Favourite Poems

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Favourite Poems



Click on either of the table headings to arrange in alphabetic order.
Title Author
Cargoes John Masefield
Sea Fever John Masefield
The Pied Piper of Hamlelin Robert Browning
Home Thoughts from Abroad Robert Browning
I wondered lonely as a cloud William Wordsworth
Kubla Khan Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Jerusalem William Blake
I Vow to Thee my Country Cecil SpringRice
To a Mouse Robert Burns
Willie Wastle Robert Burns
If Rudyard Kipling
The Highwayman Alfred Noyes
The Ladies Rudyard Kipling
The Charge of the Light Brigade Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Mandalay Rudyard Kipling
China-going P. & O. Rudyard Kipling
The Female of the Species. Rudyard Kipling
Gethsemane Rudyard Kipling
To a Louse Robert Burns
To a Haggis Robert Burns
On Andrew Turner Robert Burns
Address to the Toothache Robert Burns
There was twa Wives Robert Burns
A Red Red Rose Robert Burns
Scots Wha Hae Robert Burns
The Sniper Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy
To Stretcher Bearers Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy
The Road to Gundagai Banjo Patterson
Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day? William Shakespeare
When icicles hang by the wall William Shakespeare
Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind William Shakespeare
Fear no more the heat o’ the sun William Shakespeare
Sigh no more, ladies William Shakespeare
On The Ning Nang Nong Spike Milligan
I'm walking backwards for Christmas Spike Milligan
Orstralia Spike Milligan
Teeth Spike Milligan
On Wenlock Edge the Wood’s in Trouble A. E. Housman
Night Mail W. H. Auden
O Tell Me The Truth About Love W. H. Auden
Macavity: The Mystery Cat T. S. Eliot
The Lake Isle of Innisfree W. B. Yeats.
High Flight John Gillespie Magee.
To Autumn John Keats.
How do I love thee? Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
The Owl and the Pussy Cat Edward Lear.
The Soldier Rupert Brooke.
How to get on in Society John Betjeman.


Robert Burns

Robert Burns

Robert Burns was born in 1759 in the Ayrshire village of Alloway and lived for a short 37 years until his death in 1796.

He spent most of his life working the land, first as a labourer on his fathers farm and then as a farmer himself. During the last five years of his life he was an exciseman in Dumfries.

Burns had no priviledged education and was taught by local schoolmasters and his father but he read profusely works by such as Shakespeare and Milton, read French and a little Latin. He began to write poetry in the language of the local dialect. He aquired a reputation as somewhat of a rake when in 1785 one of the farm servants gave birth to his child and then before the end of that year had met Jean Armour who gave birth to his first set of twins the year after.

Also in that year the first edition of his work was published and was quickly sold out. His wife Jean bore him nine children and he had several others outside the marraige. After his death the tradition of the Burns Supper began and it was at these events when I first went to live in Scotland in 1966 that I became interested in the poets work.

When you remember he composed such still popular songs as Auld Lang Syne which is sung all over the world, Green grow the Rushes and The Banks 'O Doon, it is no wonder that he is remembered the world over. I remember John Macsween telling me years ago that his biggest overseas market for his haggis for Burns Suppers was Moscow!

I have included a few of my favourite poems of his here:

  1. A Red Red Rose
  2. On Andrew Turner
  3. Scots Wha Hae
  4. There were Twa Wives
  5. To a Haggis
  6. To a Louse
  7. To a Mouse
  8. Willie Wastle



Address to the Toothache

by Robert Burns

My curse upon your venom'd stang, sing
That shoots my tortur'd gooms alang, gums
An' thro' my luggies monie a twang ears
Wi' gnawing vengeance:
Tearing my nerves wi' bitter pang,
Like racking engines!

A' down my beard the slavers trickle,
I throw the wee stools o're the mickle, big
While round the fire the giglets keckle, half-wits chuckle
To see me loup;
leap
An' raving mad, I wish a heckle swear; heckling-comb
Were i' their doup!
backside

When fevers burn, or argue freezes,
Rhumatics gnaw or colic squeezes,
Our neebors sympathize, to ease us,
Wi' pitying moan;
But thee!--thou hell o' a' diseases,
They mock our groan!

