About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

A Poem for World Mental Health Day 2017

William Cowper was an 18th century poet and hymn writer, born a generation or two before Blake, Coleridge, Clare and Keats, and like them, posthumously diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Of course, we can never really know what caused their mental illness and it seems rather prurient to conjecture about this aspect of their lives. In any event, what's more interesting about Cowper is the fact he kept three orphaned hares as pets and found some comfort in caring for them. 

Mr Cowper’s Hares

And so he sits without moving
holds them in his lap

not so tightly they’ll take fright
leap through the window
scream up the lane
outstripping every attempt to catch them
hurling themselves
from rock to moss to wild supposition
till they’ve gone beyond all returning
no longer know they have a home

and not so softly they’ll take fright
bolt down the passage
out through the door
dodging the grasp of passers-by
almost suicidal into tan pits
brought back half-drowned in a sack
caked with lime

and so he holds them without moving
pent between his hands

sees his reflection

in their mad amber eyes

©Deborah Harvey 2016

This poem won the Hilly Cansdale Prize for Local Poets at Wells Literature Festival last year, and I'll be reading it at the prize-giving ceremony for this year's shortlisted poets, this Sunday at 3.30pm in the Bishop's Palace. 

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