Poems 23

                              Lines under Duress       On a broiling Day

 

When from a week of heated strife –

The desperate round of daily life

We turn to seek relief and ease

Where sights and scents of Nature please

Brief hours of rest and peace to feel –

The balm industry’s scars to heal

We greet the waking summer sun

And stir, lest precious minutes run.

 

But the joys of the sun are haply these:-

The midges nip on tender knees;

Vagrant wasps on the wandering wing

In search of unclothed arms to sting;

The bee in quest of honey sweet

Just flecks the neck with puncture neat

The tiny things that crawl and creep

On human skin make lighter leap:

And myriad life in earth and air

Make summer more than one can bear.

 

The lightsome play of solar rays

On skin yet white from sunless days

May from refreshing caress turn

Into a fire of torturing burn

The winding lane one follows far

Are steeped in dust by every car.

Illusion is a mental sense

Banished by experience;

And summer joys seen from afar

Are thus seen where they cannot mar

‘Tis good to dream of ‘Flaming June’

And hold the dream at Winter’s noon

E’en while I sit to make my song

I fear I dare not sit for long

With mustering force the pesterous clan

Precipitate the Flight of Man.                  Hoghton Bottoms, June 1934

 

 

Eastertide

 

When Easter comes the highway hums

(Like it always hums when Easter comes)

The whole long day with a rare array

Of miscellaneous roadsters gay

          All of them off on holiday!

 

Brief liberty – a world set free –

A moving scene of pageantry

The land is gay in spring array

From town and city, bent on play

          The world is making holiday!

 

There’s a tandem old with its riders bold

(What tales that tandem could unfold)

And the riders gray, whose youthful day

Is like their tandem’s, year’s away,

          Both of them off on a holiday!

 

And the youngster green – perhaps over keen

Each of them perched on an aged machine

As forth they sway in a wayward way

From peep o’dawn till the end of day

          All of them off on a holiday!

 

Oh, what delight from morn till night

Be Easter dull or be it bright

And what care they for another day –

Today will soon be yesterday –

          Today they are all on holiday!                  Easter 1934

 

 

Poems 22

On hearing of Tom’s Seccession

 

Sometimes as I wander, the lone road before me-

          The highway, the byway, the green lanes of yore

How often a feeling of longing comes o’er me

          For days that are gone, and companions no more

Six years together – in time but a minute

Yet what would I give to keep all that was in it!

 

Vibrant my memory, rings yet the laughter

          Of many a jest that we passed by the way.

It’s value was light until in the day’s after

          Now what would I yield for just one fleeting day!

Six years together – in time but a minute

Now what would I lose to gain all that was in it!

 

And oft when I’m roaming, the lone road before me,

Old scenes do I see, as in days of yore

And there is a feeling of sadness comes o’er me –

I long for my comrade – my comrade no more

Six years together, in time but a minute

Yet what would I give to have all that was in it!

 

Old chum just a line, it’s my mode of expression

          Excuse it – you know what I mean it to be

Time that has gone has left such an impression

          That this is a duty demanded of me.

Six years together – old chum we went through it

But six years – six years – glad again would I do it!              July 1929

 

People who Wouldn’t be Missed          (With due respect to W S Gilbert)

 

As it seems to me desirous that a clearance must be made

          I’ve got a little list, I’ve got a little list

Of certain individuals who, if they should get mislaid,      

          I’m sure would not be missed, they never would be missed

First the motor-cycle speed fiend, when we get him it is clear

          (With a slight amount of pressure) would consent to disappear

And the Emigration League should support me to a man,

          For notice the consistency and beauty of the plan –

Though I’ve picked enough to please a rabid emigrationist

They’d none of ’em be missed, they’d none of ‘em be missed.

 

Chorus:  We’ll put ‘em on the list though it’s likely they’ll resist

               For they’’ none of ‘em bbe missed, they’ll none of ‘em be missed.

When the hogging owner driver of the type that ‘let’s it rip’

           With his curious mental twist, I’ve got him on the list

And the anti-cyclist policeman who has Britain in his grip

          He never would be missed, oh no, he’d not be missed:

The juggling journalistic chaps who are strangers to the truth

And gull the public constantly about our ill-spent youth;

The dear old dames who bawl about the ‘dangers of the road’

I know a desert island where I’d like to see them stowed

The fanatical coroner and the hooting motorist

They never would be missed, the never would be missed. 

 

Chorus:  We’ll put ‘em on the list etc

 

The dismal sympathiser whom I owe a strong desire

To pommel with my fist, I’ve got him on the list

The profitter whose wiles we don’t admire

He never would be missed, he never would be missed:

The sleek contented caterer, and eke the garage man

Who, when he gets us helpless, he will rob us all he can

The parrot-crying rear lightest, the dazzle fiend as well

The lumbering lorry driver who would send us all to hell

Yet he graciously consents to allow us to exist –

He never will be missed, I’m sure he’ll not be missed.

 

          Chorus: We’ll put ‘em on the list etc                                 July 1926

 

Poems 21

Before the We.R.7 Fell

 

Of We.R.7 I’m the bard

Who sings their songs and tells their tales

The deeds they did, the things they dared –

The perilous course they set their sails

There are the themes my muses tell

Before the “We Are Seven” fell.

 

I’d sing of a fight before a gale

Of winter’s worst and summer’s heat

Round big events I’d weave my tale

And leave their memory to the rest:

Of things we dreamed and did I’d tell

Before the “We Are Seven” fell.

