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From time to time one's mind waxes poetical. Whilst my endeavours in this direction are not of earth-shattering significance or of supreme linguistic greatness, I nevertheless felt it would be nice to share with you some of these modest poetic flashes of inspiration as they come! You can, of course, be the arbiter of their quality, perhaps comparing them with your own poetic creations!
The following are a few of my modest poetic renditions of what I have seen in the world about me! You'll find some of them on my other web pages. Enjoy these verses if you can, or else drop me an electronic line suggesting how they might be improved!
As mentioned, I do not aspire to poetic greatness. It's one thing to make lines rhyme, but it's quite another to develop the appropriate metre, otherwise termed as "trying to achieve the correct emphasis on each syllable in a line". In Latin poetry, metre was everything, since word endings would rhyme anyway; in other words, rhyming in Latin poetry was no great shakes. So anyway, here's my poetic disclaimer!
I hope you are not averse
to a bit of playful verse,
for you my visitor I poetically greet
if my experiences you wish to meet.
Some might think that I'm a poet,
perhaps one who doesn't really know it,
but while my rhyming may be steady,
my metre's mostly rough and ready!
Here I touch the human themes of birth, with its innocence, and of advancing age, as many of us begin to take life more gently and as we grow wiser with regard to the world about us.
The first-born of one of my neighbour's daughters was a girl, and, what's more, she was born (in 2013) on the same day as yours truly. To celebrate this happy coincidence, I felt a poem was very much in order, and I'm glad to say that it pleased the happy parents!
Let us the banners unfurl!
To you is born a girl!
May she have a long and happy life,
free of woes, and free of strife!
And soon she’ll have a name,
which you’ll to the world proclaim.
Then it’s some more years of love and care,
Your first born for the world to prepare.
And when your child too becomes a wife,
you’ll have given her a splendid start in life.
She’ll say, “Mum and Dad, I love you so.
You helped me into a happy girl to grow!”
Some of us, especially when we are of a young and tender age, think we can only be content if we can do all and everything. As time goes by, realism often creeps in, and we are able to set our sights at a more modest level. We start to appreciate the achievable in life.
How steadily advance life's years,
filled with joys and filled with tears!
In youth, all 'tis new and full of fun.
We can do everything under the sun!
As time goes by, the wiser we,
as more of the world we can see.
Reflection is more at centre stage
as we move towards our greater age.
We ask what life to us has brought.
We ask what we of life have wrought.
Lesser aims now give us pleasure,
these to savour in no short measure.
(Written: 20th August 2015)
Swallows, like nature's creatures in general, are interested in staying alive. They will thus try and follow their food sources - in their case, insects. Good weather, with its high pressure, means rising warm air, and so the insects are bourne aloft in what they (the insects) regard, because of their small size, as a very sticky and viscous medium. In bad weather, with its low pressure, the insects sink closer to the ground. This, anyway, appears to be the explanation for the "forecasting ability" of swallows.
Swallows fly high,
sun's in sky;
and clouds goodbye,
Swallows fly low,
winds do blow;
storm clouds grow,
and rain do sow.
Here we think of the mythical bird that exhibits great endurance, flying in a straight line across the earth from point A to point B on the surface of the earth. Of course, the straight line, if we regard the shape of the earth as spherical, is actually a trajectory along part of the circumference of a great circle passing through these points A and B on the earth's surface.
Cornix Hypothetica, our hypothetical crow,
isn't any old bird, as we should know.
Cornix Hypothetica, many miles you'll fly,
drawing our "straight lines", in the sky.
Salt's Mill, in Saltaire, to the west of Bradford, was, in mid-Victorian times, the largest factory in the world, producing cloth, and more cloth. The buildings now constitute a World Heritage site, and house a number of businesses, restaurants and exhibitions. Among the exhibitions is a gallery of the pictures by David Hockney, the local, Bradford-born artist.
Now painter David Hockney
is certainly no Cockney.
For he is Bradford born you know,
with pictures in Salt's Mill on show.
Now painter David Hockney
is certainly no Cockney.
For he is Bradford born,
his pictures Salt's Mill adorn.
This heritage line of about 5 miles, starts in Keighley, and wends its way up the verdant Worth Valley and then follows the Bridgehouse Beck to the terminus at Oxenhope. The railway was opened in 1867, with the intention of bringing coal to power the numerous cloth mills that dotted the area, and of course, of taking the cloth products from those mills to the outside world. The line suffered the Beeching axe in 1962, and it was the efforts of locals - including the late Bob Cryer MP - together with railway enthusiasts, that enabled the line to reopen in 1968, just over a century after it first opened. The 1970 version of "Railway Children" was filmed here and helped to publicise the line to a wider national and international audience.
It was the railway's goal
to bring the mills their coal
and take to the world outside
all the cloth the mills provide.
When the mills met their doom,
for the railway, there was no room,
until its rebirth was announced
and Beeching well and truly trounced!
