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Lee Harwood

Pagham Harbour Spring

The blur of sky and sea
this white grey morning
before the day burns
moves into blue

the sweet butter scent of gorse
the sweet scent of you
dear daughter ghost in my head
dear daughter

the mudflats and sailings shine
as the children run by
along marsh edge and the high dyke bank
egret and oystercatcher dunlin and sandpiper

In the distance a train passes
where a short neat man
pushes a refreshment trolley
his clean white shirt immaculately ironed
his black waistcoat just right

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The Final Painting

The white cloud passed over the land
there is sea always round the land
the sky is blue always above the cloud
the cloud in the blue continues to move
- nothing is limited by the canvas or frame -
the white cloud can be pictured like any
other clouds or like a fist of wool
or a white fur rose
The white cloud passes a shadow across
the landscape and so there is a passing greyness
The grey and the white both envelop
the watcher until he too is drawn into the picture
It is all a journey from a room through a door
down stairs and out into the street
The cloud could possess the house
The watchers have a mutual confidence
with the approaching string of white clouds
It is beyond spoken words what they are
silently mouthing to the sky
There was no mystery in this - only the firm

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The Seaside

(for Peter Ruppell)

You wrote such a love poem that I was
dumb-founded & left to scratch the sand
Alone in the surf I couldn’t join the bait-diggers
I’d left my fork and bucket at home
& I am not rough by nature

You were sitting on top of a boulder deep in the forest
It was taller than a man & surrounded by pine trees
I think there are pine trees on Fire Island
but I’ve never been to Fire Island, though
I can imagine & we all know what could happen

there, but. . . . . . .
& the world that started in a parked car
was really a fearful one — It would only lead
from one confusion to another
& I couldn’t do this to you on the giant highway

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Landscapes

The ridges either side of the valley
were covered in dark pine forest.
The ploughed hill sides were red,
and the pastures were very green.
Constable’s landscape entitled “Weymouth”
is always in my mind at such times;
my memory of this small part of the
National Gallery surprises even me,
and maybe only I know how inevitable it all is.
The horsemen are riding through the forest
and at dusk they will halt on its edge
and then, after checking their instructions, ride carefully
down into the valley – delicately picking their way
through the small wood and fording the shallow river.
From then on it is not very far
to their destination. We both know this.

Somehow the action has at last gone beyond
the painting and this is for real.
But there can be no self-flattery on this account

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Soft White

When the sea is as grey as her eyes
On these days for sure       &nb sp;the soft white
mist blown in from the ocean       &n bsp;the town dissolving
It all adds up         ;her bare shoulders

Nakedness     ;    rolling in from the sea
on winter afternoons - a fine rain
looking down on the sand       &nb sp;& shingle
the waves breaking on the shore       &n bsp;& white

It is impossible to deny what
taken by surprise        ; then wonder
the many details of her body
to be held first now       &nbs p;then later

In body & mind       &nb sp;the fine rain outside
on winter afternoons      &nb sp; the nakedness
of her bare shoulders      &nbs p; as grey as her eyes
the sea rushing up the beach as white as

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The Words

Clouds scattered across the sky       &nbs p;all so far away
and then the space between         this strange 'distance'
What does 'normal' mean, after all?       &nb sp;you move
toward the window       & nbsp;lights marking the headland
and the night becomes a milestone      &nbs p; though
I         the fog rolls up the hill from the sea
in waves the town       &nb sp;desperate?
Whichever way we look       &nb sp;though so much at hand
only held back by obsessions
but 'home' is so long ago       &nbs p;don't cry
the light's a very pale blue       &nb sp;then maybe       &n bsp;the next time too
a faint glimmer across the bay       &nbs p;neither moon
nor stars
and your letter making signs       &n bsp;concerning 'understanding'
and 'the magic tortoise'      &nbs p; what then?       &n bsp;or just tiredness

At each alternative      &n bsp; the colours in the sky
gradually changing        ; until you're lulled into believing
you've seen this before       & nbsp;but not quite
The wood-cut of a lone horseman

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Central Park Zoo

for Marian

Looking at the zoo the great white park
of a misty winter’s afternoon “You’re great!
and I love you for it”
All the animals have their thick winter coats on
– the childish humour of this is so enjoyable –
A brass clock strikes the hour of three and
sets in motion mechanical chimes that are
beaten out by rampant bears and prancing monkeys
with heavy metal limbs jerking to the rhythm
– this obviously moves the crowd of children who’re
watching – some laugh with “joy”, others gasp with “wonder”

Let’s call this charming story “A day at the zoo” –
all essays to be handed in by the end of the week

But back to the winter and coats
It’s very crisp today and the air is clear
The buffaloes are magnificent and beautiful – they are a rich brown, and the hair is not matted as it was in summer “alas”

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The 'Utopia

The table was filled with many objects

The wild tribesmen in the hills,
whose very robes were decorated with designs
of a strangeness & upsetting beauty
that went much further than the richly coloured silks embroidered there could ever suggest; . . .

There were piles of books, yet each one
was of a different size and binding.
The leathers were so finely dyed. The blues
& purples, contrasting with the deceptive simplicity
of the 'natural' tans.
And this prism & arrangement of colours
cannot be set down - the fresh arrangements
& angles possible can only point through a door
to the word 'infinite' made of white puffy clouds
floating high in a blue summer sky;
this has been written there by a small airplane
that is now returning to its green landing field.

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