Dec 6th

The Magic of Christmas

By Mary B

The Magic of Christmas 


'Joy to the World, ' the carolers sang out 
as last minute shoppers scurried about, 
Desparatly seeking that one special gift 
that would give Christmas morning a magical lift. 

A old man standing still listening to the song, 
amidst all the madness of the bustling throng, 
in a shaky hoarse voice began to join in 
singing the words of the famous old hymn. 

One by one people stopped with their madness 
to join with the old man for a moment of gladness. 
By the time the carolers finished singing their song 
the whole throng was united as they all sang along. 

And as if by magic from out of the sky 
church bells rang out from a chapel near by. 
When the song finally ended the people greeted each other 
with messages of good will they shared with one another. 

You see that magical gift the shoppers sought for so long, 
was not in the shopping or scurrying along. 
That magical gift so desperately sought 
was the Spirit of Christmas -which could never be bought. 

- Tom Krause 2012

Dec 6th

King John's Christmas by A. A. Milne

By Mary B


King John’s Christmas


King John was not a good man –
He had his little ways.
And sometimes no one spoke to him
For days and days and days.
And men who came across him,
When walking in the town,
Gave him a supercilious stare,
Or passed with noses in the air –
And bad King John stood dumbly there,
Blushing beneath his crown.

King John was not a good man,
And no good friends had he.
He stayed in every afternoon…
But no one came to tea.
And, round about December,
The cards upon his shelf
Which wished him lots of Christmas cheer,
And fortune in the coming year,
Were never from his near and dear,
But only from himself.

King John was not a good man,
Yet had his hopes and fears.
They’d given him no present now
For years and years and years.
But every year at Christmas,
While minstrels stood about,
Collecting tribute from the young
For all the songs they might have sung,
He stole away upstairs and hung
A hopeful stocking out.

King John was not a good man,
He lived his live aloof;
Alone he thought a message out
While climbing up the roof.
He wrote it down and propped it
Against the chimney stack:
“TO ALL AND SUNDRY – NEAR AND FAR -
F. Christmas in particular.”
And signed it not “Johannes R.”
But very humbly, “Jack.”

“I want some crackers,
And I want some candy;
I think a box of chocolates
Would come in handy;
I don’t mind oranges,
I do like nuts!
And I SHOULD like a pocket-knife
That really cuts.
And, oh! Father Christmas, if you love me at all,
Bring me a big, red, india-rubber ball!”

King John was not a good man –
He wrote this message out,
And gat him to this room again,
Descending by the spout.
And all that night he lay there,
A prey to hopes and fears.
“I think that’s him a-coming now!”
(Anxiety bedewed his brow.)
“He’ll bring one present, anyhow –
The first I had for years.”

“Forget about the crackers,
And forget the candy;
I’m sure a box of chocolates
Would never come in handy;
I don’t like oranges,
I don’t want nuts,
And I HAVE got a pocket-knife
That almost cuts.
But, oh! Father Christmas, if you love me at all,
Bring me a big, red, india-rubber ball!”

King John was not a good man,
Next morning when the sun
Rose up to tell a waiting world
That Christmas had begun,
And people seized their stockings,
And opened them with glee,
And crackers, toys and games appeared,
And lips with sticky sweets were smeared,
King John said grimly: “As I feared,
Nothing again for me!”

“I did want crackers,
And I did want candy;
I know a box of chocolates
Would come in handy;
I do love oranges,
I did want nuts!
And, oh! if Father Christmas, had loved me at all,
He would have brought a big, red,
india-rubber ball!”

King John stood by the window,
And frowned to see below
The happy bands of boys and girls
All playing in the snow.
A while he stood there watching,
And envying them all …
When through the window big and red
There hurtled by his royal head,
And bounced and fell upon the bed,
An india-rubber ball!

AND, OH, FATHER CHRISTMAS,
MY BLESSINGS ON YOU FALL
FOR BRINGING HIM
A BIG, RED,
INDIA-RUBBER
BALL!

A. A. Milne

Read most beautifully tonight at a local Christmas Concert at St Andrew's Church, Farnham.

