Tag Archives: literature

March 2017

So I was going to try for at least one post a month …….

A windy day today, 14th March, but mild and bright.  Frogs are very busy in the ponds today so I thought I’d post a little poem, one of the very first I attempted (I’m a late starter where poetry’s concerned).  It had been a very hard winter and the pond had been frozen for many days.  We counted over 20 dead frogs – but some survived and lived to breed again.

Renewal

The dormant pond lies white and thick with frost
so frogs below must dwell in mud and wait.
The ice-trapped air has spread its poison breath
and ghostly glass-blurred corpses float beneath

I place the bodies in their earthy grave.
The pond, as black as mountain lochans, lies
unchanged until the robin builds his nest
when jewelled spawn and hope returns once more.

 

Frozen pond 6 January 2011

 

 

If I Should Die ….*

In this week of remembrances,  it seemed appropriate that I should dedicate this post to my great-uncle, my grandmother’s youngest brother.   He was born in 1892 in Royston, Hertfordshire, the youngest son of William and Eliza Andrews.  I first saw his name, when I was very young, on the enormous bronze ‘penny’ with Britannia and the Lion and his name etched at the side, Sidney George Andrews.  He enlisted in the First Hertfordshire Regiment aged 19 years and 8 months in 1911. This was a territorial section and he continued working as a blacksmith until 6 November 1914 when his regiment was conscripted and landed at Le Havre.   With no respite he fought in France until his death on 2nd August 1917 following the devastating battle at St Julien, near Ypres.  For anyone interested in the history of the Hertfordshire Regiment there is a very poignant and interesting website here.

He was awarded the Victoria,  British and Star Medals, sometimes referred to as ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’.   The Star was awarded in 1914 so he must have taken part in the First Battle of Ypres.

This young man and many thousands like him changed the course of history and we are as we are today because of them.

* from the poem The Soldier by Rupert Brooke (1887-1915)

 

Sidney George Andrews 1892-1917

 

I wrote the sonnet below following a day school I attended at Craiglockhart and it seems fitting to quote it here.

Time Warp at Craiglockhart

Stride to the bolted door, towards the light;
find your way to the space that’s forbidden.
Make a left, a right, follow the crow’s flight,
keep safe some coppers for the ferryman;
beyond the glass sits the domed survivor,
temple white, stark against the black steel
pagoda lamps. Time to pay the silver,
climb the helical stairs, turn the wheel.
But first retrace your steps, past the quiet
rows of books which wait for sleeping poets
to rise from marble tombs, penning sonnets
about bugles and bigots with bullets.
If you think silvered metal slats dictate
the end of time – let’s negotiate.

Craiglockhart is now a university campus but it was used as a hospital for shell-shocked soldiers during the First World War. It was where Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen met and wrote.

P1050342

January Project

This week I have to consider two poems and comment on the way the two poets represent their monsters.

Jabberwocky

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

‘Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!’

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought –
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
and burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

‘And hast though slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
A frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome rathes outgrabe.

Lewis Carroll

The Kraken

Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumber’d and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Faber Book of Beasts, edited by Paul Muldoon