The Ghost of Nant-y-Ffrith
Amidst wild Cambria’s mountains
There is a quiet vale
Where scenes of sylvan splendour
Can tempt one to regale;
But let all those who enter
Leave ere twilight falls
Or he may see, despite his scorn
A fearful, hovering spectral form –
His very heart enthrals.
A sounding in the forest
Where thickest brambles grow
Is heard a heavy breathing
Laborious and slow;
It chills one’s heart to hear it –
It makes one tremble so –
To see that face so white and bent
Upon the blackberry bush intent
In summer or in snow.
You’ll see that he is picking
Blackberries by the score
He heeds not who is watching –
He searches near the floor;
He eats them all, this ghost does
For grubs he cares no more;
He’s happy, now, is ghostly Joe
That blackberries he’ll ever stow
In his ever open door.
But watcher, take a warning,
This shuddering spectre grim
Was once a living human,
Handsome, strong and slim:
His friends showed him the insect
That shortened so his days
But Joe never took the helping snub
All he said was ‘sensible grub’
And kept on with his craze.
To all whose way leads through the glen,
I’d warn them not to linger
If they do they’ll surely feel
That chilly, ghostly finger
Inviting them to taste the fruit
Grown in this quiet vale:
But don’t do so, or you’ll join Joe
To help him run his gruesome show
For ever in the dale.
Blackberry Joe 6 Poems written about Blackberry Joe
Beneath a bright September sun
On a sweet September day
The morning dew was falling
And all the world seemed gay;
A happy cycling party
Towards the hills did steer –
We little dream’t the tragedy
That loomed so near.
We stormed blunt Moel Famau
By rough, hard-going ways
With golden gorse and bracken
The moorlands were ablaze;
The view there from the summit
Did amply repay
Every dull and listless mile
We rode that day.
After many wild adventures
On slippery, skiddy grass
We crossed the Vale of Clwyd
And through the wooded pass
Of Nant-y-Garth did travel
To moorlands brown and red
(Dear Reader pause, and shed a tear
For Joe……..He’s dead!)
Twas in the Pass of Nant-y-Ffrith,
That wooded deep cut dale
That bites into the moorlands
‘Mid scenes that never stale
There in great profusion
Grew the ghastly things
That to all thoughtless gluttons
A sudden demise brings.
I falter as I tell you –
My eyes start growing dim
I stand transfixed in terror
Of the things that poisoned him
Poor Joe! This was his heaven –
He could not stand and wait
But rushed towards the bushes
That held the tempting bait.
We tried our best to stay him –
We pleaded hard to Joe
But he was fascinated –
He would not let them go:
The big black shining berries
That held the fatal grub
Went down the way they always do
To fill his copious tub.
At length our Joe desisted,
His face was deathly pale,
He fell into a stupor
In that peaceful vale
His great big baby eyes,
Were bursting from his head…
He shuddered then lay strangely quiet,
Poor Joe……He’s dead!
One day in sweet September,
The sun was in the west,
With tear dimmed eyes we slowly laid
Our Joe to rest
And then carved his epitaph
That other ones might know
And take a timely warning
From Blackberry Joe
Alleged Epitaph on Supposed grave of ‘Blackberry Joe’
Reader pause and shed ye teare
Upon ye dust that crumbles here
And as thou readeth think of me
And shun ye blasted blackberry tree
The Vale of Ffestiniog
There’s a town above a river
There’s a vale where pine tree tops quiver
When the winter breezes shiver
In the Vale of Maentwrog.
See the creamy waters curling
Down the ravine, swiftly swirling
O’er the dripping rocks go hurling
To the Vale of Maentwrog.
Mountains to the sky ascending,
With the sky in the distance blending,
Steep brown roads from moors descending
Winding to Ffestiniog
Distant sea in sunset glamour;
Slowly dies the quarries clamour
Ringing pick and noisy hammer
Mountain mists come slowly veiling;
In silken folds the day is failing
Twilight hillsides gently pale-ing
O’er the Vale of Maentwrog
Moonbeams slant across the river
Where the mountains stand for ever
In the Vale where pine tree tops quiver
When the winter breezes shiver
In the Vale of Maentwrog.
The Best Man (A Fact)
‘Twas whispered around that a wedding was pending,
And rumour puts me as the man next the groom;
All morning I fought with a collar unbending
Then dressed like a lord I went out to my doom.
Arrayed like a king in a mantle of glory,
I joined with a throng that was happy and gay,
And for once the old clothes that were moss-grown and hoary
To which I still clung, in a lumber room lay.
I fretted and fumed in the stiffest of collars,
In agonies name I swore hard at those shoes
And solemnly vowed that for millions of dollars
The name of ‘Best Man’ ne’er again would I use.
I crept into church in a frenzy of terror,
I gave up the ring with a trembling hand
I was fearful of making the tiniest error
For a little mistake would spread far o’er the land
At last the dread act was done with and over,
And off to the cafe our motor-cars sped;
A right bust up was laid – I thought I was in clover
But shyness prevailing I ate nothing instead.
An evening of fun and music and dancing –
But the ‘Best Man’ lay hid in an out of way place
And dreamed of his bike and the byways entrancing
While the dancing and frolics grew faster apace.
I was dressed like a tramp in clothes moss-grown and hoary,
And pedalled along at the back of the day
And yesterday’s fear, with that mantle of glory,
Unwanted and lost, in a lumber room lay.
You may speak of the glories of Scotland
Of lochs and hidden glens
Of isles and sparkling cascades
Beneath the frowning Bens:
You may speak of the beauties of Yorkshie,
Or dream of the Derbyshire Dales;
Or ‘Bless the grey mountains of Donegal’
Or the southern Downland trails.
You may praise all the glories of Lakeland –
Of fell and waterfall;
But give me a Cambrian valley –
The sweetest of them all!
Give me a Cambrian river
Beneath and evening sky,
For there I’d linger for an age
And let the world roll by.
The Best Way
At night when all my work is done
And I am free to roam,
I ride away towards the hills
(For I cannot stay at home)
The hours I have at leisure
Are not so very long;
But through the woods and o’er the moors
Or where the river ceaseless roars
I gladly glide along.
There’s the Sunday too, of freedom
When early I can rise
For on the road at break of day
Is found a paradise:
Sometimes my wheel goes northward
To lands of grouse and heather,
Of chattering streams and upland dells –
I wander o’er the mossy fells
No matter what the weather.
Or southward I may wander
(Let me speak about the south)
In Derbyshire or Cheshire
Where nought e’er seems uncouth,
Amongst those old world hamlets
By some old village green,
Or wandering down those leafy lanes
And o’er the ridge as daylight wanes,
A wealth of bounty seen.
There’s violets in the hedges.
In pretty shades of blue
Primroses deck the forest
With every golden hue
The wild sweet smelling hyacinth
Bells that ring to you
And call you to the woodland glade
To linger in the sun-kissed shade –
These scenes are ever new.
And when as evening closes,
And once again I find
Myself amid the sordid streets –
Those precious scenes behind;
And when the workshop claims me
And fetters round me bind
The moor and mountain, wood and mead,
A little lightsome metal steed
Are called back to mind.