On Ageing Gloriously 

‘Old Age & Youth’ …  Pen and ink – WHB.  2017

ON AGEING GLORIOUSLY

Yes, I am getting older now; my prime has slipped away;
But I’m beating off the Harpies who want to bring doomsday.
But the benefits now brought about through all the new advances
Have brought about a change in me, at least they’ve upped my chances.

For, mine eyes have seen the glory never found since I was nine;
I ‘ve cast aside my spectacles reversing my decline.
I’ve got new eyes now, darling, and the cataracts have gone,
So despite my aged torso I will still keep staggering on.

And my new knees tell the story of my better prospects now;
I’m going to try the Great North Run if only they allow,
‘Cos I feel as though I’m twenty four and kicking down the door.
At least I’ll get a few years now before I need some more.

My metal hip has been replaced; I now have one in plastic;
It’s been a great success, although the experience was quite drastic.
I can hobble with the best of them and the stairs I cope with ease;
Yes, walking is a doddle now and life is just a breeze.

My hearing aid’s a bonus, I know what’s being said on telly.
My confidence I have regained, I’d rival Machiavelli;
The end still justifies the means; these life aids serve their purpose,
But instead of “Turn the volume up”, I’m wishing they were wordless.

My carpal tunnel surgery stopped my fingers feeling numb.
I’m twice the man I used to be, an artist I’ve become;
So now you see me in my prime reflecting on new marvels;
My hands are fully functional now; I have not lost my marbles.

My lumber corset gives me an efficient spinal brace.
My posture’s as it should be now, no longer a disgrace.
I stand upright and hold my place wherever I may be,
Just the occasional little blip, one you’ll hardly ever see.

The wig I found provided me with a new lease of life;
No longer bald and reticent – I’ve got a new-found wife.
I’m wond’ring how surprised she’ll be when we get into bed,
Perhaps she’ll want a payback when she finds she’s been misled?

They gave me my libido back with just a small blue pill;
Revived my passion and my lust – be that for good or ill.
I must say I’m enjoying those long lost thrills again,
No longer from the Tantric Arts, do I have to abstain.

They now give me a freebie both for Christmas and tv
Free bus and tube rides I can get, I’ve become a devotee
Of touring round my city in a bus as if in state
Suits me to be busy now at the age of eighty eight.

A pension I am grateful for, although it’s not enough,
I paid my dues for forty years, I did think that was tough;
Yes, the National Health helps me a lot, I get my medicine free,
And if I want a pick-me-up, my nurse is good to me.

My mouth has been replenished with a set of new white teeth;
I thought it best to have that done before they bought my wreath.
I look forward to my time in Heaven, but perhaps it’s just as well,
That I can still enjoy life now – in case I go to Hell.

No Blue Plaque

NO BLUE PLAQUE

No blue plaque here
but
in that house
in that room
I was conceived.
In the same house
in the same room
then I was born.

First child
Only child
Undistinguished house
undistinguished room
undistinguished birth.

But blessed with
the Conquering
Blood and Fire
General’s name.

It had to be that way.

Aren’t all births
distinguished only by their
unglamorous spectacle?

Not something I asked for
nor desired.
No regrets
but there were
Consequences.
Oh, yes.
Eighty years
of consequences.
My history
My responsibility
My river’s ride
through childhood rapids
to maturity’s turmoil
and turbulence.
Becalmed now
in dispiriting dotage
its stillnesses
its infirmity and nostalgia.

What follows
eventually
as I merge
with the looming ocean
waiting
to receive me?


Memories fade for me

Yet I know
some continuity remains
where these same images
 have been handed on
to those loved ones
who will remember.

But now
in moments of tranquility
my responsibility
for my past
presses hard
until those times when
 my love surges
to outweigh my guilt
and again
for good or ill
my scarred soul
returns to its past
and wonders.


… and time treads on
as I stare at the window
the nets shielding its secrets.
Now
just as they did then
So long ago.

Photographs … WHB – Yorkshire (2016) and Sussex (2009), UK

Then Will I Sing

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898) … St.Cecilia – Stained Glass – 2nd Presbyterian Church, Chicago

When time at last has caught its fearful breath
And I have cause to think again of you,
I will return to our far distant past
And then relive those old desires anew.

For when in trepidation I now pray
For health and strength in my remaining years,
Memories flood back of youthful days
When you and I brushed eyes and shed some tears.

Now, when hearts may meet and lips may touch,
And old less supple bodies bond in bliss,
Now, when you give to me your self in love,
Then will I sing and long remember this.

That youth and age together make a life,
Related sides of but a single page.
This truth becomes at last to us apparent,
Allows our hearts in love to re-engage.

Spring In Autumn

‘Apple Blossom’ Surrey, England  . . .  Photo – WHB – April 2017

SPRING IN AUTUMN

The apple blossom curls against my window

Promising its fruit as it unfurls;

Its pink and white against the burgeoning greenness

Sing, as my mind around them swirls.

For all the beauty I behold in nature

Summates in this the spring of my old age,

And promises the gift of lasting vision;

My passing will not be in futile rage.

‘Apple Blossom’ Surrey, England  . . .  Photos – WHB – April 2017

Lost Dreams

Burne-Jones … ‘Reclining Woman’

LOST DREAMS

There ought to be a better way of living
To find catharsis in these twilight years,
But I am no misanthrope,
My dreams can give me hope
And help to wipe away my tensions and my tears.

So let me lead you now into my dreamworld,
A land where vanished wishes can come true.
Where life and love and pleasure,
And all those things we treasure,
Will follow from our final rendezvous.

