Alexander Averin

Friday, 11 May 2007

Dear Diary,

I am re-reading Running for the Hills (book I mentioned in an earlier blog) as it is to be discussed at the book group meeting on Monday. I’m making notes and picking out my favourite extracts. An enjoyable task.

Thought I would break off for a quick blog and catch up with some reading of same.

I am feeling rather poetic today. Reading poems always inspires me.

I have a plaque on the fireplace in my cottage. I bought it, not surprisingly, in Ireland.

It says ‘Poetry is Prayer’.

And just for a fellow Irish poetic soul I am posting a Patrick Kavanagh poem. This is for Irish Eyes, for me and for anyone else with a love of Pat Kavanagh, or Irish poetry in general. I hope you like it. There will be more in days to come. You have been warned.


They laughed at one I loved -
The triangular hill that hung
Under the Big Forth. They said
That I was bounded by the whitethorn hedges
Of the little farm and did not know the world.
But I knew that love's doorway to life
Is the same doorway everywhere.

Ashamed of what I loved
I flung her from me and called her a ditch
Although she was smiling at me with violets.

But now I am back in her briary arms;
The dew of an Indian Summer morning lies
On bleached potato-stalks -
What age am I?

I do not know what age I am,
I am no mortal age;
I know nothing of women,
Nothing of cities,
I cannot die
Unless I walk outside these whitethorn hedges.

Patrick Kavanagh

It is so poignant, almost makes me cry.

Our writing group met this week and as always it was a very pleasant evening. Six of us turned up. Isn’t it a joy being amongst like-minded souls? (A bit like being in Purplecooland). We were joined by a new member and what a bonus, she was a female. Our group is mostly male, yes I know some of you would say what’s wrong with that? I agree, being an Arian I have always enjoyed men’s company J but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, would you not agree? Well our new member, H, as well as being female is only fifteen years old, a very pleasant, self-assured young woman and a very talented poet. She had recently won the chair at her school’s Eisteddffodd (hope I’ve spelt that correctly, too lazy to check). So we have a range of ages in our membership now. Sadly we are mostly oldies though, the oldest being a lovely lady aged 77 who is a published author.

We meet in the library and afterwards we adjourn to the very nice pub nearbly for some real ale or some Guinness for me if I need building up, which I do at present. Speaking of which, I have been out and stocked up with Guinness this morning, for my health don’t you know?

I will put a link to our fairly-new-but-developing writers’ group website on the right. We published a little book last year with some money from a local arts fund. We are planning to put our current pieces of work online; every month we have a new topic to write on, we take it in turns to choose a subject. May’s subject is ‘The River’. Much scope there I’d say. Living in Wales it seems you are never far from a river, a stream or a waterfall and I have my very own darling of a river in my cottage garden.

I tried to get the writers interested in blogging, one of them showed an interest. H, the new member, didn’t know what a blog was which I thought was strange as she is a mere youngster. I always find it strange when, occasionally in the library I am teaching people much younger than me how to use the computers and I am more ‘literate’ than they are in computer language.


I find music is a therapy for me, it lifts my spirits, changes the energies. It works on M too who needs his energies changing more than mostJ . I have two playlists now so I will be changing the current music shortly. I have put together 150 tracks! I tried putting both on the blog page but the two would play at once. What a cacophony! If you don’t like the songs, just press Pause or change what’s playing. It is on random select at present but I may change this.

As I write this the house martins are to and fro under the eaves outside the study window. They are few in number this year which is a shame but at least there are some. I hope they breed well. The herons are about a lot both flying and stalking in the river. I will post a photo for you soon.

It’s another soft day today. Too wet to garden, I have been to Brecon, up over the Epynt mountain range, always a soul-lifter that journey, I don’t think I passed one car, either on the way there, or coming back. I had to go to the bank and the supermarket but set off early so as not to waste the day.

I am slowly collecting my favourite websites to post on this page, also my favourite blogs from elsewhere, not Purplecooland, (too hard to choose and we are all friends aren’t we?).

Blessings today?

Computers. No need to say why. We all know the benefits don’t we?

Angel cards. Their powers of divination, like the Tarot, seem to be spot-on.
I enjoy ‘oracling‘, (opening a book at random and reading a sentence), that always works for me, as does dowsing.

Rain. Being Irish makes me particularly love this element. But my plants were desperate for it.

Special friends, the pub, real ales, Guinness, chips.

News that Tony Blair’s dictatorship is fading. I was ecstatic when he was first elected; how wrong can you be? He saddened my life as I will never forgive him for Iraq and Afghanistan and his unhealthy liaison with Bush. Also the state of the NHS, education….. Don’t get me started. That was today’s rant. I am allowed one at my age.
But hang on aren’t I meant to be in blessings-mode?

Let’s carry on with positives.

Collections. I collect two things. Bookmarks and

Favourite Words.

Synchronicity is an example: a lovely word, an embodiment of all things coincidental. These occurrences which seem to be happening in everyone’s lives at the moment. Do you not agree?

