On looking back through our archived posts, we discovered that in April 2012, we posted a photo of a squirrel, accompanied by a recording of W H Davies reading his poem, ‘Leisure’. Since the title of our summer exhibition, ‘Beneath The Boughs’, is taken from this very poem, we thought it would be good to share this with you all again. Enjoy!

[insert text here]

I recently took this photo of a squirrel:

And it reminded me of the W H Davies poem, ‘Leisure’, which I had on my tooth box as a child. It’s a beautiful poem, all about our hurried lifestyles, and how we ought to stop and look around us sometimes. A bit like the abstract on our new business cards:

If you could cradle a minute in your palm
and not weigh its value in coins…

Take a minute now, and listen to this wonderful recording of Davies reading his own poem:

View original post

‘The poem acquires independence…’

‘There is a process called annealment, the heating to a high temperature and slow cooling of glass or metal, to toughen them. Making a poem feels like that, writing as yourself and reading it back as someone else. Distance, perspective, irony, derision (terribly important!), all come into the picture. The poem acquires independence, the poet, in Montale’s comparison, is like the props man who’s stumbled upon it, “unaware that he’s / the author”.’

– Michael Hoffman, “I happen to believe” (2000)


We think this is true.

‘I write to find out what I didn’t know I knew.’

‘Cosmopolibackofbeyondism’ – Robert Crawford

‘Cosmopolibackofbeyondism is a creed with a wink in it. Poetry’s obsessions – love, death, God, sound, silence – travel across times and cultures; nothing could be more cosmopolitan. At the same time, verse is a marginal act, operating way out at the back of beyond, at the limits of what can be said. Its centrality and marginality are bonded.

Every poem is an island. To get to a poem requires sailing out from the mainland of routine language. Some poems are close to shore, others much further away; on every island it is possible to feel remote and at home. A poem is defined by the rugged shore of its right-hand margin, cutting it off from prose. Yet just as any poem-island has the tang of the back of beyond, it has, too, aspects, shared speech-forms, political shapes, faiths, which link it to other places. All poems are connected, most simply through the shared cosmopolis of verse.’

– Robert Crawford, Cosmopolibackofbeyondism (2000)

‘Art’s whatever you choose to frame…’

‘…a poem is simply a piece of writing which, when I read it, I recognise as a poem and not just as something pretending to be one. What is the difference between poetry and prose? Prose fills the page-width; a poem has white space around it. (‘Art’s whatever you choose to frame,’ as I found myself writing at the end of a poem about how looking at paintings in a gallery changes one’s view of the world outside.)’

– Fleur Adcock, Not Quite a Statement (2000)

Zukofsky – A Statement for Poetry

‘Any definition of poetry is difficult because the implications of poetry are complex – and that despite the natural, physical simplicity of its best examples. Thus poetry may be defined as an order of words that as movement and tone (rhythm and pitch) approaches in varying degrees the wordless art of music as a kind of mathematical limit. Poetry is derived obviously from everyday existence (real or ideal).’

– Louis Zukofsky,  A Statement for Poetry (1950/1967)

Beneath The Boughs – click to submit

Submissions fb cover inc Arts Council

Poetry = Power

Lemony Snicket, ‘The Grim Grotto’

Submit to ‘Beneath The Boughs’! (February)


For the next few months, we will be posting monthly poetry prompts based on our upcoming summer exhibition, ‘Beneath The Boughs’. (The exhibition will run from July 19th to September 9th 2013. Read more about the project here.)

For a chance to be involved in the exhibition, and to have your work displayed in the beautiful historic gardens of Lowther Castle, send us your poem(s) inspired by the William Henry Davies poem, ‘Leisure’ (at the bottom of the page).

Please ensure that we receive your submission(s) by the deadline of 23:59, Thursday 28th February, 2013.

For information on how to submit, as well as submission guidelines, click here.

(If you really aren’t inspired by the poem below, then you can also send us a poem inspired by one of the pictures in our insipration gallery. Remember, the same guidelines and deadline apply.)

And keep your eyes peeled. There’ll be a new prompt here in March!

LEISURE, by William Henry Davies

WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.