A land where angels sing glad songs of romance,
Where the bells remember chimes they’d long forgot;
Where they now forever ring,
And with those angels sing,
And we at last are happy with our lot.

For my frequent dream is one of youth recurring;
A new start in life to live it once again.
To eliminate the stress,
To start again afresh,
And live my life devoid of stifling pain.

But the place where dreams are stored is fast receding,
A library of books once felt and read.
Now they will never come to life
Before they meet the pruning knife,
And all those thoughts they bred remain unsaid.

Burne-Jones … The Briar Rose – detail

“YOU HAVE A VISITOR”

Winter Trees 1 – WHB … Pen – 1988

YOU HAVE A VISITOR

“You have a visitor”

 “… Have I ? …”

 “Hello!  How are you?”

Me?
To see me.
Who?
I know him . . .
Not …? … I think so
You?
Who are you?
Do I know you?
Should I know you?

“… Oh … Yes … Hello! …” 

Familiar …
and he knows
who I am.
 … Who I am
… Who am I?

‘I’m not at home, you know.’

Not at my home.
In a Home
On my own.
At home.

“Are you happy here?’

I used to know,
I think,
what happiness was …
Now? …
It’s not important
… Is it?

“ … Yes …”

Nod …
Shake my head.  

“Do they feed you well?”

Do they?
Sometimes …
I think

“… Yes …”

“Isn’t the weather lovely?”

I like the sun.
When it shines.
… and the rain.
… Not the wind. 

“… Windy …
It’s very windy …”

“Do you sit outside sometimes?”

I think so.
I don’t know
It’s nice.

 “Yes . It is very windy”

“ … The leaves are moving …”

It’s not my day
It was my day
…  Once.
It’s not my day.
Yesterday was my day.
…  Once.
 When I was a child.
But I am a child.
Aren’t I?

“Do they provide entertainment for you?”

“… Sometimes …”

‘Are they looking after you?’

They help me.
She helps me
Who is she?
She wants to help me.
I don’t want help
But I need help
Don’t I?

When I’m wet
My chair’s wet
I need help
Take me away.
Let me be
Help me

“… Oh, Yes …
… The leaves are moving …”

“Oh, look, it’s tea time”

My time
They’ll help me eat
Something else to do.
… To do something
To be me…

But not here.
I’m all right here
I’m happy here
… Am I?
For now …  Yes

 “… Is it ?…
… I do like tea …”

“… When can I go home?…”

“You are at home

 “. . . Am I? …”

 “I’ll come again  …  soon”

 “… Thank you”

#     #     #

 Perhaps next week?

 We are not dead
Neither are we alive

Only react
Never initiate
Only react

 We …
mechanisms,
contraptions

Feel
But
No sense –
That’s nonsense

Only Pain brings relief
from not being alive

#     #     # 

Winter Trees 2 – WHB … ink – 1988

The above is a recounting, to the best of my memory, of the conversation during a visit I paid a few years ago now, to a dear old friend who had, for several months, been living in a nursing home.

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.

Robert Herrick (poet)

Two Poems of ROBERT  HERRICK;

Born Cheapside, London in 1591
Died:  Dean Prior, Devon, in 1674, aged 83.
Educated at St. John’s College, Cambridge
Noted 17th Century Cleric and Poet

… The illustrations and script are my own recently re-discovered student work …

With Tongue In Cheek

Oh yes, I’m now old and decrepit,
But neither past it nor fetid.

In no way I’m over and finished;
My ardour still has not diminished.

… ‘COS …

Age has not wearied me yet;
Desire is still with me,
Lust still stirs within me,
I’m a game old codger, you bet!

…  SO …

IF YOU WERE MINE

You look divine.
If you were mine
I’d drool and dote,
You’d have my vote.

I’d fire Love’s dart
To win your heart.
That’s not a sin,
I know I’d win.

I’d face the press,
Ignore the mess.
I’d  tie you to me
And Lose the key.

With every wish
I’d  be selfish.
You’d have to be
Welded to me.

And each new day
Would show the way
To hold love fast,
To make it last.

And every kiss
Would speak of bliss,
Would prove at last
Life had not past.

They say I’m old
And won’t be told;
That love has past,
Dried up at last.

But yet I know
I’d love you so.
Despite my age
I’d take the stage.

You’d be my queen
And reign supreme
Over our peers.
For which three cheers.

So here’s the rub,
The heart, the nub.
What we’d have then
Is our Amen.

‘Twould gave us hope,
Help us to cope
With life, with pain,
To live again.

And when at last
Our time was past,
Our journey done,
We’d be as one.

. . .   so . . .

Take a note!
I’m not dead yet,
And, get this quote,
“I’d like to bet
You’ll be like me,

You’ll have a ball
When you can see
Work is not all.”

Dribble Verse #2: Methuselah

WHB: Pen & Crayon – 2021

Continuing my, for fun, experimentations with newer verse forms, here is my second attempt at DRIBBLE VERSE.

The dribble is a brief poem consisting of exactly 100 letters (not 100 characters—spaces and punctuation are not counted).  Dribbles most often take the form of a quatrain that turns on a single rhyme and usually provide a humorous observation on a mundane or unconventional subject, but like the haiku or sonnet, some modern poets adhere only to the counting aspect of the form  . . . The name of the dribble is derived from the micro-fiction form known as the drabble, a story consisting of exactly 100 words. Rhyme scheme: abab
From:  https://poetscollective.org/poetryforms/dribble/

Dribble # 2: Methuselah

Methusaleh died at a ripe old age, (27)
Nine hundred and sixty nine. (23)
I read he died in a filthy rage, (24)
Incensed he’d got a parking fine. (26)

The numbers in brackets represent the number of letters in each line -totalling 100 ]