LIFE FORCE – ONE

LIFE  FORCE – ONE

When shadow turns to substance 
In the still of morning’s birth, 
Then once again I wonder 
How much my life is worth.

 Have I in the scheme of things 
At last outlived my time?
I want to last a fair span yet,
To hope is not a crime.

 I long to do a thousand things 
I’ve not had time to do, 
But is that just a selfish wish 
I’m not entitled to?

 So many of my friends have gone,
Lives past while mine’s still here. 
Do I deserve more time on earth, 
Or is my ending near?

 Such morbid thoughts occur to me 
More frequently each day. 
I rush to pack more living in, 
No halt, pause or delay.

 Despite the limits on my life 
My time is filled with actions. 
Yet still my mind frets at the thought 
Of those un-lived attractions.

 Why am I selfishly intent 
On hurtling to nirvana, 
Grasping at each passing chance 
More enhanced life to garner?

 I could so quietly subside 
Into a life of ease; 
No rush, no great exigency 
My daemons to appease.

 Yet I am not content like that, 
I must remain on course, 
To stay with, in the time I’m left,
This imperative life force.


The two photographs were taken by me in London’s Roman Amphitheatre, which can be found in its restored state in the basement of the City of London Guildhall.

These Roman remains, thought to date to the 1st Century AD,  were discovered when the Guildhall Art Gallery was being re-developed in 1985.  The original structure could house over 7,000 spectators seated on tiered wooden benches in what would then have been the open air, where they watched the execution of criminals as well as fights, usually to the death, between wild animals and gladiators.

More can be discovered about these little-known remains of the Roman Londinium on the City of London website at:

London’s Roman Amphitheatre


 

On Growing Old

‘Father William’ . . . Pen & Wash: WHB

The magic has gone,
The shine has been dulled;
All’s not the same
Now life’s ardour has stilled.


Where once each day sparkled
With glamour and promise,
Now the vision is smeared,
A glazed image of bliss.


Yet there are so many gifts
Without which I’d perish.
Good friends and the memories
Of times which I’ve relished.


I’ll relinquish sad thoughts,
I’m still in fine fettle.
A rose is a rose
When it’s lost all its petals.

A Fear-Full Life

A life lived through its worries,
Trying to forget.
The risks that come with being,
With which life is beset.

The siren prompted fear
In that kitchen-table home;
Dad away in the army,
And Jerry would cross the foam.

The smog was dark and dismal,
The midday sun obscured;
Cloaked in knife-cut cloud,
How was it we endured?

A dose of National Service –
Your country needs your youth;
Learn to fight for your country,
The threat – more than the truth.

The Bay of Pigs a worry,
Suez a cause for fear;
The lads fought in Korea,
While we were shivering here.


Then Aids brought worries aplenty;
Cold War a constant threat;
Always there were worries,
For ever fears to be met.

Polio and smallpox,
Diphtheria, whooping cough,
A plethora of scourges –
All those we have seen off.


And then we met with covid,
A world of worry and threat;
Another scourge to face,
None of them over yet.

A world so full of worry,
Yet life’s still worth the trouble
The joys in family and friends
Ensure we can face the struggle.

Remembering

‘Roseberry Topping’ … WHB: Pen 1981

Tell me stories,
Sing me hymns.
As I remember
Let me weep.

Time is passing,
Friends are leaving,
Do I want
More hours to keep.

Midst purple heather,
Bracken brown,
Grass close cut
By hillside sheep.

Blue bells ring,
Rose berries ripen,
Let me lie
Both warm and deep.

Green hills surround
Where I was born;
Let me again
Amongst them sleep.

The Past Is Another Story

The Past Is Another Story

What if I could one day meet again
Those whom I’d once called friends;
What if I could converse with them
What is it I’d want to say?
And how, in return, would they answer me
How would we pass our day?
And would I recognise he and she
And would they still know me?
How would we part, go our separate ways
And would we ever cease to be?

How fraught with questions that scenario
For what has passed is now the past
And cannot be recovered
However much the thought does please
It’s Carpe Diem, the day to seize,
And yesterday has been and gone
Gone to live,
Or should that be to die?
In my own
My very personal
History.

