north of oxford

Two Poems by Mark B. Hamilton 

mist
Late Autumn
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The fog races upriver
with the blue jays, squirrels
and tiny bits of other birds
flashing in the branches
as quick as sparks in the fire.
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Each little spinning leaf
clicks down onto the surface,
the sunshine reflecting
off the cliff like a hearth.
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I paddle close-in to the warmth,
to this precise tilting of the earth.
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20 barges of coal;
a Shawnee village of 400 people;
a heath hen, maybe.
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On the Mississippi
the mist keeps rolling upstream
faster and faster.
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Two Antiques
                        –for Pickles, the cat
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A frail disk spins
on a velvet turntable
with low gentle emotions
                                    from its shiny metal arm.
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Morning always
closes the box
where the music had been,
each day a playground
circling and circling,
rising from its new place
like a kitten carried
                                    into the dizziness of playing.
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On spindly legs
we go round and round
captured by the vanishing,
each of us disappearing
into the silence, like a secret.
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Salty waters are the waves,
a horseshoe crab our pet
behind a shower curtain
on lots of scratchy feet,
                                    like the spiky seaweed
over its milky porcelain.
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The needle
goes up and down
above Mom’s new machine,
the treadle seesaw
rocking all your dolls
furiously in a cave of legs.
The color of the drapes
spinning from the bobbin
flashes past on a flat sash
crossing between the lines,
back and forth, humming
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safely as if walking
across the street
from front porch to beach,
past herds of fiddler crabs
on the muddy flats
to thick coquinas rasping
in our foamy footprints,
the surf hissing beneath
                                    a velvety blue sky
                                    like magic folding
                                    into a tide of lacy froth.
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Mark B HamiltonPhoto (3)
Mark B. Hamilton is an environmental neo-structuralist, working in forms to transform content, adapting from both the Eastern and Western traditions. His new eco-poetry volume, OYO, The Beautiful River (Shanti Arts, 2020) explores the reciprocity between self, culture, history, and the contemporary environment of the polluted Ohio River. Recent work has appeared in The Lyric MagazineAbout Place Journal, and History Magazine, as well as abroad in Amethyst Review, and Stand Magazine, UK. Please see:  www.MarkBHamilton.WordPress.com
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The Harpist by Jonel Abellanosa

harpist
The Harpist
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Hymn to his prayer, reverence.
His music’s lines constellate,
moon a boat in a black sea.
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Virtuoso fingers pluck the sonata,
portal taking shape like egg-shaped
mirror. Yearn deepens, her ghost
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slips through. His heart echoes,
peaks like a mountain, clouds
touched. She hears his longing,
.
appears with her dance
by which he measures grief.
He anticipates her moves,
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his fingers breezing through strings,
his love for her an abstract bird.
Her absence will again become the tree.
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Jonel Abellanosa lives in Cebu City, The Philippines. His works have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Dwarf Stars and Best of the Net Awards. His poetry and fiction have appeared in hundreds of magazines and anthologies, including North of Oxford, The Cape Rock, Muddy River Poetry Review, Chiron Review, Invisible City, The Lyric, The McNeese Review, and The Anglican Theological Review. His poetry collections include, “Songs from My Mind’s Tree”

Layers of Blankets by Doug Holder

dd
Layers of Blankets
… For my late wife Dianne
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In a dream she came to me.
She had to peel
off layers of blankets.
Hot towels
were wrapped
tightly around
my face.
I could
barely breathe.
She struggled
as she always did
but like
some force of nature
she ripped them
off me
I could feel
the sudden rush
of air
the brush
of her luxuriant hair…
.
” I will always
be with you,
I will always be
there… “
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doug
Doug Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press. He is a lecturer of creative writing at Endicott College outside of Boston. Holder’s own work has been published in Molecule, Lillipoh, Lips, Constellations and elsewhere. The ” Doug Holder Papers” are at the University at Buffalo Libraries. Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene
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Canción by Eduardo Halfon Translated by Lisa Dillman and Daniel Hahn

cancion

By g emil reutter

Canción is the title of Eduardo Halfon’s latest release. Canción is also the kidnapper of his grandfather during the 1960’s and is the centerpiece of the narrator’s quest to find out why. Yet the story opens in Tokyo at a Lebanese Writers Conference. The narrator tells the story of his Lebanese grandfather, who is not Lebanese but Syrian, for Lebanon did not exist yet. Halfon establishes a bond with his Japanese host, whose grandfather survived Hiroshima. Canción weaves a tale of family, of violence, of fear, of travels, of liberation.

