Friday, January 2, 2015

Poetry Friday: Going All Apple-y

"Behold, the apple's rounded worlds...."
Whenever a new year approaches, I get a little corny - or maybe I should say "apple-y." I want to post a poem with some gravitas to it - not just the Irish ditties or the jump-rope rhymes I'm drawn to under normal circumstances. After all, it's the end of one year, the beginning of another year - so the world turns, one kind of time fades, another kind of time entices.

Each December 31st, this apple-y feeling comes on like the scent of mulled cider - I can almost taste it, and it always leads me to Laurie Lee's poem, "Apples." It isn't the right season to be thinking of apples; still, I get more apple-y (or even "wanton," as Lee puts it) as each day of the lunatic old year finishes up. 

In this poem, Lee (whose Cider with Rosie, a description of life in the Slad Valley of the Cotswolds circa 1920, is not to be missed) recognizes the need to "take entire my season's dole" and welcome whatever comes, be it ripe, sweet, sour, hollow, whole. Life doesn't dish out any one of those things exclusively - it offers up the entire selection to you, to me, to the boy in the poem, to the stallion and starling, to the bent worm and the waltzing wasp. No one gets just the sweetness - life isn't like that - it's a "rounded" world. Yes, there are sweet bites; there's also the black polestar, and there's the rind with its crimson stain.

Still, don't we all want to greet life with the "easy hunger" Lee describes? So I offer "Apples" again - it's turning into my annual New Year's poem - as the year's opening post for Poetry Friday 2015. 

The round-up is being hosted by Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect - when you're done here, head there to see what other people have posted. And Apple-y New Year, everyone!


Behold the apples’ rounded worlds:
juice-green of July rain,
the black polestar of flowers, the rind
mapped with its crimson stain.

The russet, crab and cottage red
burn to the sun’s hot brass,
then drop like sweat from every branch
and bubble in the grass.

They lie as wanton as they fall,
and where they fall and break,
the stallion clamps his crunching jaws,
the starling stabs his beak.

In each plump gourd the cidery bite
of boys’ teeth tears the skin;
the waltzing wasp consumes his share,
the bent worm enters in.

I, with as easy hunger, take
entire my season’s dole;
welcome the ripe, the sweet, the sour,
the hollow and the whole.

Laurie Lee as a young man...

...and older, walking through the hills above the Slad Valley.


  1. Beautiful Julie. I hadn't read this poem before, but will be reading it again.

  2. "the hollow and the whole" YES! I love the poem and your musings about it. Perfect. Thank you!

  3. As I eat an apple a day, this poem is a gift for my new year, Julie. It's lovely to hear your own musings about it, and that it's your 'new year' poem. Love "bubble in the grass." Thank you, & Happy New Year!

  4. This poem works on me like it does on you -- makes me hungry to gobble up the new year no matter what it brings!

    And, like Linda, I'm pretty much of an apple-a-day eater, so I like it for that, too!

  5. Perfect poem for the new year! Thank you so much for sharing it and your thoughts. Wishing you a wonderful, full, round year!

  6. I cannot believe (and I KNOW about Cider with Rosie from living 5 years in London) that I have never seen this poem. It is one of those perfect simple-yet-profound ones that work during apple season, at New Year's, and any day of your life. Thank you, Julie!

  7. The Slad Valley is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing this again, Julie -- I remember it from before, and I think it's a perfect annual New Year's poem!

  8. Love the last two lines of the poem:

    welcome the ripe, the sweet, the sour,
    the hollow and the whole

    Happy New Year!

  9. Thanks, everyone - glad you enjoyed it!

  10. How did I miss this? I'm so glad I found it, albeit it a few weeks late!