Hymn Of Hope

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Photo by Torsten Dettlaff on Pexels.com

When Green Hill led to Highcliff Nab
Up from Kemplah Fields, 
Then when all my world was young
And all was meant to be, 
Life was enriched by Nature’s call;
The world was one to me.

Now, when old age has taken youth
And life resolves in retrospection, 
Those childhood days become intense, 
The fount of my reflection. 

I feel, I touch, the close-knit turf
That dressed the hills I trod. 
The waves of bracken still haunt my mind
As if bespoke of God, 
And heather, clothing moor and dale,
Purpling the timeless scene, 
Rekindles every hope I have 
Been granted in the life I’ve seen.

 

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The Hills of my Childhood

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On the N.Yorkshire Moors – Pen & Ink … WHB

The Hills of my Childhood

 

The hills of my childhood
Mountains to me
Remain in my memory
And still I can see

Their contours throbbing
Against the bright sky
Promising thrills
With every sigh.

I climbed, scrambled upwards
To grasp what they pledged
In heedless delight
My keenness knife-edged.

The summit had beckoned
Becoming my mission
My reason for living
My only ambition.

And as my heart pounded,
As upwards I raced,
It presaged my future,
The world that I faced.

To view from the summit
The expanse of my world
Was a glimpse of hereafter
Forever unfurled.

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The Beck

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THE BECK

the beck
my beck
North England
Old English bece
Dutch beek
German bach
my beck
my early life
my once-upon-a-time world

it was all things to me
my territory
my front line
against the outside world
fell in
fished out
fished in
fishes out
tiddlers
minnows
sticklebacks
 countless times
jumped it daily
dammed it
constructed waterfalls
floods flooded
floods receded
dredged
repaired
renewed

succoured my imagination
my Coliseum
 my Olympic stadium
succeeding
my umbilical chord
as my link to the world
it ran through my heart
and past my house
gave me a ballpark
my own adventure playground
complete with running water
subterranean tunnels
waterfalls
dams
stepping stones
overhanging trees
to climb
to suspend myself
dangling
over the running water
sandstone-walled bridges
for carving initials
routes to explore
in both directions
crossings to navigate
ledges to crawl along
overgrown banks
forbidden sections
Rubicon for gang warfare
Lethe at dusk

above all
suspending my belief
in dreams
for this was my reality

once upon a time

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NOTE:   North England.  BECK … A brook, especially a swiftly running stream with steep banks.

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Stephen Spender

(Poem No.39 of my favourite short poems)

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Sir John Everett Millais … ‘Bubbles’ 1886 – Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight

My Parents Kept me from Children Who Were Rough

My parents kept me from children who were rough
and who threw words like stones and who wore torn clothes.
Their thighs showed through rags. They ran in the street
And climbed cliffs and stripped by the country streams.

I feared more than tigers their muscles like iron
And their jerking hands and their knees tight on my arms.
I feared the salt coarse pointing of those boys
Who copied my lisp behind me on the road.

They were lithe, they sprang out behind hedges
Like dogs to bark at our world. They threw mud
And I looked another way, pretending to smile,
I longed to forgive them, yet they never smiled.

. . . by Stephen Spender


Spender’s disability of having a club foot and a stammer intensely affected his childhood memories, particular those of rejection by his peers.  As a grown man and a distinguished poet and author, he expressed those feelings of early rejection, of being an outsider in this moving poem which, in some ways, is akin to Philip Larkin’s remembered distaste felt for the way his parents had brought him up (See: ‘This Be The Verse’   ).  Spender regretted his parents keeping him in a ‘bubble’, protecting him as they saw it, while all the time he had wanted just to be ‘one of them’.

Some of my readers will recall that I used Spender’s phrase “threw words like stones” in my recent poem:  ‘The Black House’  (q.v.).


 

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