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This Particular Earthly Scene

It is a pleasure to see poetry that is neither young nor old. Poetry of the adult heart. Beyond beginnings, past childhood, past first love, past the first child. And without nostalgia. This is fine poetry about a married heart that is still ambitious.


     — Jack Gilbert, Winner of the National Book Circle Critics Award and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry


The materials of This Particular Earthly Scene are one woman’s life—her experience of marriage and children, of the tension between responsibility towards others and personal creative needs, of love and ‘the failure of love.’ These are poems of the ‘unquiet heart,’ which knows ‘the complexity of inconstancy,’ and of a mind which faces harsh reality, including difficult self-knowledge, without illusions. The poems achieve rather than assume knowledge; their aim is not to display but to understand. The poems are well-shaped and unobtrusively skilful. Here, simplicity and directness are used subtly, to convey complex emotional states, and to achieve vivid expression. There is nothing loud or showy about the poems, but their unquiet surface opens on unquiet depths.


     — Jeremy Hooker, author of The Cut of the Light. Poems 1965-2005


Elegantly crafted, deeply experienced, Margaret Lloyd’s This Particularly Earthly Scene is a book of women’s wisdom, sexual and spiritual, filled with seductions, scars, human touch.


     — Alicia Ostriker, author of The Book of Seventy



This collection of poetry begs for the reader’s attention. It demands that the reader read slowly and reread….With first blush, Ms. Lloyd’s style is casual and comfortable. With the second reading, the reader finds himself searching under the surface in an attempt to find the poet’s contemplation, which is often far less casual….Ms. Lloyd writes about her experiences with her family, love, friends, death and herself. This is common ground upon which readers from all backgrounds may tread….This poetry is close to home.


     — Melinda Elder, University of Houston Law Library, 1994


…..sea and stone, tree and flowers, sky, sand, and grass form a simple background to the poet’s complex and disturbing emotions, not as participants, but as grim, passive witnesses to the futility of human struggle and the incomprehensibility of sympathy. There are brief cries for understanding, declarations of defeat, and snapshots of sad moments. These scenes are not clear, but more like the slightly distorting lens of old glass, which casts a similar, unrelenting gloom over each piece, populated with the same graves, flailed by the same fierce wind, and overgrown with the same yellow grass.


     — E. Louise Van Hine, Small Press: The Magazine of Independent Publishing, 1993

The Unquiet Heart


My son doesn’t know I am gone.

That while I pour his morning milk,

I am wandering in a world where

everything keeps turning into something

else and I can’t get back

I am walking down an unfamiliar road.

When he sees me washing the dishes,

he doesn’t know I am outside in a big city

at night, confused and looking for a signpost,

or walking up a country hill not able to see

above or through the tight hedgerows.

He sees me going out to gather kindling,

but doesn’t know I snap the wood

until my palms hurt.


Stay Until the Fight is Really Over


Tonight I noticed when my hands

approach the fire, they hurt

where they have already been burned.

Our bodies remember pain and recoil.

But I think our self is drawn

to what has hurt it, wanting

to reach a deeper layer

of what is serious within us.


After fighting each other all day,

at night the Irish warriors

sent their antagonists herbs,

healing ointments, words

of love. At dawn, sustained

and strengthened, they furiously

resumed the fight again.


Our best self, however agonized,

finds a way to stay

until the fight is really over.

Like the wrestling Jacob

who even after his thigh is broken,

will not let the angel go

until he gets a blessing.


What my Mouth Can Say


I see the light on the bell-ringer’s throat,

long and white. As he lifts his head to pray

I see what I am not supposed to see:


his cowled arms ready in a private dark

to pull the rope and let his body sway.

I see the light on the bell-ringer’s throat


appearing, disappearing. I forsake

myself every night trying to deny

I see what I am not supposed to see.


His body lifts to pull the rope, his neck

curves back gain. I cannot help but stay.

I see the light on the bell-ringer’s throat


and I know it is God who makes me break

out in sweat on cold nights for all the ways

I see what I am not supposed to see.


The wilderness will not be one I make

but one He makes for me. Still on this day

I see the light on the bell-ringer’s throat.


I hear the bells and there is much to take,

much to leave, always what my mouth can say:

I see the light on the bell-ringer’s throat,

I see what I am not supposed to see.

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