Cryptic Verses

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CRYPTIC  VERSES

 

We met via a cryptic crossword
Ensnared by a neat cryptic clue
I gave her a smile as a greeting
Followed up by a “How do you do?”

She was young, twenty-three-ish, and pretty,
Presentable, pert and petite.
She rang my Big Ben with a ding-dong
And my heart skipped a jubilant beat.

She was sitting there doing a crossword,
It looked like the one in ‘The Times’.
While I was just taking a breather,
Thinking up verses and rhymes.

Then ‘Wave cereal bowl’ she murmured,
As she looked, without seeing, at me.
Now this, I thought, I could work at.
I gave thanks to the powers that be.

An eight letter answer was needed,
So I set my old brain cells ticking
I knew if I thought hard I’d find it
The clue just needed unpicking.

For ‘cereal’ – think ‘grain’ or think ‘bran’,
And for ‘bowl’ then how about ‘dish’?
But to fit them together I thought,
Would be more than I ever could wish.

But it soon became clear to me
When looking again at the clue,
That what I was looking for now,
A word which meant ‘wave’, that would do.

A light then switched on in my mind
I knew I had twigged it at last
‘BRANDISH’ I yelled with great glee
Assuming she’d leap up and gasp.

But “Calm down!” she abruptly called out
“I ‘d just worked that out for myself.
I don’t need your help you spoilsport.
Go pickle your brains by yourself.”

Disgruntled, I stood up and left,
Yet another faux pas I had made.
One more chance for romance I had blown,
So it’s back to my verse I’m afraid.

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‘CRYPTIC CLUE:  Wave cereal bowl’;   ANSWER:  Bran-dish’

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The Arrangement

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Yes?… No! 

Why not? … Headache!

Later? …  Maybe! 

Tomorrow? … Unlikely! 

When? … Sometime! 

 Soon?  … Perhaps!

Here?  … Somewhere! 

Where? … Dunno! 

Any ifs? … Plenty!

Affair?  … Don’t you dare!

Separation? … Impractical! 

Divorce? … Costly!

Forget it? … Better! 

For now? … For ever! 

As we were? … As we are! 

OK? … OK! 

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FIRKYTOODLING

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FIRKYTOODLING

When I was young and foolish, she was winsome, sweet and cute,
I was given to firkytoodling, a pleasurable pursuit,
Practised by young lovers with a semblance of finesse,
Yet fraught with muffed advances and frustration I confess.

The way matters proceeded was with hesitations fed,
With never a suggestion of retiring to a bed.
No, circumspection ruled and held us all within its thrall,
For fear of finding that we didn’t have the wherewithal.

Not quite understanding as to where it all might lead,
And a minimal perception of what it meant to breed.
Plus a fear of breaking all those long instilled taboos,
Which governed all the protocol on cuddling, smooch and schmooze.

I tried to reason with myself, to tell myself to try,
Just let my wandering hands explore and not to be so shy
For she had let me get this far, an arm around her neck,
So surely now she’d let me have more than just a peck.

So I attempted in the dark, a first-time “Do I dare? “
A fumble here, a fiddle there, the lightest touch in hope elsewhere,
Investigating bra straps and those buttons on her blouse,
Fumbling fingers trying hard her passion to arouse.

Then fatally, I hesitated, faltered, flinched and dithered,
I’d lost my will, my heart stood still, all resolution withered.
I’d been turned on, fluffed chance now gone, and fate got in the way;
The moment passed, and soon I knew, today was not my day.

 

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[  Firkytoodling: a Victorian term for canoodling, or being amorous.  ]

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‘Another Unfortunate Choice’ by Wendy Cope

[  # 82 of My Favourite Short Poems  ]

 

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‘Another Unfortunate Choice’

 

I think I am in love with A. E Housman,

Which puts me in a worse-than-usual-fix.

No woman ever stood a chance with Housman

And he’s been dead since 1936.

 


 

A tale of unrequited love – By Wendy Cope

Reproduced from ‘The Big Book of Little Poems’ (Pub: Andrew Deutsch Classics)

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On Being Repetitious

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On Being Repetitious

 I know you’re suspicious,
My thoughts are capricious
And highly fictitious
Completely nutritious
Yet hardly seditious.

Life is so delicious;
But, of course I’m ambitious,
The time is propitious.
The signs are auspicious,
Highly adventitious.

And you know I’m judicious,
Not one to be officious,
Superstitious or vicious,
Malicious, pernicious,
Not ever lubricious,

Nor in the least avaricious.

OK, I’ll be surreptitious,
So you can remain suppositious

… Although , I am REPETITIOUS.

