A pea-green boat, a runcible spoon & a lot of nonsense #EdwardLear #poetry #limericks #London #May #nonsense #morals

Poet, Edward Lear, was born in London of Danish ancestry on 12th May, 1812. 
His ‘Book of Nonsense’ was published anonymously in 1846 and holds his most famous poem ‘The Owl & The Pussy-cat’ as well as over 100 limericks.

From the age of six he suffered from epilepsy and asthma. Despite being a sufferer he was still able to write creatively with a unique humour and to decorate his rhymes with fanciful illustrations.

His favourite nonsense word which was his own ‘sweet’ (‘they took some honey and plenty of money’) creation was ‘runcible spoon’ from ‘The Owl & The Pussy-cat.’  The word runcible appeared many times in his writing, defining different objects.

runcible cat’ 

runcible hat’

runcible goose’

As I tap away, scribing this tidy little blog, my iPad already dislikes the word, runcible, stating firmly ‘No replacement found.’ 

Moral 1: don’t let computers say to you, ‘wrong word, stupid.’ How are we to produce anything new, weird and beyond the ordinary?

Moral 2: don’t let being a sufferer stop you from branching out beyond the ordinary and making something work for you.

Since the 1920s dictionaries have come to define the term ‘runcible spoon’ as a fork-like utensil with two broad prongs and one sharp curved prong. 

A grapefruit spoon? A pickles or hors d’oeuvres spoon? Whatever your social habits, Edward Lear created spectacular vernacular.

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London plays host to golden daffodils #London #parks #poetry #flowers #daffodils

Here is a delightful photo of bright and breezy daffodil heads bringing colour to the Royal Parks of London.
In the UK one can witness daffodils as early as December (East Sussex) and as late as late May (Perthshire, Scotland).

To celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 more golden daffodils were planted in Green Park and here they are in their floral glory.  

William Wordsworth wrote in 1804 a classic poet’s dedication to this supremely beautiful spring flower, with its open trumpet, framed frilly petals and long firm stem.  Ahh silence is golden.

‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ was inspired by the daffodils on The Lakes in Grasmere which William’s sister Dorothy had described in her journal of April 1802. It must also be recognised that many of the lines were hers. “I never saw daffodils so beautiful,” wrote Dorothy.

Here is a snippet:

‘… all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils’

‘… they stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.’

‘… a poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company.’

‘… they flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude ‘

(Wordsworth noted “the two best lines in it are by Dorothy”)

‘And then my heart with pleasure fills 

And dances with the daffodils.’

Every spring they rise again, a fitting metaphor for the symbol of Easter.

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Looking Rosy #poetry #roses #quotes #March #England #London #Shakespeare

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (Act II, Scene II ‘Romeo & Juliet‘ by Shakespeare).
But I do particularly like ‘The Poet’s Wife’ (Auswhirl) grown by David Austin, English rose aficionado of Great Britain (see photo). This variety was introduced in 2014 and is the first yellow rose of his collection since the ‘Charles Darwin‘ of 2003.

‘Beautifully formed’ ‘Strong and unfading’ ‘Rich and Fruity’ 

Now is the time to start planting these beauties … there are some wonderful names to choose from. Take a stroll around Queen Mary’s Rose Garden in Regent’s Park, London and find hundreds of wonderfully named bedded buds (not yet in bloom, of course, but perfect in sunny June).

‘Why June is the time for a rose to bloom’

The rose is adored by poets from Robert Burns to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  

Who is this poet and who is his wife? 

Ans. ‘Naturally rounded’ and a very fine inspiration for his work, perhaps.

Get searching and share your favourite named roses…
(See previous blog Captivated by Roses -November 2015).

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‘Fare thee well!’ #travel #song #ballad #poetry #London #India

Here is a charming 18th century English folk ballad, to beat away the blues of January.
The first published version of this song appeared in Roxburghe Ballads, 1710.

‘…stay a while with me

For if I had a friend all on this earth

You’ve been a friend to me.

And fare thee well my own true love

And farewell for a while.

I’m going away but I’ll be back

If I go ten thousand miles.’

And on this cheery note, I must bid a 21st century friendly farewell as I depart London, England for Goa, India for 3 weeks of intrepid adventures and exciting discoveries. 

Sunny climes and warm skies beckon beyond and over the horizon – actually, geographically speaking, lying north of the Equator, just beneath the Tropic of Cancer.

New friends to meet, old friends to greet: ‘But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep…’ (poet, Robert Frost).

