Feb 7th

Four Quartets - by T.S. Eliot

By Mary B

I heard this poem read today on Radio 4 by Jeremy Irons.

This is just part II of the 1st Quartet called Burnt Norton.




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.

Feb 5th

Catsong - by Ian Blake

By Mary B



Cats don’t worry about pensions

As they doze in the sun on the wall.

Cats don’t worry about income tax,

Or any damn thing at all.


Cats don’t worry about illness,

Getting old or dotty or infirm:

It happens when it happens and they know it,

They never seem to worry out of turn.


Cats aren’t bothered by commuting,

They travel or not as they please;

Go out or come in as it takes them,

Or silently Cheshire in trees


Cats curled like furry ammonites,

Tails tucked over the nose,

Sleeping in chairs and warm corners

They never have to worry about those.


Cats don’t worry for to-morrow.

Cats don’t worry for today.

Cats don’t worry about hurry,

Cats have nothing to say

Except mrr-ouw.

Jan 25th

It's Burns Night - Robert Burns Tribute

By Mary B

Address to a Haggis


Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
'Bethankit' hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect sconner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit:
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!



paunch, guts





well swollen
bellies, soon





weak, rush

fist, nut



tops, thistle





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:
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!


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
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
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