Thoughts on a Dead Leaf

It fell
Green life
Extinguished
Time passed
Slowly
It diminished
To its scaffolding
Intact beauty still
New life
Surviving
In the skeleton
Beneath the skin
Revealing the grace
Which had upheld
Its existence
Its structure
Naked now
Spine-bold
Ram-rod straight
Not dead now
Nor even dying
Instead
Skin shed
A statement
Of creation’s power
Holding its tendrils
Steady
In firm formation
Awaiting its
Next chapter

Not yet shredded
Not yet dust
This tomography
Call it a CAT scan
Delving into
Nature’s
secret world
Revealing
The truth
Of whence
Its green strength
Derived

Thus
As our own surface
Erodes
Do we achieve
The same beauty?
Do we secrete
Analogous
New life
Beneath the old?
We leaves
Fallen from life’s tree
Shrivelled
Our essence revealed
In our skeletal remains
Proud-structured
Until
The next stage
And eventual
Severance
From what we have been
Transmogrified
To further service
In replenishing
New life forms
Our fruition in
The new spring’s bloom
Blossom and leaves

There has to be beauty
In death
As in life
Decay
Does not doom us to death
Rather
There is a beauty in death
The leaf ceased to be
A leaf
But became
Something else
And its beauty remained
It merely
Continued
Into a transmuted life
Its fate
As our own
To be
Continued existence

For death is but a metaphor
For new life

All photographs . . .  by WHB – 2016

CUPID’S Post Office

At the Rye Automaton Museum, E.Sussex … Photo: WHB-  2005

CUPID’S POST OFFICE

Cupid’s Post Office,
Just one in the land.
Love letters to order
Don’t write it by hand.

From my bottom drawer
You can read it and smile,
Knowing full well she’ll love it,
Her heart you’ll beguile.

Try out my wisdom.
My best epithets
Can be had for one penny.
You’ll have no regrets.

When she gets this missive,
I do guarantee,
You’ll have no complaints,
She’ll be ecstatic, you’ll see.

Your own billet doux
Wouldn’t be half as good.
Try mine for a change Sir,
And show your manhood.

Just imagine the pleasure
Your beloved will take,
And so, just for a penny,
You can end your heart ache.

Thy mirror shews thee
Not more true
Than my fond heart
Reflecteth you.

The 2 images above are of From Victorian Valentine Cards – Photographs: WHB – 1999

THE CANAL HORSE

On the Great Western Canal at Tiverton, Devon . . .  Photo – WHB – 2013
 

THE CANAL HORSE

Sedate
And ponderous
He carries his weight lightly
But without pace
It is summer work
Plying the bank
Subject to the weather
And his master
Apparently contented
But perhaps sad
Would he rather be elsewhere
But what would he know
Of elsewhere
This has been his life
His only life
Since brought into this world
Delivered as a foal by a mother
Who knew only this very same life
Tutored on this very canal bank
Learning the towpath’s bends
Its tricky turns
The track ruts to avoid
The necessary manoeuvres
When hitching up
H is purpose in life
Why else was he brought into this world
He knows his master
Trusts and
Respects him
Always by his side
His every command
Gentle but firm
A tug on the lead
A wary grunt
They tread the canal bank
The towpath to pleasure
Other’s pleasure
His Pilgrim’s Way
The daily round
His common task

On the Great Western Canal at Tiverton, Devon . . . Photo – WHB – 2015

Broken only at the terminus
A half-way respite
By the bridge
A brief uncoupling
A hay bag
A nuzzle
A few photographs
Then the return
The narrow boat his carriage
Its passengers his charges
He carries on
Always carries on
Trundling his life
In peace
In tranquillity
His boat
His harnessed heritage
Disturbing the reeds
And the ducks only
Creating a minor slipstream
Before the end
Disembarkation
Then a brief hiatus
Before the ever echoing pattern
Repeats itself
As do the days
And the months
Until
Darkness descends
And time
Ceases to exist

On the Great Western Canal, Tiverton, Devon . . .  Pen & Wash by WHB – 2013

This canal ride is offered during the Summer months on one of the last Horse-Drawn Barges in Great Britain.  Scheduled rides on the canal boat start and end from the point where the Great Western Canal commences, in Tiverton, East Devon.  Details of what is on offer  at this delightful site and timetable of the canal trips can be found on the website below  . . .

http://www.tivertoncanal.co.uk/floating-cafe-bar

A BBC TV Video of this canal barge experience is also made available via this website

The Applegarth

Guisborough Priory, N.Yorkshire

The APPLEGARTH

When morning
meets my melancholy
I must refocus
dispel my clouds
and reconnect to nature
through her glory

The garth gate invites
pledges enchantment
such memories harboured here
once the cloister garden
of my medieval monastery
now still the repository
of the priory’s peace
ancient orchard
now transformed
but still a place
to rejuvenate the soul
to touch
feel and taste
nature’s serenity