Of a' the num'rous human dools--, woes
Ill hairsts, daft bargains, curry stools, Bad harvests; foolish; repentance-
Our worthy frein's laid i' the mools, mould
Sad sight to see!
The tricks o' knaves, or fash o' fools, annoyance
Thou bear'st the gree!
first place

Whar'er that place be priests ca' Hell,
Whare'er the tones o' miserey yell,
An rank'ed plagues their numbers tell,
In dreasfu' raw,
row
Thou, Toothache, surely bear'st the bell
Among them a'!
first place

O thou grim, mischief-making chiel, fellow
That gars the notes o' discord sqeel, makes
Till humankind aft dance a reel
In gore a shoe thick,
row
Gie a' the faes o' Scotland's weal Give; foes
A towmonds toothache!
twelvemonth's




Cargoes

by John Masefield.

Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,John Masefield
John Masefield - 1902 - 1967
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amethysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.





Sea Fever

by John Masefield.

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

And here's another verse by Spike Milligan:

I must go down to the sea again,
to the lonely sea and the sky;
I left my shoes and socks there -
I wonder if they're dry?




The Pied Piper of Hamelin

by Robert Browning.

Hamelin Town's in Brunswick,
Robert Browning
Robert Browning - 1812 - 1889

The Pied Piper is once of the first poems I ever remember learning and I can still recite much of it today.

I have visited Hamelin town in Brunswick which lives off the legend and remember I was rather confused that the Germans call their mayoral office the "rathaus"!

I have not forgotten his other famous one which is here.

By famous Hanover city;
The river Weser, deep and wide,
Washes its walls on the southern side;
A pleasanter spot you never spied;
But, when begins my ditty,
Almost five hundred years ago,
To see the townsfolk suffer so
From vermin, t'was a pity.

Rats!
They fought the dogs, and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cooks' own ladles,
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men's Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women's chats
By drowning their speaking
With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats.

At last the people in a body
To the Town Hall came flocking:
'Tis clear, cried they, our Mayor's a noddy;
And as for our Corporation — shocking
To think we buy gowns lined with ermine
For dolts that can't or won't determine
What's like to rid us of our vermin!
Rouse up, Sirs! Give your brains a racking
To find the remedy we're lacking,
Or, sure as fate, we'll send you packing!
At this the Mayor and Corporation
Quaked with a mighty consternation.

An hour they sate in council,
At length the Mayor broke silence:
For a guilder I'd my ermine gown sell;
I wish I were a mile hence!
It's easy to bid one rack one's brain —
I'm sure my poor head aches again
I've scratched it so, and all in vain.
Oh for a trap, a trap, a trap!
Just as he said this, what should hap
At the chamber door but a gentletap?
Bless us, cried the Mayor, what'sthat?
(With the Corporation as he sate,
Looking little though wondrous fat);
Only a scraping of shoes on the mat?
Anything like the sound of a rat
Makes my heart go pit-a-pat!

Come in! — the Mayor cried, looking bigger:
And in did come the strangest figure!
His queer long coat from heel to head
Was half of yellow and half of red;
And he himself was tall and thin,
With sharp blue eyes, each like a pin,
And light loose hair, yet swarthy skin,
No tuft on cheek nor beard on chin,
But lips where smiles went out and in —
There was no guessing his kith and kin!
And nobody could enough admire
The tall man and his quaint attire:
Quoth one: It's as my great-grandsire,
Starting up at the Trump of Doom's tone,
Had walked this way from his painted tombstone!

He advanced to the council-table
And, Please your honours, said he, I'm able,
By means of a secret charm, to draw
All creatures living beneath the sun,
That creep, or swim, or fly, or run,
After me so as you never saw!
And I chiefly use my charm
On creatures that do people harm,
The mole, and toad, and newt, and viper;
And people call me the Pied Piper.
(And here they noticed round his neck
A scarf of red and yellow stripe,
To match with his coat of the self-same cheque;
And at the scarf's end hung a pipe;
And his fingers, they noticed, were ever straying
As if impatient to be playing
Upon this pipe, as low it dangled
Over his vesture so old-fangled.)
Yet, said he, poor piper as I am,
In Tartary I freed the Cham,
Last June, from his huge swarms of gnats;
I eased in Asia the Nizam
Of a monstrous brood of vampyre-bats:
And, as for what your brain bewilders,
If I can rid your town of rats
Will you give me a thousand guilders?
One? fifty thousand! — was the exclamation
Of the astonished Mayor and Corporation.

