A Spring in my step? looking forward!

I fell and broke my leg at the end of January and for the last two months I have been wearing a cast, either flat on my back with the leg up, or latterly, using crutches and a wheel chair. And the one thing I have missed more than anything else is walking! I used to walk every day with my dog, in the mornings by the ‘paradise’ woodlands, and in the afternoon by the river along the famous and beautiful Granchester meadows. It was always on walks that thoughts and poems and insights would come, and I would glimpse the patches of God-light on my path. Well today I finally got rid of my cast and began, slowly and painfully to flex my foot, and gingerly to trust it with a little weight. It’ll be a while yet before I can lose the crutches and really walk, but that day is in sight. So to keep me going and cheer my spirits I thought I’d post again this poem about a spring walk I took in this very season last year. It’s about walking on a wild wet windy early spring day, but as you will see, it’s also about the four elements within and around us and also, perhaps a little meditation on those hints in Paul that in Christ’s redemption and renewal of humanity will also be the redmption, in and through us, of all nature, that the creation waits with eager longing for glory, hidden in us, in us to be revealed. Anyway I hope you enjoy it.

Once again I am indebted to Margot Krebs Neale for the beautiful images which accompany these poems. As usual you can hear it by clicking on the title or on the ‘play’ sign

Out in the Elements

I crunch the gravel on my ravelled walks
And clabber with my boots in the wet clay
For I myself am clay that breathes and talks
Articulated earth, I move and pray
Alive at once to walk and be the way.
The root beneath, the branch above the tree
These hedges bright with blossom, white with May,
Everything concentrates, awaits in me
the coming of the One who sets creation free

Earth opens now to sudden drumming rains,
The raised and falling waters of the sea
Whose tidal pull and play is in my veins
Spilling and spreading, filling, flowing free
Whose ebb and flow is still at work in me
And in the wombing pulse of play and work
When heart beats pushed in waves of empathy
Till waters broke and bore me from the dark
And found this foundered shore and took me from the ark

As rain recedes I pause to fill my pipe
And kindle fire that flickers into light
And lights the leaf all curled and cured and ripe
Within a burr-starred bowl. How fierce and bright
It glows against the cold. And I delight
In taste and fragrance, watching whisps of grey
And graceful smoke in their brief flight,
As sun breaks from the clouds and lights my way
I feel the fire that makes the light that makes the day

Now air is all astir in breaks and blasts,
The last grey rags of cloud are blown aside
The hedgerows hush and rustle in the gusts
As clean winds whistle round me. Far and wide
Bent grasses and frail flowers lean aside
I breathe the world in with this brimming breeze
That tugs at me and eddies at my side
Quickens and flickers through the tangled trees
And breathes me back to life and brings me to my knees

Akin to every creature I will learn
From each and all the meaning of my birth
I love the dust to which I will return
The subtle substance of my mother earth,
From water born by fire fathered forth,
An index and epitome of nature,
I sum and summon all the world is worth,
And breathing now His elemental air
I find the One within, without, and everywhere.

I find the One within, without, and everywhere


Filed under imagination, Poems

9 responses to “A Spring in my step? looking forward!

  1. Sally Phalan

    What a great poem, Malcolm, lovely to hear it again and one that deserves listening over and over. Good day to hear it today too – I’m suffering from sciatica so I feel with you in being limited physically and its WET over here in Ireland, massive floods, our driveway almost washed away! Your poem brings me into a larger space..

  2. What wonderful use you made of your enforced leisure. I still feed on your series on The Divine Comedy and have shared them with many. The poem “Begin the song exactly where you are” especially important.Walking with my dog in the fields and along the canal & lanes near the town where I live is very important to me & I have developed a form of blessing connecting me to earth, air, sun, water & all creatures that I say in a particular field that comes to mind even as I write. Thank you for this poem. Off in a little while now to take a wedding in the snow.

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks Stephen. And I’m so glad, by the way, that you liked my poem Singing Bowl. It is going to be the title poem of my next collection with Canterbury Press!

  3. The Pipe as one of the four elements. Brilliant and beautiful, capturing exactly what it is I love about the leaf. When you release a book of poetry about pipe smoking, I will be the first to purchase it!

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks Aaron this poem is indeed going to be in my next collection which is going to be called the singing bowl so perhaps there’s even a bit of a pipe reference in the title.

  4. Excellent!

    (Now if poem such as this or a sonnet is appropriate for the pipe, should we expect a limerick for the cigarette?)

    • malcolmguite

      Or an epic for the cigar? Search for ‘my smoky muse’ within my blog and you’ll find something you may enjoy and care to share 🙂

  5. Ahh! Love it. Is this on one of your CD’s?

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