Valentines Day Poetry

Valentines Day… a saint’s day now universally enjoyed and celebrated is just around the corner… and so, I am very happy to say, is my hardback limited edition, signed and numbered poetry book, Ever Truly Yours – ‘Reflections on love.’

It comes with a free CD of readings by Tobias Menzies, so send yourself off into a dream…

Always available online via

For two weeks, sitting comfortably in the window of a specialist and independent bookshop, in the super-seaside town of Old Hastings in East Sussex, my book is uniquely featured.

An old town much inspired by writers, artists and those buzzing to create and explore their talents. The magic of the sea, its closeness and its distance means you are never trapped.

The book is a selection of original love poetry inspired by the old masters of thought and feeling, The Romantics. Something new, but something in-keeping with the works we return to year after year to recite, to recall to memory and to really recapture a mood and a time. In few words poetry captures a huge world.

Feel and give love again and lift up this book to be uplifted through the years… ‘you are in every line I have ever read’

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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For ‘the few’ a few words #remembrance #poppy #silence #war #WWI #November #Armistice

The 11th November is Armistice Day, pausing for a two minutes silence at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month. 
12-13th of November is Remembrance Weekend with special attention on the Sunday for full commemorative services across the country and across the world whether they take place in church, mosque, temple, abbey, at a memorial or at home.  

The Poppy is the symbol of a lost life at war.

Everyone has love, loved; loss, lost. Reflection and memories require time and attention and Emotion can sometimes be indefinable (poetry can help express what we struggle to find in simple words).

Whatever the conflict, feelings are universal.

Emotion has no boundary or divide; it instinctively unite us, wherever in the world you stand. 

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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A Square Tree #Christmas #London #Norway 

“This tree is given by the city of Oslo as a token of Norwegian gratitude to the people of London for their assistance during the years 1940-45.
A tree has been given annually since 1947.”

In Trafalgar Square, stands a 50-60 year old Norway Spruce. It is shipped across the North Sea, travels up to London and is adorned simply in the Nordic style with 500 white lights.

Around this tree congregate Carollers (singers of traditional Carols), happy school children, rockers, onlookers and fundraisers, proving that under the protection and beauty of green, spiky branches all sorts of people can come together safely.

Each year new poems are displayed on banners about the base.

‘Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree thy leaves are so unchanging…’

Here she will stand until 6th January 2016, if you are about come and take a look at Trafalgar Square’s perfect triangular Tree for 2015 – day or night! Follow the star

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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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It’s a new day, it’s a new month! #poetry #September #harvest

Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) spent the 1st of September 1877 fishing in the Elwy in the Vale of Clwyd in Wales. He then took a very enthusiastic half an hours walk home alone, and in such time captured the inspiration for his poem ‘Hurrahing in Harvest.’
August 2015 is finally over, it has been an extremely disappointing month of weather, as our European cousins bask in 30 degrees of sun, we are sat under rain clouds and thunderous storms. Our outdoor swimming pools are deep, wide, muddy, stagnant puddles and our umbrellas shelter us from flash floods, not parasols to parade along the prom.

If summer has ended, as Hopkins states, let’s please hope for a better, sunnier autumn, now the pressure is off the summer months to perform; let’s will each day to be sunny and bright.

Hurrahing in Harvest

Summer ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the stools arise

Around; up above, what wind walks! what lovely behaviour

Of silk-sack clouds! has wilder, wilful-wavier

Meal-drift moulded ever and melted across skies?

Back to Blake #onthisday #WilliamBlake Finding Paradise

On this day, 18th August 1782, 25 year old William Blake married Catherine Boucher (she was 21). They had known each other only a year. It was a perfect match, although of their time spent together (Blake died in 1827) Catherine said honestly, “I have very little of Mr Blake’s company. He is always in Paradise.”
Blake had a life-long struggle with the division between the head (sense) and the heart (sensation), the sciences (formula) and the arts (creativity)…perhaps finding a peaceful paradise in writing poetry (perfect)…

‘To see a World in a grain of sand,
And a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour…’

From Auguries of Innocence

Setting the scene #mikrontheatre

Outdoor theatre at it’s best. Sitting on bales of straw, a blue sky with chunky clouds and all set in a vast allotment field, close to the Grand Union canal, Warwickshire. This is The Mikron Theatre way… A good story, packed with songs, music and facts. Very entertaining and informative. Poetry in motion!

Filled of Philips!

Philip Larkin born in the suburbs of Coventry on 9th August, 1922. He was named after the Renaissance poet Sir Philip Sydney.


‘What are days for?

Days are where we live.

They come, they wake us

Time and time over

They are to be happy in:

Where can we live but in days?’

Sir Philip Sydney, the well-connected, charmed, ‘silver-spoon’ Elizabethan gentleman, was born at Penshurst Place, Kent in November 1554. His godfather was King Philip II of Spain.

In 1586 he was fighting in battle for the Protestant cause against the Spanish when he was wounded in the thigh; he died 26 days later of gangrene aged only 31 years. Whilst lying there he composed a song to be sung on his deathbed. Forever the poet.
From Astrophil and Stella XXXI

‘With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb’st the skies

How silently, and with how wan a face!’


