Five poems in five days [3]

This may be unduly and nostalgically sentimental to some tastes. There would be at least a grain of truth in that. Or justice. But I’ll choose this poem anyway, because it’s 50 years ago, and it’s still one of the most ecstatic euphoric utterly joyous moments of my life, when I got my degree results, reading the small typed notice in a glass-cased board outside the Students Union on Palace Green in Durham….maybe one of the most beautiful spaces in Britain. And yes, there was blossom. I should add, for context, that we had no cellphones or selfies in them days. Also that I didn’t know that the results were out till someone met me down by the racecourse and told me. It was about 6.30 on a June evening.There was no one around. I had Palace green to myself. Sometimes we are, simply, blessed.

June 1964: Dancing in the streets

For the record:
it is still, and warm
and smells of cut grass, and murmurs
with the after-ripples of cathedral bells;
the air is the palest apricot, tastes
of vanilla,and I am dancing
on the holy ground of Palace Green,
and shouting for sheer pleasure,
at the castle walls, the West Towers,
the brimming sycamores full of leaf
and life above the tumbling weir,
and St Cuthbert and all the angels
of Northumbria are singing anthems
and joining in the dance that won’t
keep off the grass where the gulls
rise up and settle like the hems
of neighbours’ curtains.

I want to blow
a sphere of thinnest glass
to keep this moment in,
tiny cherry blossoms, drifting
like pink snow
at every turn.

( This was published in ‘ Running out of space’ [2014] …for details see My Books at the top of the page)

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