Biography of Lee Harwood
Lee Harwood was born in 1939 and grew up in Surrey. He has spent the majority of the past 35 years living in Brighton. In a writing career that began in the early 1960s he has published over 20 volumes of poetry and prose, as well as translations of Tristan Tzara. His work has been widely anthologised and he is regarded as one of the finest poets working in England today.
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Lee Harwood Poems
When the sea is as grey as her eyes On these days for sure the soft white mist blown in from the ocean the town dissolving It all adds up her bare shoulders
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
Clouds scattered across the sky all so far away and then the space between this strange 'distance' What does 'normal' mean, after all? you move toward the window lights marking the headland
The table was filled with many objects The wild tribesmen in the hills, whose very robes were decorated with designs
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.
Central Park Zoo
for Marian Looking at the zoo the great white park of a misty winter’s afternoon
Pagham Harbour Spring
The blur of sky and sea this white grey morning before the day burns moves into blue
(for Peter Ruppell) You wrote such a love poem that I was dumb-founded & left to scratch the sand
it's that the quiet room the window open, trees outside "blowing" in the wind. the colour is called green. the sky. the colour is called blue. (sigh) the crickets singing windows open. You move . . . No, not so much a moving but the artificiality of containment in one skin. "No man an island" (ha-ha Buddha) . . . lonesome, huh? THE music, THE pictures (go walkabout) Small wavy lines on the horizon somewhere over the distant horizon the distant city (I hadn't thought of this, but pull it in) and you the children are sleeping and you're probably sitting in the big chair reading or sewing something It's quarter past nine I find you beautiful *** the words come slowly. No . . . your tongue the lips moving the words reach out - crude symbols - the hieroglyphs sounds, not pictures the touching beyond this - I touch you in the water as though I'm in you that joy and skipping in the street the children hanging on our arms *** You know . . . - the signals (on the horizon?) "blocked off" the ships at night keep moving these clear areas beyond the clutter that clearing on summer nights as we lie together . . . there are green trees in the street yes, there is the whole existence of our bodies lying naked together the two skins touching the coolness of your breasts the touch The setting . . . it doesn't really matter We know So much goes on around us on the quay they're playing music we'll eat and dance there, when the wind gets cold we'll put our sweaters on it's that simple, really . . . *** . . . the dry fields Up on the mountain sides white doves (of course) glide on the air-currents hang there someone said tumble "the sound of words as they tumble from men's mouths" (or something like that) there are these areas, not to be filled, but . . . it's a bare canvas, but not empty - all there under the surface This is not about writing, but the whole process You step off the porch into the dry field You're there You see, you're there Now, take it from there . . .
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 the quiet dignity of him as he passes through the hours You'd know this the particulars were you here held in the wide sky arc the children running on the dyke bank absorbed in this world
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 - it has all been decided for us. The illusions of freedom are at last shown to be so obviously ridiculous that most people cry at this point. What it left is a canvas and paints and a little time for distraction before the event. It is not so much a justification - but saying "Goodbye" now appears irrelevant. All the lists and secret worlds have now been exposed - there is little left to say. "I did care, and the love I claimed was and still is the miracle that continues to astonish me. I love you. It is only that death has forced me into obeying its commands. I am powerless and in its power." And that's a personal statement and as true I and honest as I can force the words to be. The saddles creak and it's almost dusk. It doesn't really matter whether this is the real or a symbol - the end's the same.
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" A pair of bobcats lie with their front paws round each other's necks - like lovers - they lick each other's fur (in turn) - it is a golden yellow A pair of badgers A pair of lynx Two pairs of raccoons and the grizzlies and polar bears lie sleeping in the sun Let's call this "The Peaceable Kingdom: A Painterly Reference" or "Winter in the Zoo" or "A Day at the Zoo" In fact let's forget what we'll call this Instead let's . . . returning to the zoo in the corner of the park the white mist hanging over the trees The fact we can become children again shows how right we were in believing in our love despite the canyon which we entered stumbling along the dark bed of the Bad Water river But we climbed out the other side though taken by surprise on topping the rim never having realised the end was so very near But there it was - the herd of buffalo grazing on the lush plains Geography in our sense is exciting Plotting the whole course now Sunlight and the shadows of fast moving clouds sliding across the grassland I imagine North Texas or even Dakota Montana "The end" only of this canyon but a continuation of something greater compare it to a plateau of great size and richness laced with gentle deaths at its edges the spirits of the tribe waiting with a deep love for us It's not so much of a descent either - but these details can wait you see "You're great! and very wise" we laugh as we reach the top of the rock outcrop "and I love you for it" We flower we continue from where we left off before though the statement of this can only be something secondary for us and therefore decorative There's no worry "People of the World, relax!" We walk among the animals the cages upset you When I really think I know you're always right there's no worry we're on the same planet and so very lucky that the poem should end like this is very good
SEPTEMBER DUSK BY NANT Y GEUALLT
The scent - bog myrtle pressed between fingers, even brushed through when walking across this empty valley fenced by crags. A flat moor - the colours muted as dusk closes in the red rust of grasses and bracken. A sense of calm almost, the silence. No bird nor beast. "In a remote land far from here . . ." No, not that far the mountains and bogs. As though in a dream, as though in an underworld suspended between "life and death" wondering "Is this what it's like? it feels so good." But no, here and awake. The minutes pass as silk air wraps itself around my head. May my children feel this touch one day.
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.