Week 97: Vine, by Vernon Watkins

This poem by the Welsh poet Vernon Watkins(1906-1967) finely images that core of patience that lies at the heart of the poetic process, and is perhaps, especially for the young poet, the hardest of its disciplines to learn.


Deep-rooted vine, delay your fruit
Beyond youth’s rashness. I have seen
Rich promise wither to the root
Before its time had been.

Drain all the darkness of the soil
And stand there shrivelled, crisp and dry,
Too lifeless in your parchment coil
To open one green eye.

Some watch the March winds animate
Those early bulbs in Winter’s bed.
Envy them not, but keep your state.
Let others think you dead.

Contain in secrecy that balm
Strengthening the sap before it move,
That the broad leaves from wells of calm
One day grow dark with love.

I know a tree as dry as yours.
The patient leaf is put forth late.
Its life is anchored in the hours
For which the heart must wait.

Vernon Watkins

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