AS THE YEAR ENDS

 

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Pexels.com

Dark the swollen river runs
Under the bridge’s shades of grey.
Slate sky condemns the passive scene
Draining colour from the day.

Tree silhouettes outline my view
Their winter ribs bared to the frost
December bids the old year gone
With no regrets for what is lost. 

The year expires; bid it goodbye, 
It brought distress, re-kindled fears,
It promised much it failed to give,
Left little hope and many tears.

So now, in hope of better times,
Tomorrow holds the future’s key.
New perspectives flood my view
Blue skies as far as I can see.

LIFE FORCE – ONE

LIFE  FORCE – ONE

When shadow turns to substance 
In the still of morning’s birth, 
Then once again I wonder 
How much my life is worth.

 Have I in the scheme of things 
At last outlived my time?
I want to last a fair span yet,
To hope is not a crime.

 I long to do a thousand things 
I’ve not had time to do, 
But is that just a selfish wish 
I’m not entitled to?

 So many of my friends have gone,
Lives past while mine’s still here. 
Do I deserve more time on earth, 
Or is my ending near?

 Such morbid thoughts occur to me 
More frequently each day. 
I rush to pack more living in, 
No halt, pause or delay.

 Despite the limits on my life 
My time is filled with actions. 
Yet still my mind frets at the thought 
Of those un-lived attractions.

 Why am I selfishly intent 
On hurtling to nirvana, 
Grasping at each passing chance 
More enhanced life to garner?

 I could so quietly subside 
Into a life of ease; 
No rush, no great exigency 
My daemons to appease.

 Yet I am not content like that, 
I must remain on course, 
To stay with, in the time I’m left,
This imperative life force.


The two photographs were taken by me in London’s Roman Amphitheatre, which can be found in its restored state in the basement of the City of London Guildhall.

These Roman remains, thought to date to the 1st Century AD,  were discovered when the Guildhall Art Gallery was being re-developed in 1985.  The original structure could house over 7,000 spectators seated on tiered wooden benches in what would then have been the open air, where they watched the execution of criminals as well as fights, usually to the death, between wild animals and gladiators.

More can be discovered about these little-known remains of the Roman Londinium on the City of London website at:

London’s Roman Amphitheatre


 

MY CHRISTMAS GHOSTS

MY CHRISTMAS GHOSTS

… Three Christmas Senryu …

They live on in dreams
Friends who once enriched my life 
Ghosts of Christmas Past

Ghosts of Christmas Now
Fill my days and haunt my nights
Bring both joy and fear

Loves I’ll leave behind
Ghosts of Christmas Yet To Come
They are my future

Senryū

Form of poetry

Description

Senryū is a Japanese form of short poetry similar to haiku in construction: three lines with 17 morae. Senryū tend to be about human foibles while haiku tend to be about nature, and senryū are often cynical or darkly humorous while haiku are more serious. Wikipedia

BUILDING BRIDGES

'Packhorse Bridge - Stokesley,Yorkshire - Bas Relief wood carving

Aiding Access
Tying Terrains
Serving States
Linking Lovers 

Binding Borders
Attaching Allies  

Heralding Heroes
Binding Believers
Enabling Escapees
Nurturing Nations
Trading Trackways
Creating Comrades
Mending Marriages
Merging Merchants
Following Frontiers
Uniting Unbelievers
Creating Conquerors
Delivering Destinies
Allowing Assemblies 

Nourishing Networks
Connecting Countries
Exacerbating Enemies
Empowering Explorers
Engineering Encounters 

Inculcating Interrelations 
Combining Confederations
Constructing Concordances
Regenerating Relationships
Perpetuating Possessiveness

Perpetuating Possessiveness

 

. . .   &, OF COURSE, … REKINDLING  RELATIONSHIPS !!!

The two pictures are of ‘the ancient Packhorse Bridge, in Stokesley, N’Yorkshire, England – the first a bas relief wood carving, the second a recent photograph.

The Grey Lady of Hampton Court

At Hampton Court Palace
One grey Autumn day,
Whilst strolling alone
I wandered astray,
Discovered this phantom,
Too shy to display.

Shroud for a lady, 
Hide her away. 
No one must see her
Lest somebody say,
She’s only a failure, 
She’s long had her day.

But now she is hidden 
And no one can see,
Then no one will question 
Just who she might be. 
They’ll just go on thinking
Perhaps she’s a he.

The fact she is ghostly, 
Clothed in a Shroud, 
Might give them a hint
That she’s not been allowed 
To be seen out in public, 
Detached from the crowd.

For in summer when tickets 
Are hard to come by,
That’s when they’ll release her 
Sustaining the lie.
Produce her in costume 
When darkness is nigh.

The Lady in Grey
As a spirit will glide,
 Patrol the Long Gallery,
Make-up applied,
Intent upon haunting –
A Queen mortified.

So that’s it for the winter, 
Don’t leave her on show.
Come wind and come tempest, 
Come rain or come snow, 
This tourist attraction’s 
The best that I know.

That rival in Scotland,
The fishy old coward,
In a straight contest, 
Its legacy soured,
It cannot compare 
With our Catherine Howard.

Evening In The Churchyard

The Churchyard – Evening’ . . . WHB – Pen & Wash: 2021

The world does not die as the light fades

it does not sleep as the quick do.

It lives on in darkness

in the breath of the wind

in the sigh of the trees

and as the crows retire to their trees

and the dead decay in their coffins

the unquiet world moves on.

New generations are born

and in their tortured births

grow the seeds of their destiny.

The mole-turned turf

and the tumbled stones of hallowed ground

adding another tilt to their

melted and moulded memorials

while hope continues to rebuff despondency.

We look on in the twilight

coffin-cold visions countered

by the promise of another day

to follow the fading light.

