Churchyard Blues– Five HAIKU

Yorks-Haworth Churchyard-1983

Haworth Churchyard, Yorkshire.  The Brontes are buried in a vault inside the church , except Anne who was buried at Scarborough.   Pen & Ink Sketch – WHB, 1983    ©





Cradle of their births,
Shrouds for their future demise;
A place to belong. 



To those with belief
Death does not come as an end;
With faith no one dies.



Stay, hear, be silent;
Listen to the song thrush bring
Hope to the living



Know, amongst these stones,
That life always precedes death;
Make the most of it.



If only God’s faith
Would strike my doubt ridden soul
I would die content.

Yorks-Aysgarth Church-1981_preview

Aysgarth Churchyard, Yorkshire – Pen & Ink Sketch – WHB, 1981   ©



Father William


A Japanese ‘Father William’ …  Pen & Ink – WHB – 2014

You are Old, Father William

“You are old, Father William,” the young man said,
“And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head –
Do you think, at your age, it is right?

“In my youth,” Father William replied to his son,
“I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “as I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door —
Pray, what is the reason for that?”

“In my youth,” said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
“I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment — one shilling a box —
Allow me to sell you a couple?”

“You are old,” said the youth, “and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak —
Pray, how did you manage to do it?”

“In my youth,” said his father, “I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose —
What made you so awfully clever?”

“I have answered three questions, and that is enough,”
Said his father. “Don’t give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I’ll kick you down stairs.”

Lewis Carroll


“You Are Old, Father William” is a poem by Lewis Carroll that appears in his book  ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ (1865).



Pen & Ink drawing of Andrea Mantegna’s ‘Samson and Delilah’ Oil on Canvas, c.1500, in the National Gallery, London. . . .   WHB – 1994


“These fragments I must shore against my ruin.”

I wish to put a hold on life,
freeze it at this instant;
stop my headlong race to reach
some intangible resolution
before life, and with it death,
overtake me.

Yet, a wanton fervour
forces me to write;
a defining greed pushes me on;
a need to achieve,
to find the telling phrase
to verify my competence.

There is a frenzy on me,
a new lust for life
alien to my past;
but still I draw on that very past
to colour the present
and steer me into my aspired future.

My imperative is to leave an imprint
on the foreshore of my life
before its tide recedes.
Regardless of renown,
I wish to leave a noble fragment of myself
with a proven hint of worth
to carry me beyond my grave.

Such fragments,
the flotsam of my endeavours,
washed up  and left
for those seashore scavengers,
those ardent beachcombers
of other people’s detritus;
my scraps left for Autolycus to pick over.
I need the harvest of my life to be
another’s prized perception,
their acquired inspiration.

And yet I know I must desist,
I must allow those morsels,
slivers of myself already extant,
to speak for themselves,
to represent me to the future.

I must accept
that already
I have utilised my credit with the past
and created my memorial for the future.

“These fragments I must shore against my ruin.”


The quotation appearing at the beginning and end of my poem is, slightly adapted, taken from T.S.Eliot’s poem  “The Wasteland”.


The impetus to write my two ‘Life Force’ poems – this second of them in free verse – also derives from Andrew Marvel’s poem ‘To His Coy Mistress’ – in particular, many readers will recall the oft repeated couplet from this poem . . .
But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;


Delilah, of course, took away Samson’s Life Force, his strength, by cutting off his hair whilst asleep.




The North Yorkshire Moors


I am being self-indulgent and presenting eight of my pen & ink sketches, all created in my nyorksmoorsmapamateurish way, many years ago.  They are all of the area which established my roots and engendered my love of the countryside, of local history and legend, of place, and, more specifically, of the scenery of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park.  I no longer live in the area, but re-visit as often as I can make possible.

Below is a gallery of six of these sketches. I regret that these are not in the best of condition, having faded or stained somewhat over the years.  Clicking on any one of them will start a slide-show of all six.  The first one is a composite drawing, whilst the other five are enlarged copies of parts of this first drawing.

The North Yorkshire Moors National Park is one of the most beautiful, but one of the least visited, of the U.K’s 15 National Parks.   It encompasses a long stretch of Yorkshire’s beautiful north-east coast and the extensive hinterland of moors, dales and forests stretching from Teesside and the Cleveland Hills southwards to the vale of York.   The whole area offers splendid walks.  Two of particular note are The Lyke Wake Walk which  crosses the moors for 40 miles, and the Cleveland Way, which hugs the coastline for a large part its 110 mile length.  I cannot do the area justice in a short article, but I can recommend visiting the North Yorkshire Moors National Park  website which has plenty of detail and recommendations of what to see and do.