There are many ways to part and many paths to wander…

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Pleasure, Pain & Poetry #Kipling #poetry #OnThisDay #January 

On the 18th January, 1891, poet Rudyard Kipling married American Carrie Balestier.
On the 18th January, 1936, 45 years later & 80 years ago today Rudyard Kipling died aged only 70.

“Kipling, though short, was lithe and slim, with beautifully balanced movements. His most arresting feature was his heavy eyebrows, which shot up and down with his talk: under them twinkled bright blue eyes.”

To learn poetry by heart (a short piece, a verse, a line) means we take a gift with us wherever we go; whether we travel alone or we share the poetry of our hearts, it can be a constant source of companionship.  

In grief, poetry can provide refuge and recovery and may be a helpful source of peace and understanding, especially when we struggle to find the words ourselves.  

Sometimes someone else, perhaps from another era or of a different gender, can speak for us.

Pull down that dusty poetry book from the shelf, or google a poem; read the lines and read between the lines and maybe you’ll realise that there’s a poet talking to you, writing for you; reach and you will find…


‘There is pleasure in the wet, wet clay,

When the artist’s hand is potting it.

There is pleasure in the wet, wet lay,

When the poet’s pad is blotting it…’

 Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

  

January Joy comes flowing in #January #poetry #England #NewYear #quotes

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Continued from yesterday…

Poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, ‘I Stood on a Tower’ (1865)

‘Seas at my feet were flowing,

Waves on the shingle pouring,

Old year roaring and blowing,

And New Year blowing and roaring.’

Tennyson wrote to his lifelong friend and poetry editor, Francis Turner Palgrave:

“What a season! The wind is roaring here like thunder and all my holly trees are rolling. Indeed, we have had whole weeks of wind.” 

Here we are in January 2016, 150 years later, a new wind whips up the waves, stirs a restless sea and rustles the senses.

‘The gulls to the sky, went soaring

The waves, heavily churned, came falling

Whipped to the tip, spilt on the beach

A hundred horizons for us to seek

Today, tomorrow as the days flow

Bathe thousands of places for us to go

At home, for rest, we safely stay, until

The leaning winds send us far away

And just like birds, who leave awhile

We’ll each return to our worlds and smile.’

KB, 2015/16
Take the first week of January calmly: ‘J‘ for Jolly, for Joy, for enJoyment.
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7 days till the 1st day of Christmas #Christmas #poetry 

Christmas Day, 25th of December, is officially the 1st Day of Christmas and only one week away (from today). So after all the carolling you’ve been doing, you’ll soon have the chance to be counting the days of Christmas, from the 25th to epiphany on the 6th of January, plus humming and singing to the well-known, usual tune.

Starting with ‘a partridge in a pear tree’ 

I do hope everyone’s enjoying the festive windows which are truly ‘winter wonderful,’ and preparing a very happy ‘holiday season’ without too much chaos. Maybe hide away with a book of poetry and a bit of port; the only drink that can be made out of the word poetry –

 P O E T R Y – before the real Christmas days arrive…

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Things I moose do… #Christmas #OperationSmile #charity #poetry

Sometimes a list is the best way to deal with this busy time of year, primarily called Christmas, although it can take on other names such as ‘Noel’ and ‘The Holiday Season.'(yuk)

It’s never too soon to think it all through, write it all down, and then tick it all off, bit by bit!  
Expect some surprises, and last minute things too.

Selecting and highlighting TV programmes comes soon.

Shopping and preparing the meal is last of all, if it’s you…Good luck.

If you’re the guest…remember your oohs, ahhs, pleases and thank yous, always take a gift and say ‘yes‘ to everything (including charades, scrabble, a recital of some sort, jokes and clearing up) – it is Christmas! (apparently).

Make everyday a ‘good-morrow’…

‘… all pleasures fancies be.

If ever any beauty I did see,

Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.’

from ‘The Good-morrow’ by John Donne (1572-1631)

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A Birthday In The Bleak Mid-Winter #Rossetti #December #OnThisDay #poetry #music

On the 5th of December 1830 (85 years ago today) Christina Rossetti, the youngest of the artistic Rossetti family, was born in London.
She wrote the well-known, wintry, Christian lyrics of the carol ‘In The Bleak Mid-Winter.’  The widely-hummed music was composed by Gustav Holst (1874-1934).  Holst was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and is most famous for his composition ‘The Planets.’
The words and the melody come together perfectly to form a delicate, soft and slowly journeying hymn. There is nothing too trying for the vocal chords, one could almost read the verses over a log fire with the cold wind locked outside.

