Tag Archives: Fern Hill

In the republic of poetry (3). Borders and trespass

After my previous post, querying labels and form, poetry and playwriting, I received a wonderful email from writer Martin Pursey:
“Perhaps as a winner of a poetry prize you should not think of yourself as a trespasser at all; I would offer you as comfort the image of a colonial map of territories. A demarcation-line drawn through desert, plain and forest is cheerfully ignored by the tribespeople who live across and all round it; so there you are, taking your goods to market, and you don’t even know you’ve crossed a border, it simply doesn’t matter for your purpose, and you are just as authentic a maker on either side or both!”
As to my comments on the comfort of poetry, in troubling or bereaved times, Martin continues, in parenthesis:
“(Long ago, when I played soldiers a little, I was greeted by the colour-sergeant, after a slow and disbelieving look up-&-down, with “So you are the Queen’s latest bad bargain, come to burden this Regiment and trouble my declining years?” — poetic, I thought at the time. He later astonished us, at a slightly dangerous time, by interspersing his commands and activities with ammunition and so on, with a wistful and heartfelt recital from ‘Fern Hill’:  “As I was young and easy Under the apple boughs about the lilting house And happy as the grass was green…”  -and he was a Regular!)”
As I was delighting in this interaction with Martin Pursey, I got an email from Chris Kinsey  in response to my musings  about characters and narratives, poetry and playwriting. She has allowed me to reproduce several poems from her new collection, Swarf .
“What about this one about words and inspiration?” She asks:


Rain animates the world beyond the glass.

Bare twigs sprout a crop of the fattest drops

water can hold, silvery as spoons

lining up on the draining-board.

Bullfinches ripen the empty apple trees.

Boundary yews shrug in seclusion,

shrubs huddle all borders. My thoughts too,

are screened, trained to a tenant’s need.

At home my gazing’s different.

The garden’s a runway to buzzard spirals,

vapour-trail ciphers. At doves’ ovations

I wait for word-specks to form.


Or this one which is a poem monologue rather than a dramatic one she writes:


It came on suddenly

this blindness thing

like walking into the barn

on a Summer day –

split shafts, shadows,


Thought he was mucking about

Hide ‘n’ seeking me.

Thought it was my eyes playing tricks

when I found him,

but it wasn’t a feedbag

rocking from the rafters.

His father went to the War

brought back a darkness.

Billy caught it.

Now the dark’s in me.

Bits of me come back sometimes –

I’m going to look for Billy.


All poems (c) Chris Kinsey, from Swarf, published by Smokestack books.