Alexander Averin

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Percy Wakes Me

The greatest love is a mother's; then a dog's; then a sweetheart's.

Polish Proverb

If I lived in a big enough house this is (one of) the breeds of dog I would like to own, it is of course an Irish Wolfhound. Like Finn, our much loved lurcher, they are very loyal and affectionate.  Unfortunately I couldn't fit one into my wee cottage.

And talking of dogs, I promised you another favourite poem from the Mary Oliver book.

Here it is:

Percy Wakes Me

Percy wakes me and I am not ready...

Now he's eager for action:  a walk, then breakfast....

He is sitting on the kitchen counter where he is not supposed to be.

How wonderful you are, I say. How clever, if you needed me, to wake me.

He thought he would hear a lecture and deeply  his eyes begin to shine.

He tumbles onto the couch for more compliments.

He squirms and squeals; he has done something that he needed and now he hears that it's okay.

I scratch his ears, I turn him over and touch him everywhere.  He is

wild with the okayness of it.  Then we walk, then he has breakfast, and he is happy.

This is a poem about Percy.

This is a poem about more than Percy.

Think about it.

Mary Oliver

Saturday 9 July 2011



Martins, luck-bringing eave-dwellers,
diminished in number
are heralding summer again.

A gang of sparrows,
grown in size and confidence
play back my London childhood.

From its woodland hide
the jay ventures out,
predatory in coloured robes.

No longer so rare,
the red kite looks down;
buzzards driven far abroad.

Elegant in flight,
statuesque in my river,
the heron stands in silence.

Robin, my steadfast friend
companionable all the year
is sociable, yet always stands apart.

Lone pheasant, mate-less
escapee from death
is safe within my garden.

Dippers in their secret home
from generations past
still bring their gift of constancy.

Akin to angels and patient,
harmonious to a fault,
the gentle dove will wait.

Would hell be a birdless garden?
No birdsong
no angels in its wake;

Nature’s avian summer gone awry.

Cait O’Connor

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Next poem


Rebecca, our first-born,now thirty-nine
flies in to check that I am well again
and spots beside the bed the photograph
I took of you when you were carrying her
six months gone in your purple polo-neck
and blue smock, and laughing, I remember,
because I have decorated with sea pinks
your black abundant hair, and given you
foxgloves to hold as though to welcome her
to the strand at Inch and the Kerry hills.
Can you go on smiling from your dune-throne
with your hair and hands full of summer flowers?
Because the marram grass is damp and sandy
I have spread a yellow oilskin under you.

Michael Longley
A Hundred Doors

Monday 4 July 2011

Pics and a poem

Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one's own sunshine

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here is the second of the favourite poems I promised you.

How I Go to the Woods

Ordinarily I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable.

I don't really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours.

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unbearable sound of the roses singing.

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.

Mary Oliver

Friday 1 July 2011


Dear Diary,

Those who wish to sing will always find a song

Swedish Proverb

I am sorry I have been absent for so long; I am going to try and be around more. Life has the habit of getting in the way of writing and it takes up too much time and why does time go so much more quickly nowadays?

In spite of life all is well here in my little Welsh heaven; even the fish are jumping but I cannot lie and say the cotton is high. Cotton grows wild in my spiritual home across the water, up on the bogs but not around here in my little Welsh valley.

(I just love that song Summertime, perhaps I will post it for you?)

My thoughts are on all things avian this morning as our writing group ‘homework’ is to write a poem with the bird theme. I have many written in the past but had better not cheat and pull one out - instead I must try to produce something new.

My thoughts are very often on our winged neighbours but especially so at this time of year when we feel outnumbererd by the birds and the beasts who share our abode. There are birds a-plenty, I have never known so many which is very encouraging after the Big Freeze of last winter when we had temperatures of minus sixteen for many days and many of their precious little lives were lost.

So the list of birds species in the garden grows ever-longer and they all seem to take it in turns to visit the feeders, it is as if they have set ‘appointments’. Some breeds will mix happily side by side – the doves living up to their name being the gentlest and most harmonious. Some visit en famille, the woodpeckers and the nuthatches for example and their wee ones wait to be fed by their parents, their feathers quivering in anticipation, which is such a joy to watch. We have a real gang of sparrows now (we had none to speak of before) and that is also good news as they are supposed to be in decline. Sparrows were the only birds I knew really when I was growing up in London.

Feeding the birds (and the gate-crashing squirrels) may be draining our purses but is at the same time filling our hearts with gladness as we watch them from the kitchen, bedroom and parlour windows –and surely gladness is worth more than money anyway? Just one of the few things remaining that cannot (yet) be taxed or measured only in financial terms?

Before I go I must mention a couple of poetry books which I have recently enjoyed. The American poet Mary Oliver first, she is one of my very favourite poets and her book Swan is fantastic, so good I am going to have to buy a copy. I have picked four favourites to share with you but there will be just one today.

Here is a taster and as avian poems go this one is hard to beat.

The Swan

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?

Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air -

An armful of white blossoms,

A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned

into the bondage of its wings; a snow bank, a bank of lilies,

Biting the air with its black beak?

Did you hear it, fluting and whistling

A shrill dark music - like the rain pelting the trees - like a waterfall

Knifing down the black ledges?

And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds -

A white cross streaming across the sky, its feet

Like black leaves, its wings like the stretching light of the river?

And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?

And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?

And have you changed your life?

Mary Oliver

Books are like buses. You don’t see one you want and then three appear altogether. The other book I love is the Irish poet Michael Longley’s A Hundred Doors which a friend kindly lent me recently. I have favourites among them to share with you and will do so very soon.

Finally the great poet Graham Clifford has an excellent book out called Welcome Back to the Country. I have favourites there that I would love to let you taste in a future blog.

Shall I leave you with a song?

Bye for now,