Monday, April 30, 2012

Books 50 -52

Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella
Format - Kindle

The first two books in this post were both recommended by a friend. I had tried to read a book by Sophie Kinsella before and had given up in despair of her dumbass heroine but after quite a few people were saying how good her books were I decided, as I have a secret passion for chick lit, to give her another go. I have to say, I am rather glad I did. This book is a bit silly in places and is also a bit light and frothy but I really rather enjoyed it. I'm not saying I'd want to read all her books but I would read one or two others.

A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolfe
Format - Kindle

Now this I loved. I couldn't put it down. When you read the synopsis you think this can't possibly work but it does. I loved all the strands. I loved it didn't end in a tired cliched way. I sat up late to finish it. Brilliant book.

A Walk in the Park - Jill Mansell
Format - Kindle

Another chick lit author who is a favourite - so much so I have read every book she's ever written (I think she's written about 23 or something). This didn't disappoint and it didn't feel formulaic either. I loved her characters and the fact it is based in Bath added to my pleasure in reading it.

So I have read 52 book in 2012 so far. Last year it took me until June to hit the 52 - bit quicker this year. And this year I have decided to carry on counting until we hit 31/12/12 and see just how much I read in a whole year - though my pace might slow down a bit, as I have been putting off reading a couple a tome sized books until I had manged my 52.

My final poem to share

This was a poem in the anthology my Mum bought me when I was 12 called 'Time's Delight' by Raymond Wilson - it says it is book of poems for all seasons. I love this book, it has many happy memories there are still copies of it around .

 I never understood why two volcanoes had stolen the narrator and as I have recently read on another blog it isn't a good poem really - but it does stick in your head and there is something about the names used within the rhythm of poem that makes it work.


WHEN I was but thirteen or so
I went into a golden land,
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
Took me by the hand.

My father died, my brother too, 
They passed like fleeting dreams,
I stood where Popocatapetl
In the sunlight gleams.

I dimly heard the master's voice
And boys far-off at play,— 
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
Had stolen me away.

I walked in a great golden dream
To and fro from school—
Shining Popocatapetl,
The dusty streets did rule.

I walked home with a gold dark boy
And never a word I'd say,
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
Had taken my speech away. 

I gazed entranced upon his face
Fairer than any flower—
O shining Popocatapetl
It was thy magic hour:

The houses, people, traffic seemed 
Thin fading dreams by day;
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi,
They had stolen my soul away!

W. J Turner (1889-1946)

So that is it - a month of poems (except for the few days when I had no internet). I've enjoyed it. It hasn't diminished my love of poetry in the least in fact it has re lit the spark.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Oh England my Lionheart

This isn't a poem, it's a song lyric but what is a song if not a poem set to music? And if it moves you, if it makes you feel - then who is to quibble over something that can touch a human soul and resonate within it.

I'm in your garden, fading fast in your arms.

The soldiers soften, the war is over.
The air raid shelters are blooming clover.
Flapping umbrellas fill the lanes--
My London Bridge in rain again.

Oh! England, my Lionheart!
Peter Pan steals the kids in Kensington Park.
You read me Shakespeare on the rolling Thames--
That old river poet that never, ever ends.
Our thumping hearts hold the ravens in,
And keep the tower from tumbling.

Oh! England, my Lionheart,
Oh! England, my Lionheart,
Oh! England, my Lionheart,

I don't want to go.
Oh! England, my Lionheart!
Dropped from my black Spitfire to my funeral barge.
Give me one kiss in apple-blossom.
Give me one wish, and I'd be wassailing
In the orchard, my English rose,
Or with my shepherd, who'll bring me home.

Oh! England, my Lionheart,
Oh! England, my Lionheart,
Oh! England, my Lionheart,
Oh! England, my Lionheart,
Oh! England, my Lionheart,

I don't want to go.

Kate Bush (1958 -    )

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Oooo lovely pretties

 Had a little trip this morning to The Eternal Maker in Chichester and was looking for bright fresh fabric to make a Japanese Folded Patchwork lap quilt.

These colours called to me. I managed to some 100% cotton white wadding and some wool blend quilting thread in the same turquoise. Now I just need to get started.

A little bit of Frost.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound's the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost (1874-1963)
Another poem that I think some people think it is a cliche to like - I don't care really. It paints a vivid picture and a yearning and I like it.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Remember me.

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more, day by day,
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

I love the form of a sonnet and  this is a favourite.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heaven's embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Is it a cliche to love this poem? Don't care. I love it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Books 46-49

The first two are easy as they are much beloved audio books stored on my old iPod Nano - they are;

Persuasion by Jane Austen read by Greta Scacchi and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J K Rowling read by Stephen Fry.

