Each month include a quote from Quaker Faith and Practice or from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. This is Quaker Faith and Practice:
QF&P 12.01. Plain speaking is a long standing Quaker testimony. It is not only that we hold a witness to the value of truth but also that straightforwardness saves us from many mistakes and much time wasted on first acquaintance . Some Quakers can seem rather brusque; without the conventions of flattery and half-truths, we particularly need to make clear the steadfast love we have for one another.
Poets in Ipswich Meeting
This month we have chosen poems we would like to share.
Not many people will remember Drusilla Davies now. She was 90 when I met her, living in Felixstowe, which had no separate Meeting in those days. She was a small modest sort of person, who loved painting and her garden. Elaine May, a retired schools inspector and rather a stern character, who regularly attended Ipswich Meeting, found out about Drusilla’s gift, and published a little book of Drusilla’s poems, at her own expense, called Poems of Suffolk. It’s in our library, and well worth reading. Here’s an example:
Not to See
Not to see the satin celandine,
The soldier crocus,
Not to see the smoky bluebells
Spreading under budding beech and hazel,
Not to see the tarry chestnut buds,
The madder of the sycamore.
Not to see, seems not to…
I shy from imagining.
Stars in the Sea
Over the cold stones at night
To the dark shore
Where the waves break, a dim green glow
I throw myself into the water
I’m swimming in a galaxy of stars
The sea is alive with light
My body is covered with sparks
When I move a wave of light surrounds me
Plankton, drawn to the surface
Can this be real?
So much beauty.
Chosen by Lydia
Another older person who loved writing was our friend Vera Boyle, who always sent a little poem in her Christmas cards. David Hill has collected these and made them available. There is also a folder of her poems in the Meeting library. I must confess I found some of them rather obscure; you had to try to tease out the meaning, unlike Drusilla’s, which were charmingly simple and clear. For example:
Time and space are
As lovers are
To one another,
Inexpressible in words.
And giant stars
Of particles and waves
Of interlocking histories.
Chosen by Vera Boyle
Richard Stewart is our best known poet now. He’s quite prolific, and has had numerous poems published, including some in The Friend. His poems often relate to nature. He’s an expert on butterflies among other things. He’s specially good at Haiku.
Spring Haiku – Framlingham
The sun’s fire has gone
And drifting flakes of jackdaws
Tumble to their roost
And grey becomes green
With the fresh nettles, new grass
Fat buds on the ash.
Meadow At Nacton
It was one of those rare
Moments when the whole earth
Seemed rooted to one spot,
That thorn bush in a wet meadow.
Every other sound seemed to be
Consumed by the bird’s outpouring.
I moved closer, as if
In a waking dream, until
I could see its throbbing throat
Pulsing with the melody, then
Looked deeper into the bush
That glowed with early morning light
And found at last, for a flickering moment,
The eye of the nightingale.
All That Remained
When he died alone and neglected
His family descended en masse
They ransacked his prize possessions
Stopped his milk and turned off the gas.
They took every one of the carpets
But left his notes in a heap
On the dusty and damp-ridden floorboards
For no one wanted to keep
The work of an unknown poet
His musings were not of their choice
So the house they thought they left empty
Still held the dead man’s voice.
Now I a fellow traveller
Read his words in the empty room,
The verse of an unpublished poet
A voice crying out from the tomb.
Written and chosen by Richard Stewart
I’ve just obtained the following poem (Grace) from GalGael in Glasgow:
A GalGael Grace
We`re cast into a crazy world
Wi many a sore disgrace
Where greed o`turns compassion
And respect is laid to waste
Nae wonder then I linger here
Wi` bretheren mare distinguished
Who`s grasp on human kindness
Will never be relinquished
And share a cup and give a hand
Tae those who share this greeting
To be a kent face and earn a place
At GalGael`s weekly meeting
So before we eat, let all think well
On the value of this clan
That feeds our bodies, hearts and minds
To help us make our stand
(In Scots (in part) as well as English)
GalGael is situated in Ibrox, SW Glasgow and for me and many others a valuable resource where they run a journey on scheme whereby those who have moved to the margins of society for whatever reason have the opportunity to restore their self-confidence and self-respect through community working; it is not a government scheme but autonomous to its members and `journey` on participants.
The writer/author of the GalGael Grace is Jethro Jeffery. GalGael make most things from wood; from tree to boats even, as well as authentic wooden products ornamental and otherwise for the home.
Chosen by Roger
“Preach the Gospel – Sometimes use words.” St. Francis