Collecting Leaves ~ A Poem With Little Punctuation

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Gifting myself an hour outdoors in the weak Autumnal sunshine this morning, the intention being to collect what I could, in that time, of the bounty of leaves lying piled up and scattered all around the house and under nearby trees, I savoured every minute of the precious outdoor time. Every bagful would, in only one year, become freely acquired luscious soil, a friable bounty known as “leafmould”.

As I walked back inside afterwards, my fingers frozen to the bone, peeled off my cosy outdoor boots and set my sights back onto working at the computer, I heard a beautiful tune playing on the radio: “Anno Epilogue” by Oliver Davis.  The haunting melody seemed to contain a mirror of the mood I was wafting through. I sat down, with intentions of attending other projects, but instead I wrote this poem.

I hope it will make sense  … there was little punctuation added whilst writing, not wishing to interrupt the flow of the poem writing itself!

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[Please continue reading until the Post Script, dated 21 November 2015, at the end of this post. Thank you.]


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Collecting Leaves

Golden sunshine captures me as I look into the leaves …
Smells and sights and sounds I feel
As into the depths of golden hues
I allow my spirit to sink and swim and swallow wholeness
From without into within and all around and all beyond me
When all of a sudden the wind whips up and darkness descends into the daylight
Clouds overhead look to me like mighty thunderous promise
While hard drops of icy water hit the surface of the layers on the ground
Sleety icy cold and glorious, windy wet and perfectly sound
I feel the ice begin to enter through my too thin and puny rubber gloves
Knowing soon I shall have to head back inside
But I wish to remain outdoors where I can smell the Autumn and play in her gifts to all mankind
It might be Friday the thirteenth, but superstition is not a worry to me
I am free and I am unencumbered by the fears that grip so many on this day
All I want to do is stay outdoors and be warm enough to play
I look up and see the holly berries ripening on a holly tree
And quickly realise that there lies more promise, more gifts from Nature on this day
Soon I shall gather boughs of berried holly, before the little birds take them all away
And that way we shall have some festive season redness of natural beauty in our home
As we sit in front of log fires, catching up with loved ones who so often are very far away
Playing games and sharing stories, looking at photographs and reminiscing on times we’ve loved
Knowing that every moment is a precious gem, one not to be squandered
But that day soon comes, when we know not when.
And so for now I gather in my harvest of leafy gold dust,
Which when it turns to dust will become my gold
As leaves of many colours and types and sizes become transformed
From rich, papery, vibrant shades of Autumnal tones in every golden hue
Into the rich brown, sweet smelling earth from which they once came …
Once more they are and will become … leafmould.
As we go from dust to dust, so leaves too return to the Earth
From whence we died, we each become new birth.


by  Holly Maxwell Boydell


[all rights reserved]

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Note: If Readers too would like to hear the beautiful tune I heard before penning this poem, and replayed while I collected its stream of words, here is a link that I found to “Anno Epilogue” by Oliver Davis, via YouTube :


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Holly x



Saturday 21 November 2015

I wrote the poem “Collecting Leaves” at lunchtime last Friday, 13 November 2015, and posted it onto The Holly Tree Tales that afternoon.  Little did any of us know that, later that day, the most atrocious tragedy would hit Europe, matched only by some of the atrocities being carried out in other parts of the world too.  Two lines in the poem have been haunting me all this week:

“It might be Friday the thirteenth, but superstition is not a worry to me
I am free and I am unencumbered by the fears that grip so many on this day”

At the time of writing, those words seemed relevant to the ambience and experience on the day, but in hindsight they appear truly crass – which is not and was not, by any means, intended. Out of respect to all those who were hurt on that day, in untold and known ways in Europe and around the world, and to all those who are still hurting in the aftermath of the atrocities,  I have since removed those two troubling lines.  There is now a revised version of this poem, which appears later in the blog, republished and with more punctuation inserted.

In mindful consideration, I continue to hope for peace to come into all of our lives.

~ Holly Maxwell Boydell

A Tuesday in Tune

As I write this, I am listening to the hauntingly beautiful sounds of “Elevazione” by Domenico Zipoli, which I have played over and over today, its depth and beauty a perfect accompaniment to the dark and light tones of my day.

