‘The Sum of all our Memories’


Photo: :  ‘Two Against The World’ – WHB


If it is true
As it is said
That we are
The sum of all our memories
Then I will collect yours
By colour and by time
Count them
Order them
Sort them into their separate strands
Bind these close together
Plait them into skeins
Then hang them round your neck
As a daisy chain
To adorn and demonstrate
My love for you

Thus I will find
behind that closed facade
That barrier of reticence
The real you
The essence of your being
Your throbbing vibrant heart
Beating its rhythm
In time with my own

I will break down
Your defences
And at last discover
The self which claims
to love me
To want to own me
To be my buttress
Shoring me up
Against my troubles

And when your dam
Finally breaks
The following floods
Will swamp my uncertainties
Shoring up my resolve
So that together
We can face
An unforgiving world




John Clare – ‘I AM’

[  # 74 of My Favourite Short Poems  ]



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.



Whitby #3

[ Photo Gallery # 77 ]

A further (last – for the time being anyway) selection of my photographs of Whitby taken on my frequent visits there  in the past . . .

Whitby (1)

Whitby – as the River Esk enters the North Sea – view from East Cliff

Whitby (2)

Harbour Entrance   1

Whitby (3)

Harbour Entrance 2

Whitby (4)

Harbour Entrance 3

Whitby (5)

The ruins of Whitby Abbey atop East Cliff

Whitby (6)

Whitby Town – view from the top of the 199 Steps

Whitby (7)

Caedmon’s Cross and Whitby Town – View from the Churchyard of St.Mary’s 

Whitby (8)

Old gravestones in the churchyard – a prominent setting for Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ story.

Whitby (9)

A Weathered Gravestone

Whitby (10)

By the entrance to the church – Memorial to John Storr, the Coxwain of the Whitby lifeboat, and eleven others who lost their lives on the lifeboat in 1861.

Whitby (11)

A modern day street puppeteer with organ grinder on the Whitby harbour-side

Whitby (12)



Three Cinquains

cinquain is a five-line poem, normally without rhyme, but with a specific syllable count of 2-4-6-8-2.  The form was invented by Adelaide Crapsey, an American poet who took her inspiration from Japanese haiku and tanka.  As with most other poetic forms, the cinquaine has since been developed to encompass a variety of ways, whilst always holding to Crapsey’s basic formula.

The following amplification is taken from: ‘The Cinquain’ ByDeborah Kolodii, as published on the  ‘Shadow Poetry’  website …

The ideal cinquain for Crapsey was one that worked up to a turn or climax, and then fell back. Similar to the “twist” that often occurs in the final couplet of a sonnet, a cinquain’s “turn” usually occurs during the final, shorter fifth line or immediately before it. Thus, the momentum of a cinquain grows with each subsequent line as another two syllables, … (are) added bringing the poem to a climax at the fourth line, falling back to a two syllable “punch line”.


Adelaide Crapsey

n another of my occasional attempts at structuring my poetic thoughts into a (to me) new poetic form, I give below three of my own examples of the CINQUAINE.



My life
Lives in my work
Searching for the right words
Seeking to make them tell the truth


Are not for me
Rather, let the past rest
Whilst I live on in the present
With hope


Ends as the Spring
Advances with new life
Bringing hope and joy to us all


‘As When …’ – Three Haiku

RoundBritain (9)FarneIsles

‘Farne Islands’ Northumbria … Photo: WHB – 2012

As When . . .



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




The Meaning Of Life 


The Meaning Of Life

Author Unknown


I must determine for myself what my life means and must seek to bring it to fruition



The friend I lost today,
the ant I trod on yesterday,
both no longer quick
but now sharing death.

How similar
yet how different.
‘How sad the world without them’
says God
‘How disparate’, say I,
if I care to say anything at all.

God and Nature, merge their significance,
their world view equalising loss,
while I, bereft, forlorn,
am led to grieve for one
but not the other.

Significance holds prominence,
for Nature must consider all loss notable
but necessary,
living in different time scales,
our individual lives
serve only our own time frame,
our personal connections
pointing to meaning
and giving resonance
and substance
to each separate life.

As the axe I take to the log,
the knife to my steak,
my boot to the beetle’s innocence,
and as I pluck yet another rose,
so ends my hold on life,
for ever compromised.

So I am left with
how, in nature’s sight,
meaning lies only with
the recurring cycle,

but in my heart
my hurt is not diminished,
my mourning
is just mine to feel.



Sea  Light

Katie Sarra-Seascape (1)




As the swell of the sea reaches the shore
Waves wilfully break on the beckoning beach;
Light catches the colours riding the crests,
Blushing in red, in pink and in peach.

While above as we watch in reverence and awe,
The marmalade sky sugars the view,
Embracing the split twixt heaven and earth,
Splitting the vibrant view into two.

In such scenes as this all life gains a meaning,
For life and desire reside in the sea;
The beauty of nature is here embodied,
Bringing contentment and stillness to me.