Harvest Hymns are Poems set to Music!

In golden fields grows the wavy wheat, harvest is the time to reap,

Sort and grind the ripened grain, before the clouds send showers of rain.

Let’s take a look at some of the traditional hymns for Harvest, which are really lovely bright verses of (religious) poetry:

‘We plough the fields, and scatter
The good seed on the land,
But it is fed and watered
By God’s almighty hand…’

This has been translated by J.M Campbell from the German, M.Claudius, 1740-1815
‘Wir pflungen und wir streuen’ = We plough and we scatter

Cornfields by Eleanor Farjeon, 1881-1965
‘Fields of corn, give up your ears,
Now your ears are heavy,
Wheat and oats and barley-spears,
All your harvest-levy…’

By H. Alford, 1810-71
‘Come, ye thankful people, come
Raise the song of harvest-home!
All be safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin…’

Out in the English wheat fields, tractors and harvesters are ploughing, cutting and sorting the grain – the hard work of farming is at its busiest now.
The packed, finely milled flours on the shop shelves starts here, in golden fields.


The joke’s on me: Robert Graves #poets #onthisday

Check out my blog of 24th July 2015: Dead or Alive? Rescued by poetry.

In brief it states that on Robert Graves‘ 21st birthday (24th July 1895) he opened The Times newspaper only to read his own obituary.  

He had been pierced through the chest and groin by shrapnel at the Somme in July 1916 and was written off by the battalion doctor has having “no chance.”

However it was on this day, 5th August 1916 (12 days later) The Times made good their mistake, announcing Graves had actually survived.

Thankfully, out of this ‘grave’ incident (pardon the pun!) he claimed, “the joke contributed greatly to my recovery. The people with whom I had been on the worst terms (with) during my life wrote the most enthusiastic condolences to my parents.”

Sometimes we may forget that previous generations also had a sense of humour as well as being both adored by some and despised by others. That’s life.

Here’s Graves’ poetry whilst in buoyant spirits…

‘Why have such scores of lovely, gifted girls

Married impossible men?

Simple self-sacrifice may be ruled out, 

And missionary endeavour, nine times out of ten.’

Has God’s supply of tolerable husbands 

Fallen, in fact, so low?

Or do I always over-value woman

At the expense of man?

Do I?

It might be so.’
from ‘A Slice of Wedding Cake’

On This DAY: 4th August… #onthisday

Sometimes, when flicking through poetry books, we may come across a line or a couplet or a verse of a poem, that was written in one time but can be respectfully and thoughtfully applied to the events of another.

Here is an example for today…

The 4th August, 1914, marks the outbreak of World War One.

On the 4th August, 1792, Percy Bysshe Shelley was born.

Combine the lines of Shelley’s ‘Prometheus Unbound’ with the knowledge of WWI

“To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;

To forgive wrongs darker than death or nights…”

From the horrors of WWI emerged a large group of War poets whose first hand accounts were vividly captured by their head and hearts and scribbled into descriptive, explosive poems.  

Isaac Rosenberg was one such determined soldier who said, “this war, with all its powers for devastation, shall not master my poeting…I will not leave a corner of my consciousness covered up, but saturate myself with the strange and extraordinary new condition of this life, and it will refine itself into poetry later on.”

From Returning We Hear The Larks by Issac Rosenberg

“Sombre the night is.

And though we have our lives, we know

What sinister threat lurks there.”

Conclusion… The 4th August 2015, you have Life, you have Hope and you are Free. Find the poetry in your life.

A poet in focus: Ernest Christopher Dowson #poetry

Ernest Dowson (2nd August 1867– 23rd February 1900) was a poet, novelist and short story writer of the Decadent movement, but his life was far from decadent; it was terribly tragic and painfully sad.

In 1889 he fell in love with an 11 year Polish girl (she was the daughter of a Soho restaurant owner) whom he courted for 2 years and then proposed to; she said ‘No!’ and promptly broke his tender heart aged 23 years. A friend thereafter said of him, “Dowson could never recover his fragile hope on life and love.”

In 1894 his father suffering from tuberculosis, overdosed on chloral hydrate.

In 1895 his mother suffering from consumption, hanged herself.

For a while he visited France and Ireland: W.B Yeats described him as “timid, silent and a little melancholy.”

By 1898 he was back in London, a penniless alcoholic in a bar, and despite a short rescue and respite, he died in February 1900.  

Oscar Wilde (who would also die in 1900, alone & exiled in Paris) said of him “poor wounded wonderful fellow that he was, a tragic reproduction of all tragic poetry, like a symbol or a scene…he knew what love was.”

Out of this miserable existence, in which life is sacrificed for art, Dowson wrote some very vivid phrases:

‘They are not long, the days of wine and roses:

Out of the misty dream 

Our path emerges for a while, then closes

Within the dream.’

from Vitae Summa Brevis, 1896


‘…gone with the wind’ …

‘I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! In my fashion.’

From Non Sum Qualis eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae, third stanza, 1894
Margaret Mitchell was touched by the “far away, faintly sad sound I wanted.”

