Tag Archives: history

Hidden Freedoms

Child of Empire, he freely starved in Valetta
Free to resent the many fat priests
Free to go
Desperate, hoping

Stowaway to Istanbul
Free to be beaten by the Ottomans
Sent back to hunger
Not stopped yet

Stowaway to Britain
Set loose in Imperial London
Free to prosper
Free to work

Free-diver repairing Brighton’s Pier
Freely volunteered in 1914’s Expeditionary Force
Free to marry, to be British
Free to stay

Forty descendants, freely British
Freely given gifts of a Maltese boy
Seven fought in British wars
Immigration can be a free gift

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Written for Today’s National Poetry Day, which this year has the theme of Freedom.

As usual, when given a prompt or theme, my mind heads off slightly askew. This poem tells some of the story of my Maltese Grandfather. He came to Britain as a stowaway with nothing, found welcome and work. We need to remember how many of us are descended from people like him — and to remember to allow others similar freedoms.

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Seal

Liquid eyes looking through time,  staring out from the wood
Lost possession,  unregarded litter, draft for a larger work?
It is treasure now
Seal eloquently sealed into timber
Sparse lines, rich artistry

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

seal carving

I’ve just discovered an interibfng wordpress arceological site amd was moved to write the above poem after looking long at a seal carving they have found.

https://nunalleq.wordpress.com/

https://nunalleq.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/artefact-of-the-day-july-25th/

Nunalleq is the name of an archaeological site in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Southwestern Alaska. The University of Aberdeen Department of Archaeology, in partnership with the village corporation Qanirtuuq, Inc. and the Yup’ik Eskimo village of Quinhagak, Alaska, is working to record archaeological sites threatened by rising sea levels along the Bering Sea.

Nunalleq means ‘the OldVillage’ in Yup’ik. Previous years excavations (2009 & 2010) reveal that this ‘old village’ dates back at least 700 years. It is a multi-period prehistoric (or precontact) Yup’ik winter village site.

 

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Pt Off. John Gillespie Magee, Jr, RCAF, 1941

 

John Magee was a Canadian Spitfire pilot in England in World War 2. He died in 1941. This poem is just wonderful and has been quoted again and again —I remember Ronald Reagan quoting it after the Challenger crash.

I wish I could write like this.

Tombs

Great men die, and so they lie
In their tombs and graves
Glorified, magnified
By their followers and slaves

Quiet mounds on the Downs
Lasting through the many ages
May cover cruel tyrants
Rather than wise sages

All men must die, all tombs will lie

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

https://howardwilliamsblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/archaeologists-agree-that-most-ancient-tombs-were-built-for-complete-aholes/

Bosworth Field

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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

Chalklands

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

Avebury Stone

One of my interests (my sons may term it an obsession) is prehistory – which was born from childhood visits to ancient sites in or near the Vale of Pewsey in Wiltshire. Not so far from the end of the Vale is Avebury stone circle, arguably more spectacular than Stonehenge.  Here is a sketch of one particular stone in the Avebury circle, and a rather colourful watercolour interpretation.

 

 

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Crystals of intent

Crystals of intent

Full, filling my hand
Carved to mould into a palm
This one is left handed,  another fits the right
Killer edges, fatal intent
A hand axe from a million years ago haunts my eyes

Small symmetrical perfect arrowhead
To be thrust by a bow through a torso
Rests on my fingertips
Tiny chips creating the edges
Beauty and death

Both objects of beauty
Stones selected for a purpose
Worked on for many hours
Made to please in many ways
Crystals of intent

Copyright © 2017  Kim Whysall-Hammond

Royal Edinburgh Observatory

Royal Edinburgh Observatory

Poor lost instrument, trapped in your tower
Where the dome never opens from year to year.
They no longer use you to search the heavens
Battered and bruised, missing parts, you lurk in the darkness of your cage
If only I could find glass plates, unwrap them in the dark, open the dome and set you free

  Copyright © 2015  Kim Whysall-Hammond

Re-blogged from 2015.

Lava Tunnel

Lava Tunnel

In a simple field, no different from any other
Is a clump of small trees with a dark secret
Amongst their roots, we tiptoe down a rocky slope
Into blackness.
Torchlight reveals a dry tunnel, strange shelf on the walls
Chattering, we walk until daylight is extinguished by distance
We stop, simmer to quietude, and turn off the torches
Into silence
Liquid rock once ran where we now stand in black silence
The rock around us the scum that floated on that river
The apocalypse that created our tunnel has disappeared
Into history

Copyright © 2016 Kim Whysall-Hammond

 

Once more, re-blogged from last year…