Featured Anthology: Earth Shattering – Frances Horovitz

Today’s Earth Shattering poem comes from the section ‘The Great Web’, which takes its title from Denise Levertov‘s Web (included in this anthology). Levertov’s ‘great web’ that ‘moves through and connects all people and things, both human and inhuman’ is the metaphor that unites all the poems in this section,  evoking humanity’s interpendence and oneness with nature. The rhythym of daily life and the cyclical processes of nature are celebrated by some poets for their strength whereas others recognise lost or disappearing connections.

Frances Horovitz (1938-83) was an English poet, whose perception of the natural world that surrounds her and evocation of human relationships, has led to a remarkable “clarity, precision and attentiveness” in her poetry. This poem considers the amalgamation of spirits of the human and natural world, almost Buddhist or Taoist in its message. Living in the Cotswolds, Cumbria and the Welsh Marches, many of her poems were inspired by remote landscapes, which are revealed through “perfect rhythym and great delicacy”.

Rain – Birdoswald

I stand under a leafless tree
more still, in this mouse-pattering
thrum of rain,
thean cattle shifting in the field.
It is more dark than light.
A Chinese painter’s brush of deepening grey
moves in a subtle tide.

The beasts are darker islands now.
Wet-stained and silvered by the rain
they suffer night,
marooned as still as stone or tree.
We sense each other’s quiet.

Almost, death could come
inevitable, unstrange
as is this dusk and rain,
and I should be no more
myself, than raindrops
glimmering in last light
on black ash buds

or night beasts in a winter field.

Frances Horovitz, 1980

(This poem is reproduced with permission from Earth Shattering (2007, Bloodaxe Books), edited by Neil Astley.)