Both of these are really good audio books, well read and well produced and last week when we had no interwebs and TV for a few days I hunkered down with some knitting and re-listened to these two favourites. It was like the book equivalent of a cup of tea and a couple of Rich Tea bikkies for dunking.

Pulled by Danielle Bannister
Format - Kindle.

Meh. Ok but a bit meh. It was a bit of a nothing book for me. Bit obvious really. Wouldn't bother with a sequel.

Poppy Darke by Colin Wraight
Format - Kindle

This is a kids book - but don't let that put you off. It is really rather good. I loved the characters especially the Goyles and the main character has an interesting story as well. It entertained and amused which is what a good book should do. I will read any sequels because it was different and it was good.

One Day

Today I have been happy. All the day

I held the memory of you, and wove

Its laughter with the dancing light o' the spray,

And sowed the sky with tiny clouds of love,

And sent you following the white waves of sea,

And crowned your head with fancies, nothing worth,

Stray buds from that old dust of misery,

Being glad with a new foolish quiet mirth.

So lightly I played with those dark memories,

Just as a child, beneath the summer skies,

Plays hour by hour with a strange shining stone,

For which (he knows not) towns were fire of old,

And love has been betrayed, and murder done,

And great kings turned to a little bitter mould.

Rupert Brooke (1887-1915)

I have part of this poem engraved on a silver russian wedding ring - and I love it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Colour of His Hair.

The Colour of His Hair

Oh who is that young sinner with the handcuffs on his wrists?

And what has he been after, that they groan and shake their fists?

And wherefore is he wearing such a conscience-stricken air?

Oh they’re taking him to prison for the colour of his hair.

‘Tis a shame to human nature, such a head of hair as his;

In the good old time ’twas hanging for the colour that it is;

Though hanging isn’t bad enough and flaying would be fair

For the nameless and abominable colour of his hair.

Oh a deal of pains he’s taken and a pretty price he’s paid

To hide his poll or dye it of a mentionable shade;

But they’ve pulled the beggar’s hat off for the world to see and stare,

And they’re haling him to justice for the colour of his hair.

Now ’tis oakum for his fingers and the treadmill for his feet,

And the quarry-gang on Portland in the cold and in the heat,

And between his spells of labour in the time he has to spare

He can curse the God that made him for the colour of his hair.

A. E. Housman (1859 – 1936)

I am told this was written around the time of the trial of Oscar Wilde for gross indecency but was not published until much later. It is a poem that needs little explanation whatever the reason for its being written.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A poem to read out loud

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The sun was shining on the sea,

Shining with all his might:

He did his very best to make

The billows smooth and bright--

And this was odd, because it was

The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,

Because she thought the sun

Had got no business to be there

After the day was done--

"It's very rude of him," she said,

"To come and spoil the fun!"

The sea was wet as wet could be,

The sands were dry as dry.

You could not see a cloud, because

No cloud was in the sky:

No birds were flying overhead--

There were no birds to fly.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

Were walking close at hand;

They wept like anything to see

Such quantities of sand:

"If this were only cleared away,"

They said, "it would be grand!"

"If seven maids with seven mops

Swept it for half a year.

Do you suppose," the Walrus said,

"That they could get it clear?"

"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,

And shed a bitter tear.

"O Oysters, come and walk with us!"

The Walrus did beseech.

"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,

Along the briny beach:

We cannot do with more than four,

To give a hand to each."

The eldest Oyster looked at him,

But never a word he said:

The eldest Oyster winked his eye,

And shook his heavy head--

Meaning to say he did not choose

To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,

All eager for the treat:

Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,

Their shoes were clean and neat--

And this was odd, because, you know,

They hadn't any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,

And yet another four;

And thick and fast they came at last,

And more, and more, and more--

All hopping through the frothy waves,

And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

Walked on a mile or so,

And then they rested on a rock

Conveniently low:

And all the little Oysters stood

And waited in a row.

"The time has come," the Walrus said,

"To talk of many things:

Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--

Of cabbages--and kings--

And why the sea is boiling hot--

And whether pigs have wings."

"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,

"Before we have our chat;

For some of us are out of breath,

And all of us are fat!"

"No hurry!" said the Carpenter.

They thanked him much for that.

"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,

"Is what we chiefly need:

Pepper and vinegar besides

Are very good indeed--

Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,

We can begin to feed."

"But not on us!" the Oysters cried,

Turning a little blue.

"After such kindness, that would be

A dismal thing to do!"

"The night is fine," the Walrus said.

"Do you admire the view?

"It was so kind of you to come!