The character development is excellent, such as grandfather; Uncle Salomón; and the sleeping and sick, NoNo snoring. Salomón is reading Turkish coffee grounds when the soldiers arrive at their Guatemalan City Mansion to inform the grandfather that they located one of the men who had kidnapped him in 1967. It is here the narrator begins to piece together the long search to his grandfather’s history, coupled with the violent and fearful past of Guatemala, its civil war, and uncertainty. The violence of the Kaibiles is graphically detailed in the slaughter of an entire village, as well as the role of “Beni,” who is an enforcer for his grandfather. Beni, a Kaibile, was at the village slaughter.

The Halfon families shifting geographical locations from Syria to Europe to New York to Guatemala to Israel and to Japan contribute to the shifting of this story in a positive manner. A family with boundaries, yet without boundaries who maintain their faith and wealth.

Along the way we meet a beauty queen, model-handsome ambassador, bartenders, and characters of the night. Then there is Canción, the butcher, who we hear tales about and yet never meet nor does the narrator in his search. In the end he does find out his destiny.

Canción brings us into the violence of 1960’s Guatemala, not only through the violence of rebels and the government, but through the eyes of a family entwined in the midst of it all. It is a story of violence yet in the end it is a story of redemption.

You can find the book here: https://blpress.org/?post_type=product&p=5063

g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories and on occasion literary criticism. He can be found at: https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/ 

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Of Mineral by Tiff Dressen

Of Mineral by Tiff Dressen
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By Lynette G. Esposito
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Of Mineral by Tiff Dressen, published by the nonprofit Night Boatbooks in New York is a contemplation of form versus subject. Because the forms are hard to represent here with total accuracy, a description of form will be discussed in relation to the poems.
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In the poem, A Letter in May: Portals from San Francisco which begins on page four, is stretched and arranged as if the narrator is on a particular journey perusing the city. The poem consists of eighty-four lines presented in three-, two-, and one- line stanzas which are arranged in a form as to suggest a winding and unwinding forward movement just like wandering and walking around.
The poem is printed from page four to page nine which makes a little difficult to follow.
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The poem opens with the first stanza flush left.
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This city is a Labyrinth
I walk   in my head
another poet repeats.
Dressen proceeds with lines spaced, indented, and stand-alone to suggest barriers from going and finding solution.  The poem is also divided into sections with lines to indicate the change.  On the journey, average but representative things are observed.  One wonders in another’s mind, seeing and trying to understand the metaphorical meaning until the last lines
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house with phantom
flower crops
“It’s still warmer here”
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The reader realizes the search is for safety and finds it in a familiar although imperfect place. The image of a labyrinth has been successful in relating not only to a walk-through San Francisco, but also to the walk through life.
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Dressen uses this visual spacing technique in his other poems.  For example, in the two- stanza poem on page seventeen, Dark Sky Preserves, the spacing is complex and no punctuation is used to clarify.
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Because I wanted to learn how
to look at the sky
                         again
 
 
                              I chose from among
                               your voices
                                               constellations
 
                                                 nuclear
                               magic
                                                              numbers
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While the spacing and stretching is interesting, the poem’s words are strong and the images successful.  If I have not been one hundred percent on the spacing, I apologize.
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In the poem Night Arc: in October on page thirty-five, a more traditional form is used.  It is a one stanza verse with eighteen lines that is flush left and moves down the page in one skinny stream.
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Sea starved
we begin with
motion liquid oar
we took on water
night phospho
reticence
under pole
star plunge
some fish spoke
through my
lungs some large
mammal bellow
who is native
and who is not
those who could
swim survived
we studied
those tiny faces.
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The poem is well focused and lean. The images are clear and the ending is successful which demonstrates Dressen can produce both traditional and nontraditional verse with equal skill. This poem keeps the reader following the movement in the water until the final study of those being observed.
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Dressen varies the lengths of the poems as well as the subjects. The volume is fifty-nine pages of poems and is especially worth exploring for those who enjoy manipulation of form.
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Dressen’s first book of poems Songs from the Astral Bestiary was published in 2014
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You can find the book here: https://nightboat.org/book/of-mineral/
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Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University, Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.
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Peripheral Debris by Carl Kaucher

