What Might Have Been

Roseberry Topping - April 1957


When we were young and life was all adventure
We briefly touched in those few hours of pleasure
Those moments on the hills and in the dales
Memories of an idyll that I treasure.

Out tramping over moor and through the heather
The sun embracing us in warmth and love
The curlew’s cry rebounding all around us
That time was surely sent from heaven above

Your glance in my direction met my heart strings
But little more at that time done or said
I felt those tender eyes were offering passion
And yet I did not follow where they led.

If that brave glance I had not then mistaken
Who knows what different path I’d tread?
We could have found each other for a lifetime
Chance intervened and severed us instead.

I’m reminded of that other road not taken
My future at a loss to predicate
Such times as this I oft have missed their meaning
A turning point on which has hinged my fate

Yet often since I’ve wondered in my dreaming
What happened to that girl whose warmth I felt
What life and love had brought to her remoteness
What sort of hand her fortune cards had dealt.


ISLAY – Scotland’s Whisky Isle

C48 Sep03ScotP

The view from Port Askaig across the Sound Of Islay to the Paps Of Jura.

Islay (pronounced ‘eye-la’), with a population of approximately 3,200, is on the same latitude as Gigha (see my post of April 6th 2017) and so shares its position as the southernmost of the Inner Hebrides Islands, off the west coast of Scotland.  Along with the neighbouring island of Jura, it is known for its whisky.  Eight distilleries produce the island’s characteristically peaty single malts. 

The first written references to Islay come from St. Columba who set foot there in 560 AD. The historical significance of Islay cannot be over emphasised.  It is from Finlaggan, the cradle of the Clan Donald, that much of Argyll was ruled by the Lords of the Isles.  Here, in the ancient burial ground is the grave of Robert the Bruce’s grand-daughter.

For many visitors the famous distilleries on Islay are the first acquaintance with this hospitable and friendly island, but Islay has many other attractions and is well worth a visit to follow the beautiful coastline, walk its moorlands, and visit its small villages and historic settlements. The  island has miles of beautiful beaches, impressive bays on Islay’s Atlantic west coast, and stunning views throughout.   Walking and cycling are ideal and practical ways to explore the island.  Islay is also a birdwatching paradise with more than 100 species of birds and thousands of migrating geese who visit Islay in the winter from the Arctic.  Not without reason Islay is called “The Queen of the Hebrides”. 


Below is a Gallery of just twelve of the photographs I took on a previous visit when the weather was not always as kind as it might have been.  Clicking on any of the photographs will bring up a slide show with slightly larger images …

Spring In Autumn

Esher Ave-Apple Blossom2-Apr2017e

‘Apple Blossom’ Surrey, England  . . .  Photo – WHB – April 2017


The apple blossom curls against my window

Promising its fruit as it unfurls;

Its pink and white against the burgeoning greenness

Sing, as my mind around them swirls.

For all the beauty I behold in nature

Summates in this the spring of my old age,

And promises the gift of lasting vision;

My passing will not be in futile rage.

Esher Ave-Apple Blossom4-Apr2017a

Esher Ave-Apple Blossom9-Apr2017a

‘Apple Blossom’ Surrey, England  . . .  Photos – WHB – April 2017



LEIGH  HUNT  (1784–1859)  was an essayist, journalist and poet of the Romantic Period in English Literature.  Not perhaps one of the leading Romanticists, but he nevertheless, did much to bring their poetry to prominence in the early 19th century, particularly through his friendships with Shelley, Keats and Byron, and by means of his editorship of the influential literary magazine, The ‘Examiner.’

A short poem of his, which I’ve long enjoyed for its sweetness and simplicity, is Leigh Hunt’s verse, originally entitled ‘Rondeau’, but more generally known as ‘Jenny kiss’d Me’.

This charming poem is said to have been inspired by a meeting, following an illness, with the wife of his friend, the eminent historian Thomas Carlyle.


JENNY KISS’D ME  . . .  By Leigh Hunt (1838)


Jenny kiss’d me when we met,

Jumping from the chair she sat in;

Time, you thief, who love to get

Sweets into your list, put that in!

Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,

Say that health and wealth have missed me,

Say I’m growing old, but add

Jenny kiss’d me.



