"A suitably wintry subject and seascape from Seamus Heaney And some..."
Death of a Gardener 26 February 2014
This is my favourite ‘Spring’ poem juxtaposing the cycles of nature and life. Phoebe Hesketh spent her whole life in rural Lancashire and was a prolific poet but I think this is her best.
Death of a Gardener
He rested through the Winter, watched the rain
On his cold garden, slept, awoke to snow
Padding the window, thatching the roof again
With silence. He was grateful for the slow
Nights and undemanding days; the dark
Protected him; the pause grew big with cold.
Mice in the shed scuffled like leaves; a spark
Hissed from his pipe as he dreamed beside the fire.
All at once light sharpened; earth drew breath,
Stirred; and he woke to strangeness that was Spring,
Stood on the grass, felt movement underneath
Like a child in the womb; hope troubled him to bring
Barrow and spade once more to the waiting soil.
Slower his lift and thrust; a blackbird filled
Long intervals with song; a worm could coil
To safety underneath the hesitant blade.
Hands tremulous as cherry branches kept
Faith with struggling seedlings till the earth
Kept faith with him, claimed him as he slept
Cold in the sun beside his upright spade.