The Sandman

THE  SANDMAN

The sandman looms

long and low in the westerly sun

on the evening shore

treading his beach

with dedicated feet

an image hunter

heir of Autolycus

searching

 for Nature’s hidden ornaments

probing with his stick

revealing the sand crabs

tempting the tide to turn

and wash away his presence

leaving no imprint

only a fleeting glance

a captured instant

of memory

of another world

arcane and mystical

beneath the sand

before the glimpse

releases him

and he moves on

into the dying day.

The Sandman was spotted on the beach beside Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland,UK, in 2003 …
Photo and sketch …  WHB

The Ballad Of Beggar’s Bridge

This bridge, in a traditional Pack Horse shape, has remained intact straddling the River Esk near the moorland village of Glaisdale, in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, for 400 years.   The village is about ten miles inland from Whitby, where the River Esk flows into the North Sea.
It is known as Beggar’s Bridge, and was built in 1619, by Tom Ferris, a local man, son of a poor moorland sheep farmer.   Having been turned down as a suitable suitor for his love, Agnes, by her wealthy land-owning father, Tom vowed to seek his fortune and to one day return to claim Agnes’ for his wife.  After many adventures at sea, Tom returned, now a rich man, married Agnes, and prospered, to such an extent that he eventually became the Lord Mayor of Hull.  The bridge, it is said, was erected by Tom as a memorial to his wife, and as a means for future lovers to cross the river without having to brave its often flooded waters.  The story, as it has been passed down, is a mix of fact and fiction.  The basic facts are essentially true, but the story, has become a local legend and has, no doubt been embellished over the course of time.

I have tried my hand at re-telling this story in a simple and traditional ballad style, the results of which efforts I give below . . .

THE BALLAD OF BEGGAR’S BRIDGE

He lived beside the river Esk
In a fair delightful dale
His story I must tell you now
A truly stirring tale.

Tom loved a lass of high estate
It was not meant to be
For she was of the Manor born
A lowly lad was he.

Her father disapproved the match
Tom was of lowly birth
No land, no money, no position,
Of very little worth.

But their shared love was sound and solid
So secretly they met.
They shared their passions willingly
But always under threat.

Poor Tom was restless and intent
To run away to sea;
He held fast to the thoughts that stirred
Inside him to be free.

He knew one day he’d win his bride,
He would not be gainsaid;
Beyond this dale there was a world
Where fortunes could be made.

So one dark night he set off late
To wish Agnes farewell
To promise to return for her
To ever with her dwell.

She lived beside the river too
But on the other side.
He therefore had to swim across
He would not be denied.

The Esk just then was in full spate
It swirled along the dale.
It almost took Tom’s life that night
He knew he must prevail.

With strength of ten he forged a path
Across the raging stream;
He dragged his aching body out
As if within a dream.

With his goodbyes Tom gave his word
That some day he’d return;
And Agnes gave her solemn oath
She’d wait for him in turn.

Tom took himself to Whitby town
And soon with Drake joined battle;
Against that Spanish fleet he fought
Saw off the invading rabble.

A rover in West Indies then
And piracy his game.
Plunder and pillage gave him wealth
And brought a kind of fame.

He felt that now he could return
To claim his promised bride;
Confront her father without fear,
With new found hope and pride.

And so to Glaisdale Tom returned
His roving days now past.
True to her word Agnes rejoiced,
Her hopes fulfilled at last.

They married soon and lived in bliss,
Or so the story goes.
Tom grew in wealth, in fame, in power,
Commanding all he chose.

Throughout the north he garnered fame
His name grew ever bigger.
Lord Mayor of Hull he then became,
Now a respected figure.

And when his Agnes died at last
Their story he declared,
Would with a bridge over the Esk
With all the world be shared.

A bridge to join the river’s banks
To help new lovers’ trysts;
A bridge secure from spate and flood
Which to this day exists.

The reason it’s called Beggar’s Bridge
No one is very sure.
‘Tis thought was done to prompt us all
That Tom was once so poor.

THE FORSAKEN MERMAID


Photo: WHB – taken in Aberporth, Ceredigion, on the West Coast of Wales, facing towards Cardigan Bay and the Irish Sea

She emanates wistfulness
melancholy, sorrow
bound to her rock
out of sight of her sea.
Andromeda’s prison
awaiting her Perseus.

She thinks of the sea,
beseeching the ocean,
to roll in and take her
to wash her away
to be lost in the waves
to swirl with the kelp
in that pellucid world
in those welcoming depths
to join the white horses
to laze in the rock pools
bask on the corals
where once were her friends

No coteries here
no sisters, no mermen,
no one to favour her –
offspring or lovers.
That whirlpool which bred her
the spray which had bathed her
sequestrated and gone now
no longer her milieu.

Is this always and ever
is this life’s stricture
retribution for what?
For loving her kingdom
her aquatic birthright?
Or for being in form
not fish, fowl nor fiend?

For living a life
half tide-borne,
half earth-child,
hermaphrodite, epicene,
ambiguous, undefined,
a shadowy being,
crippled, malformed?