 

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Early 20th Century Autograph Books

[ Wednesday Replay # 1 ] 

Previously published on Roland’s Ragbag on August 6th 2016 at:
‘Early 20th Century Autograph Books’


 

Autograph books, where they exist, are now used mainly for collecting the signatures ( or at least the scribbled ciphers) of the latest popular music or sports star.

Compare this scribble below by Wimbledon Champion, Andy Murray, in 2013, with, from my own autograph collection (of 2), this perfectly legible  autograph of England and Yorkshire batsman, Len Hutton, obtained in the 1940s . . .

100 years ago Autographs Books were primarily more for the collecting and usually exchanging, of aphorisms, homilies, comments,  pithy verses, simple drawings, personal messages, with friends and relatives.

These autograph books of the first half of the 20th Century, give a clear picture of the social mores and conventions of the time.  Their contents can be clearly seen as a means of passing popular wisdom on to subsequent generations. Nowadays they may be thought of by some as schmaltzy, even maudlin, but they do present a picture of the tastes and sentiments of that time and help to remind us of a much simpler and less cynical age.

 REPRODUCE BELOW, In Slide show format) SOME OF THE SKETCHES FROM MY OWN FAMILY’S AUTOGRAPH BOOKS – THE MAJORITY OF THE ENTRIES ARE DATED 1929.

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. . . AND HERE ARE THE TEXTS OF SOME OF THE MORE DISCERNING ENTRIES . . .


Beware sweet maid when men come to thee
And say they seek their soul’s affinity
When all they want, the base espousers,
Is someone to sew buttons on their trousers.


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‘Just a few lines from a would-be poet’


It’s very hard to find a friend
When your heart is full of hope.
It’s harder still to find a towel
When your eyes are full of soap.


In ascending the hill of prosperity
May you never meet a Friend


It’s not the one that knows the most
That has the most to say.
Nor yet the one that has the most
That gives the most away.


Love is like a mutton chop
Sometimes cold – Sometimes hot

Whether cold or whether hot
It’s not a thing to be forgot.


‘Taint what we have,
But what we give,
‘Taint what we are,
But how we live,
‘Taint what we do,
But how we do it,
That makes life worth
Going through it.


Make new friends but keep the old,
One is silver, the other gold;
Cheeks may wrinkle, hair grow grey,
But friendship never knows decay.


When the golden sun is sinking,
When your time from care is free,
When of others you are thinking,
Will you sometimes think of me?


Written in faltering, scratchy handwriting …

This is a damned bad pen you’ve given me!

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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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Adrian Henri – ‘Tonight at Noon’

(No.67 of my favourite short poems)

Photograph – WHB   ©

 

Tonight at Noon  . . .  A Poem by Adrian Henri

Tonight at noon
Supermarkets will advertise 3p extra on everything
Tonight at noon
Children from happy families will be sent to live in a home
Elephants will tell each other human jokes
America will declare peace on Russia
World War I generals will sell poppies on the street on November 11th
The first daffodils of autumn will appear
When the leaves fall upwards to the trees 

Tonight at noon
Pigeons will hunt cats through city backyards
Hitler will tell us to fight on the beaches and on the landing fields
A tunnel full of water will be built under Liverpool
Pigs will be sighted flying in formation over Woolton
And Nelson will not only get his eye back but his arm as well
White Americans will demonstrate for equal rights
In front of the Black house
And the monster has just created Dr. Frankenstein 

Girls in bikinis are moonbathing
Folksongs are being sung by real folk
Art galleries are closed to people over 21
Poets get their poems in the Top 20
There’s jobs for everybody and nobody wants them
In back alleys everywhere teenage lovers are kissing in broad daylight
In forgotten graveyards everywhere the dead will quietly bury the living
            and
You will tell me you love me
Tonight at noon

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Merseybeats

Adrian Henri was born in Birkenhead, near the port of Liverpool, England, in 1932. He described his early philosophy as “If you think you can do it and you want to do it—then do it.”  Along with Brian Patten and Roger McGough, Adrian Henri was the third member of the group who came to prominence in 1967 on the publication of ‘Mersey Sound’, the Penguin anthology of the Merseybeat or Liverpool Poets. 

As an artist of often surreal paintings, this was also at times apparent in his poetry, as in ‘Tonight at Noon’ which I feature above.  There is humour here along with the pathos of the ending where it is realised, but only at the very end of the poem, that the poet is considering all the impossible happenings which would need to take place before his love was likely to be returned.  Henri died in 2000 and is buried in  Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris, France.

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