Nature Poetry Reading
Watch nature poetry read by Emmanuel Williams and Daphne Alexopoulou.
Emmanuel and Daphne read from the canon of great poets – as well as some of their own verse. The allure and mystery, the restorative and healing power found in nature has been endlessly fascinating and a source of poetic inspiration down through the generations. Sit back and enjoy, be dazzled and soak up the other worldliness of the natural world, where trees, rocks and water hold sway.
This reading includes poems by famous poets:
“Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth
“Blackberrying” by Sylvia Plath
“The Last One” by W.S. Merwin
“In the Clearing” by Patricia Hooper
“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost
The reading also includes these poems by… less-famous poets:
by Emmanuel Williams
forever and forever
the quiet waters
slip away beneath you
always you are retrieving
where you are
kicking thin splayed legs
in endless readjustment
on an endless spool
of rippled silk
you skim the sheen
of foliage and sky
while sunlight stencils you
on underwater gold
miming every dart and glide
this is the image
you will follow
when the stream at last outruns you
and your shadow
by Daphne Alexopoulou
After the mad dash to shut the windows, we don’t go
back to doing stuff, we just sit on the balcony
paying obeisance to the storm. Rain, thunder,
lightning. We sit on our balcony just being.
Watching. Not doing, or achieving, we’re stretching
the limits of our being so we can be filled with more
emptiness. We sit and watch the storm. Ambulances
start within minutes, I have never checked to see if
there’s a correlation though when I hear the sirens,
“flood!” is always what flashes in my mind.
The smell rising to greet us, has a word all its own,
petrichor, the smell parched earth gives up like a
prayer, a word I have to look up every time, a treasure
hunt brought about by my ageing memory. Two ancient
words put together, it means stone releasing the fluid
that runs in the veins of the gods in place of blood
– a good thing –
as you can’t get blood from a stone.
The Thunder is distant now, or spent, who knows.
Safe in my house I thank the rain and the thunder.
A kookaburra laughs in the distance
but we all know it’s not really laughing,
we all know we needed this rain right now
and we know the trees are happy.
by Mardiningsih Arquette
breaking into galaxies
Before the sound of the seas crashing
Moon craters ice masses
Before amoebas and chromosomes
The melting of a thousand suns
before angels moss forests
Spines fins and wingspans
Before reptile teeth petrified in mud
Fossils and waterfalls
Before drums and branches
Crosses falling trumpets
Before reindeer thundering across the tundra
Clay towers and mist
Swarms of flies
Before desert and horses
Leaves and roots and stems
Before buzzards sweeping over empty chasms
The vast echoing sky
Night had no calling
Before sex and weather
The starting and stopping
Before men picked up sticks
touched women made fire
Before planets and earthquakes
Centuries passed flags
the hair of children
Pails gathering rain
Before troops shouted
a quiet singing
A silver ring
When lava rivers did not babble
And the wind was silent
deep beyond the Earth
Before time and stars
Blossoms and nectar
Before sensing and reason
When all that all eyes can conceive
And all our minds can reach
fade like nations and paintings
a pantheon of people buried
under pyramids between galaxies
shapes and colours
gold rocks floating in a stream
Before ghosts civilisations
Before the idea of Being
The beating of the heart
Before the first word ever spoken
A primeval grunt
Before a whisper of life
by Daphne Alexopoulou
Patience, my beautiful, there are forms of oblivion
that are not worth the cost.
We do get into such bad habits.
We leave the wrong door open,
we put garbage on windowsills instead of flowers
and we stuff our cupboards back to front
with stale smells, moth bitten hats, torn silk,
scrunched up paper, rubber bands and tumbleweed.
When stuff falls out, it kicks up the dust of procrastination,
it blurs the images of roads not taken.
I catch a glimpse of a tail as the snake slithers off.
I like a bright sunny kitchen. To help me forget.
It makes no difference at the moment, because
right now it is sunny outside.
I like to stroke the basil in the pot as I pass by,
I wriggle my nose to the smell of jasmine and honeysuckle
and I most certainly brake for Magnolias in bloom.
There was this field on the way to Lewes,
that was so pretty in spring it caused accidents.
The farmer was ordered to shave it bald.
Down the road,
when crop circles turned up by the motorway,
we saw hardly anyone there,
come to look up close. Whatever they are,
they are perfectly beautiful
all the more so for being either a joke
or terribly meaningful.
Once, when I was counting my blessings and
finding them lacking, I planted a magnolia,
to bring me luck. It was called Amazing Grace,
I was hoping for a blessing on my life and my garden.
Forrest fires swept Canberra after we left.
Is my tree still standing?
My hopes are still standing
whether I find out or not.
Things have a way of sorting themselves out.
Even tumbleweed must find a home.
by Emmanuel Williams
Hey old sloucher old lurcher old
bullyboy, carapacious lout, you
with your periscope eyeballs
your sidewalk shuffle, you
in your camo hunched
like a tank with your
claws and your jaws
with your back to
the wall, crusty old
hoodlum brooding in
cracks crustaceous thug
gripping and ripping at kelp
clenched on yourself like a fist
surly old burly old gnarly old wart
someone should tell you you’re beautiful
by Emmanuel Williams
I move you move it moves around us
and we move through it
and it moves us
you and I are one and you and
you and you and you and all
of you and I are one
we are one we move as one
and it moves all of us as one
and all the smells and sounds and tastes
dips and liftings of it
and the long strong flowings from before behind
all of this we move through
and the silverings of waterlight
the quick sucked breaths
shockwave jolt of fear
we move through
the single scream
from each gaped mouth
the sudden horrorhole
that sucks us down
haze of whisperings the criss-cross
trails rippling before behind among us
hoverings the sudden dartings through
the sparkle and the dark of it and
all the smells of it and sounds and dips and
liftings of it and the long strong flowing
from behind before
all this we move
and move through
all of us are moved
by what we move through
“White Hot” by Daphne Alexopoulou
The heat inside your bones,
tells you you are home.
Just like in your dreams,
dreams of home soon,
home to rest, home to rest your head;
the rest you crave
away from dust and constant movement,
away from wind, sand, thorns, rust.
Now you can rest your soul.
The thirsty vista sweeps away and out,
further and further,
it’s miles from the closest spring.
You were there in another dream,
in a place where thirst becomes unbearable
and the rustle of angel wings, is a hiss so faint
you have to stop breathing to hear it.
Home is where the bitter spring
gurgles its song inside your veins,
where the wind is you,
where sunshine clings to your skin
after the sunset is long gone
and the stars
have ancient names you understand.
Salt scratches the windowpanes,
its swirly song eclipses the night crickets
and all you have to do is sit there
watching the sea of fireflies
pop and bob among the olive trees
and the swoosh of Galaxies kissing,
may have happened in your dream
but I don’t think so.