For the nature poets…

Globe-scattered stars,

un-met in the most part.

Yet word-chimes harmonise,

gentle laments synchronise.

Soft songs of earth-angels

eddy together,

a river of elegy sighs.

Bards weep beside

once-sweet streams,

Lost crystal lakes of old tales

In their lines and dreams.

January Moon

All here is rankness.
Poisoned by noise,
muddied with lusts.

Thirsting for icy distance,
I’d lie on her frozen face,
make an angel’s shape
in bone-white dust.

Soul washed in starlight
and the tinkling
of a silver-cold song.


Trying to net a name for the ache:
warm belly-clench of sorrow
for the good and the sweet ones
we may not meet
but know by their light;
for the sudden tear-sting
at dusk as a blackbird sings
defiance at the creeping night.

Cathole Cave, March evening

The last of the dog walkers leave.
Disparate figures seek the gate,
hounds zig and zoom,
warm cars click open, suppers wait.

Shadow from the wooded ridge
edges towards the opened tomb
where stone lips welcomed
the dead to an earth mother’s womb.

Turn from the gravelled avenue and up.
Rising rush in the beech tops
urges the stranger turn and stop,
roar of gods; their furies once told
in lost words round equinox fires.

Wind shakes still-bare fingers
of dying ash, though Spring’s hand
over this brow of earth opens eyes
of wood anemone and celandine
that peep shy from shadowed green.

Climb to creak, knock and squeak
wyrd communications of ancient trees.
Below, an unseen blackbird shrills
sudden terror into dusk.

Time shifts.
Soil-dank air from a limestone slit.
Ossuary-rank, the cave-mouth exhales
millennia cold on the cheek.

~ Polly Oliver 2021

Golden Day

Together they lay
on a golden day
flip side of a year
long folded away.

Flanks tight as secrets.
Summer’s finger tips
tickled crickets
to shivering music.

Deep grasses whispered
soft as kisses
and time and sky
reached depths of lapis.

Winter hillside runs dun,
larks are fled.
No insects hum.
The sun draws cloud-drapes
round its counsel.

Past selves
Like pictures of the dead
in a faded book.
Touch their lost faces,
Turn the page.

Cemetery in December

I saw an Angel’s face Greened with tears.

Watched globes of mist lose form

And drip from holly tips.

The wind limped and keened

Between statues and trees

Where moss softens names

Of the no longer missed.

Arms askew, weeping pines

Reached to shuttered skies.

Onyx-eyed crows stood silent.


aled feet on lost leaves.

Winter Stag

Breath clouds into frigid mist.
Snap of frozen twig
Under finely- turned hooves.

Crown of antlers raised
You pause between beeches
Below tracery of boughs.

And sunrise spills silver
Through your silent church.
King of the winter woods.

~ Polly Oliver 2020


Always a sea crossing
to the best of places…
Those which hummed with magic,
that exhaled gorse and iodine.
Dreams still of clambering anthropomorphic granite;
small feet on jagged noses
of gnarled beings gazing stern
on turquoise horizons
that shifted through navy or grey.
Lure of legends forged in rocky DNA
of glistening isles skirted by time,
and patinated with memories.

~ Polly Oliver 2020

This poem came from a sense of hiraeth about childhood holidays on the Isles of Scilly (a gold-plated holiday now, much more genteel than all those years ago) and Brittany’s magical north west. The nostalgia is as much for lost childhood as it is for the places which still hold their soul when the tourists are gone.