A Swarm of Bees Worth Hiving

I have a book, passed down to my wife from her father and his father before him, with the title of ‘ILLUSTRATED ANECDOTES and PITHY PIECES’.  It was published in 1874 and which, of course, contains just what the title describes – well, the Victorian idea of such things!

I am reproducing a scanned image of one of the entries which plays with words in rhyming couplets, as I often like to do in my own verses.  (Not sure about the attempt to rhyme ‘faith’ with ‘death’ though!). Amusing and educational aphorisms, life-enhancing even, and very PITHY !!!

Icons of my Past

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Icons of my Past

My era has passed and gone,
And with it all my heroes,
But memory lingers long,
Of giants, saints and weirdos.

These I have loved and known,
They made me who I am,
Imbibed while I have grown,
Since I lived in a pram.

How they have coloured my life,
These heroes, these comic bygones,
But through victory and strife,
They’ve ever been my icons.

How many do you remember,
Who live and colour your dreams?
Valiant or tender,
Feeding both laughter and screams.

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These are the ones which live on in my own memory . .  .

Just William:  ‘Just William’ is the first book of children’s short stories about the young school boy, William Brown, written by Richmal Crompton, and published in 1922. William Brown is an eleven-year-old boy, eternally scruffy and frowning. He and his friends, Ginger, Henry, and Douglas, call themselves the Outlaws.  Also appearing in the books is Violet Elizabeth Bott, who is renowned for crying out “I’ll thcream and thcream ’till I’m thick”.  The stories were also used in numerous television, film and radio adaptations of the books.

Roy of the RoversA British comic strip about the life and times of a fictional footballer and later manager named Roy Race, who played for Melchester Rovers.

Biggles & his sidekick, Algernon (‘Algy’) Lacey:  James Bigglesworth, nicknamed “Biggles”, is a fictional pilot and adventurer, the title character and hero of the Biggles series of adventure books, written for young readers by W. E. Johns. There are  almost 100 Biggles books published between 1932 and 1968.

Wilson of the Wizard – The Wonder Athlete illustrated stories first published in 1943 as a comic strip, in the British illustrated story paper ’The Wizard’, written by Gilbert Lawford Dalton and drawn by Jack Glass.

Garth – action-adventure hero, created by Steve Dowling, in a comic strip published in the British newspaper ‘Daily Mirror’ from 1943 to 1997.

Rupert Bear — (with friends, Bill Badger, Edward Trunk and Algy Pug) – comic strip character created by English artist Mary Tourtel and first appearing in 1920 in the Daily Express newspaper.

Desperate Dan was a wild west character in the now-defunct British comic magazine The Dandy.

Dennis the Menace:  a long-running comic strip in the British children’s comic The Beano.

Billy Bunter is a fictional schoolboy created by Charles Hamilton using the pen name Frank Richards. He features in stories set at Greyfriars School, originally published in the boys’ weekly story paper ’The Magnet’ from 1908 to 1940. 

P. C.49 was created for radio by Alan Stranks. PC 49 (Police Constable Archibald Berkeley-Willoughby) was an ordinary bobby on the beat, solving crime in the late 40s and early 50s.

Flash Gordon is the hero of a space opera adventure comic strip created by and originally drawn by Alex Raymond. It was first published in 1934.

Superman is a fictional superhero, created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster. He first appeared in the comic book Action Comics #1 in 1938.

Dan Dare is a British science fiction comic hero, created by illustrator Frank Hampson who also wrote the first stories.  Dare appeared in the Eaglecomic stories from 1950 to 1967. It was also dramatised seven times a week on Radio Luxembourg from 1951to 1956.

Captain Marvel, also known as Shazam, is a fictional American comic superhero, created by artist C. C. Beck and writer Bill Parker 1939 appearing in American comics originally published by Fawcett Comics. He is the alter ego of Billy Batson, a boy who, by speaking the magic word “SHAZAM!” (acronym of six “immortal elders”: Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury), can transform himself into a costumed adult with the powers of superhuman strength, speed, flight and other abilities. Based on comic book sales, the character was the most popular superhero of the 1940s, outselling even Superman.


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Simon Templar, The SaintSimon Templar, a Robin Hood-like figure, known as the Saint, the protagonist of a book series by Leslie Charteris and subsequent adaptations on TV., a Robin Hood-like figure, known as the Saint, the protagonist of a book series by Leslie Charteris and subsequent adaptations on TV.