‘In the bleak mid-winter 

Frosty winds may moan;

Earth stood hard as iron,

Water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow,

In the bleak mid-winter,

Long ago…’

First verse of In The Bleak Mid-Winter’

It is perhaps appropriate to mention that Christina also wrote a poem entitled: ‘A Birthday’

‘Because the birthday of my life 

Is come, my love is come to me.’

There is plenty of singing and rejoicing this time of year; we are deep in the heart of poetry, music and storytelling.
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Persons of notable repute to this place came … #history #poetry #GreatBritain #London

The old church garden on Marylebone High Street, London commemorates the site of the old parish church of St Mary on the River Tyburn, in the village of St Mary le Bourne, hence Marylebone. It was built 1400, rebuilt 1741, and demolished 1949.

On this site ‘Persons of notable repute in The History of Great Britain,’ are remembered.

Who are they?

Sir Francis Bacon (born 1561) English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, orator, essayist and author.  

In the mid 19th century some of the plays conventionally attributed to Shakespeare were believed to have been written by him. He was MARRIED here in 1606.

William Hogarth, painter, engraver, satirist PORTRAYED the church interior, 1735.

James Gibbs, architect and pupil of Wren, was BURIED here, 1754.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Irish playwright and poet, MARRIED here 1773; he is buried in Poets Corner, Westminster Abbey.

Charles Wesley, co-founder of the Methodist Movement, BURIED here, 1788.

Lord Byron, poet, BAPTISED here, 1788.

Lord Nelson, WORSHIPPED here and his daughter Horatia, BAPTISED here, 1803.

‘So we’ll go no more a-roving

So late into the night

Though the heart still be as loving

And the moon still be as bright.’

‘We’ll go no more a-roving’ 

by Lord Byron, and his Romantic ideals.

If the building has to go, write down its memories and remember them, so we can pass it all on … This is what comes of wandering, look left and look right, stop and stare

  

Squirrelling away #park #squirrels #poetry #photography

Anyone whose ever read the experience of a professional wildlife photographer on their journey to picture the world’s rarest and most exciting creatures will know it is a wearisome task of dedication.

For example, “we climbed snowy peaks for days in temperatures of minus 50, there was a wind storm, ice glaciers, the frostbite was crippling; we suffered extreme exhaustion and intense headaches. We settled a camp, burned our old clothes for heat, sucked ice for water, ate powdered food supplies; then we lay in wait for 2 weeks, hoping to get a glimpse of an Arctic fox, who only appears for a few minutes at this time of year…etc.”

Well this photo of a squirrel (it’s not a masterpiece, but a well-formed pose; a classic profile perhaps) took 2 minutes in a London park. He accepted the bait of a ‘monkey nut’ kindly unwrapping the shell in front of me while I gathered my iPad to snap him. What held his ears and his position a little longer was the opportunity to recite a few lines of poetry to him, which he did indeed listen to, before scampering off bright-eyed and bushy-tailed into the wildness of green grass and brown leaves, just outside Clarence House. Easy really.

It was agreed he was snacking and squirrelling away for winter on flat, verdant land in a temperature of 12 degrees. The grey squirrel is also a rather common specie of mammal in these parts, but it was a Royal Park so he certainly knows where to dine.

I headed home for lunch and tea; it was a pain-free encounter.

‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.’

From Stopping By A Wood One Snowy Afternoon, By Robert Frost (1874-1963)

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It just dawned on me… Aleister Crowley #poetry #birthday #Hastings #poet

Aleister Crowley (12th October 1875 – 1st December 1947).
Poet; chess-player: ‘nobody ever beat him;’ traveller; artist and occultist, labelled The Beast was born on this day 140 years ago and died in Netherwood boarding house (sitting 500 feet above sea level) on The Ridge, in my town of Old Hastings, East Sussex.

He chose room 13, at the front of the house, with extensive views of the Norman castle, Beachy Head and the sea.

He was described by his landlady as “popular, pleasing, charming; very erudite; a good companion, a stimulating talker and quite unlike anyone else; from the day of his dramatic arrival, he was clearly no ordinary mortal.”  

He had a large collection of friends, received many visitors, and parcels of chocolate from America – when rationing was rife in Britain. In fact from his room permeated the smell of a strong molasses-tobacco; it was stacked from floor to ceiling with his books and packages of chocolates.

He often took long walks along The Ridge, leaning on lampposts, palms to the sun.

But during his lifetime, he promoted himself as “the wickest man in the world” and “the devil incarnate.”

On the evening of his burial, the coffin travelled from Hastings to Brighton for cremation, there was a tremendous thunderstorm with lightening that continued all through the night; his good friend remarked, “Crowley would have loved that.”