I felt quite sorry for King John hanging his ‘hopeful stocking’ out. Although King John is ‘not a good man’, one does feel some affection for him and there is no doubt there is some connection to something in this poem; perhaps it is his resilient hopefulness - or the real anxiety which ‘bedews his brow’, or more likely the authentic lurching between these two states. 

Nov 21st

A Touching Verse.

By Nick O



A war, a convoy, a letter through the door,

A wife that is a wife no more
Her children are called away from school
To be broken the news so terribly cruel 

“Your father has sailed to a distant land
And can not be reached by human hand
No more shall we meet him upon the quay
He can not come back to you or to me” 

Some days later, when tears have passed
Her children asleep and quiet at last
She sits down to wish of one more goodbye 
And to ponder and puzzle and ask merely why? 

The warships guard the convoys tight,
Prepared to stand, prepared to fight.
But they are not who the foe will attack.
They hunt the ones that cannot fight back.

“My husband has sailed to a distant land,
Following orders of higher command,
He sails his ship on a distant sea
Never again to dock on an English quay”

Who will remember the warships and crew?
The soldiers in trenches, the men who flew?
All will remember the forces of men,
Who left, never to return again.

But who will remember the brave men of sea
Whose ships were unarmed and could only flee?
Who shouldered the burden of feeding their land,
In ships with conditions fit for the damned

I will remember, with poppy and voice
To tell of the merchant ships and of their choice.
The tankers, the trawlers, the fishing boats too
I remember their sacrifice and say Thank You

Kerry Dainty, AGED 17

Such fine words from someone who is young enough not to have lived through the war, but wise enough to say " I remember their sacrifice and say Thank You"
Oct 27th

A Letter to My Aunt - by Dylan Thomas to commemorate exactly 100 years since his birth

By Mary B

A Letter to My Aunt


A Letter To My Aunt Discussing The Correct Approach To Modern Poetry


To you, my aunt, who would explore
The literary Chankley Bore,
The paths are hard, for you are not
A literary Hottentot
But just a kind and cultured dame
Who knows not Eliot (to her shame).
Fie on you, aunt, that you should see
No genius in David G.,
No elemental form and sound
In T.S.E. and Ezra Pound.
Fie on you, aunt! I'll show you how
To elevate your middle brow,
And how to scale and see the sights
From modernist Parnassian heights.

First buy a hat, no Paris model
But one the Swiss wear when they yodel,
A bowler thing with one or two
Feathers to conceal the view;
And then in sandals walk the street
(All modern painters use their feet
For painting, on their canvas strips,
Their wives or mothers, minus hips).

Perhaps it would be best if you
Created something very new,
A dirty novel done in Erse
Or written backwards in Welsh verse,
Or paintings on the backs of vests,
Or Sanskrit psalms on lepers' chests.
But if this proved imposs-i-ble
Perhaps it would be just as well,
For you could then write what you please,
And modern verse is done with ease.

Do not forget that 'limpet' rhymes
With 'strumpet' in these troubled times,
And commas are the worst of crimes;
Few understand the works of Cummings,
And few James Joyce's mental slummings,
And few young Auden's coded chatter;
But then it is the few that matter.
Never be lucid, never state,
If you would be regarded great,
The simplest thought or sentiment,
(For thought, we know, is decadent);
Never omit such vital words
As belly, genitals and -----,
For these are things that play a part
(And what a part) in all good art.
Remember this: each rose is wormy,
And every lovely woman's germy;
Remember this: that love depends
On how the Gallic letter bends;
Remember, too, that life is hell
And even heaven has a smell
Of putrefying angels who
Make deadly whoopee in the blue.
These things remembered, what can stop
A poet going to the top?

A final word: before you start
The convulsions of your art,
Remove your brains, take out your heart;
Minus these curses, you can be
A genius like David G.

Take courage, aunt, and send your stuff
To Geoffrey Grigson with my luff,
And may I yet live to admire
How well your poems light the fire. 

Dylan Thomas
Oct 25th

Our Phyl....and 'Benny' hill.

