. . . And Then There Were Four

London, Victoria Embankment, late 19th Century … Pen & Wash – WHB – 2014

Late autumn evening
treading wet leaves
on the broad embankment
 beside the dark river;
starry sky
and the pavement spotted
with lights
dark pools between
those balustrade sentries
the eighty year old
yablochkov candles
(the country’s very first

electric street lights)
still throwing the trees’ shadows
across the road
to Victoria’s gardens.

Perhaps memory twists my tale;
mike, dave, wally, ray,
with me five of us,
fresh lads
freshers too
up from the far country
to study
to see the big city
to re-start a life
men now
together
soliciting knowledge
tempting experience.

Interned for a Chelsea month,
then the anticipated incursion,
our first excursion
into the great city
set for new challenges
no plan
just exploration;
for the moment
nothing cerebral
just life in the moment
awaiting a happening
neophytic
greenhorns.

Walking where Victoria walked,
or did she ever really
enjoy her gardens by the river?
thrilling evening
walking that promenade,
drinking the sights
eating the sounds
devouring the smells and tastes
soaking up the river
and the beer,
Victoria’s Embankment Gardens.

We didn’t know it then
nor did any of us suspect
it was to be ray’s swan song
sweet Thames run softly
and be his swan song.

Turned up Villiers Street,
Kipling’s and Evelyn’s street,
tumbled into The Trafalgar,
seedy then,
well, rare student prices,
waitress in black and white
I remember
the white cap with lace
and black band
the tiny white apron
on black dress
alluringly short
wiping her hands
by rubbing them seductively
on her aproned thighs,
“what can I get you lads?”
… ribaldry …
ray “what time do you finish?”
… her answer
no more than a half-smile;

After the spam fritters
and the glorious knickerbockers
and more small pink hands
attentive hands
rubbed clean
on lacy white apron,
ray’s eyes never taken off them
then drinks
nothing heavy.

Ray fell
must have done
from a great height
smitten I would say
to his adam’s apple core,
eyes only for a pretty face
and those lacy edges.

Conversation ricocheted
across the tables
voices spurted out their verbiage
as those yablochkov candles
expended their light,
more raucous than uncouth.

Then the attempt to close
to dispense with customers
we head for the street
ray stays in his seat
“’bye chaps, I’ll see you.”

… But he never did.

Nor we him.
Ever again.

The Thames Embankment is a work of 19th Century civil engineering which reclaimed marshy land next to the River Thames in central London.  It follows the North Bank of the river from Westminster Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge.

The Victoria Embankment Gardens , built also in the latter part of the 19th Century, separate the embankment and the road running alongside from the buildings on the south side of Whitehall, Trafalgar Square and The Strand.

Villiers Street is a short connecting thoroughfare, now mainly pedestrianised, running from the Thames Embankment and Charing Cross underground Station uphill to the Strand, Charing Cross Mainline Railway Station  and Trafalgar Square.  It contains many restaurants and eating establishments.  
The Trafalgar Cafe, however, can no longer be found there.

Poem by WHB and re-published in memory of Dave and Mike – now passed on to where all memories are filed and all mysteries are resolved.

The Lily Pond

Lily Pond at Hestercombe House, Taunton, Somerset . . .   Watercolour  -WHB  c.2003

No murmur breaks the silence
the afternoon is still
the pool reflects the calmness
which hovers in the air

The colours
and the scent of flowers
speak only of serenity
and peace
the splendour of the garden
throbs with Nature’s pride
a statement of the passion
and the pleasures of creation

Tall distinguished Iris
goddess of the rainbow
clutch the water’s edge
radiating their vibrant heritage
stealing the sun’s power
to enhance their golden presence
their stature
their boldness
speaking their nobility
and proudly defining
their cool distinction

Whilst languid water lilies
blanket the pool’s surface
coveting recognition of their worth
their foot pads
watery meniscus
a haven for the diffident carp
shading all the pool’s life
from the sun’s keen scrutiny

And then recalling
their antique role
in baiting
that languorous youth Narcissus
by encouraging the pool’s mirror
to reflect his admiration
bolstering his vanity
and tempting him
to his destruction

The Rejected Lady

Darden Centre – Surrey, England: Photo: WHB – 2001

The way to treat a lady when you’re tired
Is not to dump her in a bin and run.
Why not admit that she you once admired
Has lost your love and now your chapter’s done.

To tip her in a bin head first was cruel,
Forgetting all the love she gave to you.
For once she was your all transcendent jewel;
A wretched end was not the thing to do.

She was owed far better from her erstwhile lover,
A fitting end would be a parting prayer,
To let goodbyes be said, the party’s over,
And move on to the next furtive affair.

We hope your new amour will treat you better
Than you deserve, you two-faced cheating brute.
Perhaps she’ll send that candid scarlet letter,
The one which spills the beans on your repute.

Just remember this my callous Casanova.
That when you end your defunct escapades.
When all that great ferment at last is over,
Then, what you sow you’ll truly reap in spades.