Into the street the Piper stept,
Smiling first a little smile,
As if he knew what magic slept
In his quiet pipe the while;
Then, like a musical adept,
To blow the pipe his lips he wrinkled,
And green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled,
Like a candle-flame where salt is sprinkled;
And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered,
You heard as if an army muttered;
And the muttering grew to a grumbling;
And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling;
And out of the houses the rats came tumbling.
Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,
Brown rats, black rats, grey rats, tawny rats,
Grave old plodders, gay young friskers,
Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,
Cocking tails and pricking whiskers,
Families by tens and dozens,
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives —
Followed the Piper for their lives.
From street to street he piped advancing,
And step for step they followed dancing,
Until they came to the river Weser
Wherein all plunged and perished
— Save one who, stout as Julius Caesar,
Swam across and lived to carry
(As he the manuscript he cherished)
To Rat-land home his commentary,
Which was, At the first shrill notes of the pipe,
I heard a sound as of scraping tripe,
And putting apples, wondrous ripe,
Into a cider-press's gripe:
And a moving away of pickle-tub-boards,
And a leaving ajar of conserve-cupboards,
And a drawing the corks of train-oil-flasks,
And a breaking the hoops of butter-casks;
And it seemed as if a voice
(Sweeter than by harp or by psaltery
Is breathed) called out, Oh rats, rejoice!
The world is grown to one vast drysaltery!
'So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon,
'Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon!
And just as one bulky sugar-puncheon,
Ready staved, like a great sun shone
Glorious scarce an inch before me,
Just as methought it said, Come, bore me!
— I found the Weser rolling o'er me.

You should have heard the Hamelin people
Ringing the bells till they rocked the steeple;
Go, cried the Mayor, and get long poles!
Poke out the nests and block up the holes!
Consult with carpenters and builders,
And leave in our town not even a trace
Of the rats! — when suddenly up the face
Of the Piper perked in the market-place,
With a, First, if you please, my thousand guilders!

A thousand guilders! The Mayor looked blue;
So did the Corporation too.
For council dinners made rare havock
With Claret, Moselle, Vin-de-Grave, Hock;
And half the money would replenish
Their cellar's biggest butt with Rhenish.
To pay this sum to a wandering fellow
With a gipsy coat of red and yellow!
Beside, quoth the Mayor with a knowing wink,
Our business was done at the river's brink;
We saw with our eyes the vermin sink,
And what's dead can't come to life, I think.
So, friend, we're not the folks to shrink
From the duty of giving you something for drink,
And a matter of money to put in your poke;
But, as for the guilders, what we spoke
Of them, as you very well know, was in joke.
Beside, our losses have made us thrifty;
A thousand guilders! Come, take fifty!

The Piper's face fell, and he cried,
No trifling! I can't wait, beside!
I've promised to visit by dinner time
Bagdat, and accept the prime
Of the Head Cook's pottage, all he's rich in,
For having left, in the Caliph's kitchen,
Of a nest of scorpions no survivor —
With him I proved no bargain-driver,
With you, don't think I'll bate a stiver!
And folks who put me in a passion
May find me pipe after another fashion.

How? cried the Mayor, d'ye think I'll brook
Being worse treated than a Cook?
Insulted by a lazy ribald
With idle pipe and vesture piebald?
You threaten us, fellow? Do your worst,
Blow your pipe there till you burst!

Once more he stept into the street;
And to his lips again
Laid his long pipe of smooth straight cane;
And ere he blew three notes (such sweet
Soft notes as yet musician's cunning
Never gave th'enraptured air)
There was a rustling, that seem'd like a bustling
Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling,
Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
Little hands clapping, and little tongues chattering,
And, like fowls in a farm-yard when barley is scattering,
Out came the children running.
All the little boys and girls,
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls,
Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.

