Tag Archives: England

Chalklands

Chalk undulates across Southern England
Hills, gentle yet steep
Can be overtopped by clay peppered with flints
So treasured by the old folk

As old as the hills is true here
The chalk is a two hundred million year ocean
Stiffened and folded over time
By our living planet

Several human species
Have hunted  in these valleys
Have dug into and sculpted these hills
Have left their ghosts for us to trace

The ancient monuments we treasure
Hill forts, stone circles, long barrows
Are but modern remnants
Compared to the first folk

My hills have deep roots

Copyright © 2017 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

YOU TALK OF SHAKESPEARE

A brilliant poem from Damian Garside (who blogs at ‘ best poetry blog in the cosmos ~ 4 out of 5 dentists recommend ‘) :-

best poetry blog in the cosmos

YOU TALK OF SHAKESPEARE

you talk of Shakespeare
as if you
know him

and you do
from flowery
pageants of history
and your coffee table
(or maybe that
is too much of an assumption)

you talk of Shakespeare
as if he were so
consonant with
your ideology
(I admit, so much
in common there,
down that
Lancastrian line

the greatest at-pain-
of-death trick
ever pulled

and true Tudor
beginning of British propaganda
those heavenly lies without
which Empire
a true miscarriage,
an abortion

no new world born
Cape to Cairo
sun
never setting
on its shade of pink)

yes
Shakespeare is
one part bedrock and
one part
shadow, pure
disavowal, anarchic subversion

he had the bravery to
flaunt before your faces
the life and energy of his characters

telling a truth you
would not believe

Mr Politician, most recent in that line
of hucksters and usurpers, connivers
and
men with…

View original post 61 more words

Bosworth Field

A gentle breeze billows the green barley
Sending waves shimmering from hedge to hedge
Elder and Herb Robert sparkle the field edge
Above the oak leaves do not stir

Near here a crown once hung on a thorn bush
Men struggled for cause, battle cries rang out
A King died alone fighting amid the foe
Violated in death, lost
Naked and broken the victors took him to town for display
Traitor they called him, an anointed King of England
Hunchback, wicked, perfidious
Name calling by the new regime
Murderer of children they whispered into the stream of history

A gentle breeze billows the green barley
Above the oak leaves do not stir

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

 

Places of Poetry revisited

I’ve mentioned this  poetry project, Places of Poetry, earlier this year :

https://www.placesofpoetry.org.uk/

The aim has been to “prompt reflection on national and cultural identities in England and Wales, celebrating the diversity, heritage and personalities of place.”  Many people have submitted poems and the site is now closed to new submissions but will remain available for readers.

I highly recommend the site as a treasury of original poetry about places across the United Kingdom.  There is a slider to take the map between ancient and modern graphics, and you need to zoom in to find where poems have been pinned.

I have been browsing the site and there are many excellent poems there. I was interested to see that others think of West London as colourless and grey too.

There are poems of mine near Didcot (south of Oxford),  at Iwerne Minster in Dorset, in North Hillingdon, Lake Glaslyn near Lllanidloes, Mid-Wales, at Stratford upon Avon and in the middle of Exmoor.

Happy Hunting, and I’d love to hear any recommendations from you.

https://www.placesofpoetry.org.uk/

 

Friday poem: The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

by Rupert Brookes

For Rememberance Sunday

Fireworks over England (Penny for the Guy)

Flying across England on Fawkes night,
peering down onto fiery blooms
sending light into the night,
bright chrysanthemums burnt to celebrate failed terrorism.
Fireworks and neighbourhood bonfires spark and glow each November
in long and splendid tradition, now organised and commercial.

But where is my Guy Fawkes?
Built each childhood year from old clothes stuffed with straw,
wheeled around the street, “Penny for the Guy please?”,
burnt on the family bonfire amid fireworks bought with the proceeds of my begging.
Tradition lost in a land that wants to go back on itself once more.

We also used to play in the Trafalgar Square fountains,
splashing in icy midwinter,
kissing Policemen at the stroke of midnight,
fraternity with authority on the turn of the year.
Now crowds buy tickets to watch fireworks over the Thames, passively.
We no longer make our own festivals, they are arranged for us.

We need to take back the small anarchies,
set off Fireworks in our own gardens in November,
burn the Guy as effigy of all we are told to be frightened of,
embrace the neighbours, we are all in this together.
Whatever colour or creed.

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

 

Tonight, we British celebrate Bonfire Night  with fireworks and large bonfires.  The tradition of burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes on the bonfire has all but disappeared.  We also don’t tend to set off our own fireworks in our gardens anymore, but go to large neighbourhood displays.

Of course, the classic poem, that we all learnt when very young, is:

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Rain on the moor

Here on the moor
Rain closes you down
Takes away the horizon
Soaks and settles
Creates hazards
Can flood and kill

Rain lashes at the face
Stinging like needles
Sends cold tendrils down the neck
Seeps into all things
Deepens bogs and fords
Hides the path from view

A rainy day on the moor
Be it drizzle or a squall
Leaves you slipping and tumbling
Heading for shelter
Dripping at the pub or tearoom door
Grateful for the warm and dry

Copyright © 2019 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Fun fair

Turning spinning in a giant Teacup
Flying in chairs round and round
Surrealism rampant on a hot summer night
Sliding whooping skeltering heltering into the dusk
Bumping thumping crashing the cars
Shrieking with gleeful joy
Candy coloured lights flash into the near dark
Illuminating lovers and overexcited children
Tell me, is the coconut shy?

 

Copyright © 2016 Kim Whysall-Hammond