And the Dead Tree Gives no Shelter

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Photo:  WHB … 2019

 

The tree had fallen
Rotting remains now
As the rain 
The wind 
devour its bark
Dam its life stream
Yet still it nurtures life 
Home for beetle colonies to breed
For fungi to succeed

Rotted matted carcass
This sorbate matter
Feeds a frenzy
Of insect life
Foreign matter
Now acceptable
Powdered matter
Now both home
And sustenance
Renewable energy
Nature’s liturgy

Life in Death
To turn a phrase
That has to be
Nature’s best call
Perpetuating the present
In the past
Creating a new future
In an old landscape

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N.B.  The title of this poem is taken from T.S.Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’.
‘1. The Burial of the Dead’, beginning … ‘April is the cruellest month …’

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The SIREN

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An Anderson Shelter from WW2 – c. 1940.

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Click on the link below to hear the siren sound of an ‘Air Raid Warning’, followed by the ‘All Clear’, accompanied by a video with some memories of the 1940s in the U.K.  . . .

Siren Sound

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The SIREN

The Air Raid Warden came to say:
‘It’s best to be prepared;
A little forethought and hard work –
Don’t want to make the young ‘un scared.’

Dad dug a cave deep in the garden,
Covered it with earth.
Our escape in time of stress,
Yes, this is what our lives were worth.

Then in the night the wailing came,
Woke me from my dreams.
Homes haunted by this dreaded sound
Soon learnt to know just what it means.

Escape to shelter in the dark,
All lighting was forbidden.
To hide in dark and musty gloom,
From bombs and fear hopefully hidden.

That siren sound has haunted me,
Its memory’s with me still.
The fear and dread, diminished now,
But yet it brings to me a chill.

All this, for me, was what war meant –
‘Twas hiding in the shadows,
While sounds around brought fear and doubt,
And longed for hopes of new tomorrows.

 

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Table-Talk

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Detail from one of Henry Moore’s ‘Shelter Drawings – ‘Sleepers’ … 1941

TABLE-TALK

In the deep vaults of my musing mind
Where the oldest memories live
There the surest ones I find
Are those which childhood give.

In darkest times, unfelt by me,
When war was at its height
Then what to me was just a fear
For my mother was direst fright.

The siren’s call came late at night,
Always excitement there;
A change of scenery, a new-found bed,
Heralded by its blare.

Under the table I found a haven,
A primitive cave, a thrill,
A nest where I curled up and slept,
Where time and life stood still.

My mother must have been distraught
Whilst I, in raw oblivion,
Enjoyed the change of scenery,
While all around was Stygian.

And then the sound of planes above,
Heading on their mission,
Though stuttering engines sometimes brought
A faltering recognition

That maybe now the time had come
To wish and say a prayer;
No more Messerschmitt and bombs
Why won’t they go elsewhere?

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Detail from one of Henry Moore’s ‘Shelter Drawings – ‘Sleepers’ … 1941

During World War 2 many homes provided themselves with an Air Raid Shelter to protect the inhabitants from bombs being dropped by German aircraft.  Anderson Shelters were those normally placed in back gardens and half-buried in the ground with earth heaped on top to protect them from bomb blasts.  Morrison shelters, named after the then Minister for Home Security, Mr. Herbert Morrison, were introduced in 1941. These were made from heavy steel, and were for indoor use, where they could also be used as a table. People sheltered underneath them during an air raid. 

Before my father built an Anderson shelter in the back garden, we sheltered under the dining table, fortunately never experiencing the heavy bombing which took place over London and many major cities in the country.

 

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