And you are very nice!"

The Carpenter said nothing but

"Cut us another slice:

I wish you were not quite so deaf--

I've had to ask you twice!"

"It seems a shame," the Walrus said,

"To play them such a trick,

After we've brought them out so far,

And made them trot so quick!"

The Carpenter said nothing but

"The butter's spread too thick!"

"I weep for you," the Walrus said:

"I deeply sympathize."

With sobs and tears he sorted out

Those of the largest size,

Holding his pocket-handkerchief

Before his streaming eyes.

"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,

"You've had a pleasant run!

Shall we be trotting home again?'

But answer came there none--

And this was scarcely odd, because

They'd eaten every one.

Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Traveller by Raymond Wilson

Old man, old man, sitting on the stile,

Your boots are worn, your clothes are torn,

Tell us why you smile.

Children, children, what silly things you are!

My boots are worn and my clothes are torn

Because I've walked so far.

Old man, old man, where have you walked from?

Your legs are bent and your breath is spent -

Which way did you come?

Children, children, when you're old and lame,

When your legs are bent and your breath is spent

You'll know the way I came.

Old man, old man, have you far to go

Without a friend to your journey's end,

And why are you so slow?

Children, children, I do the best I may:

I meet a friend at my journey's end

With whom you'll meet some day.

Old man, old man, sitting on the stile,

How do you know which way to go,

And why is it you smile?

Children, children, butter should be spread,

Floors should be swept and promises kept -

And you should be in bed!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Missed a few days.....

Virgin fucked up my Internet and TV and trying to get them to 'do' something has given me even more grey hairs!

Still to catch up, a quick poem.

The Hippopotamus by Hilaire Belloc

I shot the Hippopotamus with bullets made of platinum
Because if I used leaden ones, his hide is sure to flatten them.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Old Gumbie Cat

The Old Gumbie Cat
T S Eliot

I have a Gumbie Cat in mind, her name is Jennyanydots;
Her coat is of the tabby kind, with tiger stripes and leopard spots.
All day she sits upon the stair or on the steps or on the mat;
She sits and sits and sits and sits--and that's what makes a Gumbie Cat!

But when the day's hustle and bustle is done,
Then the Gumbie Cat's work is but hardly begun.
And when all the family's in bed and asleep,
She tucks up her skirts to the basement to creep.
She is deeply concerned with the ways of the mice
Their behaviour's not good and their manners not nice;
So when she has got them lined up on the matting,
She teachs them music, crocheting and tatting.

I have a Gumbie Cat in mind, her name is Jennyanydots;
Her equal would be hard to find, she likes the warm and sunny spots.
All day she sits beside the hearth or on the bed or on my hat:
She sits and sits and sits and sits--and that's what makes a Gumbie Cat!

But when the day's hustle and bustle is done,
Then the Gumbie Cat's work is but hardly begun.
As she finds that the mice will not ever keep quiet,
She is sure it is due to irregular diet;
And believing that nothing is done without trying,
She sets right to work with her baking and frying.
She makes them a mouse--cake of bread and dried peas,
And a beautiful fry of lean bacon and cheese.

I have a Gumbie Cat in mind, her name is Jennyanydots;
The curtain-cord she likes to wind, and tie it into sailor-knots.
She sits upon the window-sill, or anything that's smooth and flat:
She sits and sits and sits and sits--and that's what makes a Gumbie Cat!

But when the day's hustle and bustle is done,
Then the Gumbie Cat's work is but hardly begun.
She thinks that the cockroaches just need employment
To prevent them from idle and wanton destroyment.
So she's formed, from that lot of disorderly louts,
A troop of well-disciplined helpful boy-scouts,
With a purpose in life and a good deed to do
And she's even created a Beetles' Tattoo.

So for Old Gumbie Cats let us now give three cheers
On whom well-ordered households depend, it appears.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

So what is it I love about poetry?

Well I suppose it started as a child with seeing them as funny short stories that had a beat and a rhythm. Another dimension to story telling and as most of the poems I heard seemed to be funny at that age I have an association with feeling happy and poetry. I also liked the fact you could learn them quite easily and they were, therefore, always with you to help a moment pass or to amuse yourself and others.

As a teen I loved the ability to find emotions in them. To express my teenage angst and see that others suffered, as I believed, I did. You could rant at the injustice and tyranny of the adult word and vent all that pent frustration and longing.

