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
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
Mar 6th

A Dead Rose - by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

By Mary B

A Dead Rose

O Rose! who dares to name thee?
No longer roseate now, nor soft, nor sweet;
But pale, and hard, and dry, as stubble-wheat,---
Kept seven years in a drawer---thy titles shame thee.

The breeze that used to blow thee
Between the hedgerow thorns, and take away
An odour up the lane to last all day,---
If breathing now,---unsweetened would forego thee.

The sun that used to smite thee,
And mix his glory in thy gorgeous urn,
Till beam appeared to bloom, and flower to burn,---
If shining now,---with not a hue would light thee.

The dew that used to wet thee,
And, white first, grow incarnadined, because
It lay upon thee where the crimson was,---
If dropping now,---would darken where it met thee.

The fly that lit upon thee,
To stretch the tendrils of its tiny feet,
Along thy leaf's pure edges, after heat,---
If lighting now,---would coldly overrun thee.

The bee that once did suck thee,
And build thy perfumed ambers up his hive,
And swoon in thee for joy, till scarce alive,---
If passing now,---would blindly overlook thee.

The heart doth recognise thee,
Alone, alone! The heart doth smell thee sweet,
Doth view thee fair, doth judge thee most complete,---
Though seeing now those changes that disguise thee.

Yes, and the heart doth owe thee
More love, dead rose! than to such roses bold
As Julia wears at dances, smiling cold!---
Lie still upon this heart---which breaks below thee!

Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Born: 6 March, 1806

Feb 14th

Missing Grandma

By josee a
The Computer Swallowed Grandma
Yes, honestly it's true, she pressed Control & Enter & disappeared from view.
It devoured her completely, the thought just makes me squirm,
She must have caught a virus or been eaten by a worm.
I've searched through the recycle bin & files of every kind,
I've even used the Internet, but nothing did I find
In desperation I asked Jeeves my searches to refine,
The reply from him was negative, not a thing was found Online.
So if inside your Inbox, my Grandma you should see,
Please Copy, Scan & Paste & send her back to me! 
I'm too old to have a granny but now I'm worrying that I might disappear into this Ipad! 
Jan 1st

New Year

By Mary B
“Another fresh new year is here . . .
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!” 

- William Arthur Ward

“May Light always surround you;
Hope kindle and rebound you.
May your Hurts turn to Healing;
Your Heart embrace Feeling.
May Wounds become Wisdom;
Every Kindness a Prism.
May Laughter infect you;
Your Passion resurrect you.
May Goodness inspire 
your Deepest Desires.
Through all that you Reach For, 
May your arms Never Tire.” 

- D. Simone

Smiles from the threshold of the year to come, 
Whispering 'it will be happier'...” 

―  Alfred Tennyson
Dec 6th

It has come back to me now...

By phillip J W
That stanza of a poem I posted yesterday... I remember now.
It is one of 26 stanzas of a poem called "The Black Marigolds"

It was written by a 2nd cent. poet [who's name escapes me.]
He was in love with the king's daughter.
When their affair was discovered the poet was taken to the dungeon to be beheaded the next day.

On the night before his execution he wrote this poem to the Princess, the girl he loved.
It was translated from the original Sanskrit tablets by [I believe]
W. Barring Gould.

I first encountered it as a brief quote by a character in John Steinbeck's book "Cannery Row" around 1968.
It had such an appeal that I pestered my (at-the-time) girlfriend who worked in Kensington Library to trace the rest of it.

During a short stay in Maida Vale I copied it on an old typewriter [We didn't have laptops back then] & a lot of it has stuck in my fluffy brain!

"'Tis best that you strike now, black guards, And let this fountain out before the dawn.!"
Dec 5th

...Just a snatch from I don't know where!

By phillip J W

Even now when rose yellow moons rise at night
The wood cutter & the fisherman come home

With on his axe the moon

And in his nets dripping starlight.

In the hot town the maker of scant songs for bread

Goes to lie under the Clements with his girl;

The moon light shines upon her breasts

And I must die.

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