These are the days beyond recall

But  who’d recall them if they could?

They have not passed beyond the Wall

Until they’ve left their mark for good

The good that’s done no-one could tell

Until the “We Are Seven” fell.

 

When out of touch with pleasant things

And out of mood with human kind

Maybe to scan this book that sings

Of days that they have left behind

Will take them back, as by a spell

For what they did, to what befell

Before the “We Are Seven” fell.                     August 1930

 

 

They Never, Never, Swear

 

Oh, ‘We are Seven’, one and all

List to the warbling virginal

And heed ye all the holy call

          To mass, or else to prayer:

I can vouch that this is true –

I’ve just heard someone speak of you

Who says you’re good, and pious too,

          And never never swear!

 

Ye gods! The noted ‘Seven are We’

A sainted heavenly company!

It’s never before occurred to me –

          (And often I’ve been there)

To think a ‘We.R.Seven’ chap

Could meet with any big mishap

Or a tumble into irate trap

          And never never swear!

 

Just think of Joe and Wally Kay –

A couple who will have their say

If trouble meets them by the way

          A most abandoned pair!

Imagine Joe in robes of white

Round Wally’s head a haloed light –

They couldn’t make a puncture right

          And never never swear!

 

And look at Tom in parson’s black

A starch-stiff collar, front to back

Why, he’d raise a breezy track

          If he’d a Daniel dare!

Then think of Fred on camping bent,

When back from morning stroll he went

D’you think if he found a cow in his tent

          He’d never never swear!

 

 Though rarely heard is language hot

Plaster saints we are certainly not –

For goody-goods we’ve no use got –

          That kind we cannot bear:

We know the words from ‘a’ to ‘z’

Though mostly they are left unsaid

But without truth was he who said

          They never never swear!                     March 1928

 

Poems 20

                              By Llyn Idwal

 We came to Llyn Idwal – to lonely Llyn Idwal,

When twilight to darkness was stealthily creeping

Watched the slow shadows step down to Llyn Idwal

Watched till it seemed that all nature was sleeping.

 

With shadows the mountains were peopled – with shadows

The tall cliffs were muffled: the silence prevailing

Seemed speech more eloquent than day’s sunny shadows

Seemed words that our hearts –that our souls were inhaling.

 

We sat by the waters – sat close to the waters,

Rippling, dim-sighted, in dark wavelets playing

Sat by the shore and gazed over the waters

And wondered what waters and mountains were saying.            Easter Sunday night 1926

 

                          Just You and Me

 

There’s me and you, Fred, just we two

          There’s just we two remaining

While one by one they’ve slowly gone

          Some future state attaining.

 

In many ways those bygone days

          Will strike their symphony

So long we’ve known them as our own

          Our jocund little company.

We’ll drink our fill of memory still,

          Those golden days behind us

But you and me, we still are free….

          And free for long they’ll find us.

 

There’s me and you, Fred, just we two –

          We’ve braved some squally weather

And wind and rain we’ll brave again –

          Just you and me together.                                       January 1930

 

 

It Couldn’t be Done….!

 

All of us thought that it couldn’t be done –

Our bachelor clan was united;

Our vows had us solidly welded as one –

Our union couldn’t be slighted

But with the first shock, our Pillar of Rock –

Our pillar shook till it shattered

When Bill came along and sounded the gong

As he told us – and asked if it mattered.

 

The way of a woman (what little I know)

Is, as soon as she can, to be married

And sad to relate, at the first hammer blow

Our ideals in ruins lay buried

“Love and Leave” was Jack’s text, but Jack was the next

He fell and he raised no objection

Then, just as we feared, Hindley Fred disappeared –

He went without pause for reflection.

 

The way of a woman (what little I know)

Is, as soon as she can, to be married:

And the number which left us continued to grow

Till at last only three of us tarried

Now Tom, Fred and me, we swore did we three –

We swore that we’d never be divided

We swore – but what use, we were chasing the goose

A woman it was who decided!                                            June 1929

 

Poems 19

                       Constancy

 

I’ve tried my best to celebrate

          The We.R.7 clan

In differing time, and varying rhyme

          You’ve met them, every man.

 

Some have gone, and some remain,

          (How long I cannot tell),

And some are new, and not a few

          Just came…and went…and fell!

 

‘Twas mostly by the ‘weaker sex’

          They met their Waterloo –

Those who have gone, yet not a one,

          Will hold this stanza true.

 

Yet true it is, and every line

          Of those I’ve wrote before:

They boast no wit, but still they hit

          In tender spots, and sore!

 

In constancy, the We.R.7,

          Are like a tidal river –

They ebb and flow, and come and go

          Yet I go on for ever.                          2 May 1929

 

Today’s the Day

 

Of bygone days we dream our dreams

          And clothe them in a rosy hue

Until the past with richness gleams

          That never can be true.

 

We oft forget the darker hours

          And add our sunshine to the scene

We strew our way with pretty flowers

          That never could have been.

 

Why can’t we be as others are?

          Our fireside critics oft exclaim

Maybe this life without it’d dare

          Wouldn’t seem the same.

 

We take our chances on the road

          We face the the worst with cheerful smile

We never question, but the load

          Has always seemed worthwhile.

 

Lets dream our dreams of days gone by

          Lets deck with flowers our future way

But –  see how quick the moments fly –

          The best is here – today!

                                                                                          Winter 1928