Perhaps unkindly, I quote below a parody I came across of Hunt’s verses by Paul Dehn,
the Oscar-winning British screenwriter, who merely altered the last two lines, to read . . .

“Say I’ve had a filthy cold
Since Jenny kiss’d me.”


The poem has been set to music by  the 2oth Century English composer, Muriel Herbert (1897-1984).  This song now appears to be extremely popular with a capella choral groups – and  particularly with American high school and college choirs, many examples of which can be found on YouTube.  I include one of these below . . .

Mountain View High School Choir




Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones … Singing Angels (‘Honesty’) Tapestry 1898 (detail)


Do I just pretend to be open
am I a charlatan at heart
how sincere
how honest
when push
comes to shove
when the chips are down
what remains
that is true to my intent

Have I forsaken my promise
my desire to be me
openly faithful
truly chaste
a compassionate soul
struggling for honesty
and resolved to lead
into the Promised Land

My poems are
imagination’s creatures
but still
slave to whim
to make-believe
and the pre-determined end
does this condemn me to
reach a bargain
to fudge the truth

If so then
has that truth
become another lie
or does it just allow me
a latitude
a breadth of narrative
which covers up
the shallowness of my intent

I compromise surely
make accommodations to reality
inhibited by
thoughts of entitlement
feelings of worth
desire to please
to purchase credibility
a mercenary versifier
forever regretting
that this facade
must be negotiated
with my better judgement
not wanting to hurt
protecting decorum and 
further weakening honesty
dissolving the truth

And yet
rather this
than face the rejection
that surely would follow
as always
the truth that
no – I am no wunderkind
not tomorrow’s success
nor Destiny’s child
just waiting
to be found


Moses Discovered In The Bulrushes

My Cold-hearted Lover



My cold-hearted lover has gone
She left me this wreath in the snow.
She said if I changed,
My life re-arranged,
It might be worth letting her know.

Those years we have lingered together;
Those times I have thought we were one;
But now it would seem
That was merely a dream,
A mirage now dwindled and gone.

For when the snow melts in the sun
No longer will our love exist.
Just a moment of fun,
A brief glimpse of the sun,
Just a chapter of love in the mist.

So a new life awaits me I’m hoping,
One without ties or distraction.
What I’m looking for,
What I’d love and adore,
Is an ending with deep satisfaction.





 You remember those verses I wrote
Just a couple of moments ago?
Well I’ve got a confession,
It’s taught me a lesson,
I do jump to conclusions I know.

In fact I had got it all wrong;
She’d never intended to go.
She said when she went
She never had meant
To cause me a great deal of woe.

So what can a bloke like me do?
And can I pretend it’s not so?
Can I be uncouth,
And tell her the truth,
And say that I really must go?

For I didn’t take too long to find
Someone else to be with for ever.
Who never says no,
And who strokes my ego,
A much less intolerant lover.

So it’s no good her saying she’s sorry
Soon after she threw me right out.
She knows I’m respectful,
In no way neglectful,
It’s not as though I’m a big lout.

So I consider now that’s it’s over
I didn’t do bad from the deal.
I get a new dolly,
While she keeps the holly,
I tell myself that’s just ideal.


Building Bridges


New bridge over the River Thames, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, U.K.


Aiding Access
Tying Terrains
 Serving  States
 Linking  Lovers 
Attaching Allies
Binding Borders 
Heralding Heroes
Binding Believers
Enabling Escapees
Nurturing Nations
Trading Trackways
Creating Comrades
Mending Marriages
Merging Merchants
Following Frontiers
Uniting Unbelievers
Delivering Destinies
Creating Conquerors

Allowing Assemblies 
Nourishing Networks
Connecting Countries
Exacerbating Enemies
Empowering Explorers
Engineering Encounters 

Inculcating Interrelations 
Combining Confederations
Constructing Concordances
Regenerating Relationships
Perpetuating Possessiveness

. . .   &, of course, … REKINDLING  RELATIONSHIPS !!!




Below  I have included a Photo Gallery of just a few BRIDGES which I have been inspired to photograph over the years.  The title of each one will appear as you hover the mouse over any single photograph.  Click on any one to see a slide-show of all of them.



Sanctuary Wood


. . .  LEST WE FORGET  . . .