Thus ‘Gone With The Wind’ became the title of her grand novel and in 1939 David O’ Selznick’s film was born.
In 1919 Arthur Symons wrote his memoirs: ‘The Poems & Prose of Ernest Dowson.’

“Undoubtedly he was a man of genius…there never was a poet to whom verse came more naturally…he had the pure lyric gift.”

I’m sure Dowson would have happily exchanged genius for happiness, and his romantic dreams for real life love and companionship.

115 years after his death there are new issues and traumas to face in life and the question of finding love is still a complicated and difficult one.

“…all day mine hunger for her heart became,

Oblivion, until the evening came.

And left me sorrowful, inclined to weep,

With all my memories that could not sleep.”

A Book of One’s Own

How delightful to be able to sit on the banks of The River Avon in the town of Stratford upon Avon. There is no other river whose fine, wooden rowing boats are named after Shakespeare’s characters: Orsino, Banquo, Rosalind, Benedict…to name a few; where white swans swim up and down the banks and the willow trees sway, shading the benches, rustling as the rowers stride passed. This is the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company…good company indeed!

Oh and to read a little poetry of one’s own!

A bit of ‘Boring’

The word Boring sounds dull, tedious and leaden. If it were a colour it would be a heavy, gloomy grey, and it would obscure all possibilities of fun, hope and brightness.

Yet the wonderful witty poet Wendy Cope has written a poem out of being too boring. It works really well; it’s amusing, realistic and poignant…

‘Someone to stay home with was all my desire 

And, now that I’ve found a safe mooring,

I’ve just one ambition in life: I aspire

To go on and on being boring.’

She said of the poem, “it goes down well with adult audiences…adolescents find it shocking!”

Wendy Cope is 70 years on 21st July. Her poems brings smiles to the faces of everyone who reads them…they are brilliant and not at all boring!

‘Not Waving But Drowning’ #poetry

On the 8th July 1822, the leading figure of the Romantic movement, Percy Bysshe Shelley, drowned in the Bay of Spezia, Italy, when his small boat foundered in a storm. He had just visited friends, poet Lord Byron and journalist and writer Leigh Hunt. In his pocket was found a volume of John Keats poetry.

Shelley was an extremely controversial figure…he disapproved of marriage, royalty, meat-eating and religion. In truth he was an absolute rebel and anarchist and his work reflects his intellectual courage and sharp sense of humour.

 ‘I weep for Adonais – he is dead!

O, weep for Adonais! though our tears

Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!’

Ironically, Percy Shelley quoted this section of his poem 17 months before on hearing of the death of the Romantic poet he so admired, John Keats (February, 1821).

In England, Shelley was hardly mourned, one obituary stated “Shelley, the writer of some infidel poetry, has been drowned; now he knows whether there is a God or not.”

Today, Shelley is remembered as one of the most significant poets of The Romantic Circle, who has contributed enormously to English literary and intellectual life.

Today’s blog title ‘Not Waving But Drowning’ is the title poem by Stevie Smith.

Knock Knock

Knock, Knock

Who’s there?


John who?

John Keats

Of course! ‘Junkets’ (as John Keats was also known) lived in this house in Hampstead from 1818-1820. Whilst renting rooms here, Keats experienced his greatest outpouring of work. The combination of support, friendship, landscape and love he received plus his ambitious desire to be a poet (and only the very critical best) were the perfect ingredients for this ‘bright star’ to shine!

Enter round the back and see the rooms he read, worked and lingered in…

Everyday a different day…

Where shall we go today? Books and poetry, artists and their ideas can take us anywhere in the world; everyday we can discover a new voice, whether it be in your own language or translated into it, and a new place, whether it be real or imaginary, right where we sit. We don’t have just one tongue or one world or even one time we can have hundreds more of each!

So when you’re not travelling the world in body, you can travel it in mind instead…

“Earth has not anything to show more fair” (Wordsworth) 

“Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it” (Kipling) 

“All the world’s a stage” (Shakespeare).

“Great, wide, beautiful, wonderful World,

With the wonderful water round you curled,

And the wonderful grass upon your breast

World, you are beautifully drest.”

By William Brighty Rands

I’m reading a book in English, translated from the Japanese, set in Russia, China & Japan & set over many time zones…! So where are you today?!

Are you sitting comfortably?

Children love to fidget! Adults are impatient!
So Sunday is the chance to slow down, catch up & generally take longer over everything you do. If you are getting together with family, buy and take along a children’s poetry anthology, sit a child upon your knee (one you know well!) & get them started early on the wonderful world of poems, which are like short rhyming stories. It’s a great chance to bond, for them to listen and to learn – may be off by heart too. At the right age it is something they will remember for life.
When they are 35 & getting married don’t you want them to come up to you, shake your hand and say
” Uncle A/ Auntie B, I’ll never forget the day you read ‘that poem’ to me, you opened my eyes & my ears!”
What a great feeling you’ll have – the star relative!

Happy Thought
‘The world is so full
of a number of things
I’m sure we should all
be as happy as Kings’

By Robert Louis Stevenson