ART by the SEA

I include below images of just a few of my pen and watercolour sketches of a variety of waterfront scenes in different parts of Europe to which I have travelled.  Click on any one to view a slide show of all the images and locations in larger format . . .

“YOU HAVE A VISITOR”

Winter Trees 1 – WHB … Pen – 1988

YOU HAVE A VISITOR

“You have a visitor”

 “… Have I ? …”

 “Hello!  How are you?”

Me?
To see me.
Who?
I know him . . .
Not …? … I think so
You?
Who are you?
Do I know you?
Should I know you?

“… Oh … Yes … Hello! …” 

Familiar …
and he knows
who I am.
 … Who I am
… Who am I?

‘I’m not at home, you know.’

Not at my home.
In a Home
On my own.
At home.

“Are you happy here?’

I used to know,
I think,
what happiness was …
Now? …
It’s not important
… Is it?

“ … Yes …”

Nod …
Shake my head.  

“Do they feed you well?”

Do they?
Sometimes …
I think

“… Yes …”

“Isn’t the weather lovely?”

I like the sun.
When it shines.
… and the rain.
… Not the wind. 

“… Windy …
It’s very windy …”

“Do you sit outside sometimes?”

I think so.
I don’t know
It’s nice.

 “Yes . It is very windy”

“ … The leaves are moving …”

It’s not my day
It was my day
…  Once.
It’s not my day.
Yesterday was my day.
…  Once.
 When I was a child.
But I am a child.
Aren’t I?

“Do they provide entertainment for you?”

“… Sometimes …”

‘Are they looking after you?’

They help me.
She helps me
Who is she?
She wants to help me.
I don’t want help
But I need help
Don’t I?

When I’m wet
My chair’s wet
I need help
Take me away.
Let me be
Help me

“… Oh, Yes …
… The leaves are moving …”

“Oh, look, it’s tea time”

My time
They’ll help me eat
Something else to do.
… To do something
To be me…

But not here.
I’m all right here
I’m happy here
… Am I?
For now …  Yes

 “… Is it ?…
… I do like tea …”

“… When can I go home?…”

“You are at home

 “. . . Am I? …”

 “I’ll come again  …  soon”

 “… Thank you”

#     #     #

 Perhaps next week?

 We are not dead
Neither are we alive

Only react
Never initiate
Only react

 We …
mechanisms,
contraptions

Feel
But
No sense –
That’s nonsense

Only Pain brings relief
from not being alive

#     #     # 

Winter Trees 2 – WHB … ink – 1988

The above is a recounting, to the best of my memory, of the conversation during a visit I paid a few years ago now, to a dear old friend who had, for several months, been living in a nursing home.

The Lyke Wake Dirge

Aysgarth Church at dusk – Pen & Ink . . . WHB – 1981

The Lyke Wake Walk is a 40 mile walk which crosses the most extensive area of heather moorland in England – in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park.  When the walk was first instituted in the mid 20th Century the challenge was given to complete it within 24 hours.  Many walkers still attempt this.

Although the walk itself is a relatively modern event, the Like Wake itself originated as a funeral chant in the 14th Century in and around Cleveland on and around the northern scarp slope of these moors.  The Dirge as it was known, was normally sung during the traditional watch (wake) at the side of the corpse (lyke).  Known now as the Lyke Wake Dirge,  it is said to be one of the earliest still extant, dialect poems.

John Aubrey wrote in his diaries in 1686 “The beliefe in Yorkshire was amongst the vulgar (perhaps is in part still) that after the person’s death the soule went over Whinny-Moore, and till about 1616-24 at the funerale a woman came and sang the following song.”

Lyke Wake Dirge

This ae neet, this ae neet,
Every neet and all,
Fire an’ fleet an’ candleleet,
And Christ receive thy saul.

If thou from here our wake has passed,
Every neet and all,
To Whinny Moor thou comes at last,
And Christ receive thy saul.

And if ever thou gavest hosen or shoen,
Every neet and all,
Then sit ye down and put them on,
And Christ receive thy saul.

But if hosen or shoen thou ne’er gavest nane,
Every neet and all,
The whinny will prick thee to thy bare bane,
And Christ receive thy saul.

From Whinny Moor when thou mayst pass,
Every neet and all,
To Brig o’ Dread thou comest at last,
And Christ receive thy saul.

From Brig o’ Dread when thou may’st pass,
Every neet and all,
To Purgatory thou comest at last,
And Christ receive thy saul.

And if ever thou gavest meat or drink,
Every neet and all,
The fire will never make thee shrink,
And Christ receive thy saul

But if meat nor drink thou ne’er gav’st nane,
Every neet and all,
The fire will burn thee to thy bare bane,
And Christ receive thy saul.

This ae neet, this ae neet,
Every neet and all,
Fire an’ fleet an’ candleleet,
And Christ receive thy saul.

The following is an extract from ‘Lyke Wake Walk” by Bill Cowley . . .

“Wake” means the watching over a corpse, and “Lyke” is the corpse itself- as in the “lych” gate of a church-c/f. German “leich “. … there is no suggestion that corpses were carried over the Lyke Wake Walk, and the connection between Walk and Dirge is merely that members of the first party to do the Walk, like many who have done it since, finding themselves in the middle of Wheeldale Moor at 3 a.m. felt a great sympathy with all the souls who have to do such a crossing, and a real affection for the poetry of the Dirge-its stark simplicity, repetitions, and dramatic power. Perhaps only those who have crossed Wheeldale or Fylingdales Moors with storm and darkness threatening can fully appreciate the beauty of the Lyke Wake Dirge.

For a sung version of this ancient poem – by Pentangle, click on the YouTube link below . . . Lyke Wake Dirge

Haworth Churchyard at dusk – Yorkshire  … Pen & Ink – WHB – 1983