SUICIDE ON A WHIM

‘River Liffey Inciden’t . . . Pen & Wash . . . WHB – 1994

SUICIDE ON A WHIM

Suicide on a whim
is not unheard of
but few such perpetrators
live to tell the tale

one such
rescued from his indecision
by the Gardai
lived through his trauma

sweet Liffey run softly
while I tell the story

distraught by his
gambling debts
and the drinking
his only way to a conclusion
seemed to him to be
voluntary
self-inflicted
euthanasia
yes
he thought
that he wanted to die
half-determined
part irresolute

in a single moment of wavering
he had jumped
just fell perhaps
but the fear
and the cold water
soon hit him
hit harder
than the twenty foot drop

an instinctive cry
escaped him
you could call it
a change of mind
his cry for help
was a second thought
an unintended consequence
of his half-hearted conviction

and now he was held
grasped in a rescue bid

but did he wish to be salvaged
to be pleaded with
would that bring him
the closure he craved
attention unwanted

but secured
attention secured
but unwanted

and still
he could not let go
the ladder
his passport to life
a life he did not desire
could he bear to go there
yet again
to continue
victim to more pain
to yet more anguish

but temporary chagrin
is no killer
his cri de coeur
answered
his indecision
thwarted

is it heads or tails
is it stay or go
is life’s hurt
greater than death’s pain
is future shame
worse than eternity’s
opprobrium

we will never know
the prognosis
I suspect
he is still amongst us
ever indecisive
a suitor for attention
defaulting on his debts
not stopping at three pints
one of life’s
protean chancers

‘CAGED’ – William Blake … 1757-1827

‘Caged Beauty’ … Pen&Ink – WHB – 1981

FROM: ‘ Auguries of Innocence’

BY . . . William Blake

“ . . . A Robin Redbreast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
A dove house fill’d with doves and pigeons
Shudders Hell thro’ all its regions.
A Dog starv’d at his Master’s Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State.
A Horse misus’d upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fiber from the Brain does tear . . . ”

William Blake … Poet & Artist  … 1757-1827

LANGUOR

Bruton, Somerset . . .  Pen & Wash – WHB – 2016

Contentment suffuses the scene
And peace lies softly on the land
Life languishes in its grip
Labour held in thrall to lassitude
Neglectful now of endeavour.

In the calm
Of the midday sun
The farm sleeps on
Parading its contentment
Revealing its accord
With its heritage
By just being there
Seemingly throughout time
Amid the rolling fields
Savouring
The languor of a lazy day
The serenity
Of a sublime summer

The quiet joy of existence
Tells more of peace
Than a thousand pacts
Life lived
In alliance with nature
Endowing us with serenity.

FOUR HAIKU – ONE STORY

The sun’s open arms 
Embrace the emerging day
Seeking lost sunbeams

Clutching at ripe fruit
Ever hoping to regain
Spent and mislaid strength

Hopeless task to set
Once spent never recovered
Now feeding our homes

Caught by our panels
Sustained by the human race
Lost to Mother Earth

The pen & wash sketches are by WHB  (aka Roland).  In order they are of …


Top:  South Bishop Lighthouse, Pembrokeshire, Wales (1993);
Centre:  An English Dawn . . . (1991)
Bottom:  Lamlash and Holy Isle, Isle of Arran, Firth of Clyde, Scotland … (2001)

MORNING

‘Morning’ . . . Watercolour: WHB – 2-15

As the seductive sun appears
Dispensing its joy in generous rays
The air I breathe is warm yet fresh
And the world awakes from its malaise.

Content to soak up all the warmth,
The earth, the grass, the trees are still,
Suffused with morning’s cooling  calm
Sharing a taste of earth’s goodwill.

The elfin stream is placid too
Reflecting back the sunlight’s heat
Tending the water’s life below
Coaxing us all the sun to greet.

Oh, make the most of this fair day
Before it melts and drifts away
.

I composed this sonnet inspired by an early morning scene in The New Forest, Southern England,  which is also the subject of my pen and wash sketch above.

A RIVER REMEMBERS

Lynmouth, North Devon … Pen and Wash … WHB – 1997

From the high moor
cries a river

Long lingering Lyn
stretches her arms
from the  east
and from the west
faltering
before then
slowly
gathering the courage
to continue

Until at last
separately
these fledgling rivers
tumble
less tentative now
more fluent
and sure
almost impetuous
towards each other
through their sovereign gorges

Plummeting now
to where their destined
waters meet
in conscious confluence

A stillness then returns
caution again prevailing
tentative once more,
remembering,
regretting,
still grieved
by distant memory

But now able
with measured movement
to veer past
 the lighthouse
by the river’s mouth
and to slip softly
 into the welcoming sea.

