The Stable Door

‘Stable Door,Wiltshire’ (National Trust) . . . WHB – Pen & Watercolour, c.1990

THE STABLE DOOR

Red bricked  arch
Red rose adorned
Frames the entrance
Bringing enchantment
To meet history
In this secluded pile

Once-stabled steeds
Whinny in wonder
From their equine tombs
And boast of
times when
Bridle bit and brace
Had cause to adorn
These ancient crumbling
 Cobwebbed stalls

Long left to nature
And to fate
But now in trust
To a Nation which remembers
And celebrates
Its history

 

Ancient ice

‘The Ice Fiord’ – Greenland Photo: WHB …2008

ancient ice
increasingly
encircles
as we move
silently
with stealth
into the ice fiord
hesitantly making a
zig-zag passage
towards the unstable
terminus
of the glacier
as it erodes
into the ocean’s edge

increasingly
smotheringly
enclosed by
walls of white and blue
immense
ridge-flanked
jagged-backed
menacingly still
a maze through which
the miniscule craft
threads a passage
towards the minotaur
the glacier’s lowering face
as it crumbles
tumbles
its fronting phalanx
fragmenting
with the occasional
sudden grinding cracking
turmoil
of yet another frozen offshoot
adding to the welter
the crowded pack of
new-born creatures
as the ice mass breaks and
calves
to join the myriad
of off-spring
in the ice ocean

Beyond the Raindrops

Pen & Wash . . . WHB : 2017

Beyond the Raindrops

 The storm arrives
And sates the air

I venture out
For you I dare

After the shower
I know where

Above the clouds
You have your lair

Beyond the Raindrops
I’ll find you there

Your beauty with

The rain you share

Your tears with raindrops
I compare

To your sorrow’s end
I offer a prayer

No disenchantment
Can I bear

Of fate and death
I’m unaware

Since that first day
You me ensnared

All else for you
I do forswear

You’ll ever be

My love affair

The Dome of St.Paul’s Cathedral, London

Dome of St.Paul’s … Pencil – WHB – 1958

The dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, London, is an incredible structure, a true work of art in the sense of it being both lovely to look at and requiring incredible precision and workmanship in the design and the construction.  Sir Christopher Wren, principal architect, originally produced several different designs for his dome before eventually settling on the one we have today, and of course he used a team of architects, who, through seemingly endless discussion, trial drawings, modelling, and debate, eventually produced this, certainly one of the greatest glories of London. (See photograph below).

From 1710, when the present cathedral was completed, until 1962, St.Paul’s Cathedral was London’s tallest building. 

The dome of St.Paul’s is built in 3 sections (see side section view below) …

Stage 1: To the Whispering Gallery;  259 steps.  Circles the dome’s interior at 30 metres above the floor of the cathedral transept.

Stage 2: Further up to the Stone Gallery; another 119 steps at 53.4 metres above the ground.

Stage 3: To the Golden Gallery, reducing in size as we get higher .  This runs around the highest point of the outer dome.  It is 85.4 metres (280 ft) from the cathedral floor below and there are another 150 steps to climb to reach it. 

That is a total of 528 steps in all!

Having made the journey to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral only once in my lifetime, and having also once climbed to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, which claims to have the tallest dome in the world, I found it interesting to make some comparisons between these two domed buildings.

St.Peter’s, Rome, has a height of 448 feet (or 136.5 metres) to the top of its cross.  It has 551 steps from the floor of the cathedral to the top of the dome

St Paul’s, London, is 365 feet (or 111 metres); It has 528 steps from the ground floor to the top of its dome.

FOOTNOTE:

On the basis of these figures, I calculate that the average height of the steps of St.Peter’s is approximately 8 inches, whilst the steps of St.Paul’s have an average height of about 8 1/2 inches.  So with St.Paul’s having 23 fewer steps to climb, but each one requiring your foot to be raised an additional ½ inch, which steps are the easier to climb?  . . .  AND ANSWER CAME THERE NONE!


There are several videos on YouTube which will take you up and down these steps to the Dome of St.Paul’s and which give panoramic views of London from the top.

NORTH CAPE … A Cinquain

The steep cliff of  NORTH  CAPE  (or Nord Kapp), in Norway, is often referred to as the northernmost point of Europe. There is some contention about this, according to how this is defined.  However, the North Cape is the point where the Norwegian Sea, part of the Atlantic Ocean, meets the Barents Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean.  The midnight sun can be seen here from 14 May to the 31st of July. The sun reaches its lowest point here from 12:14 – 12:24 a.m. during those days.

North Cape is inside the Arctic Circle.  On a visit there in 2002, I took the photograph below of a Mother and Child statue, where the child is pointing Northwards towards the Pole, still over 1000 miles away.

Based on this scene, I wrote the following verse, in the poetic format of a cinquain.

REACH OUT
AT THE NORTH CAPE.
POINTING THE WAY HOMEWARD?
NO; HE’S POINTING TO THE NORTH POLE;
WORLD’S END.