The Mayor was dumb, and the Council stood
As if they were changed into blocks of wood,
Unable to move a step, or cry
To the children merrily skipping by —
Could only follow with the eye
That joyous crowd at the Piper's back.
But how the Mayor was on the rack,
And the wretched Council's bosoms beat,
As the Piper turned from the High Street
To where the Weser rolled its waters
Right in the way of their sons and daughters!
However he turned from South to West,
And to Coppelburg Hill his steps addressed,
And after him the children pressed;
Great was the joy in every breast.
He never can cross that mighty top!
He's forced to let the piping drop,
And we shall see our children stop!
When, lo, as they reached the mountain's side,
A wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the Piper advanced and the children follow'd,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain side shut fast.
Did I say, all? No! One was lame,
And could not dance the whole of the way;
And in after years, if you would blame
His sadness, he was used to say, —
It's dull in our town since my playmates left!
I can't forget that I'm bereft
Of all the pleasant sights they see,
Which the Piper also promised me;
For he led us, he said, to a joyous land,
Joining the town and just at hand,
Where waters gushed and fruit-trees grew,
And flowers put forth a fairer hue,
And every thing was strange and new;
The sparrows were brighter than peacocks here,
And their dogs outran our fallow deer,
And honey-bees had lost their stings,
And horses were born with eagles' wings:
And just as I felt assured
My lame foot would be speedily cured,
The music stopped and I stood still,
And found myself outside the Hill,
Left alone against my will,
To go now limping as before,
And never hear of that country more!

Alas, alas for Hamelin!
There came into many a burgher's pate
A text which says, that Heaven's Opes
to the Rich at as easy a rate
As the needle's eye takes a camel in!
The Mayor sent East, West, North, and South,
To offer the Piper, by word of mouth,
Wherever it was men's lot to find him,
Silver and gold to his heart's content,
If he'd only return the way he went,
And bring the children behind him.
But when they saw 'twas a lost endeavour,
And Piper and dancers were gone for ever,
They made a decree that lawyers never
Should think their records dated duly
If, after the day of the month and year,
These words did not as well appear,
"And so long after what happened here
"On the Twenty-second of July,
"Thirteen hundred and Seventy-six:"
And the better in memory to fix
The place of the Children's last retreat,
They called it, The Pied Piper's Street —
Where any one playing on pipe or tabor
Was sure for the future to lose his labour.
Nor suffered they Hostelry or Tavern
To shock with mirth a street so solemn;
But opposite the place of the cavern
They wrote the story on a column,
And on the Great Church Window painted
The same, to make the world acquainted
How their children were stolen away;
And there it stands to this very day.
And I must not omit to say
That in Transylvania there's a tribe
Of alien people who ascribe
The outlandish ways and dress
On which their neighbours lay such stress
To their fathers and mothers having risen
Out of some subterraneous prison
Into which they were trepanned
Long time ago in a mighty band
Out of Hamelin town in Brunswick land,
But how or why, they don't understand.

So, Willy, let you and me be wipers
Of scores out with all men — especially pipers:
And, whether they pipe us from rats or from mice,
If we've promised them aught, let us keep our promise.




China-going P. & O.'s. from 'Just So' verses

by Rudyard Kipling.

China-going P. & O.'s
Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling - 1865 - 1936

I was brought up with the Jungle Book and once kept watch with an engineer at sea who used to recite Kipling.

I have included some other favourites including:

  1. Gethsemane’
  2. If
  3. Mandalay
  4. The Female of the Species
  5. The Ladies

Pass Pau Ammas's playground close,
And his Pusat Tasek lies
Near the track of most B.I.'s.
N.Y.K. and N.D.L.,
Know Pau Anna's home as well
As the Fisher of the sea knows
'Bens,' M.M.'s and Rubattinos.
But (and this is rather queer)
A.T.L.'s can not come here;
O. and O, and D.O.A.
Must go round the other way.
Orient, Anchor, Bibby, Hall,
Never go that way at all.
U.C.S would have a fit
If it found itself on it.
And if 'Beavers' took their cargoes
To Penang instead of Lagos,
Or a fat Shaw-Savill bore
Passengers to Singapore,
Or a White Star were to try a
Little trip to Sourabaya,
Or a B.S.A. went on
Past Natal to Cheribon,
Then great Mr Lloyds would come
With a wire and drag them home!