   The morning mist
lingered low
over the once fallow fields
then no longer virgin earth
but become thick with apple trees
and those
long gone
and autumn dormant now
awaiting its wheat-carpeted
summer season

The morning advances
only half-appreciated
until the
the priory arch
proud against the sky
bursts through the mist
into the weak sun’s gaze
the veiled sky
allowing
the gathering sunlight
slowly
to prove its strength
and bring clarity
to a waiting world

And The pathway
its ancient course
 piercing its length
into the shrouded distance
remembrancer now
of those Augustinian brothers
traversing
this ancient orchard

who with such care
tended nature’s gifts
now bare of fruit
but never fruitless
no longer cosseted
by priestly presence
and full of nuanced context still

For me …

The Applegarth
my own memory
of this sanctified place
sings of golden corn
bordering that arrowed path
where also was
the winning post
the last gasp
of those long-past
teenage
distance running races
marking my triumphs
measuring my success
against the countless strides
I had wrenched
from my straining body
to accomplish
to lead the race
the end of endeavours
signifying my own
my personal
accomplishment.

The Applegarth,
a trope
my metaphor
for my life.

Photographs by WHB . . . 2016



 

The ROCK

Triassic Red Rock at Exmouth, Devon … Photograph WHB – 2010

Offcut of the Jurassic coast
Orphan of the distant cliffs
Detached from its mother lode
Now an imposing sentinel
A majestic rock
A Triassic red rock.

Descendant of the Devon Cliffs
Ancestor of a million pebbles
Reliving its life in isolation
Facing the diurnal tides
Confronting Poseidon’s rage

Andromeda’s chains now long cast off
This pedestal of the shoreline
Now serving a valued purpose.

Harbouring shore life
A haven for gulls
Cosseting kelp
Succouring seabirds
Sheltering shellfish
Anchoring limpets
Its periwinkles

Feeding on its algae

Minimally diminishing with every tide
Yet serving its constituency
With resolution.
And promising
Its adherents
A fitting future.

KNOCKERS

In my naivety, I thought knockers were people who knocked at doors. ….

Doors, or so I thought, are knocked on ….

By Postmen
By The Police
By Postwomen

By Meter Readers
By Touters For Trade
By Charity Collectors
By Suspicious  Callers
By Christmas Carollers
By Political Canvassers

By Deliverers  Of Goods
By Beggars and Pleaders
By Children at Halloween
By Subscription Collectors
By Neighbourhood Watchers
By Collectors and  Borrowers
By Salesmen and Saleswomen
By Online Shopping Deliverers
By the Travelling Fish Van Man
By Vendors of Household  Goods
By Proselytisers of Religious Sects
By Kids Playing  Knock Down Ginger
By ‘Round Table’ Collectors at Christmas
By Persons leaving parcels for a Neighbour

BUT . . .

My illusions
were proved to be delusions
when, out browzing,
I came across the following …

My photograph was taken in Rye on the English Channel coast of East Sussex in 2005 . . .  WHB.

So to make the situation worse
I turned at last to verse . . . 

We do have the best knockers in town,
They patrol our street up and down.
If you’re not in good shape
Then you’d better escape,
Or they’ll certainly cause you to frown.

’Cos they ring and they knock twenty times,
Even when you’ve got ‘GO AWAY’ signs,
Saying “You must now leave
Or you’re going to receive
A summons for multiple crimes.”

But then someone pointed it out,
There certainly was cause for some doubt.
As I’m not very clever
I’d made a bad error
Over what this old sign was about.

They said I was most asinine;
I was dim and unable to shine.
To them it was clear
I had no idea
I’d mistaken a word in the sign.

Yes, to put it quite bluntly you see,
I’d boobed over what it could b.e
In my defence
I  thought something else.
I was really naive you’ll agree.

I had  taken the word at face value;
I believe every word these signs say.
I just wasn’t thinking;
Perhaps I’d been drinking;
Never dreamt that they meant it that way.

There was no way I could have guessed;
I  knew not these words were just jests.
If they’d meant to be clear
And were really sincere,
They should NOT have said ‘KNOCKERS’ but ‘CHESTS’.

We do have the best knockers in town,
They patrol our street up and down.
If you’re not in good shape
Then you’d better escape,
Or they’ll certainly cause you to frown.

’Cos they ring and they knock twenty times,
Even when you’ve got ‘GO AWAY’ signs,
Saying “You must now leave
Or you’re going to receive
A summons for multiple crimes.”

But then someone pointed it out,
There certainly was cause for some doubt.
As I’m not very clever
I’d made a bad error
Over what this old sign was about.

They said I was most asinine;
I was dim and unable to shine.
To them it was clear
I had no idea
I’d mistaken a word in the sign.

