Category Archives: history

Capture

We have captured the stones in their circles
first with maps and sketches
now with our many photographs.
They would otherwise move
dance in moonlight’s shadows,
shuffle away to the devils lair,
creep up on a King or a witch.
 
We have opened the barrow graves to sunlight
pinned them to history with interpretive notices
collected the many bones within.
Lurking on ridges, smothered with grass,
besieged by fields and fences,
children now play in dark chambers
where once ancestors dreamed.
  
Do the stones protest at their confinement?
Do barrow wights still lurk after dark?
Have we chased away the Gods-smith?
Do we care?

Copyright © 2018 Kim Whysall-Hammond

First published at London Grip https://londongrip.co.uk/

Every book

All those half written, half finished, half-remembered
tales, myths, superstitions
every unedited, mistyped version
still cannot tell of those long ago
who placed stones in lines and rings
who left solitary huge monoliths scattered
who carved ditches and lines
over landscapes which had different meanings then.

All is lost to time

Copyright © 2021 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Loom Weight

A loom weight lost these many millennia
sits proud on heavy soil
held in my hand, it speaks of loving toil
the spinning of fabric
to clothe a family
and a connection is made
she spoke ancient Greek
a colonist deep in Sicily’s heartland
I stroke the fingerprint left in once moist clay
and say Hello

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

For Dverse

This loom weight was fund in Western Sicily, whilst I was working on an archeological survey many many years ago. It came home with me and I still look at her fingerprint and say hello……

Great Orme

On the north Wales shore a fat rock serpent
coils out to sea clasping copper tightly
within as a Dragon clasps gold

Deep in his gut lie human bones
children who delved into the dark
hunting the shine with hard flint

In tunnels too small for adults
troglodyte children crawled and twisted
lived and died alone in darkness

Bats explode from a cave entrance
sprawling tourists like scattered chaff
the dead come for their vengeance
three thousand years they have lain here
the daylight is theirs at last

Copyright © 2021 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Farm

My rolling road smooths over the hills
reveals a distant farm house
hazy gray, huddled in trees
we roll on and the farm folds away
gone into green.
As it did
when Vikings rode past
hunting for spoils, women and food
when the Revenue came later
searching for tax payers.

This land is ancient
holdings forged millennia ago
only when warfare encompassed the air
was this farms safety broached.
Yet bombers passed over to pit and hole
to blast and burn
the farm house remained
snuggled into the land.


Copyright © 2018 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Friday Poem: Puck’s Song

See you the ferny ride that steals
Into the oak-woods far?
Oh that was whence they hewed the keels
That rolled to Trafalgar.

And mark you where the ivy clings
To Bayharn’s mouldering walls?
Oh there we cast the stout railings
That stand around St. Paul’s.

See you the dimpled track that runs
All hollow through the wheat?
Oh that was where they hauled the guns
That smote King Philip’s fleet.

(Out of the Weald, the secret Weald,
Men sent in ancient years,
The horse-shoes red at Flodden Field,
The arrows at Poitiers!)

See you our little mill that clacks,
So busy by the brook?
She has ground her corn and paid her tax
Ever since Domesday Book.

See you our stilly woods of oak,
And the dread ditch beside?
Oh that was where the Saxons broke
On the day that Harold died.

See you the windy levels spread
About the gates of Rye?
Oh that was where the Northmen fled,
When Alfred’s ships came by.

See you our pastures wide and lone,
Where the red oxen browse?
Oh there was a City thronged and known,
Ere London boasted a house.

And see you, after rain, the trace
Of mound and ditch and wall?
Oh that was a Legion’s camping-place,
When Caesar sailed from Gaul.

And see you marks that show and fade,
Like shadows on the Downs?
Oh they are the lines the Flint Men made,
To guard their wondrous towns.

Trackway and Camp and City lost,
Salt Marsh where now is corn-
Old Wars, old Peace, old Arts that cease,
And so was England born.

She is not any common Earth,
Water or wood or air,
But Merlin’s Isle of Gramarye,
Where you and I will fare.

