Category Archives: my sunday poem

My Sunday Poem … # 13

My Sunday Poem … # 13

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I wrote this week’s offering way back in the summer of 1969. I was all of 17 and quite heavily into Arthurian literature at the time. I’d been hitch-hiking in Devon and Cornwall with my pal Charlie Parker. One of the places we visited was the ruins of Tintagel Castle in Cornwall which had long been linked to the legend of King Arthur. Continue reading

my sunday poem … # 12

my sunday poem … # 12

I wrote this poem in January 1977 while I was living in Norfolk.
It could get pretty bleak there in winter when the cold wind blew straight across from Siberia like a breath of ice and the hard frosts could almost freeze your bones. It was the price you paid for such stunningly beautiful landscapes.

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The Winter Gallery

I had a winter gallery
Set in deep woods and wild fields.
And there I would linger
Among the portraits and glass-flower images
Until the last glimmering rays of sun
Had left pale-red rivers in the darkening sky
And the twilight world was cold and still.

I would wander in the moonlit garden
And find myself an avenue
Lined with white-tinsel trees
Etched with the mystic silence
Of a thousand half-held dreams
That lay beyond the garden wall.

Walking through the frozen fields
The air so crisp and still.
The evening lights stood out
All glistening stars of ice and fire
Each holding in their distant gleam
A promise of the coming spring.

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my sunday poem … # 11

my sunday poem … # 11

Drummer

drummerboy

My poem this week was inspired in part by a true story I came across recently.

In Napoleonic times when the prison ships used to be docked at Plymouth it was general practice to march the French prisoners of war across Dartmoor to Princetown. All of these prison details were accompanied by a military escort for obvious reasons. The journey was long and arduous but was made even harder in the winter as sudden snowstorms would often blow across the moor, catching the soldiers and prisoners in the open.

One such party were caught when a storm struck. Within minutes the snow blanketed the moor and the white-out brought the visibility down to a few feet. The party knew they were somewhere near to what was then the small village of Princetown and its formidable prison but exactly where it was impossible to say.  By now the prisoners in their flimsy clothes were beginning to freeze and so the soldiers led them to the shelter of a small gully which afforded some shelter from the winter onslaught. It soon become clear that this was no passing storm and the blizzard had well and truly set in. So those soldiers on horseback were sent to try and find the prison and return with a rescue party. In order for any rescue party to find the stranded travellers, a little drummer boy was told to remain in the gully and to keep drumming a tattoo so the sound of the drum would lead the rescuers back to the refuge.

As night approached the French prisoners and the few remaining guards began to despair, the relentless snows swirled around the gully but the brave little drummer boy continued to beat out his call for rescue.

It soon became obvious that for whatever reason the rescue party was not going to come in time, two prisoners had already frozen to death and the rest were near to exhaustion. The remaining soldiers decided that as the prisoners were in such a weak condition they were not going to try to escape which meant they too could try to reach Princetown and summon help. Once again the little drummer boy was ordered to remain with the Frenchmen and continue beating out his call. By now his little fingers were blue with cold but bravely he continued with his rhythmic drumming. The last thing the soldiers heard as the curtain of snow swallowed them up was the steady rat-a-tat-tat of the brave drummer’s drum beats.

When the snow storm eventually abated the rescue party was finally dispatched from the prison to find the young boy and his French charges. Eventually the gully was found and the rescuers was faced with the pitiful sight of a huddled bunch of frozen French corpses, just to one side was the pathetic remains of the brave little drummer boy, his body stiff and icy. The poor lad still held his drumsticks in his tiny , ice-blue hands as if he had bravely drummed right up to the final seconds of life – above and beyond the normal call of duty.

Drummer

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His face and fingers numb with cold
Drummer trudges from the town
Lost in the stars and the drifting snow
Fears and fancies all around

Ill chance found Drummer thus that night
A friendless homeless orphan child
Alone and driven in his plight
To seek the comfort of the wild

Though fresh and young as early spring
There is an inner wintering
A wisdom born of suffering
That only need and hardship bring

And through the thickly falling snow
He marked each weary pace
Until at last all effort spent
He tumbled into empty space

When he awoke or seeming so
For truth would cry he was asleep
Before him lay on every side
A forest strangely dark and deep

The moon shone silver through the trees
And diamond-decked the even snow
As if the stars had fallen down
To glisten on the earth below

Through the crisp and silent air
He saw a steady flame
And heard a soft and gentle voice
That called him by his name

Drummer have you come this far
To huddle in the snow
Drummer come and walk with me
Safe in my lantern’s glow

I am the shepherd of all men
Come down this winter’s night
So stay you close beside me
For I am the Lord of Light

And in his dream the shepherd knelt
To lift him from the snow
And Drummer saw his kindly face
Shine in the lantern’s glow

Over fields of mantled white
And streams of standing silver bright
The Angel and the orphan
Winged their way into the night

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my sunday poem … # 10

my sunday poem … # 10

Today’s poem is called The Waiting-Bell. I wrote it during a period when I was quite heavily into the work of poets such as John Donne and Gerard Manley Hopkins. I so admired their use of  imagery.

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The waiting-bell

 in the garden at dawn
tremoring trance-like forms
lie hidden in the early mist
cold-cast in a wintery spell
silence hangs heavy as a waiting-bell

one
piercing shaft of light
and life begins again
like a shattering glass

spider’s web quivering
the birds’ glad song
and beat of wings

and when I think of you
where the pain of loss first fell
my heart hangs heavy as a waiting-bell

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my sunday poem … # 9

my sunday poem … # 9

These are not really intended to be offered as poems … more as captions to these two heartbreaking images. I don’t really know.

in gentle arms

soldier

there’s a soldier on the main street
holds a child in his arms
she looks just like a rag doll
she ain’t done nobody harm

through the smoke an’ all confusion
he looks down in dismay
searching hard to find a reason
for a life just blown away

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no more borders little man
in paradise today
for you have found another land
where you can dance and play

my sunday poem … # 8

my sunday poem … # 8

This poem was inspired through many things. Myths & legends of old. Pop culture. Art. Being young and foolish. All those things and more.

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the lady & the swan

velvet jewel of twilight
crimson lake of dawn
shimmer in the waters
a silver swan is born

silent wings of silver
o’er the waters cold
far beyond the west wind
there lies a sea of gold

lady of the morning
hair of golden sun
lady of the blue dawn
tears that sadly run

eyes that watch the water
rippling in jest
softly moving breezes
thoughts that feel no rest

ruby red the sunglow
crystal wings that fly
palace of the white swan
glimmering on high

lady in the moonshine
silent in her song
dreams of golden gardens
visions made of stone

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my sunday poem … # 9

my sunday poem …  # 9

This was inspired by a friend of mine who worked in repertory theatre for many years. 

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the actor

and so I bow
before the final curtain
a star without a name
of that I am quite certain
as I go back to my dressing room
down the stairs.

into the night
from the backdoor of the theatre
out of the limelight
to the quiet of an evening
and throw away my lines
for another day.

into my house
number one rehearsal street
put the kettle on
take the weight off my feet
and read the morning papers
much too late.

into my bed
the stage on which I sleep
blanketing my thoughts
by counting sightless sheep
and dream of all the parts
i used to play.

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