and runs over.

A charred cauldron hisses
under blackened beams.

The stricken pig
bleeds on the snow
and squeals its life out.

The Cup

Whose was the cup?
They found it on the moor,
its bright metal indented at the brim
and one stone missing.

They’ve all drunk
in cups like this on nights
of victory, passing it to pledge
loyalty to their lord

and as the wine
spread warmth through their veins
felt strong and safe in the knowledge
of fellowship.

So now they see
in this abandoned cup
a world shattered by treason or disaster
and suddenly feel cold.

No one will speak.
At last their leader dismounts
and grasps and throws it hastily
far into the lake.

The Crown

Breaking the long silence
that proves the final breath
the court starts bemoaning
their good king’s death.

But, slipping from the company,
his first, beloved son
with dry-eyed jubilation
tries on the crown.

The Ship

Over the whole wide sea
nothing moves but foam
and a few birds. Then a speck
shows in the far distance,
swells and hour by hour
grows, while a watcher
high on the lonely coast
strains his eyes to tell
clearly the sign on the sail,
for fear that the wanderer
may be not a brother
coming home with shining riches
but a cruel stranger
seeking blood and spoils.

The Sword

In the instant
that he lies helpless
under his foe’s foot
all life is shown to him.

Not memories
nor unachieved desires
fill his sight,
but life in the instant:

sunlight flashing on a helmet,
the crushed grass he lies on,
his own blood pounding;
in these things is the sum
of life, and the answer
to all riddles.

The sword falls.
The sunlight and the swift
movements of the fight
go on; for him
there is absence.

The Quill

Brooding alone at night
when the whole camp is still,
he longs suddenly to hold his thoughts,
takes up an awkward quill

and, glimpsing immortality,
prays that the plundered bird
will pass on in its feather
the power of flight to his word.

The Ring

“This ring” he said
“I give to thee,
it shall wed us
eternally.

Around thy heart
a shining band
of faith shall sit,
as on thy hand,

and with this stone
as red as blood
I swear to love thee
next to God.”

They’re gone, the lover
and his bride,
in a long past age
they lived and died.

The crimson drop
and band remain,
the symbol of
their union.

Smiths

This is a goldsmith,
he works with gold,
and the silversmith works with silver.

And this is a blacksmith,
so what does he work with?

The Corn

The pattern of the wind
jumps off the sea and runs
through the cornfield on the cliff,
and through a man’s brain
as he watches his bread ripen;
and pursuing the gesture
he plucks some ears and makes
a golden doll, a shape
for the corn’s life, on which
his life depends.

The spirit’s breath has passed.
Awe fills him at the work
of his own hands, and he kneels
to a goddess.

Dawn Architecture

This quarter in the haze
of waking at sunrise
becomes a mountainscape
of tall and solid shapes

disgorged by a force
obeying not the laws
of nature, but of dream
geography, older than time:

escarpments and abutments,
clefts, shelves, circumferences
of stone, reddened by dawn,
remote and yet well known.

Look closer: on the faces
and ledges of cliffs spaces
open, doors and windows
to enter by. What cavemen

or gods inhabit the rooms
inside, high catacombs?
Those creatures are called men.
And is our life so strange then?

Candle Light

When you sit by candle light
only a corner of the night
has given up its brooding ground
and darkness presses all around.

The candle flickers in the air,
a curtain here, a bottle there,
glows into life a moment, then
dissolves in murkiness again.

Round about your tiny hearth
all the emotions of the earth,
deep thoughts and dreams of conquering fate,
loves and sorrows, concentrate

attracted by the living flame
which, doomed and bright, resembles them.
And if their presence makes you doubt
your own solidity, blow out

the candle, turn the light switch on.
The restless fantasies have gone,
no more capricious shadows play,
all’s clear as imitation day.

NATURE POEMS

Butterfly

A butterfly
is a little rag of sky
fluttering by

or a flower
set free for an hour
in air.

The Olive Tree

The olive tree grows
from a seedling,
the soil’s strength flows
in its branching;
but from this start
in nature
the peasant’s art
makes sculpture –
carvings with roots
and springing
fresh shoots,
by pruning
the grey-green crown,
by hollowing out
the dead wood down
the branches and stout
trunk, till the trees
are transformed.
A field of these
when stormed
by wind is a dance
of spirits.
This first of plants
inherits
its silvery grace
from the land,
its reign in space
from the human hand.

City Trees

The trees that line our streets
are like strong men in exile,
dreaming of untouched forests
or a solitary hill.

They lend their dignity,
but wake to their own joy
only if wind moves their limbs
in unconfined play.

Birds in a Tree

Like figures on a tapestry
two birds are perching in the tree
outside the window, frozen still
from balanced tail to pointed bill.

Wind. From the topmost springing branches
one bird on the wide sky launches,
while the other swiftly dives
downward with the swaying leaves.

Trees as They Grow Old

Trees as they grow old
are shaped by the wind
and summertime and cold
the way our human kind

are molded by their fate,
and show in bulk and line
an oak’s hallelujah,
an agony of pine.

Leaves

The world of leaves
is a symphony
composed by earth,
conducted by the sun

– the thousand leaves’
variety
that had their birth
from the first one

shapeless primeval plant
that as it grew
made roots and stem
and leaves to fit each land –

a choral chant
of colors, dew
pale, somber, gem
bright; shapes of hand,

coin, lozenge, blade
and giant’s ear;
their music played
on light turns with the year.

Rose with Insects

No rich satin bed
ever shone so bright
as this full rose’s red
in the morning light.

Finely trimmed jewels
that on velvet lie
look like toys for fools
beside the dragonfly

and small bright beetles
on the dewy petals.

Toadstools

They grow in the deep woods
in dark, damp beds,
piercing earth and leaf mold
with their domed heads.

They have cold, clammy flesh,
unlike beast or plant;
their odor of rottenness
can strangely enchant.

Though some have sweet shapes
and pretty spots,
they’re in league with the devil,
hatching foul plots.

Plastic Flowers

Flowers are a lovely gift
to the grateful human eye,
they’re elegant and joyful;
the trouble is, they die.

So why not plastic flowers,
for your love, or at a grave?
You’ve no more need to worry,
they’ll never wilt or fade;

but nor can they surprise
to wonder by their glow.
To seek what never dies
is to forget to grow,

and love that won’t renew
its gifts, or faith that tires
of remembering, can’t be true,
no more than plastic flowers.

The End

Rain on the roof tops
after a day
of sunshine wears
the warmth away.

The streaming gutters
carry down
the Sunday litter
of the town

and down each swollen,
burping drain
go weekend memories
with the rain.

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