Home Thoughts from Abroad

by Robert Browning.

Oh, to be in England now that April ’s there
And whoever wakes in England sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

And after April, when May follows
And the white-throat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossom’d pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray’s edge—
That ’s the wise thrush: he sings each song twice over
Lest you should think he never could re-capture
The first fine careless rapture!
And, though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower,
Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower




If

by Rudyard Kipling.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!




I Vow to thee my Country

by Cecil SpringRice.

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Cecil SpringRice
Sir Cecil SpringRice - 1859 - 1918

Gustav Holst set this poem to music in his Planet's Suite and I would personally like to see it as the "English" national anthem as opposed to the "United Kingdom" one which is the dirge "God Save the Queen".

Unfortunately the International Rugby Union ruined it with their corrupted version entitled "The World in Union".

They ruined it even further when they had Lapaloma Faith singing it which drove everyone mad!

Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

I heard my country calling, away across the sea,
Across the waste of waters she calls and calls to me.
Her sword is girded at her side, her helmet on her head,
And round her feet are lying the dying and the dead.
I hear the noise of battle, the thunder of her guns,
I haste to thee my mother, a son among thy sons.

And there's another country, I've heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.




I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

by William Wordsworth.

William Wordsworth.
William Wordsworth - 1770 - 1850

Composed it is said after seeing daffodils alongside Ullswater in the English Lake District.

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.




Jerusalem

by William Blake.

And did those feet in ancient time
William Wordsworth.
William Blake - 1757 - 1827

This is the other contender for the English National Anthem and was set to music by Hubert Parry who lived just across the Severn, a mate of Holst.
The Wild Indians (Womans Institute) sing it every year at their conference and the English Rugby Union play it at internationals. Then there is the Last Night of the Proms etc., etc.

Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land.




Gethsemane

by Rudyard Kipling.

The Garden called Gethsemane
In Picardy it was,
And there the people came to see
The English soldiers pass.
We used to pass—we used to pass
Or halt, as it might be,
And ship our masks in case of gas
Beyond Gethsemane.

The Garden called Gethsemane,
It held a pretty lass,
But all the time she talked to me
I prayed my cup might pass.
The officer sat on the chair,
The men lay on the grass,
And all the time we halted there
I prayed my cup might pass.

It didn’t pass—it didn’t pass-
It didn’t pass from me.
I drank it when we met the gas
Beyond Gethsemane!




Kubla Khan

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge - 1772 - 1834

He wrote this after walking from his cottage in Nether Stowey to Culbone, up Porlock Hill in Somerset. Sheltering in a farmhouse there he got himself stoned on opium which he took for medical (but more likely recreational) purposes and fell asleep. On waking he remembered a drug induced dream.

He was in the middle of writing the dream down when he was interrupted by a bloke from Porlock and then forgot the rest so it was never finished.

The line "Down to a sunless sea" reminds me of my caving days and a mate called Mike Boon who wrote a book with that title.

A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.




Mandalay

by Rudyard Kipling.

By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' lazy at the sea,
There's a Burma girl a-settin', and I know she thinks o' me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
"Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay! "
Come you back to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay:
Can't you 'ear their paddles chunkin' from Rangoon to Mandalay ?
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin'-fishes play,
An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

'Er petticoat was yaller an' 'er little cap was green,
An' 'er name was Supi-yaw-lat - jes' the same as Theebaw's Queen,
An' I seed her first a-smokin' of a whackin' white cheroot,
An' a-wastin' Christian kisses on an 'eathen idol's foot:
Bloomin' idol made o' mud
Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd
Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed 'er where she stud!
On the road to Mandalay...

When the mist was on the rice-fields an' the sun was droppin' slow,
She'd git 'er little banjo an' she'd sing "Kulla-lo-lo!
With 'er arm upon my shoulder an' 'er cheek agin my cheek
We useter watch the steamers an' the hathis pilin' teak.
Elephints a-pilin' teak
In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
Where the silence 'ung that 'eavy you was 'arf afraid to speak!
On the road to Mandalay...