My computer keyboard wants to make music with its words, to capture at length some of what today has held. All day the words have been trying to come, in between experiences too numerous to allow me the chance to sit and fully absorb them, or write them down. I have hastily noted down little prompters as the day has progressed, whilst attending a range of tasks, and now I am trying to make some sense of them, more than just to say it has been a day filled with ‘symbolic somethings’.

There is something deeply wonderful about this tune, which I have heard many times before, but which has taken on a greater resonance for me today and has brought with it the comfort and the joy that I needed to carry me gently over the threshold of an au revoir. After a special Mother’s Day weekend together, only the eldest of my two children with me, I bade farewell to my daughter this morning, as she set off back to university. The past five years have held many such moments; many tough moments of saying goodbye to my children, or the excitement of anticipating their return with joy.  With each parting my breath catches; often the intensity of the moment clutches at my entire being, making it impossible not to cry. This music has been like the arms of angels today, although this has been one of those days when perhaps the blessing was more a beautiful gift, than an urgent need to be held through a high tide wave.

There are days and moments when the precise time to do something presents itself and today has felt that way … as if the time was ‘anointed’ and ripe to produce something of note. Why then, was I not able to stop the happenings for long enough to allow me to jot them all down in detail? Perhaps, because like a symphony, texture and tapestry is needed for the full picture to reveal itself, and it was not until the end of the day that the tale had finished being ‘told’?

It is the end of my day now and I have written as much as will be written today. Perhaps tomorrow will be when I gather the fragments and complete the picture, in order to present it in some lovely way?

And so, as I sign off having written here, but not revealed what I thought I would be saying, I share this link to the version of “Elevazione” by Domenico Zipoli, the tune I have been listening to for much of this misty British day: .
It is a most beautiful piece of music, movingly played by a young Brazilian orchestra, Escola de Música de Brasília.  Recorded 10/09/2009.

I hope the music will move you and elevate you, at least as much as it has been blessing my Tuesday.

In harmony,
Holly x



Ifafa and the Violinist

A Diary Note on Saturday 28th February 2015


Utterly blown away! Not by the wind this time, but by life. Again …

I have just had the most surreal experience – or, rather, yet another surreal experience. Think I dreamt this one. Not sure if this is really me. Is it?

Went to a most beautiful venue, in the Borders countryside, to attend a small charity concert of piano and violin music, to raise funds for dental care in Tanzania. Heard the first few words of the Violinist, and my ears pricked up … he’d grown up in Kenya and Zimbabwe. The music was utterly divine … and interval came too soon.

I met the Violinist – we both hail from stunning parts of Africa – and he asked me where I was born. I said “Durban”. He asked, with a light of memory in his eyes, “What’s that place … it’s south of Durban … it has a wonderful lagoon.” I gawped. I stared. I nearly stopped breathing. It could not have been… I stood there staring at him… He said “Now, what’s its name ..?” I could only stare. I had my hands clapped over my mouth, my eyes wide open, I thought I’d walked into some weird Wonderland. I took my hands away from my mouth. I squeaked “Ifafa?”. His face broke into a grin, he said “IFAFA! Yes, that’s it!”. I nearly passed out. I wanted to cry, laugh, dance – actually, just wanted to weep.

I told him that Ifafa is the place I go to in my mind every time I need to escape … that I had been thinking about it so much, that I often ‘smell’ and ‘feel’ the lagoon, that I miss it all so much, and that no one has ever referred to Ifafa anywhere in my life since I was a young child, except one or a few people whom I am close to and who knew it too.

The story grew more fantastic, and wonderful, but that is the bit that blew me away. I am still wondering if it happened … but it did. How do I know? Because, weirdly, these sorts of things have been happening for much of my life, and they are so precise, so spot on, that there is no way they can be random. God said he would give back more than the locusts took … I can see the promise unfolding.

What a revelation. What a moment. What a beautiful evening.

Ifafa, you are i far far away, but I love you … and one day I shall find a way to return.

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And from my photograph collection, a picture taken on a visit to Devon in 2013, when I was reminded of Ifafa:

A corner of Hope Cove in Devon, which reminds me of Ifafa in 1960s South Africa.

A corner of Hope Cove in Devon, which reminds me of Ifafa in 1960s South Africa.

Holly x