perph
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By Charles Rammelkamp
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Channeling the mystical meandering jazz bebop philosophical musings of Jack Kerouac, Carl Kaucher’s new collection focuses on the gritty and ponders the eternal questions of existence.  At the end of the first poem, “Pond Scum,” he asks:
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If life is God’s music
will the chorus end with a round of applause
for a song well sung
or will there just be silence?
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Meanwhile, in his elegy for a dead friend, “Steve,” he asks, “How many bites to eat a Big Mac?” Kaucher isn’t always so serious!
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Peripheral Debris is divided into two parts, “Peripheral” and “Debris.” While both evince Kaucher’s distinctive style, the poems in the first part mainly seem to develop his outlook while the poems in the “Debris“ section are a kind of travelogue through small town Pennsylvania, from the perspective of the self-described “Hobo Poet” whose attitude the reader has since come to understand.
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Indeed, the poem, “Kerouac,” from the first section, honors his inspirations.
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Beating loud
the bongos of suffering
so that
we might feel the rhythm
and vibrations at a distance
not going near
but knowing still
all dimensions
of the deep discordant drum
drubbing of desolation
the shamanic inflection
angelic resurrection
and insight
of the human predicament
on the down and out
with dissonant choruses
to wallow in
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The poem “November,” referring to “an interstellar literature / written within the lunar wind,” concludes with an homage to Patti Smith, from her iconic 1975 album Horses, “weeping for somebody’s sins / but not mine.” The poem, “The Deep State,” honors William Blake.
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The cleverly titled poem, “Postpoemed,” summarizes Kaucher’s approach. It begins:
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Take a few scattered words,
assemble them into a thought
which can be woven
into the finest threads.
Weave the thread into a tempo and flow
that creates a vision,
an intricate web of idea
to paint a portrait of conditions
and circumstance.
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For four more stanzas he describes the recipe – “Introduce the characters”; “Get lost within the flow / and feel the fuzzy vibration of energy”; “Whisper the words down the alley / so they twist and distort / like an effluent prophecy.” The poem, he hopes, will “provide warmth / to all who have gathered / throughout the long night.”
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While Kaucher sets the poem, “Snakes and cats” from the “Peripheral” section in Reading, Pennsylvania (“at the corner of 11th and Robeson streets”), it’s mainly in the “Debris” section that he takes us through the Pennsylvania countryside, in poems like “Johnstown,” “Shillington” (birthplace of the novelist John Updike),  “Shamokin,” “Sunbury,” “Tamaqua,” “Wilkes-Barre,” “Carlisle,” “York,” “Manayunk,” “West Scranton,” “Reading,” and “Altoona” – not to mention poems like “Road Ruminations” (“Towns like Tipton and Tyrone, / Bald Eagle and Port Matilda”) and “Perspectives of Butch” (Schuykill County).  It’s a peripatetic life, the observations and experiences of a holy mendicant wandering from town to town. In the poem, “In,” in West Chester, having returned east from Pittsburgh, he meets a young man in a bar.
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            I tell him about the Beats and Kerouac
            and how inspiration and appreciation of the beauty
            factors into achievement,
            also commitment and WOW!
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He’s like the wandering Zen master enlightening the populace. In the poem “Hobo Poet” he writes:
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            Sleeping on the street corner
            doesn’t seem to get you closer to God.
            Although, cold wet asphalt
            and a curb to rest my head
            may be the start of this poem.
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Back in the first section, in the poem, “First light,” we find him waking up on one of those obscure street corners:
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            Ascend to obscurity blessed
            till the blackness rolls golden gardens
            of dawn born in detachment
            and the essence of the void
            rolls out divinity on Christ tongues
            and enlightened Buddha drugs
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            I forever am revelation
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Indeed, the narrator seems to embody an enlightenment that he doesn’t necessarily always share as he makes his way from town to town.
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Peripheral Debris is full of Kaucher’s somber photographs – bridges, graveyards, kitchens, a bleak apartment, a lone seagull, downtown squares, a young woman’s tattooed back, abandoned houses, coin-op laundromats, an angel statue in silhouette. These atmospheric graphics enhance the sense of solitude that’s at the heart of these poems.
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The second section – and the book itself – ends in Altoona, a town in the middle of the state that was founded by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1849, from its very beginning a stopover on the way to elsewhere.  As always, the poet is observing, experiencing his environment. On the wrong side of the tracks, a homeless guy starts shouting at him, asking for the time. The narrator moves on. With a sly reference to Petula Clark’s 1965 hit song, he goes “downtown / to forget all my troubles, forget all my cares.” He encounters another anonymous citizen of the town, a suspicious woman in neon green slippers, as he scribbles “about the horse fly / bussing my head.”
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            After a while,
            I was only as I am
            and again on my way
            home.
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Wherever that is. Whatever “home” signifies, a place, a state of mind.
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You can find the book here: Peripheral Debris
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Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for Brick House Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. His most recent releases are Sparring Partners from Mooonstone Press, Ugler Lee from Kelsay Books and Catastroika from Apprentice House.