As an adult all those aspects are still there. Some of my best memories of being a parent are linked to quiet times with J and a good book of silly or funny poem, sharing that joy, fun and hearing him start to have preferences and remembering the ones he liked. I am still drawn to emotive poems, poems that move and stir your soul, that make you feel. I don't wallow in them like I did as a teen but the memories they evoke are not all bad ones and it's good to laugh at the person I was as well. But mainly for me as an adult devotee of poetry it's the language and the rhythm of the words and the pictures in my mind that they paint. It is such a personal and emotional form that it is like touching the mind of the poet - even more so than other forms of literature. They are literary photographs - catching that moment, that feeling and that sense of self knowing.

A million Slags Dancing

Peel back the layers and watch the slags dancing

Invisible morals dripping like acid

Dissolving the filaments, the thread of society.

Tip up the bottle and down with knickers

Turning a trick in a pool of vomit

No pleasure, just action. Writhing in bile.

Slumped in a gutter - eyelids fluttering

Sticky and dripping with the seed of a stranger,

One shoe missing, the other in danger.

But the slags are still dancing around their handbags,

Faces are melting, hair has gone stringy,

Time of their lives, screams ‘Am I minging?’

Another bottle, another tune, another trick - over too quick.

Vile and degraded but shrieking with glee

‘I’ve had him and him. They’ve all had me!’

Needing to piss but too drunk to care

Chunks of kebab matted in hair.

But the slags are still dancing - it isn’t yet dawn

Squeeze out the last moments of riot and porn.

Who cares for tomorrow, our future, our live’s?

It’s all about now, all pleasure no pain.

Here is our future. What we have become

A million slags dancing and living for fun.
P.Lainchbury (1967 - )
I first posted this the day it was written with was 06/08/09 - I rarely post my poems but I've always kinda liked this one.

I love this poem so much!

King John’s Christmas

King John was not a good man –

He had his little ways.

And sometimes no one spoke to him

For days and days and days.

And men who came across him,

When walking in the town,

Gave him a supercilious stare,

Or passed with noses in the air –

And bad King John stood dumbly there,

Blushing beneath his crown.

King John was not a good man,

And no good friends had he.

He stayed in every afternoon…

But no one came to tea.

And, round about December,

The cards upon his shelf

Which wished him lots of Christmas cheer,

And fortune in the coming year,

Were never from his near and dear,

But only from himself.

King John was not a good man,

Yet had his hopes and fears.

They’d given him no present now

For years and years and years.

But every year at Christmas,

While minstrels stood about,

Collecting tribute from the young

For all the songs they might have sung,

He stole away upstairs and hung

A hopeful stocking out.

King John was not a good man,

He lived his live aloof;

Alone he thought a message out

While climbing up the roof.

He wrote it down and propped it

Against the chimney stack:


F. Christmas in particular.”

And signed it not “Johannes R.”

But very humbly, “Jack.”

“I want some crackers,

And I want some candy;

I think a box of chocolates

Would come in handy;

I don’t mind oranges,

I do like nuts!

And I SHOULD like a pocket-knife

That really cuts.

And, oh! Father Christmas, if you love me at all,

Bring me a big, red, india-rubber ball!”

King John was not a good man –

He wrote this message out,

And gat him to this room again,

Descending by the spout.

And all that night he lay there,

A prey to hopes and fears.

“I think that’s him a-coming now!”

(Anxiety bedewed his brow.)

“He’ll bring one present, anyhow –

The first I had for years.”

“Forget about the crackers,

And forget the candy;

I’m sure a box of chocolates

Would never come in handy;

I don’t like oranges,

I don’t want nuts,

And I HAVE got a pocket-knife

That almost cuts.

But, oh! Father Christmas, if you love me at all,

Bring me a big, red, india-rubber ball!”

King John was not a good man,

Next morning when the sun

Rose up to tell a waiting world

That Christmas had begun,

And people seized their stockings,

And opened them with glee,

And crackers, toys and games appeared,

And lips with sticky sweets were smeared,

King John said grimly: “As I feared,

Nothing again for me!”

“I did want crackers,

And I did want candy;

I know a box of chocolates

Would come in handy;

I do love oranges,

I did want nuts!

And, oh! if Father Christmas, had loved me at all,

He would have brought a big, red,

india-rubber ball!”

King John stood by the window,

And frowned to see below

The happy bands of boys and girls

All playing in the snow.

A while he stood there watching,

And envying them all …

When through the window big and red

There hurtled by his royal head,

And bounced and fell upon the bed,

An india-rubber ball!







A.A. Milne (1882-1956).

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Alan Rickman - sonnet 130

What better for the weekend Shakespeare's most romantic sonnet recited by with rich voice of Mr Rickman - enjoy!!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Books 41 - 45

Emma by Jane Austen
Format - audio book.

