Monday, October 1, 2012

Spring, Autumn — & Something New for the Supernatural Underground

Those of you who visit me on my blog will know the tagline tells you that I am a "novelist, poet, interviewer and lover of story." 

Wordsworth's "Daffodils", a favourite spring poem   
The main focus of my posts here on the Supernatural Underground is as a novelist, but I have also done a couple of interviews now, with Juliet Marillier last month, here, and Beth-Anne Miller a while back, here. And on 1 August I talked about The Awesomeness of Story... So all bases covered, right — but no, hold on a minute, there's something from that tagline list that hasn't yet been covered on the Supernatural Underground.

Did you spot it, too? That's right, I realized that I hadn't yet done a poetry post. And since I was also reflecting on the slight disconnect of it being spring here in the southern hemisphere, where I'm writing this, while those reading it in the northern half of the world are just stepping into autumn — I thought. what better than sharing two poems, one for spring, and one for autumn...

For spring: 

The Begonias
Magnolia stellata

Mal pushes
each seedling down,
grime lining
the cracks in her hands,
eyes narrowed
against the sun's
low angle.  Usually
she crams her hair up
beneath an old hat—the floppy kind
that cricketers wear—
but today the hat is perched
amongst magnolia stellata
and Mal's hair
is a fraying rope
that follows the curve
of her spine, swinging
to every movement
of bend forward, sit back,
as she pauses, wiping
dirt across her face.  "I thought
you didn't like begonias,"
I say.  Mal shrugs.
"Mum always planted them here.
I thought I might as well …"
She seizes the hat,
pulls it low
across her eyes.

© Helen Lowe

Published in moments in the whirlwind, Ed. Barbara Strang, New Zealand Poetry Society, 2009

For autumn:

First snowfall

Aaaah, autumn,
the dying season of the year,
when shadows turn to grape,
chilled by the first, faint curl of mist
around the edges of the days,
foreshortened into clear, green twilights
as night shifts from summer's deep velvet
to frosty black, the stars glow colder,
more distant, the leaves turn
gold, bronze, crimson, scarlet,
Turning colors
bravura counterpoint to cooling days –
then fall in deep, rustling drifts
beneath austere branches, the earth
dark beneath their shadow, filled
with pale secrets, bulbs lying in
wait for spring's warm ambush
to burst out upon the world,
while far above their blind heads
smoke smudges the evening air,
breath hanging in the stillness
as feet stamp crisply, briskly,
knowing winter is almost here.

© Helen Lowe

Commended, Yellow Moon Competition (18: August 2005); Published Yellow Moon 18, Summer 2006


So how about you, Supernatural Undergrounders: do you have a favourite seasonal poem?  Or simply a favourite poem? Let me know with a comment. :)


Sharon Stogner said...

I love to read poetry, but don't have a favorite...anything about autumn will make me smile though :) it is my favorite time of the year. The colors, smells and chill of Fall talks to my soul.

Kim Falconer said...

This is such a lovely post. Thank you Helen. I am basking in spring here in the S hemisphere, not far from you (in the scale of the universe)

My favorite Turkish poet is Nizim Hikmet. He spent most of his life in prison as a political prisoner. His poetry is like food for my heart.

Sharon, here is one titled Autumn

The days are gradually getting shorter,
the rains are about to start.
My door waited wide open for you.
Why were you so late?

Bread, salt, a green pepper on my table.
Waiting for you
I drank on my own
half the wine I kept for you in my jug.
Why were you so late?

But look, the honeyed fruit,
ripe on the branch, remains alive.
If you had been any later
it would have dropped unplucked to the ground.

Helen Lowe said...

Sharon, I think Keats' "Ode to Autumn" was the first seasonal poem that I can recall blowing me away. Fortunately it wasn't part of the compualory curriculum so I could read and enjoy it while shunning the compulasory fare (Ode to a Grecian Urn, as I recall.)

Kim: Is that one of Nizim Hikmet's poems--it's wonderful anyway (& I shall have to discover more... And if it's your poem: claps hands vigorously, stamps feet! :)

Kim Falconer said...

by Nâzım Hikmet

Taut, thick fingers punch

the teeth of my typewriter.

Three words are down on paper

in capitals:




And me - poet, proofreader,

the man who's forced to read

two thousand bad lines

every day

for two liras-


since spring

has come, am I

still sitting here

like a ragged

black chair?

My head puts on its cap by itself,

I fly out of the printer's,

I'm on the street.

The lead dirt of the composing room

on my face,

seventy-five cents in my pocket.


In the barbershops

they're powdering

the sallow cheeks

of the pariah of Publishers Row.

And in the store windows

three-color bookcovers

flash like sunstruck mirrors.

But me,

I don't have even a book of ABC's

that lives on this street

and carries my name on its door!

But what the hell...

I don't look back,

the lead dirt of the composing room

on my face,

seventy-five cents in my pocket,



The piece got left in the middle.

It rained and swamped the lines.

But oh! what I would have written...

The starving writer sitting on his three-thousand-page

three-volume manuscript

wouldn't stare at the window of the kebab joint

but with his shining eyes would take

the Armenian bookseller's dark plump daughter by storm...

The sea would start smelling sweet.

Spring would rear up

like a sweating red mare

and, leaping onto its bare back,

I'd ride it

into the water.


my typewriter would follow me

every step of the way.

I'd say:

"Oh, don't do it!

Leave me alone for an hour..."


my head-my hair failing out-

would shout into the distance:



I'm twenty-seven,

she's seventeen.

"Blind Cupid,

lame Cupid,

both blind and lame Cupid

said, Love this girl,"

I was going to write;

I couldn't say it

but still can!

But if

it rained,

if the lines I wrote got swamped,

if I have twenty-five cents left in my pocket,

what the hell...

Hey, spring is here spring is here spring

spring is here!

My blood is budding inside me!

20 and 21 April 1929

Helen Lowe said...

Kim thanks for posting the spring poem, too: it is rather extravagantly wonderful! I particularly enjoyed the lines:

"... leaping onto its bare back,

I'd ride it

into the water.


my typewriter would follow me

every step of the way."

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