He had an extraordinary presence, and an unusual persona, was distinctively different, possessing secret magical powers, beyond all ordinary comprehension, and keen to make friendships with the inquisitive and intelligent.

Netherwood house was demolished in 1968.

“But this is dawn; my soul shall make its nest

Where your sighs swing from rapture into rest

Love’s thurible, your tiger-lily breast.”

‘A Birthday’ by Aleister Crowley, 1911
It just dawned on me…
 

Grappling for grapes#poetry #life #autumn #travel

“On this day, one like no other normal day, there appeared out of the sea-blue sky, as if hung by puppet-strings from a god’s great height, swathes of sweet, bulbous grapes; soured green, swollen and plentiful. If I were but 2 feet taller, I might reach up and pluck the wholesome pipped and bulging berries, and squeeze their juices into a rich, fruity, intoxicating wine to warm the senses, the soul and all its sensibilities.

At first, a jovial disposition of happiness, gaiety and bacchanalian revels and then a stupor of quiet drowsiness.  

Alas, it is only their flayed leaves and tight plump bunches, dotting and dappling the stone in shady softness, that soothe and comfort my rest; whilst the heady heat of sun catches the quench of thirst upon my tongue, to leave me only contemplating such ripe gifts of fancy.

So near yet so far, for a mortal such as I!”



Unreachable Earthly Things for which we require wings,

Grappling for grapes, while the gods gaze and sing.

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As pretty as a picture #art #poetry #landscape

A perfect landscape painting should be one third landscape, two thirds sky. The palette should be made up of lots of rich greens, flavoursome yellows, bountiful blues and whisked up whites. We never really see one green or one blue we see lots of variations…maybe even a dash of orange or a splash of red blended in. So what you see immediately is actually more complex; infinitely more dense, layered and interesting.
Then what about a story? Where do the fields lead, what wildlife lies inside the woodlands, how far can the sky reach? This is where a romanticised imagination replaces reality and common sense; every picture is unique and the tale is of your own making…
Herewith enters the wandering spirit, their wondering mind and their poetry of magic and mystery

‘Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon
The golden apples of the sun.’

From ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’ by W.B Yeats

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Standing up for Taking Time #quotes #poetry #leisure

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.” Words of wisdom and reflection from The Beatle Mr John Lennon.

Busy people in a busy world, all staring at their computers and phones, are not watching the world go by, but letting the world pass them by.
To stand, and to stare costs nothing at all, yet the rewards are great gifts to humanity. The simple, inexpensive pastime pleasures are even better shared and smiled at with someone special.

Reading this poem by W.H.Davies,‘Leisure,’ I could not miss out a couplet of it, he says it all so perfectly…

What is this life if, full of care
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Find your inner beauty…Start standing, staring and caring Today!

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Day and Night #Equinox #poetry #time

The 23rd September 2015 is the date of the Autumnal Equinox, when day and night are of equal length.
In Hastings, East Sussex the sunrise is 06.45 and the sunset 18.55.
Drive 59 miles north to central London and the sunrise is 06.48, the sunset 18.58.
At night the moon is half full, by day we are struggling for sunshine; there is a grey light by which to live, however today is purposefully bright and sunny!

By small degrees every day is altered, although we can never tell these slight variations. In a week from now the days will be shorter and the nights longer and on occasion this will be noticeably more defined.
Whether you are enjoying a totally absorbing life or finding each day harder and more complicated, remember to take things as they come, all things pass…

All things pass
A sunrise does not last all morning
All things pass
A cloudburst does not last all day
All things pass

What always changes?

Earth… Sky… Thunder…
Mountain… Water…
Wind… Fire … Lake

Theses change
And if they do not last

Do man’s visions last?
Do man’s illusions?

Take things as they come

All things pass

All Things Pass
Lao-Tzu (6th century BC, translated by Timothy Leary 1920-1996)

This may be a poem, a prayer, a statement, a short speech, or even a personal prescription.
Whatever it may be, it is essential communication: the means by which all things pass.

