Sea Fever – by John Masefield

(No.56 of my favourite short poems)

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‘Sea Fever’ . . . WHB: Pen & Wash – Sep., 2017

Sea Fever

 

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

 

By John Masefield


 

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‘Sea Fever’ is perhaps the best known of all the poetic works of John Masefield.  Born in Herefordshire, England, in 1878, he was the British poet laureate for 37 years in the middle of the 20th Century until his death in 1967.   As a young man he trained as a merchant seaman, but, in 1895, he deserted his ship when in New York City.  There he worked in a carpet factory before returning to London to write poems, in many of which he wrote about his experiences at sea.

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Nearly A Limerick

(No.54 of my short poems)
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A bit of fun to start the week – a Near-Limerick by Gray Joliffe … reproduced from a recent issue of the Daily Mail.   Graham Jolliffe is an illustrator and cartoonist. His work includes ‘Chloe & Co’, and the Wicked Willie character that first appeared in the book, ‘Man’s Best Friend’ in 1984.
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MOONSTRUCK

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MOONSTRUCK

In the middle
of the night
when the moon
is at its height

I’m given
to fanciful excesses
about pretty girls
with golden tresses

Capricious ladies
small and sweet
built-up hair
and dainty feet

Lock their looks
on my leering eyes
and I’m enthralled
anaesthetised

I fall so hard
I cannot rise
it’s my golden apple
the major prize

But always a mirage
a passing dream
just one more fancy
it would seem

My life’s story
told in wishes
always someone
else’s kisses.

 

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The Dentist’s Chair

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THE DENTIST’S CHAIR

Reclining in the chair
My head below my knees
Waiting for the needle
Feel I want to sneeze.

TV Screen above me
Fixed onto the ceiling
Scene of pure composure
To nullify my feeling

Dentist leaning over
Says “No worse than a sting,
Just a gentle tug,
You’ll hardly feel a thing.”

I feel the pincers grasp it
That remnant of a tooth
Left over from extraction, 
Botched up in my youth.

And then the tugging starts, 
A rip, a tear, a yank,
I felt a sudden rumble
Like the revving of a tank.

He showed me what he’d dug out
Of my poor infected jaw,
A bloody piece of bone
Covered in spit and gore.

All I wanted then was
To get out of his chair;
Escape his gloating clutches,
No more of this nightmare.

It’s taken nearly two weeks, 
No longer feeling sore.
An abscess on one’s gum
One cannot just ignore.

 

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Penelope Fitzgerald – The Kitchen Drawer Poem

 (Poem No.50 of my favourite short poems)

Kitchen Drawer

‘The Kitchen Drawer’ – Penelope Fitzgerald

THE KITCHEN DRAWER POEM

The nutcracker, the skewer, the knife,

are doomed to share this drawer for life.

You cannot pierce, the skewer says,

or cause the pain of in one place.

You cannot grind, you do not know,

says nutcracker, the pain of slow.

You don’t know what it is to slice.

to both of them the knife replies,

with pain so fine it is not pain

to part what cannot join again.

The skewer, nutcracker, and knife

are well adapted to their life.

They calculate efficiency

By what the others cannot be

and power by the pain they cause

and that is life in kitchen drawers.

By Penelope Fitzgerald

 Printed in @London Review of Books’ – 3rd October, 2002.

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Penelope Fitzgerald (1916 – 2000) was an English Booker Prize-winning novelist, poet, essayist and biographer.  In 2008, The Times included her in a list of “the 50 greatest British writers since 1945”. In 2012, The Observer named her final novel, ‘The Blue Flower‘, one of “the ten best historical novels”.  She also wrote a splendid biography of the Victorian artist Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones.

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AN AFTERLIFE

Yin&Yang

The Yin and the Yang …in Eastern thought, the two complementary forces that make up all aspects and phenomena of life.

