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By: David Donaldson

A Seasons' Treasury

Pages: 108 Ratings: 5.0
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Follow the changing seasons through all their wealth of growth and flowering, through autumn’s fall, the withering of winter and all the challenging varieties of weather that can accompany these changes. These poems, written over a period of 30 years, are essentially poems of celebration: of immersion in the seasonal round that ‘resonate with quiet joy’ as one reviewer observed. ‘To walk through its pages is to be touched and refreshed by the dew...’ To encounter ‘widths of sky, or mercurial, brimming weather.’ The author’s companionable sensibility brings us a welcome breathing space at a helpful distance from the overly ironic or overly cerebral poetry to be found, too often, in literary journals. A blithe purity ushers through it. And, as in its Midsummer Garden it extends a joyful invitation to re-enter that purity ‘like...a winged seed.’

David taught on VSO in Sri Lanka and in a variety of educational settings. He also worked with homeless people in London before finding his way into twenty years’ work in Steiner education. Two Collections for children stem from this period and ‘A Treasury of Trees’, (2017) and ‘A Treasury of Plants’, (2020) for adults, (all published by Wynstones Press). 2020 also saw the publication of ‘Common Wealth’ (Matador), a panoramic collection of poems spanning prehistoric times to the present. ‘A Seasons’ Treasury’ comprises three privately printed collections here brought together for the first time and recording living through the seasons in rural Dorset and Herefordshire.

Customer Reviews
5.0
1 reviews
1 reviews
  • David Curtis

    David Donaldson's 'Season's Treasury' is life enhancing. From the introductory 'New Year's Day' the reader is invited to accompany the poet on a walk through the seasons. 'We wind our way up a frozen hill', he begins, and he takes us with him through countryside which he knows intimately and describes with deep personal feeling.

    In one of the last poems, 'A walk in January', he examines his relationship with nature. With a Wordsworthian sensibility he writes:

    'Past, present and the future coming on
    And we, too, immersed in this,
    And also free, as if we stood in a Now
    Where all as far as the eye can see
    Were immersed in us and living there
    As surely as our breath and blood:

    The stones, the spring, the birds, the trees.'

    The diction in David Donaldson's poetry is clear and clean. He uses repetition and assonance to explore his themes, give structure to his poems and for musical effect. Line breaks build rhythm and meaning.

    His observation is detailed and precise.

    'Foxgloves are charred stems'.

    'Fingers of leaves criss-crossing the woods,
    Pouring over acres of crinkled bracken,

    A dance, a fragrant haze of violet-blue'.

    'Stitchworts frail as sparrow legs.
    Sunny celandines, herb robert almost
    Lost in frills and lace of cow parsley
    Luminous in the late grey light.'

    Detail such as these can only be realised by someone who knows nature at close first hand and has a real affinity with it. So when he writes:

    'Twilight. In the knee-high grass
    Stand three black cows
    In a buttercup meadow.
    And the smallest one, a calf,
    Suddenly plunges her black head
    And is off, streaming through the grasses
    Tail held high, while the others, giddy
    With fragrance of the white may,
    Give chase.'

    We readers know that we are in the company of a true countryman and poet.

    These poems are so rich in descriptions like this it is difficult not to quote endlessly!

    And they are supported by imagery that can startle with its originality:

    'And now, summer's finally opened

    The garden show. A jostling carnival
    Of foliage, flowerson tiptoe.....'

    a rainbow 'like a proscenium arch/ Lit up for a play'.


    In St. John's Tide he writes:

    'The sun speaks. Light
    Is its speech'

    and, in Midwinter, he describes the earth:

    '... Secure
    In the sun-stored warmth of her own depths,
    The Mother is great with child'.

    David Donaldon's relationship with nature is so sensitive and intimate that it is at times almost mystical. At times he feels that his presence is an intrusion into the natural world, but at other times he feels an integral part of the natural world:

    'Midsummer's an embrace. To be received
    Or not. An invitation to rise like scent
    Or winged seed, to be your journeying
    Self, embraced and embracing'.

    'But something lingers on, refuses
    To fade as I step back inside: a warming
    Sense of hearts-ease. Of shared presence'.

    The seasons he is most excited by are Spring and Summer. His poetry is celebratory and rhapsodic. He talks of 'summer's endless, endless blue', that 'summer never ends'. Then autumn and winter arrive and he, like the world of nature, struggles to survive, in a 'shrunk' world. Throughout winter he is impatient for springtime and rebirth. 'Spring's overflowing tide will not be long', he writes; he waits for earth's 'pots of gold, its buried treasure', a 'change of mood: joy, joy, displacing wintry gloom.'

    These are poems of the highest order. They deserve to be read as a collection and a good starting poit might be the poem Michaelmas:

    'Is where the year begins; when the plough
    Buries the summer's stubble and the earth
    Turns to us the darkness of her face'.

    Once the journey through the seasons has been completed though, to spend time with each poem is extremely rewarding. Every poem represents a landmark, and each poem reveals more of its beauty and complexity with every reading.

    I write as someone who grew up in the country and know it well. My own knowledge of the countryside and my own loving relationship with 'stones, the spring, the birds, the trees' have been greatly enhanced by David Donaldson's wonderful poetry.


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