But that's all shove be'ind me - long ago an' fur away
An' there ain't no 'busses runnin' from the Bank to Mandalay;
An' I'm learnin' 'ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
"If you've 'eard the East a-callin', you won't never 'eed naught else."
No! you won't 'eed nothin' else
But them spicy garlic smells,
An' the sunshine an' the palm-trees an' the tinkly temple-bells;
On the road to Mandalay...

I am sick o' wastin' leather on these gritty pavin'-stones,
An' the blasted English drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
Tho' I walks with fifty 'ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
An' they talks a lot o' lovin', but wot do they understand?
Beefy face an' grubby 'and -
Law! wot do they understand?
I've a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!
On the road to Mandalay...

Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there aren't no Ten Commandments an' a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin', an' it's there that I would be
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay,
With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
O the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin'-fishes play,
An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay !




On Andrew Turner

by Robert Burns.

In se'enteen hunder'n forty-nine,
The deil gat stuff to mak a swine,
An' coost it in a corner;
But wilily he chang'd his plan,
An' shap'd it something like a man,
An' ca'd it Andrew Turner.




The Charge of the Light Brigade

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Half a league, half a league,
Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson - 1809 - 1892

Great poem this one and the secene is so vividly described with the minimum of words.

Wonderful descriptive lines that convey the reader to the battlefield.

There are possibly more lines regularly quoted from this poem that from any other I know.

Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Someone had blundered.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wondered.
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre stroke
Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell.
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!




The Female of the Species

by Rudyard Kipling.

When the Himalayan peasant meets the
he-bear in his pride,
He shouts to scare the monster,
who will often turn aside.
But the she-bear thus accosted rends
the peasant tooth and nail.
For the female of the species is more
deadly than the male.

When Nag the basking cobra hears the
careless foot of man,
He will sometimes wriggle sideways and
avoid it if he can.
But his mate makes no such motion where
she camps beside the trail.
For the female of the species is more
deadly than the male.

When the early Jesuit fathers preached
to Hurons and Choctaws,
They prayed to be delivered from the
vengeance of the squaws.
'Twas the women, not the warriors,
turned those stark enthusiasts pale.
For the female of the species is more
deadly than the male.

Man's timid heart is bursting with the
things he must not say,
For the Woman that God gave him
isn't his to give away;
But when hunter meets with husbands,
each confirms the other's tale -
The female of the species is more
deadly than the male.

Man, a bear in most relations -
worm and savage otherwise, -
Man propounds negotiations,
Man accepts the compromise.
Very rarely will he squarely push the logic of a fact
To its ultimate conclusion in unmitigated act.

Fear, or foolishness, impels him,
ere he lay the wicked low,
To concede some form of trial even
to his fiercest foe.
Mirth obscene diverts his anger -
Doubt and Pity oft perplex
Him in dealing with an issue -
to the scandal of The Sex!

But the Woman that God gave him,
every fibre of her frame
Proves her launched for one sole issue,
armed and engined for the same,
And to serve that single issue,
lest the generations fail,
The female of the species must be
deadlier than the male.

She who faces Death by torture
for each life beneath her breast
May not deal in doubt or pity -
must not swerve for fact or jest.
These be purely male diversions -
not in these her honour dwells.
She the Other Law we live by,
is that Law and nothing else.

She can bring no more to living than
the powers that make her great
As the Mother of the Infant and the
Mistress of the Mate.
And when Babe and Man are lacking and
she strides unclaimed to claim
Her right as femme (and baron),
her equipment is the same.

She is wedded to convictions -
in default of grosser ties;
Her contentions are her children,
Heaven help him who denies! -
He will meet no suave discussion,
but the instant, white-hot, wild,
Wakened female of the species warring
as for spouse and child.

Unprovoked and awful charges -
even so the she-bear fights,
Speech that drips, corrodes, and poisons -
even so the cobra bites,
Scientific vivisection of one nerve till it is raw
And the victim writhes in anguish -
like the Jesuit with the squaw!