Yes, to put it quite bluntly you see,
I’d boobed over what it could b.e
In my defence
I  thought something else.
I was really naive you’ll agree.

I had  taken the word at face value;
I believe every word these signs say.
I just wasn’t thinking;
Perhaps I’d been drinking;
Never dreamt that they meant it that way.

There was no way I could have guessed;
I  knew not these words were just jests.
If they’d meant to be clear
And were really sincere,
They should NOT have said ‘KNOCKERS’ but ‘CHESTS’.

I’ll give the last words on this edifying subject to Paul McCartney and ‘WINGS’ . . .
“Someone’s Knockin’ At The Door”  (‘Let ‘Em in’ … 1976) .

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.

ARGUMENTS YARD

Some viewers  may remember that I published some verses a few days ag0 in a blog entitled  ‘Mona Lisa Revisited’ .  The photograph I used, taken by me some time ago (as are the other photographs om this page) in Church Street, Whitby, on the North Yorkshire coast, showed prominently the entrance to one of the town’s well-known ginnels, or Yards, called ‘ARGUMENTS YARD’.

This led me to ponder over the possible derivation of this ancient name for the short dark passageway leading directly down to the north bank of the harbour and the mouth of the River Esk.  The following verses are the result of my deliberations . . .

All this is conjecture;
You don’t need a lecture

But, in doggerel verse,
Which could hardly be worse,

I’ll tell you a tale
Which will make you turn pale.

#   #   #

I tried very hard
To find ‘Arguments Yard’.

At last, when I’d found it,
Suspicion compounded,

I knew it was true;
It was no Avenue.

But a hotbed of squabble,
Of trouble and babble.

#   #   #

For once it befell
In this yard there did dwell

Large families three,
Who could never agree.

The ginnel they lived in,
Dwelt side-by-side in,

Was almost a tunnel
A regular funnel.

Lived so close together
They’d bicker and blether.

Their life was uphill
Without any goodwill.

#   #   #

So as this story goes
These neighbours were foes.

And they started to fight
Over which one was right.

They argued from dawn
From the day they were born,

And when evening had come
They continued the scrum.

All mired with scandals,
Both hoodlums and vandals.

Figures of shame
Who denied any blame.

They argued the toss
And got very cross;

Yelled over the fence;
The noise was intense.

They disturbed passers by
With the oaths they let fly.

Disagreed with each other,
With sister and brother.

Shouted and cursed –
The children were worst.

Each day they’d bicker,
Whilst knocking back liquor.

Complained, moaned and grumbled,
Botched, fudged and bungled.

Bemoaned their existence,
Claimed their subsistence.

Refused to comply,
Or for jobs to apply.

In short it was hell
In that yard to dwell.

And everyone near
Existed in fear.

#   #   #

Move on to the present;
Now, not so unpleasant.

It appears that now
All has sobered somehow.

Yes, there’s nothing more strange
Than how times do change.

I’m assured that now
Things are much more highbrow.

Yes, they’re now avant-garde
Down in Arguments Yard.

In fact, the real derivation of the Yard’s name is much more prosaic.  It is now known to have been named after the Argument, or Argment, family, a well-established Whitby family who lived in this  yard for many years.  The family has been traced back hundreds of years, when they fled to Whitby to escape religious persecution.  Argument is actually an Anglicisation of the Flemish name Argomont.  They were Huguenots, sixteenth century Protestants, who fled Catholic France to avoid persecution and settled in Whitby.

At one time there were two yards of the same name, from this family name Argument.  The yard pictured – off Church Street – is one of the best known, loved and photographed in the town.  These days, more than 80 such named yards still exist in Whitby.  Their origins lie in the town’s mediaeval past.

Arguments Yard seems to have remained  much as it always has been, still intriguing, full of old-world charm, and much more tranquil than is suggested by its name.

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

Aberaeron & Wales – Pen & Wash

Pen and Wash watercolour from the harbour – Aberaeron … WHB – 2013
aberaeron-map

ABERAERON is a small harbour town in Ceredigion, Wales. It lies on the coastline of Cardigan Bay looking out towards the Irish Sea.  It has a small but vibrant harbour usually heavily stocked with pleasure boats of all sizes and shapes. There is much extremely impressive and beautiful Georgian architecture to be seen in the town.  Many of the houses have taken on a distinctive look by being decorated in bright colours as can be seen in my pen and wash painting above. The town has the reputation of being “one of the best examples of a planned township of small scale in Wales”.  Today the town, situated between Aberystwyth and Cardigan, serves as a touring centre for the Cardigan bay area of Wales. The town’s name is from the Welsh meaning “mouth of the River Aeron”. 

I include below images of just a few of my pen and wash sketches and two photographs of scenes in different parts of Wales (titles below).  Click on any one to view a slide show of all the images in larger format . . .