Jan 21st

If I Should Die

By Mary B

If I should die before the rest of you

Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone

Nor, when I’m gone, speak in a Sunday voice.

But be the usual selves that I have known.

Weep if you must.

Parting is hell.

But life goes on.

So sing as well.


Joyce Grenfell

Jan 2nd

Four Quartets - T.S. Eliot

By Mary B



(No. 1 of 'Four Quartets')


Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future,

And time future contained in time past.

If all time is eternally present

All time is unredeemable.

What might have been is an abstraction

Remaining a perpetual possibility

Only in a world of speculation.

What might have been and what has been

Point to one end, which is always present.

Footfalls echo in the memory

Down the passage which we did not take

Towards the door we never opened

Into the rose-garden. My words echo

Thus, in your mind.

But to what purpose

Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves

I do not know.

                    Other echoes

Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?

Quick, said the bird, find them, find them,

Round the corner. Through the first gate,

Into our first world, shall we follow

The deception of the thrush? Into our first world.

There they were, dignified, invisible,

Moving without pressure, over the dead leaves,

In the autumn heat, through the vibrant air,

And the bird called, in response to

The unheard music hidden in the shrubbery,

And the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses

Had the look of flowers that are looked at.

There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting.

So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern,

Along the empty alley, into the box circle,

To look down into the drained pool.

Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged,

And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight,

And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly,

The surface glittered out of heart of light,

And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.

Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.

Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,

Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.

Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind

Cannot bear very much reality.

Time past and time future

What might have been and what has been

Point to one end, which is always present.






Garlic and sapphires in the mud

Clot the bedded axle-tree.

The trilling wire in the blood

Sings below inveterate scars

Appeasing long forgotten wars.

The dance along the artery

The circulation of the lymph

Are figured in the drift of stars

Ascend to summer in the tree

We move above the moving tree

In light upon the figured leaf

And hear upon the sodden floor

Below, the boarhound and the boar

Pursue their pattern as before

But reconciled among the stars.


At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;

Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,

But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,

Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,

Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,

There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.

And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.

The inner freedom from the practical desire,

The release from action and suffering, release from the inner

And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded

By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,

Erhebung without motion, concentration

Without elimination, both a new world

And the old made explicit, understood

In the completion of its partial ecstasy,

The resolution of its partial horror.

Yet the enchainment of past and future

Woven in the weakness of the changing body,

Protects mankind from heaven and damnation

Which flesh cannot endure.

                                          Time past and time future

Allow but a little consciousness.

To be conscious is not to be in time

But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,

The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,

The moment in the draughty church at smokefall

Be remembered; involved with past and future.

Only through time time is conquered.






Here is a place of disaffection

Time before and time after

In a dim light: neither daylight

Investing form with lucid stillness

Turning shadow into transient beauty

With slow rotation suggesting permanence

Nor darkness to purify the soul

Emptying the sensual with deprivation

Cleansing affection from the temporal.

Neither plenitude nor vacancy. Only a flicker

Over the strained time-ridden faces

Distracted from distraction by distraction

Filled with fancies and empty of meaning

Tumid apathy with no concentration

Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind

That blows before and after time,

Wind in and out of unwholesome lungs

Time before and time after.

Eructation of unhealthy souls

Into the faded air, the torpid

Driven on the wind that sweeps the gloomy hills of London,

Hampstead and Clerkenwell, Campden and Putney,

Highgate, Primrose and Ludgate. Not here

Not here the darkness, in this twittering world.


    Descend lower, descend only

Into the world of perpetual solitude,

World not world, but that which is not world,

Internal darkness, deprivation

And destitution of all property,

Desiccation of the world of sense,

Evacuation of the world of fancy,

Inoperancy of the world of spirit;

This is the one way, and the other

Is the same, not in movement

But abstention from movement; while the world moves

In appetency, on its metalled ways

Of time past and time future.






Time and the bell have buried the day,

The black cloud carries the sun away.

Will the sunflower turn to us, will the clematis

Stray down, bend to us; tendril and spray

Clutch and cling?



Fingers of yew be curled

Down on us? After the kingfisher's wing

Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still

At the still point of the turning world.






Words move, music moves

Only in time; but that which is only living

Can only die. Words, after speech, reach

Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,

Can words or music reach

The stillness, as a Chinese jar still

Moves perpetually in its stillness.

Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,

Not that only, but the co-existence,

Or say that the end precedes the beginning,

And the end and the beginning were always there

Before the beginning and after the end.

And all is always now. Words strain,

Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,

Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,

Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,

Will not stay still. Shrieking voices

Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering,

Always assail them. The Word in the desert

Is most attacked by voices of temptation,

The crying shadow in the funeral dance,

The loud lament of the disconsolate chimera.


    The detail of the pattern is movement,

As in the figure of the ten stairs.

Desire itself is movement

Not in itself desirable;

Love is itself unmoving,

Only the cause and end of movement,

Timeless, and undesiring

Except in the aspect of time

Caught in the form of limitation

Between un-being and being.

Sudden in a shaft of sunlight

Even while the dust moves

There rises the hidden laughter

Of children in the foliage

Quick now, here, now, always—

Ridiculous the waste sad time

Stretching before and after.


Nov 15th

November - a poem by Thomas Hood

By Mary B


No sun - no moon! 

No morn - no noon - 

No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day. 

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease, 

No comfortable feel in any member - 

No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, 

No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! - 


Nov 13th

We Will Remember Them


Remember Them who went to war

Remember Them forever more

Remember Them they gave their life

Remember Them their sacrifice

Remember Them today tomorrow

Remember Them and through your sorrow

Remember Them speak names and say

'For our tomorrows they gave their today'


LJE (copyright)

Oct 13th

"The Times They Are a-Changin'"

By Mary B

Just had to mark the news that American singer songwriter Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel price for literature.


