Wake: Up to Poetry
Poem of the Week: “Border Lake” by John Montague
John Montague’s “Border Lake” describes a spot of tranquility in the middle of a harsh, Northern winter: a hidden lake. The lake provides refuge for two swans who pick their way through the ice, just as people and places in our lives help us rest.
The farther North you travel, the colder it gets.
Take that border county of which no one speaks.
Look at the straggly length of its capital town:
the bleakness after a fair, cattle beaten home.
The only beauty nearby is a small glacial lake
sheltering between drumlin moons of mountains.
In winter it is completely frozen over, reeds
bayonet sharp, under a low, comfortless sky.
Near the middle there is a sluggish channel
where a stray current tugs to free itself.
The solitary pair of swans who haunt the lake
have found it out, and come zigzagging,
holding their breasts aloof from the jagged
edges of large pale mirrors of ice.