Ode To Mount Felix

(No.52 of my favourite short poems) 

WoT MtFelix2

A community stitch project has recently been completed and put on display to commemorate the centenary of the Mount Felix Hospital which, throughout World War 1 and afterwards for several years served, as a military hospital in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, for soldiers from New Zealand wounded at Gallipoli and in later battles.    The project is in the form of a tapestry of 44 panels stitched by community groups ranging from primary schools to experienced embroiderers.   By the end of WW1 the hospital, in conjunction with another nearby hospital, had nearly 1,900 beds and some 27,000 patients had been treated during the operational lives of these two hospitals.

One of the panels, pictured below, features a lovely poem composed during his time in this hospital by one of the patients, name unknown,  who was stunned by the beauty and tranquility of his surroundings after experiencing the horrors of war.  I give photographs above and below of the tapestry on which this verse has been embroidered.

WoT MtFelix1



Oh, How It Hurt



Oh, how it hurt
That refusal
That rebuff
Cut and wounded
I withdrew
Licked my wounds
Plastered my sores
Bandaged my cuts
My bruises cold-iced

My shame . . .
Yes, in truth,
Perhaps it was
More shame
Than a broken heart

Pride undermined
Ego squashed
That doesn’t help
There is more shame
In it being shame.

I see that now …
And am ashamed.



William Blake ‘Mired in Sin and Shame: Original Sin’ … c.1800

The Drifter and the Bag Lady

The Drifter and the Bag Lady

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Photograph was taken by me from the Promenade at Sidmouth, South Devon, UK, in 2009

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As the world passes by 
Hell bent on perdition, 
I set out to fulfil 
My future, my mission. 

With more hope than food, 
Dragging debt, fear and guilt,
I packed up my bags.
My resolve will not wilt. 

I’m off to explore.  
The world at my feet; 
Hope riding high, 
No thought of defeat. 

Though rough it will be,
I can face it with vigour;  
With belief and good health – 
A resolute figure, 

*  *  *


My 2001 Pencil and Wash drawing of a Homeless lady outside the Marienwerdersche Church in Berlin in the 1930s – from ‘The German Century’ by Michael Sturmer.

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Depressed and defeated,
My world’s at an end.
Its simpler to die
Than life’s troubles to mend.

I sit here alone, 
My future in tatters. 
No one will help.
To them no one else matters. 

Men’s struggle for power
Has brought me to this. 
Their pride and their greed,
That’s what’s amiss. 

The end will come quickly. 
My future is bleak.
No reason to hope. 
It’s the fate of the weak. 

      *  *  *


My Pen and Wash drawing of London Embankment in the Late 19th Century

*  *  *

So who is there listening – 
Deciding their fate? 
What will govern his hope?  
Who will her woes abate?

They both deserve better,
A chance to win through.
But the prospects for either 
Are certainly few.

Has the world lost its Eden? 
Has Gehenna won through? 
Has Heaven receded? 
No chance to renew? 

And who is to blame? 
Who’s fault is it then?
 . . . History will speak, 
And Fate will say when. 

*  *  *


My own pen and wash version of Philip de Loutherbourg’s 1801 oil painting, ‘Coalbrookdale At Night’. The picture has come to symbolise the birth of the Industrial Revolution in England.  It is also often seen as the personification of the GATES TO HELL.