Poem of the Week, by Elizabeth Coatsworth

My new poems podcast, Words by Wintercan be found here.

As a kid I used to wake up at dawn and walk down the road to a small concrete ledge over a watering hole. There were never any cars, and I used to sit on the ledge and watch the sun come up over the valley. Sometimes, far up the hill, through the mist, the sound of cowbells (the nearest farmers were Swiss) came drifting down.

Back then I used to take photos in my mind of things I wanted to remember forever. The lone tree that stood in the field halfway up the hill. The pink and yellow dawn sky. That herd of Holsteins chiming their soft way down the hill to the watering hole, the way they looked at me with their velvet eyes. When I found this old-timey poem in an old-timey book of poems and quotes and aphorisms I pulled off my bookshelf a few weeks ago, those mind-photos came back. Happy New Year, everyone.

Swift Things Are Beautiful, by Elizabeth Coatsworth

Swift things are beautiful:
swallows and deer,
and lightning that falls
bright-veined and clear,
rivers and meteors,
wind in the wheat,
the strong-withered horse,
the runners’ sure feet.

And slow things are beautiful:
the closing of day,
the pause of the wave
that curves downward to spray,
the ember that crumbles,
the opening flower,
and the ox that moves on
in the quiet of power.

For more information about Elizabeth Coatsworth, please click here.
Words by Winter: my new podcast


  1. Yvonne Pearson · January 2, 2021

    It’s interesting how beautiful old-times poems can be.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. alisonmcghee · January 2, 2021

    Agreed. I’m such a contemporary poetry person, so looking through old-time poetry books can surprise me.


  3. William Boden · January 2, 2021

    Alison, I love this poem by Elizabeth Coatsworth. It seems to me, though, that a comma should be placed after the word “spray.” Am I wrong? It wouldn’t be the first time. Happy New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alisonmcghee · January 2, 2021

      Oh, you are entirely right! That’s how the poem was in the book, but you know what? I’m going to sneak back in here and just put the comma in. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Diane .Gottlieb · January 2, 2021

    Oh, Alison! I wish I knew you as a little girl when I was one too! I think we would be friends.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. alisonmcghee · January 2, 2021

    We would definitely have been friends, Diane! I’m just glad we’re friends now. XO

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Barb McCleary · January 2, 2021

    Alison McGhee you are just plain wonderful. This makes my day. I’m kind of an old-timey gal myself, so of course I love this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • alisonmcghee · January 2, 2021

      You know who’s wonderful, Barb McCleary? YOU. xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

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