Daniel Bennett (6 Poems)

Underfoot Poetry

Bermondsey Spaces

By the corner forecourt of the Shell station
the man eating ribs from a paper bag
lets a crutch dangle on one elbow,
as he picks his way through want
and circumstance, under the gloaming,
the overpass, beyond the river’s abstract mass.

A light like fine quartz inside concrete
ghosts our day. Low rise houses
shelter amongst apartment blocks
hunkering from the bomb blasts
which preserved them –Bang!–
like a camera flash. Here’s your landscape.

Late spring but winter has returned,
freakish and grey, an old friend talking
about jobs and money, a scavenge for work.
Boys aim bikes down pavements
with thin-eyed accuracy. Or else they strut
hands pushed into undershorts

or they walk, shout and fumble
eat sweets and pledge their eternities
to the craziest of quests. Two young girls
play in the dust blown across plane trees
and scrambled time, the pollen filaments
mixed with…

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The Great Myths #1: The Old Woman & the End of the World (White River Sioux)

Somewhere at a place where the prairie and the Maka Sicha, the Badlands, meet, there is a hidden cave. Not for a long, long time has anyone been able to find it. Even now, with so many highways, cars, and tourists, no one has discovered this cave.             In it lives a woman so old…

Early Ted Hughes (Forerunners)

Underfoot Poetry

Here are fourteen early poems from Ted Hughes, all of them from before the more well-known collections Wodwo and Crow. The powerful voices he gives to the animal and natural world, to history and mythology, to the experience of war, even to the theology of a sixteenth-century martyr burned at the stake, are well worth revisiting and reading aloud.

The Hawk in the Rain
The Horses
Phaetons
Wind
Invitation to the Dance
Six Young Men
The Ancient Heroes & the Bomber Pilot
The Martyrdom of Bishop Farrar
Mayday in Holderness
Hawks Roosting
The Bull Moses
Pike
My Uncle’s Wound
Water


The Hawk in the Rain

I drown in the drumming ploughland, I drag up
Heel after heel from the swallowing of the earth’s mouth,
From clay that clutches my each step to the ankle
With the habit of the dogged grave, but the hawk

Effortlessly at height hangs his…

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Tao Te Ching #81: “True words are not beautiful, beautiful words are not true”

True words are not beautiful, beautiful words are not true. The good are not argumentative, the argumentative are not good. Knowers do not generalize, generalists do not know. Sages do not accumulate anything but give everything to others, having more the more they give. The Way of heaven helps and does not harm. The Way…

Tao Te Ching #79: “Therefore sages keep their faith and do not pressure others”

When you harmonize bitter enemies, yet resentment is sure to linger, how can this be called good? Therefore sages keep their faith and do not pressure others. So the virtuous see to their promises, while the virtueless look after precedents. The Way of heaven is impersonal it is always with good people. – Thomas Cleary…

Tao Te Ching #78: “So the flexible overcome the adamant, the yielding overcome the forceful”

Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water. Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, none can withstand it, because they have no way to change it. So the flexible overcome the adamant, the yielding overcome the forceful. Everyone knows this, but no one can do it. This is why…

Tao Te Ching #77: “The Way of heaven reduces excess and fills need, but the way of humans is not so”

The Way of heaven is like drawing a bow: the high is lowered, the low is raised; excess is reduced, need is fulfilled. The Way of heaven reduces excess and fills need, but the way of humans is not so: they strip the needy to serve those who have too much. – Thomas Cleary  …

Tao Te Ching #76: “Let strength and might be put below, and tender, gentle in control”

When people are born they are supple, and when they die they are stiff. When trees are born they are tender, and when they die they are brittle. Stiffness is thus a companion of death, flexibility a companion of life. So when an army is strong, it does not prevail. When a tree is strong,…

Tao Te Ching #75: “Only those who do not contrive to live are wise in valuing life”

When people are starving, it is because their governments take too much, causing them to starve. When people are hard to control, it is because of the contrivances of their governments, which make them hard to control. When people slight death, it is because of the earnestness with which they seek life; that makes them…

Tao Te Ching #74: “If people usually don’t fear death, how can death be used to scare them?”

If people usually don’t fear death, how can death be used to scare them? If people are made to fear death, and you can catch and kill them when they act oddly, who would dare? There are always executioners. And to kill in place of an executioner is taking the place of a master carver.…

Tao Te Ching #73: “But which man knows what heaven condemns, what precedents it’s guided by?”

Boldness in daring means killing; boldness in not daring means life. These two may help and may harm. Who knows the reason for what heaven dislikes? This is why even sages find it hard for them. The Way of heaven win well without contest, responds well without speech, comes of itself uncalled, relaxed yet very…

“Cauldron & Drink” – New Poem at Crannóg

Many thanks to the editors of Crannóg, who published my poem “Cauldron & Drink” in their most recent issue. It’s one of my favorites from my upcoming book of poems from old Europe.  For readers outside of Ireland and the UK, I’ve pasted an image from the journal below, although I would encourage everyone to…