Poem of the Week: Death of a Naturalist

By Seamus Heaney

All year the flax-dam festered in the heart
Of the townland; green and heavy headed
Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.
Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun.
Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles
Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell.
There were dragonflies, spotted butterflies,
But best of all was the warm thick slobber
Of frogspawn that grew like clotted water
In the shade of the banks. Here, every spring
I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied
Specks to range on window sills at home,
On shelves at school, and wait and watch until
The fattening dots burst, into nimble
Swimming tadpoles. Miss Walls would tell us how
The daddy frog was called a bullfrog
And how he croaked and how the mammy frog
Laid hundreds of little eggs and this was
Frogspawn. You could tell the weather by frogs too
For they were yellow in the sun and brown
In rain.

Then one…

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Poem of the Week: Strange Sea

By Edith Södergran

(In two translations from Swedish to English.)

Version 1

Strange fishes glide in the depths,
unfamiliar flowers glow on the shore;
I have seen red and yellow and all the other colours, –
but the gaudy gay sea is the most dangerous to look upon,
it makes one thirsty and wide-awake for waiting adventures:
what happened in the fairy-tale will happen also to me!


Version 2

Implausible fish bloom in the depths,
mercurial flowers light up the coast;
I know red and yellow, the other colors,—

but the sea, det granna granna havet, that’s most dangerous
                                                                 …

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Poem of the Week: These are the days that Reindeer love

By Emily Dickinson 

These are the days that Reindeer love
And pranks the northern star —
This is the Sun’s objective
And Finland of the year.

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Poem of the Week: Summer

By John Clare

Come we to the summer, to the summer we will come, 
For the woods are full of bluebells and the hedges full of bloom, 
And the crow is on the oak a-building of her nest, 
And love is burning diamonds in my true lover’s breast; 
She sits beneath the whitethorn a-plaiting of her hair, 
And I will to my true lover with a fond request repair; 
I will look upon her face, I will in her beauty rest, 
And lay my aching weariness upon her lovely breast. 

The clock-a-clay is creeping on the open bloom of May, 
The merry bee is trampling the pinky threads all day, 
And the chaffinch it is brooding on its grey mossy nest 
In the whitethorn bush where I will lean upon my lover’s breast; 
I’ll lean upon her breast and I’ll whisper in her ear 
That I cannot get a wink o’sleep for thinking…

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Poem of the Week: Farther in summer than the birds

By Emily Dickinson

Farther in summer than the birds,
Pathetic from the grass,
A minor nation celebrates
Its unobtrusive mass.

No ordinance is seen,
So gradual the grace,
A pensive custom it becomes,
Enlarging loneliness.

Antiquest felt at noon
When August, burning low,
Calls forth this spectral canticle,
Repose to typify.

Remit as yet no grace,
No furrow on the glow,
Yet a druidic difference
Enhances nature now.

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Poem of the Week: Who Has Seen the Wind?

By Christina Rossetti

Who has seen the wind? 
Neither I nor you: 
But when the leaves hang trembling, 
The wind is passing through. 

Who has seen the wind? 
Neither you nor I: 
But when the trees bow down their heads, 
The wind is passing by.

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