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The Dream of Every Cell by Maricela Guerrero, Translated from the Spanish by Robin Myers

The-Dream-of-Every-Cell--Maricela-Guerrero

By Greg Bem

stories and forms of classification we didn’t yet realize how urgently we’d need to recover and weave new webs to protect us from subtraction. – (from “Olmedo,” page 19)

In the opening of Maricela Guerrero’s The Dream of Every Cell, before it even really opens, the poet writes: “For the people and communities who care for and defend the forests, jungles, mountains, rivers, glaciers, and oceans subjected to the extractions of empire, with admiration and profound respect” (page 6). This statement profoundly summarizes what is a collection of ecopoetic meditations and love poems to and for the preservation of the environment, our world, our future.

Guerrero’s collection, originally from 1977 in Mexico City, and first published in the Spanish language in 2018, and now here this year, in English, thanks to Robin Myers, feels as much a collection of poetry as it does a document of rebellion, a manifesto, a toolkit on how to think about connectedness and ecology. It is a book about individuals as much as it is about systems. It is a book about personal commitment as much as it is a book about relationships. As Myers concisely describes in the afterword, it is “a compendium of protest and praise” (page 133).

The poet is concerned with the world and anchors this book in a key figure of the poet’s world: a science teacher named Ms. Olmedo, whose teachings are profoundly Zenlike in their simplicity and provocation. Strewn through most of the poems are koan-like insights into how to approach the world, think about the cells of the world, and relate to them. There are poems on trees, on wolves, on biological principles, and investigations into truth.

Counter to preservation is destruction, and counter to the preservationists of this book is empire, is imperialism, is the destroyer. The first quote from Olmedo paints this picture and sets this stage: “All organisms are made of cells, except for viruses” (page 13), and from that flip of the page this book is a scythe cutting open and exposing the raw reality beneath the surface. It is a book that describes movement of life and death, of action and inaction, and of protection.

The language of empire doesn’t care about recognizing that a cell comes from another cell; it only wants to know which cell came first.

(from “The Language of Empire,” page 83)

How empire is found and described ecologically varies from poem to poem. In the prose poem “It’s Raining,” the reader stands face to face with all of Monsanto, greedy with the control of seeds (page 61). In “Data,” precursors to what is widely known as data capitalism is described: “The imperial language of our present day is encoded in statistics, in rivers of data flowing through webs of energy and silicone and salt” proclaims the poet (page 75). Again, this courageous book concerns the specific and the vague, the succinct and the massive.

The Dream of Every Cell is a cunning array of poetic explorations, and it is a book of dreams. It is a book of longing and the imagination. Guerrero writes in a prehistoric passion, thinking of the abstract boundaries that divide utopian paradise, the wastes of today, and somewhere urgently existing in between. I appreciate the poet’s bluntness despite of the poetic imagining. In “Rivers,” Guerrero asks: “Can we imagine a river of wolves lacing through the mesetas and sheltering streams and creeks and communities of life communicating in a language that isn’t the language of empire?” Later, more matter-of-factly, we are graced with a question on healing and treatment: “Are spearmint leaves in tea for stomach pain a form of love?” (from “Mentha Spicata,” page 51). Guerrero isn’t shy to ask us how we reach resolution in our grim world, filled with dynamics of contradiction, where the wisdom and its solutions stare as right in the face.

The book is a stunning 140 pages, and most of it is in prose, and yet it is a bilingual release that pairs the original Spanish next to the emerged English exquisitely. There is something to be said about a movement of language that goes beyond Guerrero’s Mexico into new corners of our webbed, shared existence.

shared breath resounding: breath
ungasped, unanguished,
a respite millions of light years away:
your eyes,
your eyelashes,
just imagine that, Ms. Olmedo would say

(from “Introductions,” page 23)

The Dream of Every Cell is a dense collection, filled with questions seeking responses, seeking empathetic connection. It offers to find meaning between the poet and the audience in a way most poetry books avoid; it finds heights that most poetry books never reach. Guerrero’s audience includes you, and her book is one that, with its wolves and streams and breathing, will offer you visions into a more respectful, supportive future.