So it comes that Man, the coward,
when he gathers to confer
With his fellow-braves in council,
dare not leave a place for her
Where, at war with Life and Conscience,
he uplifts his erring hands
To some God of Abstract Justice -
which no woman understands.

And Man knows it! Knows, moreover,
that the Woman that God gave him
Must command but may not govern -
shall enthral but not enslave him.
And She knows, because She warns him,
and Her instincts never fail,
That the Female of Her Species is more
deadly than the Male.




The Highwayman

by Alfred Noyes.

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.Alfred Noyes.
Alfred Noyes - 1880 - 1958

This is another poem I learnt in my childhood and still love to read it now.

I get quite emotional reading it sometimes but then I'm a romantic old softie at heart!

The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
Riding—riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

He’d a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin.
They fitted with never a wrinkle. His boots were up to the thigh.
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard.
He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred.
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened. His face was white and peaked.
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord’s daughter,
The landlord’s red-lipped daughter.
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—

“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”

He rose upright in the stirrups. He scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair in the casement. His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
(O, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west.

PART TWO

He did not come in the dawning. He did not come at noon;
And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon,
When the road was a gypsy’s ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching—
Marching—marching—
King George’s men came marching, up to the old inn-door.

They said no word to the landlord. They drank his ale instead.
But they gagged his daughter, and bound her, to the foot of her narrow bed.
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
There was death at every window;
And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest.
They had bound a musket beside her, with the muzzle beneath her breast!
“Now, keep good watch!” and they kissed her. She heard the doomed man say—
Look for me by moonlight;
Watch for me by moonlight;
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

The tip of one finger touched it. She strove no more for the rest.
Up, she stood up to attention, with the muzzle beneath her breast.
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins, in the moonlight, throbbed to her love’s refrain.

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horsehoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding—
Riding—riding—
The red coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still.

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer. Her face was like a light.
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.

He turned. He spurred to the west; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o’er the musket, drenched with her own blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, and his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
The landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high.
Blood red were his spurs in the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat;
When they shot him down on the highway,
Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat.
* * *
And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
Riding—riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard.
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred.
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.





The Ladies

by Rudyard Kipling.

I've taken my fun where I've found it;
I've rouged an' I've ranged in my time;
I've 'ad my pickin' o' seethearts,
An' four o' the lot was prime.
One was an 'arf-caste widow,
One was a woman at Prome,
One was the wife of a jemadar-sais
An' one is a girl at 'ome.

Now I aren't no 'and with the ladies,
For, takin' 'em all along,
You never can say till you've tried 'em,
An' then you are like to be wrong.
There's times when you'll think that you mightn't,
There's times when you'll know that you might;
But the things you will learn from the Yellow an' Brown,
They'll 'elp you a lot with the White!

I was a young un at 'Oogli,
Shy as a girl to begin;
Aggie de Castrer she made me,
An' Aggie was clever as sin;
Older than me, but my first un --
More like a mother she were --
Showed me the way to promotion an' pay,
An' I learned about women from 'er!

Then I was ordered to Burma,
Actin' in charge o' Bazar,
An' I got me a tiddy live 'eathen
Through buyin' supplies off 'er pa.
Funny an' yellow an' faithful --
Doll in a teacup she were --
But we lived on the square, like a true-married pair,
An' I learned about women from 'er!

Then we was shifted to Neemuch
(Or I might ha' been keepin' 'er now),
An' I took with a shiny she-devil,
The wife of a nigger at Mhow;
'Taught me the gipsy-folks' bolee;
Kind o' volcano she were,
For she knifed me one night 'cause I wished she was white,
And I learned about women from 'er!

Then I come 'ome in a trooper,
'Long of a kid o' sixteen --
'Girl from a convent at Meerut,
The straightest I ever 'ave seen.
Love at first sight was 'er trouble,
She didn't know what it were;
An' I wouldn't do such, 'cause I liked 'er too much,
But -- I learned about women from 'er!

I've taken my fun where I've found it,
An' now I must pay for my fun,
For the more you 'ave known o' the others
The less will you settle to one;
An' the end of it's sittin' and thinking',
An' dreamin' Hell-fires to see;
So be warned by my lot (which I know you will not),
An' learn about women from me!

