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JEAN KENWARD (b. 1920)

Jean Kenward is known world wide for her poems and rhymes for children, which have appeared in numerous anthologies and radio programmes. Not so well known are poems she has written for adults during a long writing life. We felt the best of these deserved an airing. There are two volumes in slightly overlapping chronological sequence: Up The Lane (poems written between 1940 and 1980) and Further Up The Lane (poems written from roughly 1970 onwards).

“Jean Kenward is a musical poet. She sees the roots of poetry in song. Whether it be a gossamerlight nursery rhyme or a well turned sonnet, it will have that instinctive element of song. Jean’s closeness to nature’s cycles puts her in a direct line with such poets as John Clare, Thomas Hardy, Robert Frost and Edward Thomas” (excerpt from introduction to Up The Lane).

Both chapbooks are available either with plain covers or with covers that have an original ink illustration by Barbara Sedassy.


Up The Lane contains three sections: Cycles, Creatures, and Different Times, Different People.


I N   A P R I L   (from Up The Lane) 
 

It was a day that broke up,
suddenly springing
into a million fragments.
Then, the sun
retracted,
became many;
then the meadow
mirrored
the fractured sun.
It was a day
erupting into brilliant
arrows of fire
and light.
The cherry tree
rose
in a gust of winter
and swilled the lane
with white.
 
 
Further Up The Lane also contains three sections: Wonders, Growing, and Migration.


T H E   F I E L D   (from Further Up The Lane) 
 

The field lies like a sleek beast in the sun,
cropped at its edges, furred with a long flare
of toppling grasses – purple, olive, dun.

Now, in the tumbled centre, gleams of light
assemble among moon daisies, and spare
thistledown wanders in uncertain flight.

More various, more beautiful and rare
than any ordered garden, tossing bright
breakers of dog-rose, tansy weed and tare,

the meadow holds its secret. Here, the hot
havoc of humankind has made a mould
body-shaped, in the sweetness of the spot,

where two – anonymous, unseen – unfurled,
refreshing and refreshed, and were at one
with all that seeds and squanders in the world.