This is an old version audio book recorded in 1987 (the year I got married) and  the sound quality isn't brilliant but I love this version because it has the same feeling as a pair of comfy slippers. Victoria Morgan narrates it wonderfully (though her voice does make me sleepy) but she gets Miss Bates to a 'T' and for that alone it is wonderful, though her Mrs Elton is not to be sniffed at either. I put this on my iPod as I had some boring knitting to get through and it got me through it wonderfully.

Recipe for Love by Katie Fforde
Format - Kindle

Another winner from one of my most favourite authors. I couldn't put it down and was relieved when we had rain over Easter as I had the perfect excuse to sit on my butt and finish this delightful book. Can't wait for her next one!

The Hunger Games Trilogy - The Hunger Games, Catching Fire & Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
Format - Kindle.

Another set of books with a lot of hype and a film - not seen the film - but I do want to because I loved the books. Chair grippers all three of them. I could not put them down. Well written, good characters, great story and loads of action with even more tension. Excellent and great value for money on the Kindle!

A little more Wordsworth.

Another favourite Wordsworth poem - it really does illustrate why he is labelled a lyrical or romantice poet I think.

Anecdote For Fathers

I have a boy of five years old;

His face is fair and fresh to see;

His limbs are cast in beauty's mould,

And dearly he loves me.

One morn we strolled on our dry walk,

Our quiet home all full in view,

And held such intermitted talk

As we are wont to do.

My thoughts on former pleasures ran;

I thought of Kilve's delightful shore,

Our pleasant home when spring began,

A long, long year before.

A day it was when I could bear

Some fond regrets to entertain;

With so much happiness to spare,

I could not feel a pain.

The green earth echoed to the feet

Of lambs that bounded through the glade,

From shade to sunshine, and as fleet

From sunshine back to shade.

Birds warbled round me -- and each trace

of inward sadness had its charm;

Kilve, thought I, was a favored place,

And so is Liswyn farm.

My boy beside me tripped, so slim

And graceful in his rustic dress!

And, as we talked, I questioned him,

In very idleness.

“Now tell me, had you rather be,”

I said, and took him by the arm,

“On Kilve's smooth shore, by the green sea,

Or here at Liswyn farm?”

In careless mood he looked at me,

While still I held him by the arm,

And said, “At Kilve I'd rather be

Than here at Liswyn farm.”

“Now, little Edward, say why so:

My little Edward, tell me why.” --

“I cannot tell, I do not know.” --

“Why, this is strange,” said I;

“For, here are woods, hills smooth and warm:

There surely must some reason be

Why you would change sweet Liswyn farm

For Kilve by the green sea.”

At this, my boy hung down his head,

He blushed with shame, nor made reply;

And three times to the child I said,

“Why, Edward, tell me why?”

His head he raised -- there was in sight,

It caught his eye, he saw it plain --

Upon the house-top, glittering bright,

A broad and gilded vane.

Then did the boy his tongue unlock,

And eased his mind with this reply:

“At Kilve there was no weather-cock;

And that's the reason why.”

O dearest, dearest boy! my heart

For better lore would seldom yearn,

Could I but teach the hundredth part

Of what from thee I learn

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

J's favourite childhood poem.


Who ran away from his Nurse and was eaten by a Lion

There was a Boy whose name was Jim;

His Friends were very good to him.

They gave him Tea, and Cakes, and Jam,

And slices of delicious Ham,

And Chocolate with pink inside

And little Tricycles to ride,

And read him Stories through and through,

And even took him to the Zoo--

But there it was the dreadful Fate

Befell him, which I now relate.

You know--or at least you ought to know,

For I have often told you so--

That Children never are allowed

To leave their Nurses in a Crowd;

Now this was Jim's especial Foible,

He ran away when he was able,

And on this inauspicious day

He slipped his hand and ran away!

He hadn't gone a yard when--Bang!

With open Jaws, a lion sprang,

And hungrily began to eat

The Boy: beginning at his feet.

Now, just imagine how it feels

When first your toes and then your heels,

And then by gradual degrees,

Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,

Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.

No wonder Jim detested it!

No wonder that he shouted ``Hi!''

The Honest Keeper heard his cry,

Though very fat he almost ran

To help the little gentleman.

``Ponto!'' he ordered as he came

(For Ponto was the Lion's name),

``Ponto!'' he cried, with angry Frown,

``Let go, Sir! Down, Sir! Put it down!''

The Lion made a sudden stop,

He let the Dainty Morsel drop,

And slunk reluctant to his Cage,

Snarling with Disappointed Rage.

But when he bent him over Jim,

The Honest Keeper's Eyes were dim.

The Lion having reached his Head,

The Miserable Boy was dead!