‘I’m Thinking’: A Dialogue

A.  Don’t interrupt me when I’m thinking.
B.   What about?
A.  You wouldn’t want to know.
B.   Why?  Is it a secret?
A.   Could be.
B.   Tell me.
A.   Wouldn’t be a secret if I did.
B.   Now you intrigue me.
A.   Secrets are for keeping to yourself.
B.   Who says?
A.   That’s the definition of a secret.
B.   But if you tell me I won’t tell anyone.
A.   If I do tell you it won’t be a secret any more.
B.   But only you and I will know.
A.   But then someone else might ask you to tell them.
B.   But I won’t tell them.
A.   But that’s what you said to me.
B.   I did?
A.   Yes … And then you told me.
B.   Did I?
A.   Oh!
B.   It’s no secret that you can’t keep a secret, you know.
A.   Is it?
B.   How do you know that?
A.   It’s a secret.
B.   Tell me.
A.   No,
B.   Why?
A.   It wouldn’t be a secret if I did.

My photographs of the two sculptural heads were taken at ‘Sculpture Heaven’ in Wales  . . .

The Sculpture Gardens, Workshops and Galleries.
Ceri Gwnda,  Rhydlewis, Llandysul,  Ceredigion., SA44 5RN

All the  sculptures there have a strong connection to the fabled past. The works have the appearance of classical antiquities. Many are by British sculptor, Jon Barnes, with artists Terry and Rose Barter complementing the range with their carvings of the  Green Man,  Buddhas, and contemporary sculpture.

The Darling Buds

Darling Buds1

Photo:  ‘In a Surrey Garden’ – WHB – 2012

The Darling Buds

Here in my quietly cherished garden,
Where  golden flowers grow,
I love to linger long and taste
The flowers that I know.

But now around me where I see
The darling buds of roses,
They bring a powerful sense to me
Of life that decomposes.

Time has brought me to a point
Where life and love are frozen;
Where little I do has meaning, and
My future has been chosen.

For now I’m in a time cocoon
Where life has been suspended..
Where I can look but cannot see,
And reality has ended.

 

Bar-Rose

The Dead Tree

Knightshayes Tree1

Photo: WHB, 2019  … Knighthayes, Tiverton, Devon  ©

Bold and boastful,
Big and brash,
A mighty marvel still.
A splendid giant
Holding court
Bestride that verdant hill.

Imperious, noble,
Still a lord
Of field and hill and view.
Its commanding presence
Memorial to
All that once was new.

Never forlorn,
The strength of years
Still lingers in those limbs.
A memory,
A masterpiece,
Even as the vision dims.

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Scarecrow Collection

Photographs from RHS Wisley, Surrey, UK. 2008 . . . WHB. ©

( Click on individual photographs to enlarge.)

Scarecrow Collection

Scarecrow Collection
Get in the queue;
For your entertainment
Learn something new.

Ladies and Gents
Fops and Flappers,
Molls and Pole Dancers
Call Girls and Slappers.

Broads and Dames
Wide Guys and Tramps,
Hippies and Harpies
Sirens and Vamps.

Divas and Dandies
Nimbies and Yuppies,
Minxes and moppets
Harpies and Hippies.

Beatniks and Broads
Belles and Babes,
Dandies and Fops
Jacks of all Trades.

Coquettes and Milk Maids
Nurses and Nannies,
Mods and Rockers
Goths and Grannies.

Scarecrow Collection
Roll up and view;
Won’t frighten the birds
But might scare you.

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‘Trees’ . . . Joyce Kilmer

[  # 99 of My Favourite Short Poems  ]

ClaremontRoots

Tree Roots at Claremont Gardens, Surrey – WHB   ©

 

Trees

By: Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

bar-greenNotes:  (From Wikipedia):

Kilmer_1908

Joyce Kilmer (born as Alfred Joyce Kilmer; December 6, 1886 – July 30, 1918) was an American writer and poet mainly remembered for a short poem titled “Trees” (1913), which was published in the collection Trees and Other Poems in 1914. Though a prolific poet whose works celebrated the common beauty of the natural world as well as his Roman Catholic religious faith, Kilmer was also a journalist, literary critic, lecturer, and editor. While most of his works are largely unknown, a select few of his poems remain popular and are published frequently in anthologies. Several critics—including both Kilmer’s contemporaries and modern scholars—have disparaged Kilmer’s work as being too simple and overly sentimental, and suggested that his style was far too traditional, even archaic. Many writers, including notably Ogden Nash, have parodied Kilmer’s work and style—as attested by the many parodies of “Trees”.

At the time of his deployment to Europe during World War I, Kilmer was considered the leading American Roman Catholic poet and lecturer of his generation, whom critics often compared to British contemporaries  G.K.Chesterton (1874–1936) and Hilaire Belloc (1870–1953). He enlisted in the New York National Guard and was deployed to France with the  69th Infantry regiment (the famous “Fighting 69th”) in 1917. He was killed by a sniper’s bullet at the Second Battle of the Marne in 1918 at the age of 31. He was married to Aline Murray, also an accomplished poet and author, with whom he had five children.

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RHS Wisley . . . Summertime

[  Photo Gallery # 103  ]

The Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Wisley in the English county of Surrey, south of London, is one of four gardens run by the Society.  It may be unseasonal, but my Photo Gallery today takes me back to a visit there in Summertime ten years ago.  Following last week’s photographs of Spring in these gardens I give below some of my photographs taken 4 months later.

Wisley-Aug07 007Wisley-Aug07 008Wisley-Aug07 012Wisley-Aug07 026

Wisley-Aug07 031Wisley-Aug07 038Wisley-Aug07 043WisleyFlowerShow-Aug07 004WisleyFlowerShow-Aug07 007WisleyFlowerShow-Aug07 008

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