‘THAT LOVE MAY LIVE’ – A Story In Four Haikus


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‘THAT LOVE MAY LIVE’ – A Story In Four Haikus



The heavens opened 
On my hopes for sun and warmth
Leaving me bereft


As the waters rose
So my spirits with them sank
I thought love lay lost


But I was quite wrong
For Nature wove its magic
Showing me the truth


Look upon the rain
As summers need to renew
And keep love alive




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.



Summer Geese

Geese at QB-August2017b

Painting in acrylic by Canadian artist, Alma Kerr – October 2017  ©



I walk not with the summer geese

but I follow them

as they make their stately way

along the water’s edge

through the incoming waves

towards the seagrass


So beautiful

this sense that Nature and I

Are aligned

Working to the same end

Coupled in a determination

To follow our will

Into whatever the future will bring



Poem composed in collaboration between Alma and Roland – November 2017


Edna St. Vincent Millay – ‘“What lips my lips have kissed’

(No.60 of my favourite short poems)


This Sonnet is by Edna St. Vincent Millay, an American poet and playwright who was born in Rockland, Maine, in 1892.  I find it a moving and poignant poem looking back on her more youthful days with regret and intense longing.  Her sonnet is written in the Italian form, divided into two parts – an eight-lined octet, followed by a six-line sestet, here presented as just two sentences.  It is both reflective and filled with remorse.

Millay’s first published poem, ‘Renascence‘ was particularly well received and launched her on her writing career.  For a large part of her life Millay lived and worked among her Bohemian friends in New York’s Greenwich Village milieu.  Known to her friends as Vincent, she was openly bisexual, and gradually accrued both fame and some notoriety.   In 1923, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for ‘The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver’.   Edna St Vincent Millay died in 1950.



“What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why”

By Edna St. Vincent Millay


What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,

I have forgotten, and what arms have lain

Under my head till morning; but the rain

Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh

Upon the glass and listen for reply,

And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain

For unremembered lads that not again

Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.


Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,

Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,

Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:

I cannot say what loves have come and gone,

I only know that summer sang in me

A little while, that in me sings no more.




Death’s Calling Card

A Verse in Spenserian Stanza:

In a Spenserian Stanza each verse contains nine lines in total: eight lines in iambic pentameter followed by a single ‘alexandrine’ line in iambic hexameter. The rhyme scheme of these lines is “ababbcbcc.”  Somewhat morbid, but my own composition in this form is offered below . . . 



Burne-Jones – ‘Merlin & Nimue’ – detail

Death’s Calling Card

In summer time when light is long to last
And evening stretches far into the night,
Then I am wont to think of times gone past
When life was dear and death was out of sight;
But autumn has arrived and dimmed the light,
That short time left to me now presses hard;
Have I done all the planning that I might,
Allowed myself my faults to disregard,
Updated my résumé, my next life’s calling card?



Nature’s Evensong


©  Photograph … ‘Sunset’ – courtesy of Canadian artist, Alma Kerr



and the soulful sound

of the sea

seduce my senses

in the calm

of this still summer’s eve

ripples roll gently towards me

from the red sun-kissed sea

silhouette sails

hug the horizon

purposeful gulls

tread the foreshore

forever watchful

while I

a silent spectator

scan the scene

evening’s tableau


and yet wholly alive

entranced and awed


beyond beauty

by Nature’s evensong

its benediction

on a desperate world








Bruton, Somerset . . .  Pen & Wash – WHB – 2016


Contentment suffuses the scene
And peace lies softly on the land
Life languishes in its grip
Labour held in thrall to lassitude
Neglectful now of endeavour.

In the calm
Of the midday sun
The farm sleeps on
Parading its contentment
Revealing its accord
With its heritage
By just being there
Seemingly throughout time
Amid the rolling fields
The languor of a lazy day
The serenity
Of a sublime summer

The quiet joy of existence
Tells more of peace
Than a thousand pacts
Life lived
In alliance with nature
Endowing us with serenity.