When Nurse informed his Parents, they

Were more Concerned than I can say:--

His Mother, as She dried her eyes,

Said, ``Well--it gives me no surprise,

He would not do as he was told!''

His Father, who was self-controlled,

Bade all the children round attend

To James's miserable end,

And always keep a-hold of Nurse

For fear of finding something worse.

Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)

The book that I used to read from to J - is my childhood copy - it's rather battered and tatty but I still love it and the poems - a couple of which I can still know of by heart.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Leech Gatherer

or, Resolution and Independence

There was a roaring in the wind all night;

The rain came heavily and fell in floods;

But now the sun is rising calm and bright;

The birds are singing in the distant woods;

Over his own sweet voice the Stock-dove broods;

The Jay makes answer as the Magpie chatters;

And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.

All things that love the sun are out of doors;

The sky rejoices in the morning's birth;

The grass is bright with rain-drops; -on the moors

The Hare is running races in her mirth;

And with her feet she from the plashy earth

Raises a mist; that, glittering in the sun,

Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.

I was a traveller then upon the moor;

I saw the Hare that raced about with joy;

I heard the woods and distant waters roar;

Or heard them not, as happy as a boy:

The pleasant season did my heart employ:

My old remembrances went from me wholly;

And all the ways of men, so vain and melancholy!

But, as it sometimes chanceth, from the might

Of joy in minds that can no further go,

As high as we have mounted in delight

In our dejection do we sink as low,

To me that morning did it happen so;

And fears and fancies thick upon me came;

Dim sadness -and blind thoughts, I knew not, nor could name.

I heard the Skylark warbling in the sky;

And I bethought me of the playful Hare:

Even such a happy Child of earth am I;

Even as these blissful creatures do I fare;

Far from the world I walk, and from all care;

But there may come another day to me -

Solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty.

My whole life I have lived in pleasant thought,

As if life's business were a summer mood:

As if all needful things would come unsought

To genial faith, still rich in genial good:

But how can He expect that others should

Build for him, sow for him, and at his call

Love him, who for himself will take no heed at all?

I thought of Chatterton, the marvellous Boy,

The sleepless Soul that perished in his pride;

Of Him who walked in glory and in joy

Following his plough, along the mountain-side:

By our own spirits are we deified;

We Poets in our youth begin in gladness;

But thereof comes in the end despondency and madness.

Now, whether it were by peculiar grace,

A leading from above, a something given,

Yet it befell that, in this lonely place,

When I with these untoward thoughts had striven,

Beside a pool bare to the eye of heaven

I saw a Man before me unawares:

The oldest man he seemed that ever wore grey hairs.

As a huge Stone is sometimes seen to lie

Couched on the bald top of an eminence;

Wonder to all who do the same espy,

By what means it could thither come, and whence;

So that it seems a thing endued with sense:

Like a Sea-beast crawled forth, that on a shelf

Of rock or sand reposeth, there to sun itself;

Such seemed this Man, not all alive nor dead,

Nor all asleep -in his extreme old age:

His body was bent double, feet and head

Coming together in life's pilgrimage;

As if some dire constraint of pain, or rage

Of sickness felt by him in times long past,

A more than human weight upon his frame had cast.

Himself he propped, his body, limbs, and face,

Upon a long grey Staff of shaven wood:

And, still as I drew near with gentle pace,

Upon the margin of that moorish flood

Motionless as a Cloud the Old-man stood;

That heareth not the loud winds when they call;

And moveth all together, if it move at all.

At length, himself unsettling, he the Pond

Stirred with his Staff, and fixedly did look

Upon the muddy water, which he conned,

As if he had been reading in a book:

And now a stranger's privilege I took;

And, drawing to his side, to him did say,

"This morning gives us promise of a glorious day."

A gentle answer did the Old-man make,

In courteous speech which forth he slowly drew:

And him with further words I thus bespake,

"What occupation do you there pursue?

This is a lonesome place for one like you."

He answered, while a flash of mild surprise

Broke from the sable orbs of his yet vivid eyes.

His words came feebly, from a feeble chest,

But each in solemn order followed each,

With something of a lofty utterance drest -

Choice word and measured phrase, above the reach

Of ordinary men; a stately speech;

Such as grave livers do in Scotland use,

Religious men, who give to God and Man their dues.

He told, that to these waters he had come

To gather Leeches, being old and poor:

Employment hazardous and wearisome!

And he had many hardships to endure;

From pond to pond he roamed, form moor to moor;

Housing, with God's good help, by choice or chance;

And in this way he gained and honest maintenance.