In Memoriam

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‘The Crypt . . . Pen  –  WHB 2020

In Memoriam

In the crypt
Which is my mind
Lie the tombs
Of those I’ve known
Entrenched within
Each treasured niche
Embalmed in memory
And swathed in love alone

Wife and parents
Beloved friends
Lost loves and lovers
All met their ends
Before I had
a chance to say
I’ll love you till
My dying day

There they now lie
In peace while I
Guard their memories
With a sigh
And rarely lift
Their coffin lid
Remind myself
Of what they did
Of what they once
Had meant to me

For only the blind
Can truly see 

 

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A Time For Laughing

Laughter

A  Time For  Laughing

 

Laughing lasses, Mirthful maids, 
Giggling girls and Merry misses.

    Life is long, Time for laughing,
    Merry moments, Chat and chaffing

 

Joyful jesters, Blissful belles, 
Fun figures and Fierce Friends.

    Life is here, but Time is passing,
    Let’s have fun, Let’s keep laughing.

 

Jolly japes for Blissful babes, 
Jocund jollies and Dizzy days.

    Let us sing and Let us dance, 
    Life is short, Let’s Time enhance. 

 

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‘First Fig’ – Edna St.Vincent Millay

[  # 80 of My Favourite Short Poems  ]

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Edna St. Vincent Millay was an American poet and playwright who was born in Rockland, Maine, in 1892.  I have used a short poem of  hers before in this series – in November of 2017, q.v. . . .    ‘What Lips My Lips Have Kissed’ .

This poem is even shorter, but I find that it does have a  lot to say, about her own lifestyle and about the times and the milieu which she inhabited in her heyday in 1920s New York.   Millay titled the book in which this poem was published A Few Figs From Thistles, and this poem was the first one in the book, hence ‘First Fig’.

The poem is highly symbolic and the opening line plunges the reader into that arresting metaphor which she uses to describe her wild, bohemian, certainly unorthodox spirit.   The second line, however, recognises the ephemeral nature of such an existence with the bitter-sweet ‘It will not last the night’.  She is acknowledging that brightness is not all, a candle burning simultaneously from both ends will burn twice as quickly and such hedonistic times will not last.

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Figs from Thistles: First Fig

 

My candle burns at both ends;

   It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—

   It gives a lovely light!

 

2-ended candle

 

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John Clare – ‘I AM’

[  # 74 of My Favourite Short Poems  ]

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John Clare (1793 – 1864) was an English poet.   Born in Northamptonshire, he was the son of a farm labourer, who became known for his celebrations of the English countryside and for regularly expressing sorrows at its disruption.   His poetry underwent major re-evaluation in the late 20th century and he is now often seen as one of the important 19th-century poets.   His biographer, Jonathan Bate, states that Clare was “the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced.  No one has ever written more powerfully of nature, of a rural childhood, and of the alienated and unstable self.”  Many of his poems are filled with a joy he experienced in nature and the countryside.  Sadly, however, for the last 25 years of his life Clare suffered from mental illness and was incarcerated in a mental institution.   In this wistful soul-searching poem, described by some as “one of the greatest poems of sheer despair ever written”, Clare spills out his desolation and detachment from a life which he would dearly love to have lived . . . 

‘I AM’ . . .  by John Clare

 

I AM! yet what I am who cares, or knows? 
My friends forsake me, like a memory lost.
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish, an oblivious host,
Shadows of life, whose very soul is lost.         5
And yet I am—I live—though I am toss’d.
 
Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dream,
Where there is neither sense of life, nor joys,
But the huge shipwreck of my own esteem         10
And all that’s dear. Even those I loved the best
Are strange—nay, they are stranger than the rest.
 
I long for scenes where man has never trod—
For scenes where woman never smiled or wept—
There to abide with my Creator, God,         15
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Full of high thoughts, unborn. So let me lie,
The grass below; above, the vaulted sky.

 

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‘As When …’ – Three Haiku

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‘Farne Islands’ Northumbria … Photo: WHB – 2012

As When . . .

THREE HAIKU

 

As when the waves rage
So does my turbulent life
Beat upon my shore

As when the sky weeps
So do my eyes shed their tears
For those friends now gone

As when the wind gusts
So does my discontent rage
For those without love

 

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