AN AFTERLIFE

Allow me to be morbid
To think of death
The afterlife
My next life

When life is now so full
It is not seemly
And not to be countenanced
To tempt fate
With supposition
Of a dubious kind

And yet I do
I do because I am
And the I that I am
Needs to contemplate
Beyond the now
Into the shadows of the future
The mysteries
Of my dust
My ashes

Not reincarnation
Because there will be
No me to be reborn
Merely a redistribution of
My dust and an accompanying
Acquisition of a sensate soul
To replicate a birth
An existence
And an organic life
In Nature’s cyclic motion

No out-of-body experience
Has persuaded me of this
No religious faith has
Swayed my thought

On the borderlands of life
I pause to contemplate
My future
Beyond the Pale
In That No-Man’s-Land of the imagination
That Heaven or that Hell awaiting

My next existence
The I who will not be me
Frightens me
The diversity of possibilities
For my re-formed dust to inhabit
Allow me no certainty
For there can be
No sense of continuity
Only, as now,
An unawareness
A not-knowing
 Of what has gone before
And of what will succeed me
The me that is not me
New flesh, new history
New mind, new destiny
But without
Any sense of newness
No connection to the past
The same not-knowing
About the future

I could be so much worse off
And yet I know
it will not be me
Not someone who remembers
The pleasures which have pleasured me
The joys which have made me joyous
Or the loves which enchanted me
For I will be he
Or she
Or it
Just someone who exists
Painfully sentient
Plausibly penitent
Regretting
Perhaps rejoicing
In a life
As I do now
In that life
I am afraid to leave

 

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‘Nature’s Query’ … Photograph – WHB  2016 ©

 

 

Creative Occlusion

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‘Moon,Sea & Shore’ … Pen – WHB: Aug.2017

CREATIVE OCCLUSION

When the urge lies with me
To feed a need
With willing words
Then will my mind engage
With my pen
And satisfaction follow

But when that dire wound
Of vacuity descends to
Afflict my thoughts
Then I become
As the waves of the sea
Forever seeking to breast the shore
Forever conceding
To the pulse of the moon

 

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SELKIE-The Seal Woman – 2

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©   ‘Selkie’ … Coloured Pen – WHB – August 2017

 

SELKIE-The Seal Woman

PART THE SECOND

 

Now
As the surge of the swollen sea
Sweeps the shore
I scan the rolling waves
For a sign of her presence
A hint of her salt-scent
Her seal-self
The searing splash of her tail
As it breaks the foam’s crest

I sense the silky soft touch of her skin
I know she is there
I sense her nearness
In the clutching drift of the current

The sound of her muted cry
wafting to me with the wistful wind
Towards my rock
Her rock
Our rock
The anchor connecting our two realities
The link
Ocean-forged
Wind-weathered
Sun-scorched
Heart-touched
Communion binding us
In those few delicious moments
When our worlds merge
And we become as one

Creatures of neither sea nor land
Melded in Earth’s memory
To exist for ever
In legend

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Words From The Grave

A poem with alternate lines having the same rhyme . . . 
as –  A – B – C – B – D – B – E- -B . . .  etc.

RIP

WORDS FROM THE GRAVE

 

Tread softly as you pass my grave

Do not disturb these tombstones 

If you should hear

My sighs and moans

Fret not and do not tarry

It will be just my aching bones

Clumsy now and out of practice

Having heard those ringing tones

Fumbling in my bloody shroud

To answer that damned ringing phone

Yet once again to take a call

From that old seadog, Davy Jones,

Who, speaking from his seabed Locker

Invites me to a Game Of Thrones

 

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Misdemeaners

An Acrostic Poem is one in which the first letter of each line spells out a complete word.  The poem’s title is often given as this, usually single, word.

crime


A short example would be . . . 

C ommitted a crime
R elied on his knife  
I  nterred doing time
M essed up a life
E verlasting paradigm

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MISDENEANOURS

 An Acrostic Verse

 

aybe I can be forgiven,

I n my innocence I was misled.

S uffering then from youthful hubris,

D efeated by my life, I bled.

E very new experience seemed

M y very strength to sap.

E ach and every test I faced

A waited me with some mishap.

N ow at last I shall be brave,

U ndo the spell which youth has cast.

O vercome my earlier errors,

R esist with vigour all my terrors,

S wap my lifestyle now forever.

 

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