Her joy now –
the sunlight,
the breeze
and the dew
the song of the seagull
the far sigh of the sea.

Only these now remind her
of when she was free.

Poem: WHB (Copyright)

CLYTIE

‘Clytie’ Sculpted by G.F.Watts … Pen & Ink sketch: WHB

In the verses below, I attempt to express Clytie’s plight when she finds her love for the Son God, Helios, rejected, and she is committed to watch his daily flight across the heavens in his winged chariot .  Eventually she is transformed into a sunflower or heliotrope , condemned for ever to follow the sun’s movements across the sky.

C L Y T I E

As dusk takes over from the day
I stand on Helios’ shore and weep.

Light for my soul,
Lust for my life;
These no more can I strive to keep.

Yet there is hope because the night
Is followed by expectant day.
The sun will rise
With hope intact,
And I’ll revive my destined way.

The languid sun will lift at dawn
Over the shimmering tranquil sea.
It is my dreams,
My Holy Grail,
And promises new hopes to me.

The sun renews its daily task.
As Clytie, I still strive to meld
Lovers’ aubade,
Their serenade.
With this till dusk my life is held.

Time’s chariot, its path I trace;
Helios arcs across the sky.
Till evening ends
In blood red  gore,
And once again I die.

But then again the cycle breaks
When dawn extends to dusk its kiss.
It’s carmine clinch,
Crimson caress,
Herald again life’s feud with bliss.


Clytie


Pen & Ink Drawing of George \frederick Watts’ sculptured bust of CLYTIE  . . .  by W.H.B.

 In the verses below, I attempt to express Clytie’s plight when she finds her love for the Son God, Helios, rejected, and she is committed to watch his daily flight across the heavens in his winged chariot .  Eventually she is transformed into a sunflower or heliotrope , condemned for ever to follow the sun’s movements across the sky.

CLYTIE

As dusk takes over from the day
I stand on Helios’ shore and weep.

Light for my soul,
Lust for my life;
These no more can I strive to keep.

Yet there is hope because the night
Is followed by expectant day.
The sun will rise
With hope intact,
And I’ll revive my destined way.

The languid sun will lift at dawn
Over the shimmering tranquil sea.
It is my dreams,
My Holy Grail,
And promises new hopes to me.

The sun renews its daily task.
As Clytie, I still strive to meld
Lovers’ aubade,
Their serenade.
With this till dusk my life is held.

Time’s chariot, its path I trace;
Helios arcs across the sky.
Till evening ends
In blood red  gore,
And once again I die.

But then again the cycle breaks
When dawn extends to dusk its kiss.
It’s carmine clinch,
Crimson caress,
Herald again life’s feud with bliss.

Clytie is a figure from Ancient Greek mythology. She was a water nymph, daughter of Oceanus and Tethys in Greek mythology. Clytia loved Helios in vain.[ My Poem was Previously published – Sep., 2016 ]

The Way Ahead?

vase with artificial herbs arranged with buddha bust and sage smudge stick in bowl

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

The Way Ahead?

I need a purpose …
Or do I really need a purpose?

No purpose?
No destination.
No destination?
No structure.
No structure?
And then
I am told
Life is not worth the living.

And to live
I need rules,
Rules to live by.
My parents,my schools,
Both gave me rules;
Society, government,
Both give me rules
For I do need rules,
Rules to live by.

Religion gives me rules,
But so does superstition,
Wherein lies the difference?
For both rely on faith
On faith …
on Belief.

Belief …
or is it Credulity?

 

RDD

Who Shall I Pray To?

prayer

WHO SHALL I PRAY TO?

 

It may be 
that only the Little People have my measure,
know the chances I take, 
jockeying for position on the human stage,
risking all.
It is they who understand. 
they have been here before me
and sympathise. 

Now, safe in their elven homes,
reflecting,
they take the long view,
the wise one, 
nodding,
in turn, sympathetic, then disdainful,
smugly disengaged.

For that is their destiny as gods,
to judge, 
to pronounce on the frail and the headstrong;
to be prayed to by feeble humankind, 
free to accept our pitiful offerings. 
free also
to ignore our pleas for redemption. 

Who else do I pray to
when history’s gods fail me? 
Only Solas listens, 
hears,
but his replies I fail to understand, 
and, rudderless, 
am, as ever, left
to choose my own path
in this unstable world.

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ATHENA

Poseidon&Athena-WHB

POSEIDON & ATHENA:  WHB … Pen & Ink, 2019

ATHENA

 

She
Born of male
Warrior Goddess
Meant not to fail

Faced fear
Lord of the Sea
Her major prize
Attica’s key

Poseidon’s trident
Challenged by
Athena’s spear
The stakes so high

But olive tree
Of course
Beat salt spring
And horse

The prize
The city
The winner
No pity

Athens the realm 
Athena’s gain
Poseidon’s loss
To him the pain

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Athena and Poseidon vied for control of Athens and its surrounding territory, Attica. … Poseidon struck the rock with his trident and produced a salt spring or a horse.  

Athena brought forth an olive tree from the ground by the touch of her spear and she was proclaimed the victor.

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?

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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.

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