REGRET

And now the past pains the present again
Those vivid re-lived passages smart
So I try to disengage my memory
And the sorrowing sobs do not reach my heart.

But the regret will end, it always does.
Nothing retains its sting so long
That memory can’t in time evade.
And what is left … is bitter, bitter circumstance.

LOVE’S HURT

Oh why does loving hurt so much?
And bite so hard with such smooth teeth?
And clutch so tightly at my heart
As though to stifle every beat?

Just one dark look, one heavy word,
Is like the lash of some foul whip,
And lacerates my tender frame,
And brings a quiver to my lip.

In vain I try to stem the ache –
Othello’s antique pain.
The handkerchief is suspect still
My anguish will remain.





[ First published on rolandsragbag.wordpress.com blog on 5th October, 2016 ]

Will you marry me?


My photograph was taken from a beach in Cornwall, U.K.,  in 2006.  I do trust things turned out better in reality than in my  rather jaundiced, wholly imagined, speculations on the subject of marriage and the impulsive gestures which do often bring it about  –  as demonstrated in some of the ostentatious proposals which took place at the Rio Olympics. (WHB)

‘MARRY ME’ it said in the sky,
The brazenly shouted plea;
Showcasing a lover’s great passion?
A proposal she had to agree.

Was love in there somewhere I wondered?
Was that what the question implied?
A lifelong commitment on offer –
Based on whim, or desire for a bride?

“I’d love to” she whispered so gently,
Accepting his plea without question.
Her doubts were dispelled by his bluster
How could she deny his suggestion?

They married in bliss shortly after,
A lifetime of rapture to come.
With hope for a lifetime of passion?
Well, that’s how it’s meant to be done

The first happy years ran so smoothly;
The path of love seemed to be fine,
But the storm clouds were looming above them
Creating a warning fault line.

It was life intervened in their story,
A lassitude lay on their marriage,
Their ardour and pleasures defeated.
Love stalled, reduced to the humdrum,


Both felt as though they’d been cheated.

Habit had killed off their lustre;
Routine  had entered their souls;
Self-regard took over from closeness;
Possessions their only goals.

So was it for this they were married,
Just to reach an acceptance of sorts?
All passion long lost from their dowry
Now littered with bile and retorts.

The end of this story I’m told?
They parted with barely a whisper;
What began with a flamboyant gesture,
Ended, ‘Not with a bang but a whimper’.

This last line echoing T.S.Eliot’s oft-quoted lines from ‘The Hollow Men’  . . .

‘This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.’

On Pedants

Cezanne – Turning Road at Montgeroult – 1898

ON PEDANTS
Dark Thoughts in the Staffroom

Sat in the seat of sorry separation,
Iron to pot chatters of morning’s mistakes
That made this morning different from yesterday’s.

“He said he’d get him after the lesson.
I said if he did, I’d get him after the lesson.”

“He missed a penalty. The ten year old.”
“We should have won by seven more.”

“I said I’d tell his mum about him.
He said he’d tell his dad about me.”

The Cezanne cottage shouting from the wall,
In reverence for being out of place,
Muffles its strength in an attractive frame.

Their life is a blister,
Thriving until a provocation restores a little life.
The child’s vitality vitiates their own, yet still,
Unheedingly,
They dedicate their lives to inevitability.

* * *

“Pour agir dans le monde il faut mourir a soi-meme.”
These end the life within them without a known success.

* * *

Cries For Help – Like Mother, Like Son

Mother & Child . . . Linocut – WHB

The winning entry in the Daily Telegraph’s 1997 Mini-Saga Competition.
The task set being to compose a story of 50 words exactly – no more!  no less!

A scanned photocopy of the winning entry – as posted in the Daily Telegraph on May 3rd 1997

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.

A Death I Die

Loch Earn, Scotland

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow.

T.S. Eliot (The Journey of the Magi)

I wrote this poem, as I did several of my recently blogged poems, many years ago.
In ‘A Death I Die’ below the sober thoughts reflect a dark  mood,  the reason for which I now have no recollection.   For me, at the time of writing, they obviously represented the Shadow, that halfway house between knowing and not-knowing,
between what is and what might be,
between Eliot’s ‘the motion and the act’.

A DEATH I DIE

I have no heart for selfish love
that starts and ends with flesh.
It leads along an endless path,
it binds, compels afresh.

There is a sort of death I die;
Am killed and kill myself.
I am alone in this. I am a willing suicide.
I go on a journey bearing my own end.

This death is a habit, a nasty selfish habit
I know and hate it.
I both give and receive.
The giving is good
– but also a habit.

Receiving – an infinite regression.
We plan the means and the end is all.
Purgatory is the cemetery, time the resurrection.
And All is planned that This should be so.