Cinquain: a short, usually unrhymed, poem consisting of twenty-two syllables distributed as 2, 4, 6, 8, 2, in five lines. It was developed by the Imagist poet, Adelaide Crapsey, who was born in 1878, the third child of an Episcopal clergyman. She graduated from Vassar College, returning to her high school boarding school, Kemper Hall, to teach literature and history. A few years later, while teaching a course entitled, “Poetics: A Critical Study of Verse Forms” at Smith College, she began a study of metrics which led to her invention of the cinquain as we know it.

In its simplest dictionary definition, a cinquain is a poem of five lines. Crapsey’s cinquain was more specific, a poem of five lines with a specific syllable count of 2-4-6-8-2, usually iambic. The ideal cinquain for Crapsey was one that worked up to a turn or climax, and then fell back. Similar to the “twist” that often occurs in the final couplet of a sonnet, a cinquain’s “turn” usually occurs during the final, shorter fifth line or immediately before it. Thus, the momentum of a cinquain grows with each subsequent line as another two syllables, usually an iambic foot, is added bringing the poem to a climax at the fourth line, falling back to a two syllable “punch line”.

There are several different forms of the Cinquain.    For more information on this, see the ‘Shadow Poetry’ website at:  Cinquain

OPORTO

Oporto, Portugal … Pen & Watercolour – WHB – 2015

OPORTO  is a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is situated along the banks of the Douro river estuary in northern Portugal. The city’s actual name is Porto, but when preceded by a definite article, ‘O’ in Portuguese, meaning ‘the’ in English, it is written as ‘o Porto’ meaning ‘the port’ in English. As a result, in English the city is usually referred to now as ‘Oporto’.   The city is known for its stately bridges, its port wine production, and for its monuments and buildings by renowned architects.  The city was also the birthplace of one of world history’s legendary figures, Prince Henry the Navigator.  In some city guidebooks it is also given as  the birthplace of that world-famous fictional character, Harry Potter, as the author, J. K. Rowling, was living in Oporto as an English teacher when she started writing her first ‘Harry Potter’ book. 

According to its travel bureau
Oporto’s a town on the Douro;
Praise be to Jehovah
It’s famed the world over
For port wine to banish your sorrow,

It’s Portuguese wine at its best;
If you try it you’ll want to invest;
You’ll go back for more,
Buy out the wine store,
And lay all your bogeys to rest.

But then you must explore the city;
It’s stunning, impressive and pretty;
Renowned architects,
Artistic projects,
Far too much to view – what a pity!

The Great Orme

‘Dawn on the Great Orme’ … Pen & Wash – WHB – 2017

THE GREAT ORME

In the dewy dawn
Atop the Orme
Pen y Gogarth
Viking Sea Monster
Proud promontory
Welsh trees

Swept
By Irish winds
Farmer
And sheepdogs
Treading
The Trust’s territory
Toiling to
Keep faith with
Our heritage
Husbanding
The headland
Midst these
Stalwart
Tenacious
Welsh warriors
Bowed
But not defeated
Forever
Battling
Tempting
The wind’s torment
All
Inherent
Parts of
This heroic

The Great Orme (Pen y Goggarth in Wesh), named originally by the Vikings as ‘Sea Monster’, is a massive limestone headland which dominates the view from Llandudno on the North Wales coastline.  It is a wildlife paradise, now designated as a National Country Park and as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Heritage Coast Its varied features include rich heathland, limestone grassland and woodland, sheer sea cliffs, habitats which support flora and fauna unique to this area.  Rarely seen choughs . and the very rare spiked speedwell are found here, as well as the silver-studded butterflies, which can be found only here on the Great Orme.  It is the home also to the fearsomely-horned wild Kashmir goat, as well as a large flock of sheep.

The National Trust has recently acquired Parc Farm here and its grazing rights across the headland.  A tenant farmer has now been installed here to oversee the protection of the Great Orme’s fragile landscape and the threatened rare plants, insects and wildlife for the future.

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

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)

Two Londons

View from Decimus Burton’s Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner,  Adrian Jones’s sculpture of ‘The Angel of Peace Descending in the Quadriga of War’ (Watercolour – WHB)

LONDON  2017

In all that bright and glorious sunshine,
amongst those trees, those parks, those sculptural delights,
Hidden below that Impressive skyline,
Beneath and among those imposing sights,
How much deprivation is still concealed

As that which was to Blake revealed?

( Pen and Wash drawing and the accompanying verse above are by WHB)

What was revealed to William Blake as he wandered the streets of late 18th and early 19th Century London, he wrote about in the following poem.  It was first published in his ‘Songs of Experience’ in 1794

London-Seven Dial early 19th Century – Sketches by Boz

London    . . .   By William Blake

I wander thro’ each charter’d street
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear

How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls

But most thro’ midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlots curse
Blasts the new-born Infants tear
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse