Tuesday poem: On the road from Oxford

ON THE ROAD FROM OXFORD by Frances Thomas

The colours have gone crazy this year;

All the flowers have broken out.

On the road from Oxford, we gasp

At the blaze and dazzle of them:

At a meadow gilded with buttercups,

Or blue with a sky-haze of flax.

But it’s the poppies that startle.

Imagine, field after field drenched in scarlet!

A bolt of red silk billowed out in an Indian shop,

Or haze of pure pigment showered by a mad artist;

The whole field flushed and glowing,

So hot, demanding our entire attention,

As if to remind us

That beneath the earth, there is fire,

Beneath the skin, there is blood.

The author of this poem – a friend  and fellow writer –  is putting together a poetry journal this year. It’s a diary of reading poetry over the year, and when she first emailed me about it in April, this is what she said:-

“… it’s a sort of poetry diary, which sprang out of a resolve earlier this year to read more poetry. As well as choosing poems myself, I want to sprinkle the mixture with some poems of other people’s choosing, so it’s not too Frances-centric. Do you think you could choose me a favorite poem of yours that I could add to my list? No need for the whole poem, just the title and poet’s name, and I can find it.  At the moment I’m just collecting things in a ring-binder – and enjoying it enormously:  it’s surprising how engrained some poems are in your consciousness, even if you haven’t read them for ages.”

I have now read the first six months of the journal and simply loved it – the kind of thing you wish you’d thought of doing yourself, and that you wish you had the application and stamina to complete. I also discovered that for her entry on 18th June Frances thought only a poem could properly celebrate the experience of driving through dazzling fields of flowers – and so she wrote her own. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

And do look at the other Tuesday poem entries.


8 Responses to “Tuesday poem: On the road from Oxford”

  1. aj ponder Says:

    Wow, love the strong imagery in this one. Just gorgeous.
    (it probably doesn’t hurt that I know a mad artist that’s completely blown away by poppies:)

  2. Belinda Says:

    Your mad artist friend is absolutely on the right track, AJ. What’s not to blow you away about a field of poppies?

  3. Helen Lowe Says:

    “A bolt of red silk billowed out in an Indian shop”–Ah, yes.

  4. mary mccallum Says:

    This poem is a shout of joy – a stupendous thing. And I know the mad artist, too, AJ …. I think he’d like this one.

  5. Belinda Says:

    The bolt of red Indian silk has billowed through my head all today – I’m so glad you liked that, Helen. I remember being dazzled into a state of wonder by the colours in Kerala a year or so ago – the acid greens, the vibrant pinks and yellows, and oh! the reds. A shout of joy indeed.

  6. Mariana Says:

    Electric and sumptuously vivid! I loved this.
    What a great idea having a poetry journal.
    Thank you Belinda and Frances :-)

  7. Frances Thomas Says:

    Thank you for encouraging comments. I’ve always been hesitant about writing poetry – thought that somehow you had to be a Qualified Poet to attempt it – but maybe you just need to encounter one of those heart-wrenching moments and then the poem more or less writes itself.
    And thank you Belinda, for being kind enough to post it here.

  8. admin Says:

    It’s been such a pleasure to read these lovely comments as well as the poem itself. Speaking as a fellow-Unqualified Poet, I think Frances is right: the intensity of the experience can drive, push, inspire, the writing a long way.

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