The Kent & East Sussex Railway (K&ESR) was built to a budget by the indefatigable Colonel Holman Stephens. Tenterden in the Weald of Kent had not been reached by any of the main railway companies, and the K&ESR was built to rectify this omission. The K&ESR was opened in 1900 from Robertsbridge, on the main line to Hastings, to Rolvenden on the outskirts of Tenterden; in 1903 it was extended a little further to Tenterden Town itself. It was extended again in 1905 to Headcorn on the main line to Ashford. The K&ESR was closed to passengers in 1954 and freight in 1961. In 1973, enthusiasts took over the section from Tenterden to Bodiam. The section between Bodiam and Robertsbridge is in the domain of the Rother Valley Railway who are actively pursuing the goal of providing the missing link between the K&ESR and the Hastings line. The completion of this link - hopefully in the next few years - is expected to enhance enormously the tourist potential of this Sussex-Kent border area.
The Kent and East Sussex is a railway called "light",
built on a budget ever so tight.
It does through the Weald so proudly wend,
its tracks making many a sharp bend.
It's built by Colonel Stephens's enterprising hand,
like a number of small railways in the land.
The main lines said "Tenterden is really off-course",
and left it to the Colonel to bring the iron horse.
In the Fifties, when the car was the "thing",
it was thought the railway had had its last fling.
In the Seventies, enthusiasts came along
and started to sing the reopening song!
Now 'tween Tenterden and Bodiam the visitor rides,
seeing the delights Rother's Valley provides.
Also from Robertsbridge to Bodiam you might soon steam,
for this useful link now's more than just a pipe dream.
'Twas good walking weather this Saturday -
just right to complete the St Peter's Way.
At noon, from Bradwell's centre our feet did tread
to St Peter's, the ancient chapel of Saint Cedd.
Then to the sea wall and wide open spaces,
with sun and fresh sea air in our faces.
After traversing Dengie's green and fertile land,
a light refreshment in old Tillingham was just grand.
And so to our journey's high point we did advance,
and 'twas the distant Blackwater our eyes could glance.
Southwards now, off St Peter's beaten track,
and on to Southminster for our journey back.
This Saturday 'twas to Godalming we went,
and to us fine walking weather was sent.
Out past Godalming's old water mill
our steps then advanced straight uphill.
We saw Bargate Stone was once quarried here,
much prized for local houses, it did appear.
Then through Tuesley and past Milford Station,
with Witley's "Star" our lunchtime destination.
Suitably refreshed we marched past Enton Mill,
ready for Hydon's Ball - that historic hill.
To Hindhead and further our eyes could verily see.
and all around the landscape was in its Summer glee.
Back to Godalming we then made our descent.
Via the High Street and the Pepper Pot we went.
After a good day we no longer roam,
for now's the time we journey home.
At Maidenhead's station we all do meet,
and after the town, it's the Thames we greet.
For it's to Marlow from Maidenhead
that today our eager feet shall tread.
Along the river's green and sunny banks
past Cliveden's scene of erstwhile pranks.
Then we make a sharp west turn,
and about Cookham's history we do learn.
Sir Stanley Spencer's Gallery "downtown" we find,
and see what went through his artistic mind.
Nearby, the church from the Norman and the Middle ages
filled with monuments to dignitaries and local sages.
And so riverside it's to the popular "Bounty",
filled with day-trippers from every local county.
And when we've had our lunchtime fill,
we can make our climb to Winter Hill.
Into the far distance we now can gaze,
and indeed our very eyes we can amaze.
Then more ups and downs in the afternoon sun,
until to Cookham Dean's war memorial we do come.
Just before, in Dial Close, Kenneth Grahame did dwell
and wrote "Wind in the Willows", which we know so well.
And now to Cookham Dean Common our path does lead,
from whose top, distant Surrey hills our eyes do feed.
Our steps then take us down off the wooded ridge,
to enter Marlow via its famous suspension bridge.
For some it's still time for beer or tea
to end a day with whose success we all agree.
In the evening, the "Marlow Donkey" we take,
so that we can our homeward journeys make.
This Sunday to Wendover we went,
and t'was time most well spent.
Part of the Grand Union Canal we explored
and the late Spring countryside we adored.
It was a colourful bridge that we saw,
A nice tribute to Rothschilds of yore.
Past a remote airfield we then walked
and of the RAF and gliders we talked.
And so to Aston Clinton's "The Bell",
where we of a nice lunch all could tell.
In the afternoon up Aston Hill we did progress,
scene of Aston Martin's motoring success.
Wendover Woods were next on our way,
with nice Chiltern views on display.
In Wendover it's time for tea and cake,
ere we our homeward journeys make.
I hope you gained some pleasure from what you saw on this page. Perhaps you can regard this as a challenge to wax poetical yourself. I'm sure that you can better my modest efforts!