You can find the book here: https://cardboardhousepress.org/the-dream-of-every-cell-maricela-guerrero

Greg Bem is a poet and librarian living on unceded Duwamish territory, specifically Seattle, Washington. He writes book reviews for Rain Taxi, Yellow Rabbits, and more. His current literary efforts mostly concern water and often include elements of video. Learn more at www.gregbem.com

The Path to Kindness – Poems of Connection and Joy

path
By John Zheng

The title of The Path to Kindness suggests that kindness is a goal or a destination to reach for an individual’s self-cultivation and for a society’s harmonious environment. Although dictionaries provide descriptions of the word meanings, they don’t offer a sensible opportunity to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch the thingness of kindness. Therefore, the core of kindness lies in the act of doing things in kind ways. Also, kindness is not an innate virtue; it is what one learns and possesses; it is part of a person’s life; it is an act flowing like water, as in Lao Tzu’s words from Tao Te Ching: “True goodness is like water.”

This anthology is a gathering of voices worth hearing. Poets share their ideas and stories about kindness with vivid and concrete descriptions. In “Small Kindnesses,” Danusha Laméris tells that kindness can be as small as “when you walk / down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs / to let you by.” It can also be as common as a kind word, a touch, or a smile, which is, however, “a bit of beauty” planted in someone to grow, as expected in Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer’s “Kindness”:

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And years later, in that inner soil,
that beauty emerges again,
pushing aside the dead leaves,
insisting on loveliness,
a celebration of the one who planted it,
the one who perceives it, and
the fertile place where it has grown.

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Truly, small or common things can tell a lot about a person’s personality. On the other hand, Kindness can be a bittersweet ordeal before one knows its true value, as Naomi Shihab Nye says philosophically in her poem “Kindness”: “Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, / you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.” In other words, kindness can be a poignant experience one must gain before celebrating it. And there is no shortcut or expressway to reach it.

However, it is important to realize that kindness, as a human virtue, is an idea in things that can be done in a child’s coming of age. Planting it as a seed in oneself should start early as part of a child’s education. A child who grows up to be a kind person learns to possess this virtue from his parents, so it is a like-father-like-son relay from generation to generation. In “Most Important Word,” Laura Grace Weldon regards love as the first word to learn so the child will be kind to love. She shares her story of teaching her four-year-old son how to write and speak the word love because she believes learning to love is the first step to becoming a kind person. She further describes that love remains the same “first magical word” to learn for her granddaughter who “concentrates, / lines rollicking onto the paper, / tongue curled against her lip.”

Further, to love and be kind should be an inseparable part of a person’s life, and doing kind things does not mean expecting recognition from others. Rather, it is a voluntary way to enrich one’s spiritual life, to keep “a little warmth” within the self, and to give “a little warmth” to faith and time, as related by Ted Kooser in “Filling the Candles”:

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The eight candles that stand at the altar
aren’t candles at all, but oil lamps
in the waxy white raiment of candles.
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A woman has come, through snow, alone
on Saturday, to fill them, a plastic jug
in one hand, a funnel and rag in the other.
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From a high window, soft hands of light,
in reds, blues and greens, pat snow
from the sleeves of her winter parka,
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brush flakes from her silvery hair
as she moves from wick to wick to wick,
lifting the brass caps, trickling the oil.
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The church is otherwise empty, dark
and cold, but now those eight flames burn
within her as she caps and tilts the jug
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into the light to see how much is gone,
the day, too, halfway gone, not spilled
but used, a little warmth within it.
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When people do kind things without letting others know, the community will shape itself in a better way, and human beings will wear more smiles than concerns.

There are all kinds of poetry anthologies, but The Path to Kindness is a timely pocket anthology with a single, important theme since kindness is needed for an individual, a community, and the country especially when hate crimes and racism have erupted in and smeared the cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Oakland, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and elsewhere, showing the absence of goodness, peace, harmony, and safety in these places dominated by fear, disorder, and murder.

Reading is a beautiful act and can make a person mindful. This anthology gathers different voices about kindness, love, and connection. Of 112 poets, 13 have two poems, 4 have three, and 1 (the editor himself) has four. It would be kind to include more poets if each has just one poem in the book.

