IF I HAD MY WISH

I can find no trace of the poem / ditty printed below.   I am not the author, and I am unable to find out who is / was.   Many years ago, when I was probably around the age of 6 or 7  (i.e. in the 1940s – yes, that’s right, during WWII ),  I learnt this poem by heart and delivered it to an audience at a Yorkshire chapel concert – presumably to demonstrate  my skills in memorised recitation.  Well  …  it certainly wasn’t to showcase a budding poet!   Although I don’t recall being sensitive at the time about the cannibalistic sentiments expressed,  I do now see the poem as somewhat ‘non-PC’ and quite unsuitable for directing a child to commit such verses to heart and then expound them in public.  

. . .   and Yes,  I have never forgotten these verses, the dramatic emphases within the poems structure, or the subtle cadence of its rhythms (!!!).   So . . .  make of it what you will, but  I would certainly be interested if anyone can throw light on its origins and/or its creator!  . . .

. . .  I remember being instructed to “pause before delivering the last line … and then say it quickly and loudly – with emphasis!”  . . .  What artistry !!! 

If I had my wish
I would be a small fish
And swim where nobody could catch me.
I never would look
At a worm on a hook,
Or some naughty boy then might snatch me.

I’d frolic and play
With the fishes all day,
And not go to school at nine-thirty.
I’d not give a bean
If my neck wasn’t clean,
Or if BOTH my ears should get dirty.

And when I had died,
I should like to be fried,
With the bones taken out of my tummy,
And served, if you please,
With some lovely green peas,
… and then eaten up by my mummy!

Escape To Paradise

A Paradise’ . . . WHB: Pen and watercolour – 2014

our world is not always a nice place to be
so let’s take off for paradise
to do that we must dream
so make a wish and dream
the dreams made from memories
choose daydreams
for they are made from pleasant ones
precious jewels of remembered moments
of childhood pleasures recreated in golden colours
under warm and generous skies
for what is nirvana but bliss
a perfect quietude
remembered from that golden age
when cares were so far away as to be invisible
and joy was present
in the simplicity of a walk in a spring meadow
in hesitant steps across a bubbling beck
in that breath of early evening air
bringing the scent of heather
and with it the rustle of new leaves
bursting to catch the evening air
amongst the rolling northern hills
the cradled landscape of that now distant home
forever a part of my being
both bedrock and comfort of my present
and succour of my hopes for the future

IN THAT OTHER LIFE

Take me back to those distant days
When time stood boldly still;
The burbling beck flowed green and clean
Beside the bellowing forge;
When each day brought new hope
And the healing world invited me in.

With that street gang
I fearlessly fought,
Braved the imminent threats.
Regrets nor desire for retribution
Clouded no horizon
And danger held no thrall.


Little I knew or even thought
Of what new years might hold.
Each day brought its gratitude,
Each birthday took no toll…
No future promise was worth a penny
Beyond tomorrow’s stretch.


But now, even in my clouded vision,
I see with unblinkered sight,
The past held all my future
Up to its proffered light,
And could I but have known it then
I nothing would now overwrite.

‘Play Dead’ – Two Word Tale #13

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‘Play Dead’ – Two Word Tale #13

We laugh as our pets are taught to ‘Play Dead’.  Children too love to do the same, and there are numerous childhood games which involve encouraging the participants to maintain silence or stillness for as long as possible. Such games are often used as a means (a bribe even) of calming excited children down.  The ones I have come across, often involving a musical background, include the classic freeze-game of ‘Statues’ or ‘Play Dead’. . Then there are the closely related ‘Sleepy Lions’ and ‘Dead Donkey’, which similarly require that sudden and prolonged stillness.

This further ‘Two-Word Tale’ of mine tells such a mini-story.

To-day
I said
Let’s play
A game.
‘Play Dead’
Its name,
No fear
Or dread
You just
Play Dead.
So that’s
Its name
– You’ll like
The game.

Lie down
Be still
Don’t frown
Strong will
Stand firm
Stay put
Don’t squirm
Nor ‘Tut’.

I’m judge
Yes me,
Keep watch
To see
Who blinks
Who sighs
Who winks
Who cries

So off
We go.
Don’t move
Lie still
You need
To prove
You’re dead
Not ill.

Yes George,
You twitched.
Your nose
It itched?
Oh well
Too bad
You fell?
Poor lad.

Don’t Boo!
You did.
Yes you,
Not Sid.
You were
The first
Not her,
To sneeze
To stir
To wheeze.

You’re out
You moved,
I shout,
That proved
You can’t
be dead
Don’t moan
I said.

Yes, it’s
A shame,
But all
The same,
You know
I said,
It’s just
A game.

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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)

Millais-Bubbles

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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