THE CANAL HORSE

On the Great Western Canal at Tiverton, Devon . . .  Photo – WHB – 2013
 

THE CANAL HORSE

Sedate
And ponderous
He carries his weight lightly
But without pace
It is summer work
Plying the bank
Subject to the weather
And his master
Apparently contented
But perhaps sad
Would he rather be elsewhere
But what would he know
Of elsewhere
This has been his life
His only life
Since brought into this world
Delivered as a foal by a mother
Who knew only this very same life
Tutored on this very canal bank
Learning the towpath’s bends
Its tricky turns
The track ruts to avoid
The necessary manoeuvres
When hitching up
H is purpose in life
Why else was he brought into this world
He knows his master
Trusts and
Respects him
Always by his side
His every command
Gentle but firm
A tug on the lead
A wary grunt
They tread the canal bank
The towpath to pleasure
Other’s pleasure
His Pilgrim’s Way
The daily round
His common task

On the Great Western Canal at Tiverton, Devon . . . Photo – WHB – 2015

Broken only at the terminus
A half-way respite
By the bridge
A brief uncoupling
A hay bag
A nuzzle
A few photographs
Then the return
The narrow boat his carriage
Its passengers his charges
He carries on
Always carries on
Trundling his life
In peace
In tranquillity
His boat
His harnessed heritage
Disturbing the reeds
And the ducks only
Creating a minor slipstream
Before the end
Disembarkation
Then a brief hiatus
Before the ever echoing pattern
Repeats itself
As do the days
And the months
Until
Darkness descends
And time
Ceases to exist

On the Great Western Canal, Tiverton, Devon . . .  Pen & Wash by WHB – 2013

This canal ride is offered during the Summer months on one of the last Horse-Drawn Barges in Great Britain.  Scheduled rides on the canal boat start and end from the point where the Great Western Canal commences, in Tiverton, East Devon.  Details of what is on offer  at this delightful site and timetable of the canal trips can be found on the website below  . . .

http://www.tivertoncanal.co.uk/floating-cafe-bar

A BBC TV Video of this canal barge experience is also made available via this website

Time For The Fox

Photo: WHB 2015

atop the coop
waiting
always waiting

watching
constant watching
a lifetime of watching
and waiting
sleeping too
but always wary
wary
and cunning

on that
my life
their lives
their deaths
depend
catch them off guard
find or force an entry
feather whirlwind
blood so red
sound abounds
then escape
back to my den
prize in my jaws

cubs satisfied
another day survived
one more day alive
to thrive
before I start again
one more fox
one fewer chicken
scales swinging
a sort of balance
 is kept

for now

 

 

‘Death’ . . . W.B.Yeats

[  # 98 of My Favourite Short Poems  ]

death

This poem, ‘Death’, by W.B.Yeats (1865 – 1939} is one of his shortest.   It attempts to contrast the death of of animals, who do not possess such a concept, with the centrality, the significance and the certitude of what death means in the experience of all human beings.   Yeats wrote this poem in 1929 and published it in his 1933 collection, ‘The Winding Stair and Other Poems’. 

Death

Nor dread nor hope attend
A dying animal;
A man awaits his end
Dreading and hoping all;
Many times he died,
Many times rose again.
A great man in his pride
Confronting murderous men
Casts derision upon
Supersession of breath;
He knows death to the bone –
Man has created death.

 

Author: William Butler Yeats

scroll2

W.B.Yeats – ‘Leda and the Swan’

[  # 91 of My Favourite Short Poems  ]

swanmaster

Detail from ‘The Swanmaster’ by Diana Thomson FRBS … sculpture at Staines-on-Thames, England. Photo WHB. ©

‘Leda and the Swan’ by W.B.Yeats

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

bar-green

The Irish poet, W.B.Yeats,  wrote ‘Leda and the Swan’ in 1923, the year in which he was awarded the Nobel prize for Literature.   Yeats, who had a great love of both folklore and mythology, chose to write his version of the story of Leda and the Swan as a Petrarchan sonnet.  It tells the story of Zeus, the Father of the Greek Gods, and his seduction in the form of a swan, of Leda, daughter of King Thestius.  One interpretation of the story as presented by Yeats, is to see its theme as a metaphor for British involvement in Ireland.  Alternatively, it can be read as a generalised representation of the way western civilisation has developed. His choice to write the poem as a sonnet can also be viewed as an ironic comment, contrasting what is a rape with a poetic form normally associated with love and romance.

bar-green

31-1113tm-vector2-3463

 