 

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My Book

row of books in shelf

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My  Book

I am a mere page in history’s book.
OK, half a page
A sentence even
More than a word, surely,
And not just a letter.
But, what sort of book?
What genre best reflects me?
Sums me up?

Page filler or thriller,
A cold-blooded chiller?
A  semantic romantic
A frantic pedantic?

Obvious or discreet
Tattered, perhaps neat?
Remaindered, deleted,
Victorious or defeated?

Pages torn
Plot stillborn?
A weighty tome,
Still out on loan?
Not understandable,
Or un-put-downable?

Whichever best describes my path
A simpleton, a polymath?
I wonder how I’ll be considered.
A wordsmith wizard
Bewildered, jiggered?
Too slick for some,
Too twee for others.

But please, I beg,
Let it be said –
He wrote with ease
The day to seize,
Not just to please
The passing breeze.

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Book Swap – Red Renaissance

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Photo: WHB … In a Devonshire Village – 2019

Book Swap – Red Renaissance

Why not? 
The phone now silenced
Calm contemplation
corners the kiosk
The urgent queue
becomes now
The Silence of the Library

Culture creep
now succeeding conversation
Cerebral centre for sure
Telephone Exchange
gives way to
Book Exchange

A new purpose in life
for the
candid kiosk
Lifeline for the lonely 
Book Barter 
brings back to back
book for book
blood red fervour
to the village

Once the life saviour
Now given
to silent contemplation
Shilling meter
and B button gone

Silence Of The Lambs
and Passage To India
now broadening 
Lost Horizons

Gormenghast
and Shades Of Grey
fostering Fantasy for 
lonely locals

A Rebirth for
communication 
Red Renaissance
for both Book and Booth

 

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Weaving Words

abstract blur book book pages

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Weaving Words

 

(The Poet’s Calling)

 

I wander my world 
weaving words into verse
plaiting my thoughts 
into silken skeins of sense
rendering images
from my mind’s eye
to this digital paper
perverse perception
lending life to poetry
lust to hope 
and love to mon amour
the written word. 

Only in time
with wish fulfilment
perchance my dreams
will meet my expectations 
and produce that meisterwerk
whose impetus
drives me on

 

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‘A Word is Dead’ . . . Emily Dickinson

[  # 95 of My Favourite Short Poems  ]

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A Word is Dead

by Emily Dickinson


A word is dead

When it is said,
Some say.

I say it just
Begins to live
That day.

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One of the shortest poems I know, yet I find it so powerful, so wise.   Words need to be heard, to be read, to be said,  above all perhaps they need to be used.  In its brevity, Emily Dickinson uses them so carefully here and yet prompting further thought with the depth of their meaning.  Words used in a poem do take flight as the reader is led to consider their meaning further.

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Kurt Vonnegut – ‘Two Little Good Girls’

[  # 86 of My Favourite Short Poems  ]

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Known primarily as a novelist, Kurt Vonnegut (1922 – 2007) was an American writer. He published 14 novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five works of non-fiction. He is most famous for his darkly satirical, best-selling novel ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’, published in(1969.

I do like this short poem of his which I came across only recently.  Apparently it was never given a title by Vonnegut and was discovered in a letter of 1961 sent by him to a friend.  It has a delightfully simple and artless warmth which engenders such good feeling and optimism.

 

Two little good girls
Watchful and wise —
Clever little hands
And big kind eyes —
Look for signs that the world is good,
Comport themselves as good folk should.
They wonder at a father
Who is sad and funny strong,
And they wonder at a mother
Like a childhood song.
And what, and what
Do the two think of?
Of the sun
And the moon
And the earth
And love.

 

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Early 20th Century Autograph Books

[ Wednesday Replay # 1 ] 

Previously published on Roland’s Ragbag on August 6th 2016 at:
‘Early 20th Century Autograph Books’


 

Autograph books, where they exist, are now used mainly for collecting the signatures ( or at least the scribbled ciphers) of the latest popular music or sports star.

Compare this scribble below by Wimbledon Champion, Andy Murray, in 2013, with, from my own autograph collection (of 2), this perfectly legible  autograph of England and Yorkshire batsman, Len Hutton, obtained in the 1940s . . .