I have a little blue notebook where I keep my favourite words, words like lullaby and Avalon and cherish, and many, many more. They are useful when I am writing poems.

I will post some more of my favourite words in the future. I would really love to know any of yours.

I have just realised I am a compulsive list maker. Would that be some kind of obsessive disorder do you think? J


More on Words.

"I dabbled in words and I found they were my life. " - Patrick Kavanagh

"He does not write at all whose poems no-one reads." - Martial

" The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth." - Jean Cocteau

"Poetry is the ultimate democracy." - Brendan Kennelly

"I could no more define poetry than a terrier can define a rat." - A. E. Housman

Finally just one more poem before I go and cook.


by Billy Collins, one of my favourite American poets.
It could be the name of a prehistoric beast
that roamed the Paleozoic earth, rising up
on its hind legs to show off its large vocabulary,
or some lover in a myth who is metamorphosed into a book.

It means treasury, but it is just a place
where words congregate with their relatives,
a big park where hundreds of family reunions
are always being held,
house, home, abode, dwelling, lodgings, and digs,
all sharing the same picnic basket and thermos;
hairy, hirsute, woolly, furry, fleecy, and shaggy
all running a sack race or throwing horseshoes,
inert, static, motionless, fixed and immobile
standing and kneeling in rows for a group photograph.

Here father is next to sire and brother close
to sibling, separated only by fine shades of meaning.
And every group has its odd cousin, the one
who traveled the farthest to be here:
astereognosis, polydipsia, or some eleven
syllable, unpronounceable substitute for the word tool.
Even their own relatives have to squint at their name tags.

I can see my own copy up on a high shelf.
I rarely open it, because I know there is no
such thing as a synonym and because I get nervous
around people who always assemble with their own kind,
forming clubs and nailing signs to closed front doors
while others huddle alone in the dark streets.

I would rather see words out on their own, away
from their families and the warehouse of Roget,
wandering the world where they sometimes fall
in love with a completely different word.
Surely, you have seen pairs of them standing forever
next to each other on the same line inside a poem,
a small chapel where weddings like these,
between perfect strangers, can take place.

by Billy Collins

Bye for now,


Elizabethd said...

And aren't words misused today? As an ex teacher it hurts me when I hear even newsreaders using the slang of today. 'It's, like' a sad day here'. Oh please.
Or, worse, I'm well tired tonight. What?

Suffolkmum said...

I love both poems - especially the Patrick Kavanagh. I don't know him, although I remember Clonteen (oops - Irish Eyes) referring to him too. I'm thinking of joining a writing group, good to know you get so much out of it.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

I love W B Yeats' poetry, our hols always turn into literary searches - So when in Ireland we found The Tower and Coole. When in Pembrokeshire we hunted out everything about Dylan Thomas.. in Whitby we 'did' Bram Stoker and we are off to Dorset this year prizes for that one ....

Pondside said...

Thank you for that lovely poem - I don't know Kavanagh at all. I loved it and have copied it. I like reading your lists - don't stop writing them please.
One of my favorite words - willow.

Frances said...

Hello Cait.
It is late here and I should already be asleep to rest for the morning.
How glad I am that I stayed a bit longer at this fair.
You are doing something very wonderful here with your blog.
I am always taken to a beautiful place that I would not otherwise know.
Thank you so very much.

Inthemud said...

Your blogs are so beautiful and with the music so enjoyable, I wish I could do the music bit, How did you do it?

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

It took me a while to work out why my computer was whispering to me . . . lovely. What are we without words!

JacquiMcR said...

A really lovely blog!

Jacqui x

Exmoorjane said...

Oh Cait, too much to comment on here....I am not good with poetry, too lazy, yet I loved the Kavanagh.... I have favourite words too, odd ones, usually - my all-time favourite is 'mitten' - child-like memories, smallness, the smell of wet wool, snowballs, strings, nans, sucking on them....but also the sound of it - soft and sort of slops out of your mouth.....
Glad you have another woman for your group....I shall go look at your website.

patsy said...

I love your depth of knowledge regarding words and poetry; I just don't have the time right now but next month...when the exams are over, I intend to wallow (a favourite word!) in books that are purely for pleasure.
My most favourite word though is toastie as in "My feet are freezing, darling. Ok if I put them on your legs to help them get toastie?" My First Husband is a saint and wonderful electric blanket substitute!

CAMILLA said...

Hello dear Cait, wonderful blog, and beautiful music. I love W.B.YEATS, also KEATS,and others too numerous to mention. Will tell you this when next I write you. No, thank you for asking Cait, I do not belong to a Poetry Group, but have always loved writing short stories and poetry. I ADORE your Fairies on your blog. Will tell you soon the name of the painting I bought for my daughter, with fairies. She had packed it away when she moved recently, and the name escapes me at present, will let you know. Thank you for that lovely poem, I had not heard of Kavanagh.