By Nick O


Phyl posted a lovely picture of her hill (we dubbed it 'Benny'), and there were so many smashing comments too, so I've posted this blog as a tribute.







Let me tell you a story of a girl named Phyl,

who tobogganed very fast down 'Benny' hill.

In her roasting-tin sled, she flew down the slope

giving challengers really just no hope.

She saw 'Barney the butter', chewing on some hay,

and butted him hard, to move him out the way.

A few loop-the-loops, a zig-zag or three,

then wiggled her bum to swerve round a tree.


Our fearless lady wearing 'Biggles' goggles,

with red silken trousers, with gold coloured toggles,

came to a halt at her kitchen door,

and kicked off her boots on her nice clean floor.

Harry, my lad, I hope you've made the tea,

and bacon buttees for my friends and me.

Mary and others who had all came along,

gave a cup and a buttee to Nick and the 'Dong'.



I'll get my coat....heh heh heh.

 

Oct 17th

Mr Marsh and the Dong.

By Nick O
I was about 11/12 years old, totally disinterested in my schoolwork and 'hyperactive' (they have posher names for this behavior now). All the teachers tried to encourage me with my lessons but failed.
One Friday afternoon my English teacher, Mr Marsh, told me to stay behind after school, "Aye, aye", I thought, "Six of the best coming up."  He told me to sit opposite to him at his huge desk and asked me what was troubling me. "William Wordswoth was one of our finest poets and you didn't pay one seconds attention, why", he asked?  "Boring Sir", I replied,
He opened a book, "I want you to listen while I recite this poem, because I think it might interest you, it's a bit daft, but I'd like your opinion of it."  
I stifled a yawn and thought, "I'd better listen to the boring old sod", because I wanted to go and meet my mates, but surprisingly, his words sort of captured me, I remember thinking, "This is a bit of alright."
He finished reciting the poem (The Dong With A Luminous Nose by Edward Lear) and I said to him, "Is there no more Sir, that was a laugh?"
He smiled, handed me his book and said, "Take it home with you, and over the week-end, I want you to read it yourself and learn it."
The next week, I returned his book and he grew the widest smile when I recited 'my' poem for him in it's entirity. After that I took a keen interest in Mr Marsh's lessons.

Fast forward 20 years.

I was having a pint with some mates when one of the lads spotted one of our old teachers, so we all went over and said hello. He told us that another teacher of ours, Mr Marsh, was very ill in hospital, and that he had no family, so, a couple of us nipped along to the hospital.
We found the ward, and there, lying so still and looking up at the ceiling was Mr Marsh. We approached the bed and said, "Hello Mr Marsh", but he never answered and kept staring upwards.
I don't know what made me do it, but I started reciting 'The Dong With A Luminous Nose', and 'Sir's' eyes flickered. He turned his head and whispered, "How kind, that is my favourite poem, thank you."


In memory of Mr Marsh, a poem by Edward Lear. 

 

 

 When awful darkness and silence reign
Over the great Gromboolian plain,
  Through the long, long wintry nights;--
When the angry breakers roar
As they beat on the rocky shore;--
  When Storm-clouds brood on the towering heights
Of the Hills of the Chankly Bore:--

Then, through the vast and gloomy dark,
There moves what seems a fiery spark,
  A lonely spark with silvery rays
  Piercing the coal-black night,--
  A Meteor strange and bright:--
Hither and thither the vision strays,
  A single lurid light.

Slowly it wanders,--pauses,--creeeps,--
Anon it sparkles,--flashes and leaps;
And ever as onward it gleaming goes
A light on the Bong-tree stems it throws.
And those who watch at that midnight hour
From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
Cry, as the wild light passes along,--
    'The Dong!--the Dong!
  'The wandering Dong through the forest goes!
    'The Dong! the Dong!
  'The Dong with a luminous Nose!'

