Do you value what's right under your nose?

Brilliant May flowers....

The Present

Right now, we’re very much heads down getting ReSource ready for press, so I’m deeply engrossed in putting all the personal and business development articles together, honing  with images and fine tuning.

Like most people, that can mean I don’t take time to look up from the screen and take in what’s around me to see what’s happening (following on from yesterday’s post, even what’s changing,  evolving or transforming…!) We can tend to take things (and people) for granted, and not notice how much they contribute to making our lives a more joyful, beautiful or easy place to be.

Last week the view from my study window was filled with green, albeit there were clusters of tight buds on the rhododendron bush which is now so large it fills the foreground. This week with the sunshine it’s burst into full flower, transformed, even,  and because I know it will be relatively short-lived, I made a point of going out and taking some photos to capture what’s right under my nose that’s giving me such a lovely outlook.

My thinking was that it might rain, that it was windy, and the flowers might therefore get battered and bruised more quickly, and I’d miss the moments of pristine beauty. So it was ‘carpe diem’ and off I went, results shared below.

Brilliant May flowers....

Brilliant May flowers....

a stunning backdrop

a stunning backdrop

Take just a minute to look around you, to think and consider  -
what’s or who’s under your nose that you’re not fully appreciating.

What can you capture from today as it is, in this moment,
and express your gratitude for the present of the present?

Enjoying Rapture

Carol Ann Duffy

With  Scottish poet  Carol Ann Duffy appointed the first female Poet Laureate, it’s a step forward for beautiful, accessible, understandable poetry that appeals to a wide audience.  That doesn’t mean Duffy’s poems are not exquisite, well constructed, masterly – simply that they are identifiable as expressions of universal experiences.


Duffy wrote poems from a very early age, and attributes some of her success to the support she had from her mother who was herself a compelling storyteller, and teachers who encouraged her work to the point of typing up her early poems and posting them on the classroom wall.

One test of whether a poem ‘worked’ was if her mother could understand it – if she had to ask for explanations, Duffy knew more clarity was required; she also puts the obscurity of so much poetry down to the fact that in many cases it was important that the poet’s wife couldn’t understand what was being said!


Duffy has won many prizes for her poetry, and her most recent collection, ‘Rapture’, which charts a love affair in the life she describes as ‘complicated’ , carried off the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2005 .

I believe that her prize to our world will be to make poetry more accessible in schools, (her work is already on the GCSE syllabus) and in general. In many ways, like art and music, poetic writing is the closest we can get to expressing the essence of the soul, and it’s a therapeutic way of bringing our deepest thoughts and feelings forward into consciousness.

The power of poetic expression is undeniable, and universal, witnessed by the longevity and pervasive influence of such writing, ranging through many styles from for example Rumi, Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Eliot to Betjeman, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Adrian Henri… (I could go on…and on)  and the disciplined minimalism of Haiku.

Here’s a snippet from Carol Ann Duffy’s Rapture, a poem called ‘You’.

“Falling in love

is glamorous hell; the crouched, parched heart

like a tiger ready to kill; a flame’s fierce licks under the skin.

Into my life, larger than life, beautiful, you strolled in.”

Rapture, Carol Ann Duffy, 2005, Picador

You can buy the book here

Peace Amidst Turmoil – an Inner Innisfree

buzzing bee

A new friend, Steven Earle, sent me a couple of his poems the other day, he's a really interesting guy who I'm learning about and I appreciate his writing.

One of the poems, called 'The Sea' reminded me a little of a W.B. Yeats favourite 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree'.  Steven's poem is about a soulful returning to what he knows, to peace and a kind of innocence, a theme shared with 'Innisfree'.

It's one of Yeats' earlier poems and as such, the critics don't rate it as a work of real literary merit, yet it is beloved of the public and it is widely known and read, memorable, and taught in school. Yeats himself acknowledged that his style changed significantly as he matured and developed as a poet, as you will see in the quote from his autobiography below.

I've cherished this poem since childhood and it often springs to mind – even sometimes the parodied versions we chanted  – things like:

"I must arise and go now, and go to Innisfree

I left my shoes and socks there, underneath a tree…"

I can feel Yeats' turning in his grave right now…!!

What is represents is a retreat into peace and calm, from the hustle and bustle of city life – a return to simplicity and the opportunity for reflection. Finding an inner sanctum in which we can take refuge and rebuild our strength is something of great importance in these times of global chaos and concern, and I invite you to enjoy the poem and the pictures here, and find your own Inner Innisfree.

Then visit my events page here and decide to come along and find out how to Flourish in Challenging Times, so you'll always have your place of peace to keep you calm and confident of your ability to thrive  – no matter what.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

 

buzzing bee

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

Glimmering midnight water

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

The lake aglow

William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

 

Nobel Prize winning Irish dramatist, author and poet

First published in 'The National Observer' 13th December 1890

Innisfree is in County Sligo in Ireland, and was a place where Yeats spent holidays with his family in his youth.

Yeats commented on "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" in a passage in his autobiography about his London days:

"I had still the ambition, formed in Sligo in my teens, of living in imitation of Thoreau on Innisfree, a little island in Lough Gill, and when walking through Fleet Street very homesick I heard a little tinkle of water and saw a fountain in a shop-window which balanced a little ball upon its jet, and began to remember lake water.

From the sudden remembrance came my poem "Innisfree," my first lyric with anything in its rhythm of my own music. I had begun to loosen rhythm as an escape from rhetoric and from that emotion of the crowd that rhetoric brings, but I only understood vaguely and occasionally that I must for my special purpose use nothing but the common syntax. A couple of years later I could not have written that first line with its conventional archaism — "Arise and go" — nor the inversion of the last stanza."

Joys of Spring….

Bluebells in spring 2009

Words & pictures from the garden

In conversation with my friend Tony Buzan who is currently in Singapore, it emerges that he is missing the English Spring with its flowers and freshness, and the variety that our climate here in the UK offers.

Much as the tropical weather of Singapore is enticing, and the delights of the Far East are unquestioned,  we recalled times together when we had made a point of detouring for the sole purpose of  seeing the daffodils in London’s St James’ Park,  a somewhat ‘Wordsworthian’ experience… and he asked me if the bluebells were out now…..

Bluebells in April

Bluebells in April

That prompted me to take some photos of my garden whilst the said bluebells are indeed in bloom, along with Forget-me-Nots,  and various other delights which are looking very fresh and delicious at present.

It’s so easy to get immersed in the less beautiful aspects of life, especially when you live in the city,  to be overtaken by our daily activities and concerns, and forget to value and be grateful for the  simple pleasure that comes from appreciating our environment and the inspiring moments that nature can offer.

For my travelling absent friend – some refreshing moments in an English garden…..and thank you for re-minding me to acknowledge Nature’s blessings …

yellow-rose

'Potentilla' in full bloom

Above is one of my favourite corners of the garden….it used to be a ‘hide and seek’ game  hot spot when the kids were little…..now it’s providing the same function for squirrels and this year a family of blackbirds, plus the usual robins and great tits, and even a thrush.

Bluebells in spring 2009

Bluebells, forget-me-nots, bergenia, euphorbia - Spring 2009

This sheltered patch amongst the flowers is my cat’s favourite hideout for bird spotting – she’s given up on trying to catch them…

Tree peony 2009

Tree peony 2009

The tree peony gives a brief but stunning splash of colour, and produces an abundance of  massive seed pods which not only feed the wildlife and but also offers a way for me to please friends who admire the plant with a gift of seedlings for their own gardens.