On 15 and 16 August 1952, a storm of tropical intensity broke over south-west England, depositing 9 inches of rain within 24 hours on the already saturated soil of Exmoor, North Devon.  The East and West Lyn rivers, which drop down from Exmoor, were swollen even before the storm.   Debris-laden flood waters cascaded down the northern escarpment of the moor, much of it converging upon the village of Lynmouth in particular.   In the upper West Lyn valley, a dam was formed by fallen trees, etc., but in due course this gave way, sending a huge wave of water and debris down the river.

Overnight, more than 100 buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged along with 28 of the 31 bridges, and 38 cars were washed out to sea. In total, 34 people died, with a further 420 made homeless. The seawall and lighthouse survived the main flood, but were seriously undermined. The lighthouse collapsed into the river the next day.

Bosham (West Sussex) in Paint

Bosham, West Sussex . . . Watercolour – WHB: 2000

Bosham is a delightful village situated on an arm of Chichester Harbour (West Sussex). Bosham has a long history; it is thought that it was one of the first sites in Sussex were the Saxon St Wilfrid preached, around the year 681 AD. Three centuries later, it was at Bosham that King Canute, tongue in cheek, ordered the waves to cease their movement. Canute’s daughter is buried at Holy Trinity parish church, which features a superb 11th century chancel arch and a Saxon tower.

One of Canute’s successors, Harold, set sail from Bosham in 1064 on the voyage which was to eventually cost him his kingdom, after a storm cast him into the hands of William of Normandy.

Today, Bosham remains a popular boating centre, and it retains many charming 17th and 18th century buildings in the narrow, winding streets and alleys that lead to the harbour. The manor of Bosham House, which may stand on the site of a Saxon house built for Canute, was the home of Henry Hamblin, the popular writer and spiritualist known as the ‘Saint of Sussex’.

From: http://www.britainexpress.com/attractions.htm?attraction=3123

Two more watercolours of Bosham Harbour . . . WHB c.2000

Father William

A Japanese ‘Father William’ …  Pen & Ink – WHB – 2014

Are Old, Father William” is a poem by Lewis Carroll that appears in his book  ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ (1865).

You are Old, Father William

“You are old, Father William,” the young man said,
“And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head –
Do you think, at your age, it is right?

“In my youth,” Father William replied to his son,
“I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “as I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door —
Pray, what is the reason for that?”

“In my youth,” said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
“I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment — one shilling a box —
Allow me to sell you a couple?”

“You are old,” said the youth, “and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak —
Pray, how did you manage to do it?”

“In my youth,” said his father, “I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose —
What made you so awfully clever?”

“I have answered three questions, and that is enough,”
Said his father. “Don’t give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I’ll kick you down stairs.”

By Lewis Carroll

Liverpool

Liverpool Docks . . . Watercolour – WHB: – 2011

The Port of Liverpool Building (formerly Mersey Docks and Harbour Board Offices, more commonly known as the Dock Office) is a Grade II* listed building in Liverpool, England. It is located at the Pier Head and, along with the neighbouring Royal Liver Building and Cunard Building, is one of Liverpool’s Three Graces, which line the city’s waterfront.[1] It is also part of Liverpool’s UNESCO-designatedWorld Heritage Maritime Mercantile City.

Before The Sun Sets

Pen & Wash Sketch – based on ‘Ancient Trees’ – to mark National Trust Week 1999 . . .  WHB

The crisp crunch of my footsteps as I crossed that frosty field
Confirmed to me the joy that winter brings;
The frail but wondrous sunlight burning through the morning mist
Affirmed a world of wonder in all things.

It brought to me a memory of those long days of my youth,
When all was young and all life was tomorrow,
When time and love and right and wrong were not things I considered,
Just the lasting joy which Nature can bestow.

Tomorrow was a world away from the life that I live now;
No anguish that my world might cease to be
Before I’d felt and savoured all that life can have to offer,
Before the sun sets on that ancient tree.

Despite my knowledge of the pain that’s in the world around me,
Bleak Nature seeks to calm its shifting shadows,
The seasons, sun, the starlight, still remain to bring us hope,
That vital spark from which renewed life flows.