Words as Birds

silhouette of person walking

Photo by Subham Dash on Pexels.com

WORDS as BIRDS

 

as do birds
words fly

fluttering
hovering
singing
warbling

dull or exotic
cumbersome or succinct
tender or abrupt
yet so high
their sky

carrying
with their wings aflame
both sonority and meaning
their tone surging
from plangent to plaintive
from joyous to rhapsodic

gliding in grace
with forethought and intention
swooping with wit
dipping their wingtips
in pools of light
or in puddles of mud

careless words
trailing doubt
words with a conscience
trilling
swooping
in the summer sun
skimming the surface of reason
dipping to their trees
to rest
to roost
when evening is done

nesting with the need for growth
mating when the time is ripe
breeding as the notion is defined
fledging offspring true to type
nurturing meaning under their wing

always bearing
cushioned within their feathered breasts
for those who care to discover
their true strength
wings beating to pronounce
their significance
the revelation of their truth
the essence of their existence

 

birds flying over body of water during golden hour

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

bar-green

Summer Geese

Geese at QB-August2017b

Painting in acrylic by Canadian artist, Alma Kerr – October 2017  ©

SUMMER  GEESE

 

I walk not with the summer geese

but I follow them

as they make their stately way

along the water’s edge

through the incoming waves

towards the seagrass

 

So beautiful

this sense that Nature and I

Are aligned

Working to the same end

Coupled in a determination

To follow our will

Into whatever the future will bring

 

bar-green

Poem composed in collaboration between Alma and Roland – November 2017

bar-green

Walking With Ducklings

In 2004, one of my daughters lived on a farm overlooking the Exe Valley in Devonshire, England. The ducklings which I write about below had imprinted themselves on her shortly after their incubated birth, and they would regularly follow her as she walked around the farm and on to the farm duckpond.

DevonDklings04b

WALKING WITH DUCKLINGS

Ducklings,
greet my world,

meet your world,
sometimes mild;
oft times wild –
do your best to love it.
Now let’s go for a walk
… while I talk

No, don’t duck out of my suggestion,
just follow me and I’ll show you life,
you’ll take to it
like a duck to the waters;
pretend you’re my daughters.

For you are Devon ducks,
yes, Drake Country, I know,
but every drake needs a duck,
as they say in these parts;
not your Cockney ducks
they’ve very hard hearts.

Don’t believe them when they say
“out for a duck”;
don’t take it personally;
it means Nothing –
just innocent banter,
small-scale sledging,
they know you’re a fledgling.

No, “out with the ducks”,
now that’s more like it.
So don’t be glum,
think of me as your mum,
and follow me to the pond
there’s a duck house down there,
painted duck-egg blue,
just the home for you.

You’ll like it there
even though
and I do know
when you grow up
you may lose a few eggs
shell shock they call it
all in good cause
because
we humans enjoy them
try not to condemn
it’s just
nous les adorons
ces sont si bon

and when at the pond
just watch out for Jethro
our farm dog you know
he’s a bit of a barker
a real nosey-parker
duck down when you see him
or go for a swim

and, talking of duck down,
better put your coats on
it’s going to get chilly
no, not chilli hot
chilly cold
so be good as gold.
now, will you be told!

Let’s pause for a selfie
no, don’t make that duck-face
pouting doesn’t suit you
the camera will shoot you

If you are good
then later
as your mater
i’ll let you loose
on the web
you’ll learn so much there
but please do beware
best avoid Mr Blumenthal
all duck and waffle
your feathers he’ll ruffle
he’d feed you too well
making you swell
for his ‘Fat Duck’ menu
I’d better not continue
… but remember …
it’s not yet December
I could get 250 pounds for you there.

that’s 500 for the both of you
so don’t annoy me
I’m not your employee

Just follow me
and remember
i’m your funny mummy
just imprint that on your
duck brains
just remember you’re mine
and we’ll get along fine.

DevonDklings04c

bar-green

 

Let Sleeping Ducks Lie

Lowman-SleepingDucks2

Morning on the River Lowman, Devon … Photo: WHB – 2017  ©

 

LET SLEEPING DUCKS LIE

Pillowed heads
nestled
self-cushioned
oblivious
to my interference
in their down time

Dead to the busy world
and to my stare
my attempt
to disturb their lives
with my own

Our only mutual assurance
the comfort
of another sunrise
another day
to forage
to survive
to face
new concerns
different uncertainties

 The inbuilt plight
of all creation
fortified only
by a will
to endure
to survive
and thrive

banner-pink