Katie Sarra-Seascape (2)



My poem originates from a consideration of the oil paintings of Devon artist, Katie Sarra.  Many of Katie’s paintings present visions of the sea in its many different moods, still, turbulent, calm , moody.   Many of these seascapes are displayed in her gallery facing the River Daw as it runs through the Devonshire seaside town of Dawlish.  Her gallery is named ‘SEA LIGHT’.   It is a great joy to spend time in this beautiful gallery which doubles as a thriving cafe and tea rooms.  Two photographs of the gallery front below . . .



Your Country Needs You


Doug, a dear friend of mine, died recently at the age of 95.  In 1943, at the age of eighteen, he was drafted into the Royal Air Force and trained as a pilot. In the latter stages of World War Two he was posted to the Cocos Islands in the East Indian Ocean from where he carried out several missions.  At the end of the Far East War in September, 1945, he took part in the relief of Changi prison, the notorious Prisoner of War camp in Singapore where the Japanese interred many of their prisoners.

I have written this poem in an attempt to understand something of the situation which he and many other young men faced in those precarious times.   


Given a bomber at twenty one
A young man’s coming of age
Told to use it wisely
On the far east’s war-torn stage

A Lancaster
A lethal gift
To war’s sad sorry tale
An airborne killer
Sky high thriller
Death following in its trail

You grow up quickly in a war
No marking time
No second thoughts
Prevarication precluded
No time for rage
Get on with it
With reality engage

This his introduction
No subterfuge
With minimal instruction
No simulation
Taught to deliver destruction
Reality games now

Yes, young man,
Your country needs you
To fill the gaps left by those
Who bought it
– For their country –
Before you do the same

But, chin up
Soldier on
stiff lip and all that
Who knows
You may be home by Christmas



Ground crews of No.356 Squadron RAF based at the Brown’s West Island, Cocos Islands, celebrate on hearing the news of the surrender of Japan.  (Published under the terms and conditions of the Imperial War Museum Non Commercial Licence, including use of the attribution statement specified by IWM. For this item, that is: © IWM (CI 1557)


He is Gone

funeral party

A Quote from that great  English comedienne, actress, singer and songwriter, screenwriter, producer and director, Victoria Wood, who sadly passed away in 2016 at the age of 63 . . .

“In India, if a man dies, the widow flings herself onto the funeral pyre; if a man dies in this country, the woman just drags herself into the kitchen and says, ‘Seventy-two baps, Connie, you slice, I’ll spread’ “

From: ‘Great British Wit’ by Rosemary Jarski  (Ebury Press 2009)


Pull the stops out
He is gone;
Start a new life,
Don’t dwell upon

What once was quick,
It now is dead,
Life starts afresh;
He always said,

“When I am gone
Do not be sad,
Start a new life
And be glad.

Get out the glad rags,
Have a party,
You’ll be fine now,
Hale and hearty.

Ready to start
A brand new life,
A brand new woman,
An experienced wife.

Time to sparkle,
Forget the past;
Your Prince awaits you,
Free at last.

For when I’m safely
In my box,
No need then
To stop all the clocks.”




A.E. Housman – ‘Bredon Hill’

[  No.69 of my favourite short poems  ]


‘On Bredon Hill’ . . .  Sketch – WHB: 1991

Bredon Hill is in Worcestershire, England, in the Vale of Evesham.  This poem of A.E. Housman’s, which he called ‘Bredon Hill’, is taken from his collection of poems, ‘A Shropshire Lad’ published in 1896.

Housman (1859-1936) was an English poet and scholar, whose verse exerted a strong influence on later poets.  The tone of this particular poem shows a preoccupation with loss and, as such, mirrors the tone of many of his poems.   It tells of lost love, contrasting powerfully the ‘happy noise’ of the church bells which brought joy and happy memories of youthful exuberence at the start of the poem, with the single tone of the funeral bell with which the poem ends.


Bredon Hill    (From “A Shropshire Lad”)

by A.E. Housman

In summertime on Bredon 
The bells they sound so clear; 
Round both the shires they ring them 
In steeples far and near, 
A happy noise to hear. 

Here of a Sunday morning 
My love and I would lie, 
And see the coloured counties, 
And hear the larks so high 
About us in the sky.

The bells would ring to call her 
In valleys miles away; 
“Come all to church, good people; 
Good people come and pray.” 
But here my love would stay. 

And I would turn and answer 
Among the springing thyme, 
“Oh, peal upon our wedding, 
And we will hear the chime, 
And come to church in time.”

But when the snows at Christmas 
On Bredon top were strown, 
My love rose up so early 
And stole out unbeknown 
And went to church alone.

They tolled the one bell only, 
Groom there was none to see, 
The mourners followed after, 
And so to church went she, 
And would not wait for me. 

The bells they sound on Bredon, 
And still the steeples hum, 
“Come all to church, good people,” 
Oh, noisy bells, be dumb; 
I hear you, I will come.