"Come gather 'round people where ever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone,
For the times they are a' changin'!
Come writers and critics who prophesy with your pen
And keep your eyes wide the chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon for the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who that it's namin'
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a' changin'!
Come senators, congressmen please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside and it's ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a' changin'!
Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
And don't criticize what you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a' changin'!
The line it is drawn the curse it is cast
The slow one now will later be fast
As the present now will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin'
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a' changin'!"
Songwriters: Bob Dylan
The Times They Are a-Changin' lyrics © Bob Dylan Music Co.
Oct 8th

To Autumn by John Keats

By Mary B

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless 

With fruit the vines that round the thatch eves run; 

To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees, 
 And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; 
 To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells 
 With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, 
And still more, later flowers for the bees, 
Until they think warm days will never cease, 
 For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells. 
 Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store? 
 Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find 
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor, 
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; 
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep, 
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers: 
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep 
Steady thy laden head across a brook; 
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look, 
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours. 
Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they? 
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,— 
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, 
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue; 
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn 
 Among the river sallows, borne aloft 
 Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; 
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; 
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft 
 The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft
 And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
Sep 29th

The Whistler

By Bill W

The Whistler.


He whistles on the bus,

he whistles on the train,

he whistles on the way to work,

and coming home again.


When whistling in the library,

and told it's not allowed,

he gave up whistling quietly,

and started whistling loud.


When he was just a teenager,

his head adorned with curls,

He stood on high-street corners,

and whistled after girls.


He whistled operettas,

and pop songs of the day,

he whistled jazzy numbers,

as he went along his way.


He visited  a dentist,

and had some teeth removed,

then when he tried 'Unforgettable',

his whistle was improved.


Fate dealt this man a cruel blow,

and feeling such a burk,

with an abscess on his inner lip,

his whistle wouldn't work.


With whistle gone he now just hums,

along his merry way,

he still performs 'Unforgettable'.

but in a different way.


Hum hum hum ttable.........ha ha ha.



Sep 22nd

The Autumn - Poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning - to mark this, the first day of Autumn 2016

By Mary B

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,

And turn your eyes around,

Where waving woods and waters wild

Do hymn an autumn sound.

The summer sun is faint on them --

The summer flowers depart --

Sit still -- as all transform'd to stone,

Except your musing heart.


How there you sat in summer-time,

May yet be in your mind;

And how you heard the green woods sing

Beneath the freshening wind.

Though the same wind now blows around,

You would its blast recall;

For every breath that stirs the trees,

Doth cause a leaf to fall.


Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth

That flesh and dust impart:

We cannot bear its visitings,

When change is on the heart.

Gay words and jests may make us smile,

When Sorrow is asleep;

But other things must make us smile,

When Sorrow bids us weep!


The dearest hands that clasp our hands, --

Their presence may be o'er;

The dearest voice that meets our ear,

That tone may come no more!

Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,

Which once refresh'd our mind,

Shall come -- as, on those sighing woods,

The chilling autumn wind.


Hear not the wind -- view not the woods;

Look out o'er vale and hill-

In spring, the sky encircled them --

The sky is round them still.

Come autumn's scathe -- come winter's cold --

Come change -- and human fate!

Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,

Can ne'er be desolate. 


The Autumn by

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Aug 7th

A June Evening in the Trenches

By Mary B


Published in the Daily Mail 22 Jun 2016 - with thanks to Josee A who cut it out and gave it to me.


What they said:

Captain: Over the top tomorrow, Joe, We’re going to trounce the Hun. And we will fight for England’s right, The war will soon be won.

Private: Yes, I am good and ready, sir, I’m with you all the way. We’ll have our hour of glory, sir, And we will win the day.

What they thought:

Captain: How I dislike this war, Joe, How I dislike this war. I wish that I could tell you What this great war is for.

Private: I don’t like this ’ere war, sir, I don’t like this ’ere war, And I ’ave been a wondering, sir, What this ’ere war is for.

Captain: A year ago in June, Joe, I finished my degree, And life was good in Cambridge, With all set fair for me.

Private: A year ago in June, sir, I worked upon a farm And we made merry in the hay And didn’t do no harm.

Captain: I’m scared to leave the trench, Joe, Why should I kill a man? But I must try to set you An example if I can.

Private: I’m scared to leave the trench, sir, I’m scared to kill a man, I’d quite like to desert, sir, But I don’t think I can.

Captain: It’s my job as an officer To make you want to fight, To hate the Hun and wield a gun. I wish I thought this right.

Private: If I desert they’ll kill me, But the Hun will if I stay. It isn’t at all fair, sir, I can’t win either way.

Captain: How I dislike this war, Joe, How I dislike this war. I wish things could go back, Joe, To how they were before.

Private: I don’t like this ’ere war, sir, I don’t like this ’ere war. I wish things could go back, sir, To how they was before.



Jill Rundle, Oundle, Peterborough.

Apr 23rd

To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death

By Mary B

Sonnet 116


Let me not to the marriage of true minds 

Admit impediments. Love is not love 

Which alters when it alteration finds, 

Or bends with the remover to remove. 

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark 

That looks on tempests and is never shaken; 

It is the star to every wand'ring bark, 

Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. 

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks 

Within his bending sickle's compass come; 

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, 

But bears it out even to the edge of doom. 

If this be error and upon me prov'd, 

I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.






This Sonnet was read by my daughter last summer at the wedding of her brother, my son.

I read it at a memorial event last autumn for a dear friend whose husband had recently passed on, he was also a William.......

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