    Long years ago
  The Dong was happy and gay,
Till he fell in love with a Jumbly Girl
  Who came to those shores one day,
For the Jumblies came in a sieve, they did,--
Landing at eve near the Zemmery Fidd
    Where the Oblong Oysters grow,
  And the rocks are smooth and gray.
And all the woods and the valleys rang
With the Chorus they daily and nightly sang,--
    'Far and few, far and few,
    Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
    Their heads are green, and their hands are blue
    And they went to sea in a sieve.'

Happily, happily passed those days!
    While the cheerful Jumblies staid;
  They danced in circlets all night long,
  To the plaintive pipe of the lively Dong,
    In moonlight, shine, or shade.
For day and night he was always there
By the side of the Jumbly Girl so fair,
With her sky-blue hands, and her sea-green hair.
Till the morning came of that hateful day
When the Jumblies sailed in their sieve away,
And the Dong was left on the cruel shore
Gazing--gazing for evermore,--
Ever keeping his weary eyes on
That pea-green sail on the far horizon,--
Singing the Jumbly Chorus still
As he sate all day on the grassy hill,--
    'Far and few, far and few,
    Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
    Their heads are green, and their hands are blue
    And they went to sea in a sieve.'

But when the sun was low in the West,
  The Dong arose and said;--
--'What little sense I once possessed
  'Has quite gone out of my head!'--
And since that day he wanders still
By lake or forest, marsh and hill,
Singing--'O somewhere, in valley or plain
'Might I find my Jumbly Girl again!
'For ever I'll seek by lake and shore
'Till I find my Jumbly Girl once more!'

    Playing a pipe with silvery squeaks,
    Since then his Jumbly Girl he seeks,
    And because by night he could not see,
    He gathered the bark of the Twangum Tree
      On the flowery plain that grows.
      And he wove him a wondrous Nose,--
    A Nose as strange as a Nose could be!
Of vast proportions and painted red,
And tied with cords to the back of his head.
    --In a hollow rounded space it ended
    With a luminous Lamp within suspended,
      All fenced about
      With a bandage stout
      To prevent the wind from blowing it out;--
    And with holes all round to send the light,
    In gleaming rays on the dismal night.

And now each night, and all night long,
Over those plains still roams the Dong;
And above the wall of the Chimp and Snipe
You may hear the sqeak of his plaintive pipe
While ever he seeks, but seeks in vain
To meet with his Jumbly Girl again;
Lonely and wild--all night he goes,--
The Dong with a luminous Nose!
And all who watch at the midnight hour,
From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
Cry, as they trace the Meteor bright,
Moving along through the dreary night,--
    'This is the hour when forth he goes,
    'The Dong with a luminous Nose!
    'Yonder--over the plain he goes,
      'He goes!
      'He goes;
    'The Dong with a luminous Nose!'

 

 
Oct 3rd

My Ghost - Robert Graves

By Mary B
My Ghost
Robert Graves
 
I held a poor opinion of myself
When young, but never bettered my opinion
(Even by comparison)
Of all my fellow-fools at school or college.
 
Passage of years induced a tolerance,
Even near-affection, for myself –
Which, when you fell in love with me, amounted
(Though with my tongue kept resolutely tied)
To little short of pride.
 
Pride brought its punishment: thus to be haunted
By my own ghost whom, much to my disquiet,
All would-be friends and open enemies
Boldly identified and certified
As me, including him in anecdotal
Autobiographies.
 
Love, should you meet him in the newspapers
In planes, on trains, or at large get-togethers,
I charge you disregard his foolish capers;
Silence him with a cold unwinking stare
Where he sits opposite you at table
And let all present watch amazed, remarking
On how little you care.

 
National Poetry Day, 2 October 2014
Jul 12th

Everyone Sang by Siegfried Sassoon

By Chrystie M
Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on--on--and out of sight.

Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away ... O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done


Well here  it is and with no mistakes this time!!   Chrystie
Mar 18th

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud - commonly known as Daffodils

By Mary B

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Mar 11th

Tears, Idle Tears - by Alfred Lord Tennyson

By Mary B

Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.

Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
That brings our friends up from the underworld,
Sad as the last which reddens over one
That sinks with all we love below the verge;
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

Dear as remembered kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more.


Alfred Tennyson
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