MY CHRISTMAS GHOSTS

MY CHRISTMAS GHOSTS

… Three Christmas Senryu …

They live on in dreams
Friends who once enriched my life 
Ghosts of Christmas Past

Ghosts of Christmas Now
Fill my days and haunt my nights
Bring both joy and fear

Loves I’ll leave behind
Ghosts of Christmas Yet To Come
They are my future

Senryū

Form of poetry

Description

Senryū is a Japanese form of short poetry similar to haiku in construction: three lines with 17 morae. Senryū tend to be about human foibles while haiku tend to be about nature, and senryū are often cynical or darkly humorous while haiku are more serious. Wikipedia

The Grey Lady of Hampton Court

At Hampton Court Palace
One grey Autumn day,
Whilst strolling alone
I wandered astray,
Discovered this phantom,
Too shy to display.

Shroud for a lady, 
Hide her away. 
No one must see her
Lest somebody say,
She’s only a failure, 
She’s long had her day.

But now she is hidden 
And no one can see,
Then no one will question 
Just who she might be. 
They’ll just go on thinking
Perhaps she’s a he.

The fact she is ghostly, 
Clothed in a Shroud, 
Might give them a hint
That she’s not been allowed 
To be seen out in public, 
Detached from the crowd.

For in summer when tickets 
Are hard to come by,
That’s when they’ll release her 
Sustaining the lie.
Produce her in costume 
When darkness is nigh.

The Lady in Grey
As a spirit will glide,
 Patrol the Long Gallery,
Make-up applied,
Intent upon haunting –
A Queen mortified.

So that’s it for the winter, 
Don’t leave her on show.
Come wind and come tempest, 
Come rain or come snow, 
This tourist attraction’s 
The best that I know.

That rival in Scotland,
The fishy old coward,
In a straight contest, 
Its legacy soured,
It cannot compare 
With our Catherine Howard.

Time’s Hold

Painting by George Frederic Watts . . . 1886

 TIME’S  HOLD

You are what might have been 
on that alternative path,
my abandoned way re-discovered.

But what is now is salient; 
you make me an offer,  
propose to me a future 
that will not arise  
unless hope turns to reality
before Time tires.

When life was fast dissolving,
when my world
 was being wrenched apart,
then, supporting your own cross, 
you came from nowhere
to reach out, to connect,
to take my hope
and cherish it.

What I am left with
is no longer despair, 
but the veiled thrill
of tomorrow’s augury.

You could resolve my need,
bring me that accord, 
of touch, of feel, of senses, 
of minds in tune. 

What you do – for me, now,
is to engender lust, 
that lust of my youth,
for life, for certitude,
which can repel my languor, 
now sequestered by age,
and bring a new intensity,
revivify that spark
which once embellished all.

No longer my past innocence, 
but a considered offering,
a last grasp at time’s hold on me.

MONA LISA REVISITED

MONA  LISA  RECRUDESCENT

When I met her pleading stare
I nearly had a seizure.
A revenant confronted me,
Labelled ‘Mona Lisa’;

I saw her on a street in town,
That enigmatic beauty.
Reduced to begging for a crumb,
That captivating cutie.

A painting from another time
With pallid face and frown;
A legend from another age,
On a street in Whitby Town.

So sad to see her brought to this,
Esteem and beauty stolen,
Bereft of stature, fame, renown.
How are the mighty fallen!

The two photographs were taken by Roland in Yorkshire in October 2016

On Growing Old

‘Father William’ . . . Pen & Wash: WHB

The magic has gone,
The shine has been dulled;
All’s not the same
Now life’s ardour has stilled.


Where once each day sparkled
With glamour and promise,
Now the vision is smeared,
A glazed image of bliss.


Yet there are so many gifts
Without which I’d perish.
Good friends and the memories
Of times which I’ve relished.


I’ll relinquish sad thoughts,
I’m still in fine fettle.
A rose is a rose
When it’s lost all its petals.

Robert Herrick (poet)

Two Poems of ROBERT  HERRICK;

Born Cheapside, London in 1591
Died:  Dean Prior, Devon, in 1674, aged 83.
Educated at St. John’s College, Cambridge
Noted 17th Century Cleric and Poet

… The illustrations and script are my own recently re-discovered student work …

VERITY

Verity’ by Damien Hirst, Ilfracombe, Devon … Photograph … WHB – 2015

‘VERITY’ is the name given to a stainless steel and bronze statue created by Damien Hirst, the English artist, entrepreneur, and art collector. He is the most prominent member of the group known as the Young British Artists, who dominated the art scene in the UK during the 1990s.

The 20.25-metre tall sculpture stands on the pier at the entrance to the harbour in Ilfracombe, Devon, looking out over the Bristol Channel towards South Wales.  Hirst lives close to the town. He describes his work as a “modern allegory of truth and justice”.  The statue depicts a pregnant woman holding aloft a sword while carrying the scales of justice and standing on a pile of law books.  Half of the sculpture shows the internal anatomy of the pregnant woman, with the foetus clearly visible. (adapted from Wikipedia)

VERITY

Pregnant,
Opened up, exposed,
Exhibit Number One

I am birth corroborated,
Prying eyes sated,
Privacy crushed

Paraded for the populace
To ponder,
To pity

They ogle,
Excoriate,
Turn witty

Solicitudes are rare;
Their taunts I bear;
Reproofs I must abide

And yet, I am the truth
About how it is
To be free

My brandished threat
Repays the debt
My innocence holds

My stance, defiance,
Thwarts compliance,
Demands a voice

But to keep hope alive,
Live long, survive,
I must be exposed

Must confront
The brutal sea,
The relentless incoming tide

No chance repose;
What end my woes;
Torment inside

My frightened stare
Torches the tides,
Seeking solace

Whilst emblazoned in light
Against the torrid sky
The world gawps

I must bear
The stares
And cry

I am torn apart;
My pain is there
For all to see.

In a world that demands
To know,
To know everything

The truth is there
For all to see,
To verify that I
Am VERITY

Poem by WHB . . . 2015 Copyright

‘Verity’ by Damien Hirst, Ilfracombe, Devon … Photo WHB – 2015

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.

I Am Who I Am

C.L.Murphy

Words Can Express

Jerome Phelps

With a Little Distortion;

N.Anderson

No Need To Guess –

S.Matheve

My Face Is My Fortune.

The above drawings were created in the 1960s by four 10 and 11 year old pupils in my class at a Putney (London) Primary School.