You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Path-Kindness-Poems-Connection-Joy/dp/1635865336

John (Jianqing) Zheng’s publications include A Way of Looking, Conversations with Dana Gioia, and African American Haiku: Cultural Visions. He is the editor of the Journal of Ethnic American Literature. His forthcoming poetry collection is titled The Dog Years of Reeducation from Madville Publishing.

This Rare Spirit- A Life of Charlotte Mew by Julia Copus

spirit

By Byron Beynon 

As a child Charlotte Mew’s imagination “thought the stars were God’s angels”.  At school she was fortunate to have a teacher who had a heartfelt enthusiasm for books, her name was Lucy Harrison, and Mew became strongly attached to her.  One former pupil remembered “just how it felt when Miss Harrison came into the room, bringing with her, as she always did, a serene sense of freshness and space and of august things ….. she had the power not only of imparting knowledge but of communicating atmosphere and beauty, with the result that she made many good lovers of poetry, eager to read and glad to learn by heart. I think that was one of the greatest things she did for us. One learnt how profoundly poetry counts, or should count, in life.”

Mew would develop into a great poet despite having a deep desire for privacy and keeping herself apart from literary groups and cliques. Alida Monro, the wife of Harold Monro who was to publish Mew’s first book of poems The Farmer’s Bride (published 1916, expanded edition 1921) described Mew as “very small, only about four feet ten inches, very slight, with square shoulders and tiny hands and feet.” Monro also described her first meeting with the poet at the poetry bookshop she ran with her husband, she asked, “Are you Charlotte Mew?” and Mew’s reply was “I am sorry to say I am.”  Mew saw herself as an outsider. Others like Thomas Hardy thought she was “the greatest poetess” he knew of. Virginia Woolf thought her “the best of poets alive”, Siegfried Sassoon also admired her work and Ezra Pound accepted Mew’s poem “The Fête” for publication in The Egoist (May 1914). Marianne Moore also warned that “If we choose to leave the poems of Charlotte Mew out of our literary heritage, we are leaving out an original”.

Born in London in 1869, the third child of an architect named Frederick Mew and his wife Anna Maria.   Her childhood was devastated by the death of three of her siblings and two others fell victim to mental illness and hospitalisation. She and her beloved sister Anne renounced marriage for fear of passing on insanity to their children. Her first publication was a story entitled “Passed” which appeared in the second volume of The Yellow Book.  Most of her surviving poetry dates from 1912 and later.

In the 1920s the Euston Road in London was widened opposite Euston Station, and the great plane trees were torn down by the developers.  Mew’s poem “The Trees Are Down” describes her feelings when the plane trees at the bottom of her garden were felled. These are the final two verses of the poem:
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“It is not for a moment the Spring is unmade to-day;
These were great trees it was in them from root to stem:
When the men with the “Whoops” and the “Whoas” have carted
         the whole of the whispering loveliness away
Half the Spring, for me, will have gone with them.
It is going now, and my heart has been struck with the hearts
         of the planes;
Half my life it has beat with these, in the sun, in the rains,
     In the March wind, the May breeze,
In the great gales that came over to them across the roofs from
         The great seas.
     There was only a quiet rain when they were dying;
     They must have heard the sparrows flying,
And the small creeping creatures in the earth where they were
         lying –
     But I, all day, I heard an angel crying:
         “Hurt not the trees”.
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Copus is also good at interpreting and explaining the mood of the poem when she says ““in the final five lines, she does something that lifts the poem beyond being a reflection: with an eerie sense of theatre, she cuts out all background noise – the gales and the incessant blows of the axe – and locates us inside the felled trees themselves as they lie dying in the grass, so that we hear with them “a quiet rain”, “the sparrows flying” and “the small creeping creatures in the earth where they were lying””.

This is the first comprehensive biography of Mew and Julia Copus has been able to draw on a wealth of previously unseen materials, including letters, photographs, medical records, diaries and testaments of friends. Copus has written a fine biography with the understanding of a poet enabling the reader to gain fresh and interesting insights into Mew’s private and public life and work.

You can find the book here: This Rare Spirit: A Life of Charlotte Mew (Faber Poetry)

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Byron Beynon coordinated Wales’s contribution to the anthology Fifty Strong (Heinemann). His work has featured in several publications including North of Oxford, Jerry Jazz Musician, The London Magazine, Wasafiri and the human rights anthology In Protest (University of London and Keats House Poets). His most recent collection is Where Shadows Stir (The Seventh Quarry Press).
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