Solvitur Acris Hiems

( Horace, Odes, I. 4)

Winter to Spring: the west wind melts the frozen rancour,
The windlass drags to sea the thirsty hull;
Byre is no longer welcome to beast or fire to ploughman,
The field removes the frost-cap from his skull.

Venus of Cythera leads the dances under the hanging
Moon and the linked line of Nymphs and Graces
Beat the ground with measured feet while the busy Fire-
God
Stokes his red-hot mills in volcanic places.

Now is the time to twine the spruce and shining head with
myrtle,
Now with flowers escaped the earthy fetter,
And sacrifice to the woodland god in shady copses
A lamb or a kid, whichever he likes better.

Equally heavy is the heel of white-faced Death on the
pauper's
Shack and the towers of kings, and O my dear
The little sum of life forbids the ravelling of lengthy
Hopes. Night and the fabled dead are near

And the narrow house of nothing past whose lintel
You will meet no wine like this, no boy to admire
Like Lycidas who today makes all young men a furnace
And whom tomorrow girls will find a fire.

-16-

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The Earth Compels
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents 3
  • Carrickfergus 7
  • June Thunder 9
  • The Sunlight on the Garden 10
  • Chess 11
  • The Heated Minutes 12
  • Iceland 13
  • Solvitur Acris Hiems 16
  • Passage Steamer 17
  • Circus 18
  • Homage to Clichés 22
  • On Those Islands 25
  • Eclogue from Iceland 29
  • Eclogue Between the Motherless 40
  • Leaving Barra 47
  • Hidden Ice 49
  • Taken for Granted 50
  • Thank You 51
  • Books, Do Not Look at Me 52
  • Only Let It Form 53
  • Now That the Shapes of Mist 54
  • Christmas Shopping 55
  • Bagpipe Music 58
  • Rugby Football Excursion 60
  • Epilogue 62
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