100 years ago Autographs Books were primarily more for the collecting and usually exchanging, of aphorisms, homilies, comments,  pithy verses, simple drawings, personal messages, with friends and relatives.

These autograph books of the first half of the 20th Century, give a clear picture of the social mores and conventions of the time.  Their contents can be clearly seen as a means of passing popular wisdom on to subsequent generations. Nowadays they may be thought of by some as schmaltzy, even maudlin, but they do present a picture of the tastes and sentiments of that time and help to remind us of a much simpler and less cynical age.

 REPRODUCE BELOW, In Slide show format) SOME OF THE SKETCHES FROM MY OWN FAMILY’S AUTOGRAPH BOOKS – THE MAJORITY OF THE ENTRIES ARE DATED 1929.

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. . . AND HERE ARE THE TEXTS OF SOME OF THE MORE DISCERNING ENTRIES . . .


Beware sweet maid when men come to thee
And say they seek their soul’s affinity
When all they want, the base espousers,
Is someone to sew buttons on their trousers.


_____________
_____________
_____________
_____________

‘Just a few lines from a would-be poet’


It’s very hard to find a friend
When your heart is full of hope.
It’s harder still to find a towel
When your eyes are full of soap.


In ascending the hill of prosperity
May you never meet a Friend


It’s not the one that knows the most
That has the most to say.
Nor yet the one that has the most
That gives the most away.


Love is like a mutton chop
Sometimes cold – Sometimes hot

Whether cold or whether hot
It’s not a thing to be forgot.


‘Taint what we have,
But what we give,
‘Taint what we are,
But how we live,
‘Taint what we do,
But how we do it,
That makes life worth
Going through it.


Make new friends but keep the old,
One is silver, the other gold;
Cheeks may wrinkle, hair grow grey,
But friendship never knows decay.


When the golden sun is sinking,
When your time from care is free,
When of others you are thinking,
Will you sometimes think of me?


Written in faltering, scratchy handwriting …

This is a damned bad pen you’ve given me!

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‘Syntax’ by Carol Ann Duffy

[  # 81 of My Favourite Short Poems  ]

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Carol Ann Duffy (1955- )

‘It is not always easy to speak of love.  The words we use to do so are often tortured and can be made incomprehensible by passion and heedlessness.  So, how then do we speak of love?  How does the poet speak of love?  Is the language of love pre-ordained?  Should it run to a formula?  The formula, perhaps, of formal English speech – syntax in other words?  The expression of love surely by-passes such strict rules, and resides in the lips, the eyes, the heart.

In short, simple precisely to-the-point words, Carol Anne Duffy, Britain’s current Poet Laureate, in this poem, unlike any other love poem I have ever read, conveys the thoughts, desires, hesitations which beset us in the search for a meaningful form of capturing such feelings.’

Syntax


I want to call you thou, the sound

of the shape of the start
of a kiss  –   like this, thou  –
and to say, after, I love,
thou, I love, thou I love, not
I love you.

Because I so do  –
as we say now  –   I want to say
thee, I adore, I adore thee,
and to know in my lips
the syntax of love resides,
and to gaze In thine eyes.

Love’s language starts, stops, starts;
the right words flowing or clotting in the heart.

Re-printed from ‘The Times’,  Saturday September 3rd, 2005
First published in ‘Rapture’, Duffy’s volume of love poems, first published in 2005. 

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Here is a spoken version of the poem “Syntax” by Carol Ann Duffy (read by Tom O’Bedlam) . . .

 

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‘I Am’ by Sylvia Plath

[  # 75 of My Favourite Short Poems  ]

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‘I took a deep breath

and listened to the old brag of my heart:

I am,

I am,

I am.’


 

Today’s offering is not, strictly speaking a poem.  It is a very short, one sentence, quotation from theThe Bell Jar’, (written under the pseudonym, ‘Victoria Lucas’), the only novel ever written by the American poet, Sylvia Plath, who committed suicide, aged 30, shortly after its publication in 1963.

I am using it today as its introspection does mirror that of John Clare, whose ‘I Am’ verses I featured a week ago.  Both Clare and Plath were troubled beings, suffering for long periods of their lives from severe mood swings and depression.

In this one sentence from her novel, Sylvia Plath, cries out with similar force to that which John Clare was expressing in his poem, for the self-belief and recognition which both felt had eluded them . . .  ‘I AM! yet what I am who cares, or knows?’ 

 

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