The SANCTUARY WOOD Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery

Sanctuary Wood itself was given its name by British troops in November 1914 when it was used in the first years of World War I to give shelter to the troops.  Later, fighting took place in it in September 1915 and it was fought over by Canadian and German soldiers during the Battle of Mount Sorrel in early June 1916. Three small Commonwealth cemeteries were then established in it between May and August 1915 but were largely obliterated during the Battle of Mount Sorrel. When the war finished, traces of one of them were found, containing 137 graves, and became the core of the present Sanctuary Wood Cemetery. It was greatly expanded between 1927 and 1932 with graves being moved in from surrounding areas.  The majority of the graves here are from the battles around Ypres in 1914 and the Allied offensive in late 1917.

The SANCTUARY WOOD Trench Museum

The Sanctuary Wood Museum is privately owned by the grandson of the farmer who reclaimed his land in 1919 when the local people returned to Ypres after the First World War.   A section of the original wood and the trenches in it were cleared of debris and casualties, but generally the farmer left a section of a British trench system as he found it.  This site is now one of the few places on the Ypres Salient battlefields where an original trench layout can be seen in some semblance of what it might have looked like. Elsewhere the trenches were filled in and ploughed over by returning farmers leaving only the occasional chalky outline of what had once been there.

The trench lines behind the museum give a very good feel for what it must have been like to experience the mud and misery of the trenches in the salient. Some other sites are perhaps more exact, and even more clinical in their appearance; at Sanctuary Wood you get the somewhat run-down and dilapidated trenches that zig-zag across the ground much as they might have during the War.

I have included in the photo gallery below nine of the  photographs which I took on a visit there in 2003.   Click on any one thumbnail image to view a slide-show . . .

The text above has been slightly adapted by me from Wikipedia and other sources on the internet



The Journey


The Argo

‘The Journey’  by David Alexander King

Like men of old of sail, becalmed, though not
by lack of wind, we idle, ill at ease.
I think of those who watched us sail from home; they would
not think such change could come about.

We were provisioned well; the boat was sound; the crew
beyond reproach, but what we surely knew would see
us through was this: a man whose faith
had bred our own, and who had led
a life of exploration on these seas
and penned on careful charts each channel, shore and sound
and every place where foolish man might run aground,
this old man of the sea, in love (and maybe envy)
of our youth and spirit, blessed us with his patronage.
His maps and notes he had no further use for:
they were ours.

Long hours we sat into the night, we
and the old man, and he told
of journeys round the good land –
hidden always, so he said, in such thick mists
and buffeted by storms,
that he had never set a foot upon its sand.
Nor would he now.
What hope remained, he would transfer to us.
Our journey would not fail.

In this perhaps we erred: we made
one passing nod to science. We installed
(to reinforce our faith in ancient learning – so
we said) a radar set, and watched its one eye
glare like Satan’s at us on the bridge. We learnt
to read (as best we could) its hieroglyphs, its shadows,
points of light, which painted for us on its dark screen
landscapes, barely seen
in faint and unfamiliar images.
Yet still we sailed, our expectations high,
into a world of mists devoid of any shape we knew.
Only in Satan’s eye were patterns that made sense
– but untrained eyes beholding sense (or seeming to)
need help from what they know. We sought
to verify the patterns, match
impressions with the charts, but all the while
in Satan’s eye, it seemed the maps had lied:
There was no way to reconcile the two. We tried,
and trying, became prey
to every shift of wind and tide. Irresolution
had become the skipper of our crew.

And so the great decision;
how to tell the crew? The land,
the object of the quest, eluded us.
The good did not exist. The best,
we’d found on board, in easy friendships.
Who could now explain that what had made this so
was less than true, and take the rich soil of the life they’d grown
or telling them, part company from the best we’d known –
and thereby be the cause of that old seaman’s loss of pride?

Faith for us now, if it can be, must be
not in good causes, lives or better lands,
but in those things that live and make their presence felt
in mist and fog and storm, where lack of definition
baffles indecisive man, where man
encounters chaos,
and in meeting it, finds form.


The Mariner

 Submitted by … Dave King

Dave, who sadly passed away 3 years ago, was a prolific blogger of poetry  and was my inspiration to begin a blog myself – as I mentioned in my very first two blogs …

25th July 2016  . . .  David Alexander King

28th July 2016  . . .  The Eagle and the Child

He originally submitted this poem for publication on my previous website, now defunct.