The Old-man still stood talking by my side;

But now his voice to me was like a stream

Scarce heard; nor word from word could I divide;

And the whole Body of the Man did seem

Like one whom I had met with in a dream;

Or like a man from some far region sent,

To give me human strength, by apt admonishment.

My former thoughts returned: the fear that kills;

And hope that is unwilling to be fed;

Cold, pain, and labour, and all fleshly ills;

And mighty Poets in their misery dead.

- Perplexed, and longing to be comforted,

My question eagerly did I renew,

"How is it that you live, and what is it you do?"

He with a smile did then his words repeat;

And said that, gathering Leeches, far and wide

He travelled; stirring thus about his feet

The waters of the Pools where they abide.

"Once I could meet with them on every side;

But they have dwindled long by slow decay;

Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may."

While he was talking thus, the lonely place,

The Old-man's shape, and speech, all troubled me:

In my mind's eye I seemed to see him pace

About the weary moors continually,

Wandering about alone and silently.

While I these thoughts within myself pursued,

He, having made a pause, the same discourse renewed.

And soon with this he other matter blended,

Cheerfully uttered, with demeanour kind,

But stately in the main; and when he ended,

I could have laughed myself to scorn to find

In that decrepit Man so firm a mind.

"God," said I, "be my help and stay secure;

I'll think of the Leech-gatherer on the lonely moor!"
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
I like Wordsworth - maybe not some of his more famous poems - but some of the lesser read ones. I read this one as part of an OU literature course and it was the first time I'd ever seen it. I loved it the first time I read it and it has now become a firm favourite.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Stone of Life

At Christmas 1980 my Ma gave me a little book in my stocking called 'The Stone of Life and other poems' by a young girl called Kim Williams.

In 1980 I was 13 coming up for 14 and I liked poetry but not that much really - this book changed that. Because Kim Williams stopped writing her poetry when she was 15 - the last batch of poems in the book were written when she was that age. What stopped her poetry and her talent was cancer. The proceeds from the little book all went to charity and her words inspired me, as teen, I'm sure like many others, I used poetry as an outlet of angst and frustration - I still have a folder of my teen poems somewhere - they are pretty abysmal. The book has stayed with me, moved with me and last year when I rescued some novels from the attic I found it again and re-read. I see her words differently as a adult, yes there are angry poems but some of them show that she had a joy in her life - all the way through - she was mature beyond her years.

The Stone of Life

I saw a gleam at the dead of night.
It shone out clear,
Awoke the woodlarks,
Stirred the deer,
It shone on all, bringing life and death,
The stone of life.

Kim Williams written in 1977 age 14 (1963-1978)

Monday, April 09, 2012


This is the weather the cuckoo likes,
And so do I;
When showers betumble the chestnut spikes,
And nestlings fly:
And the little brown nightingale bills his best,
And they sit outside at 'The Traveller's Rest',
And maids come forth sprig-muslin drest,
And citizens dream of the south and west,
And so do I.

This is the weather the shepherd shuns,
And so do I;
When beeches drip in brown and duns,
And thresh, and ply;
And hill-hid tides throb, throe on throe,
And meadow rivulets overflow,
And drops on gate-bars hang in a row,
And rooks in families homeward go,
And so do I.

Thomas Hardy (1840-1926)

Perfect for a weathery sort of bank holiday Monday - today is a day 'the shepherd shuns' down here by the seaside.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

A poem and its reply!

To a fat lady seen from the train.

Oh why do you walk through the field in gloves,
Missing so much and so much?
O fat white women who nobody loves,
Why do you walk through the field in gloves,
When the grass is as soft as the breast of doves
And shivering sweet to the touch?
O why do you walk through the field in gloves,
Missing so much and so much?

Frances Cornford (1886-1960)

I couldn't begin to tell you why I like this poem - it is one I read/heard somewhere and it got lodged in my head and never left. I think it is something to do with the visual the poem draws.

A little while ago I found G.K. Chesterton's reply to the poem - which I hadn't seen before and to me it adds another wonderful level to the whole thing - they have (IMHO) to be read as a pair.


Why do you rush through the field in trains,
Guessing so much and so much?
Why do you flash through the flowery meads,
Fat-head poet that nobody reads;
And why do you know such a frightful lot
About people in gloves as such?
And how the devil can you be sure,
Guessing so much and so much,
How do you know but what someone who loves
Always to see me in nice white gloves
At the end of the field you are rushing by,
Is waiting for his Old Dutch?

G. K. Chesterton. 1874 - 1936

Saturday, April 07, 2012

A sonnet.

A favourite sonnet, I used to read this to J when he was little and he still remembers it.


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert.....Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, Ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

Friday, April 06, 2012

A favourite poem

 I've missed out one topic - a poem for a funeral. I've had to hear far too many of them in my life and the ones that mean something to me are far too emotive to post. So, I've skipped to a favourite poem - not my all time favourite of all time - but one that endures and I have never tired off it. It's not an epic and it's not that deep and meaningful but I love it.

When We Two Parted

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken hearted,
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning
Sunk chill on my brow -
It felt like a warning
Of what I feel now.
The vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame;
I hear thy name spoken
And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,
A knell to mine ear;
A shudder comes o'er me-
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee to well:-
Long, long shall I rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met-
In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee? -
With silence and tears.

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824)

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Best romantic poem

Conviction (iv)

I like to get off with people,
I like to lie in their arms
I like to be held and lightly kissed,
Safe from all alarms.

I like to laugh and be happy
With a beautiful kiss
I tell you, in all the world
There is no bliss like this.

Stevie Smith (1902 - 71).

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

A Moment

Some poems just work for you -this is one that works for me;

A Moment

The clouds had made a crimson crown
Above the mountains high.
The stormy sun was going down
In a stormy sky.

Why did you let your eyes so rest on me,
And hold the breath between?
In all the ages this can never be
As if it had not been.

Mary Elizabeth Coleridge (1861-1907)

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

What is the best poem to read......

when you are sad?

Well that will depend on the sadness itself and how you feel about it. Is it a sadness that needs solace or comfort? Do you need to read words that show others have felt this and understand exactly what you are feeling? Is it the kind of sadness you want to wallow in and to indulge that sense of melancholy? Or is the sadness that needs laughter to lift you out of it?

I have to say that I rarely read poetry when I am sad I am much more likely to turn to music to soothe or uplift.

I asked the boys what they thought and they both said they would read Spike Milligan to cheer themselves up so I went with that as I have no answer myself;

On The Ning Nang Nong

On the Ning Nang Nong
Where the Cows go bong!
And the Monkeys all say Boo!
There's a Nong Nang Ning
Where the trees go Ping!
And the tea pots Jibber Jabber-Joo.
On the Nong Ning Nang
All the mice go Clang!
And you just can't catch 'em when they do!
So it's Ning Nang Nong!
Cows go Bong!
Nong Nang Ning!
Trees go Ping!
Nong Ning Nang!
The mice go Clang!
What a noisy place to belong,
Is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Nablopomo April - poetry!

Golly gosh bish bosh - forgot that I had signed up for this *spanks own bottom soundly* very remiss of me cos I missed yesterdays post completely.

Will play catch up now.

I love poetry. Whether reading it in my head, reading it out loud or having it read to me. It never fails to paint pictures in my head, inspire and delight me. Today's prompt for a topic is 'The First Poem You Ever Memorised'.

That is simple because it is a children's poem. My older sister had the A.A. Milne poetry books 'When We Were Young' and 'Now We Are Six' and she would quite often read them to me and she also would tell me her favourites from memory and I memorised them along with her. They stay with you when you learn them like that. I have passed this love of these childhood poems onto J and spent many rainy afternoons with him when he was little reading them to him. Anyway, I digress, the first poem I learnt was........

Daffodowndilly by A.A. Milne.

She wore a yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
"Winter is dead."

The only reason I had to look this up was to check the punctuation - still know it word perfect!

Books 38-40

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
Format - Kindle

Lots of hype about this with the film coming out - and it is another one of those books but I probably would not  read but someone recommended it and the synopsis sounded interesting so what the hell.

Glad I did -loved it. Couldn't put it down. Have the two follow-ups on my wish list (J has offered to buy me the next one for Easter - hurrah!). Worth reading - fast paced, clever and compelling. I quite often think that literature aimed for a young adult or teen market is better than adult lit.

The Boleyn Inheritance - by Phillipa Gregory
Format - book.

A friend of Ma's lent this to me I returned it before photographing the cover. I have read quite a few books by this author and I do have to be in the mood for her writing. I whizzed through this and I enjoyed it. Most of the enjoyment comes from my interest and fascination with the Tudors and I know this is mainly fiction wrapped around a few facts but it is still an interesting read .

The Six Wives of Henry VIII (Women in History) By Antonia Fraser
Format - book

No photo as it has gone back in the attic! This is a re-read. I decided after reading fiction for the time period to then read facts. This is good - though I do prefer Alison Weir and David Starkey's versions (I can't find my David Starkey one - must have lent it to someone) - that said I did enjoy reading this again as it has been a while. It has re fired my interest in the time period and I expect to be reading a few more similar to this in the not too distant future!