By Rudyard Kipling

If I were Midas

If I were Midas
I would not touch you of course
But I would touch everything around you
Fill your life with golden splendour

If I were Homer
My next epic would have you as hero
Magnificent in your helmet and breastplate
Fighting on the shores by a walled city

If I were Leonidas
I would come back on my Shield
Having died defending you
And all we hold dear

If I were Clytemnestra
I would forgive you your war absences
And even Cassandra
I would stand by your side

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

 

For Tony on his Birthday

Friday Poem: I am listening to Istanbul

I am listening to Istanbul with my eyes closed
First a breeze is blowing
And leaves swaying
Slowly on the trees;
Far far away the bells of the
Water carriers ringing,
I am listening to Istanbul with my eyes closed.

I am listening to Istanbul with my eyes closed
A bird is passing by,
Birds are passing by, screaming, screaming,
Fish nets being withdrawn in fishing weirs,
A woman’s toe dabbling in water,
I am listening to Istanbul with my eyes closed.

I am listening,
The cool Grand Bazaar,
Mahmutpasha twittering
Full of pigeons,
Its vast courtyard,
Sounds of hammering from the docks,
In the summer breeze far, far away the odor of sweat,
I am listening.

I am listening to Istanbul with my eyes closed
The drunkenness of old times
In the wooden seaside villa with its deserted boat house
The roaring southwestern wind is trapped,
My thoughts are trapped
Listening to Istanbul with my eyes closed.

I am listening to Istanbul with my eyes closed
A coquette is passing by on the sidewalk,
Curses, sings, sings, passes;
Something is falling from your hand
To the ground,
It must be a rose.
I am listening to Istanbul with my eyes closed.

I am listening to Istanbul with my eyes closed
A bird is flying round your skirt;
I know if your forehead is hot or cold
Or your lips are wet or dry;
Or if a white moon is rising above the pistachio tree
My heart’s fluttering tells me. . .
I am listening to Istanbul with my eyes closed.

by Orhan Veli Kanik

translated by the poet Murat Nemet-Nejat

…and I admit, this time the poem comes not from my poetry bookshelf, but from Leonard Durso’s glorious website leonarddurso.com

Also, we should have been in Istanbul last week, but Corona got in the way.  :(

The letter

His last letter home
is now 120 years old
frail, wafer thin paper
copperplate writing in blue ink
words faded and lost at the creases
tear drops have blurred others

His last letter home
was written from Africa
tells of the fury and terror of local thunderstorms
talks of photos and chocolate received
dreams of trips to the seaside
when he gets back
for he will board ship in three weeks

His last letter home
says how he reckons
that the Boers have no fight left
but it seems they did
a few days later they attacked his column
shot him from his horse
killed him

His last letter home
ended with fifteen kisses

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

The letter is in my possession, and was from Charles Stephen Coughtry Wellsted, my Great Grandfather.   Charles was killed on 10th May 1900 at Vredes Verdag in South Africa, three months before his only daughter (my maternal Grandmother) was born. He was 34 years old, a Private in the Royal Scots Greys 2nd Dragoons. The photo is of a Royal Scots Greys  dragoon in Boer War kit.

I do not, as yet, know Charles’ birthday, but he was christened at Snargate Church in Romney Marsh on 17th February 1866.

The letter

His last letter home
is now 120 years old
frail, wafer thin paper
copperplate writing in blue ink
words faded and lost at the creases
tear drops have blurred others

His last letter home
was written from Africa
tells of the fury and terror of local thunderstorms
talks of photos and chocolate received
dreams of trips to the seaside
when he gets back
for he will board ship in three weeks

His last letter home
says how he reckons
that the Boers have no fight left
but it seems they did
a few days later they attacked his column
shot him from his horse
killed him

His last letter home
ended with fifteen kisses

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

The letter is in my possession, and was from Charles Stephen Coughtry Wellsted, my Great Grandfather.   Charles was killed on 10th May 1900 at Vredes Verdag in South Africa, three months before his only daughter (my maternal Grandmother) was born. He was 34 years old, a Private in the Royal Scots Greys 2nd Dragoons. The photo is of a Royal Scots Greys  dragoon in Boer War kit.

I do not, as yet, know Charles’ birthday, but he was christened at Snargate Church in Romney Marsh on 17th February 1866.