Bags of personality, bags of possibilities! #trains #poetry #Victorians #British

This wonderful statue (erected in 2007) of poet, writer & broadcaster Sir John Betjeman (1906-1984) stands tall and proud; we are instantly drawn to his admiring glance and topped hat as he poignantly looks upwards at the glorious, sweeping arches of the London station he fort to save, St Pancras.
To think they might have demolished this beautiful structure is ‘criminal folly!’ spoke the outraged founding member of the Victorian Society (1958) and ardent defender of Victorian architecture.
Betjeman’s poetry was humorous, ingrained deeply in a mid-20th century Britishness (Robertson’s marmalade, tea and tennis, angel cake, Ovaltine, bicycle gears, country lanes, buttered toast). It is alive and well in his poems but fading fondly into the quaint, misty background of a bygone British era. Who would have thought that the St Pancras Station of Victorian splendour, saved by Betjeman, would eventually become an International Station and connect us to Paris in 2 and a half hours? And why do the tourists flock to see London and Great Britain, because of our ‘quaint‘ Britishness…so let’s keep it alive!

Possibilities, personality and enthusiasm… You need bags of it…if you lose faith borrow my bag!

Coming into winter…
“Now that the harvest is over
And the world cold
Give me the bonus of laughter
As I lose hold.”
A Nip in the Air by John Betjeman

Loving a Letter #love #poetry #letters #language

When did you last send …?
una lettera d’amore… Italian
una carta de amor… Spanish
liebesbrief… German
psanicko… Czech
Or my personal favourite un billet doux… French.

In translation each means a love-letter…and surprisingly some languages do not even have a word for it…yet every language has poetry and the two combined are as wonderful as bread with butter or salt on chips (so they say)!
This single letter must be hand written from One To Another, and posted in a letter box.
It is not an email or a text, with a smiley face or XXX as kisses, or a cat doing cartwheels, it must be all of your own spirit and imagination, without technicalities or artificial love representations.
These lettere d’amore are sadly becoming extinct, like dinosaurs, but if Steven Speilberg can resurrect a T-Rex then it’s up to us to bring back the worthy love letter, which might be as scary to write as a prehistoric monster is to face, but certainly a lifelong item to cherish and easier to keep in your drawer!
Pick up a pen, a pencil, you don’t need an ink pot and feathered quill!
Don’t wait till the obvious birthday/Christmas/Valentines…make it a surprise!
Trust the painted box to pass on your treasured words (a unique gift) to your happy recipient and if they are as lovely as you, they may blush this colour of red and hold you firmly in their heart forever…Good luck! The Next Collection is NOW! (NOW is a reflection of MON, sort of!)…

Sandcastles and Sundowners

Time to take the train down to the seashore (whatever your age) put on a sun hat, some sun screen and enjoy the summer! 

There are rock pools with fishes and barnacles; golden grains to turn into sandcastles; picnics with ice creams, candy floss and donuts; you can paddle up to your ankles; low tide for shell seekers and high tide for surf boarders; screechy seagulls; plenty of sand to get into sandwiches (the word sand is there already!). Live out an Enid Blyton book with lashings of lemonade and ginger beer.

Everyone can mix and mingle happily on the beach,

‘The Owl and The Pussy-cat went to sea

In a beautiful pea-green boat…’ (Edward Lear, 19th century)

Let your imagination flow, live a little nonsense like Victorian poet Edward Lear, then go home ‘dance to the light of the moon’ and be serious for the rest of the week…thinking fondly of the fun you can have beside the sea with time and rhyme!
  

An evening with Yeats

2015 marks 150 years since the birth of Irish poet W.B.Yeats and last night I was able to meet the man through his poems, READ ALOUD & presented by The Josephine Hart Poetry Hour at The British Library.

The readers were Dublin man, Bob Geldof (Band Aid, Live Aid), Irish actress Lisa Dwan & the lovely deep, mellow, moving voice of Patrick Kennedy (films: War Horse, Atonement; TV: Parades End, Downton Abbey.)

Naturally Yeats’ life is echoed forcefully in his poems with Irish charm, honesty, beauty & a resonating realism – from a childhood of folklore came a ‘surrealist imagination;’ 

to love ‘when a soul is lost to a woman all is lost’, thus inspiring some of the greatest love poetry… ‘Never Give all the Heart,’ ‘O Do Not Love Too Long,’ (unreciprocated love had quite an effect):

‘Wine comes in at the mouth

Love comes in at the eye…

I lift the glass to my mouth

I look at you and sigh.’

…to politics and Irish nationalism (he was a romantic and poetical advocate) 

and then facing old age, he matured as a poet; ‘maturing as a whole man…out of his intense experiences, expressing universal truths, he served his art with an entire integrity.’ Spoke T.S.Eliot.

‘When you are old and grey and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire…’

William Butler Yeats seems to me a great, passionate man who would write a line, a verse, an elegy, a poem, always something so fitting for anyone and everyone to understand.  The chances are at some point in your life, this man will not ‘pass you by.’ 

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