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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.