What did the Colonel's Lady think?
Nobody never knew.
Somebody asked the Sergeant's Wife,
An' she told 'em true!
When you get to a man in the case,
They're like as a row of pins --
For the Colonel's Lady an' Judy O'Grady
Are sisters under their skins!




To a Haggis

by Robert Burns.

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,good luck to: jolly
Great Chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place above
Painch, tripe or thairm:
paunch; intestines
Well are ye wordy o' a grace worthy
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill, buttocks
Your pin wad help to mend a mill skewer; would
In time o' need
And from your pore the dews distill,
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,wipe
An' cut ye up wi' ready slight, skill
Trenching your gushing entrails bright
Like onie ditch.
any
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!.
steaming

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strivehorn-spoon
Diel tak the hindmost, on they drive, last
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve swelled stomachs bye-and-bye
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, most like to rive, almost; burst
'Bethankit' hums.
murmers 'God be thanked'

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

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash, feeble; rush
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash, thin leg; good
His nieve a nit;
closed fist; nut
Thro' bluidy flood or field to dash, bloody
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread;
Clap in his walie nieve a blade, large fist
He'll mak it whissle;
whistle
An' legs an' arms an' heads will sned lop off
Like taps o' thrissle.
tops of thistles

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




To a Louse

by Robert Burns.

ON LANDING ON A LADY'S BONNET AT CHURCH

Ha! whare ye gaun ye crowlin ferlie!crawling wonder
Your impudence protects you sairly:
I canna say but ye strunt rarely, strut
Owre gauze and lace;
Tho' faith, I fear, ye dine but sparely
On sic a place.

Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,
Detested, shunned, by saint and sinner,
How duar ye set your fit upon her, foot
Sae fine a lady!
Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner,
On some poor body.

Swith! in some beggar's hauffet squattle;Off!; temple squat
There ye ma creep, and sprawl, and sprattle scramble
Wi' ither kindred, jumping cattle,
In shoals and nations;
Ehare horn nor bane ne'er daur unsettle
Your thick plantations.




To a Mouse

by Robert Burns.

ON DISTURBING A MOUSE'S NEST WITH A PLOUGH

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,sly: timid
O, what a pannic's in thy breastie! breast
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
prattle
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee loath; run
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
An' fellow mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;sometimes; steal
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live! must
A daimen icker in a thrave An odd ear in twenty-four sheaves
'S a sma' request;
it's a small
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave, what's left
An' never miss't.

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin! walls; winds; scattering
An' naething, now, to big a new ane, nothing; build; one
O' foggage green!
forage
An' bleak December's win's ensuin, winds coming
Baith snell an' keen!
Both bitter

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast, cozy
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past plough
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee-bit heap o' leaves an' stibblestubble
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble! many
Now thou's turned out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
hold
To thole the winter's sleety dribble, endure
An' cranreuch cauld.
hoar-frost

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,not alone
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
Go often wrong
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, leave us
For promis'd joy!

Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e, eye
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see
I guess an' fear!




Willie Wastle

by Robert Burns.

Willie Wastle dwalt on Tweed,
The spot they ca'd it Linkumdoddie;
called
Willie was a wabster gude a good weaver
Could stown a clue wi' ony body:
have stolen; clew
He had a wife was dour and din, stubborn; dun
O, Tinkler Maidgie was her mither;
mother
Sic a wife as Willie had,
I wad na gie a button for her!

She has an e'e, (she has but ane),eye; one
The cat has twa the very colour;
Five rusty teeth, forbye a stump, besides
A clapper tongue wad deave a miller:
deafen
A whiskin beard about her mou', mouth
Her nose and chin they threaten ither;
each other
Sic a wife as Willie had,
I wad na gie a button for her!

She's bow-hough'd, she's hein-shin'd,-legged; bandy
Ae limpin leg a hand-breed shorter;
one; -breadth
She's twisted right, she's twisted left,
To balance fair in ilka quarter:
each
She has a lump upon her breast,
The twin o' that upon her shouther;
shoulder
Sic a wife as Willie had,
I wad na gie a button for her!

Auld baudrons by the ingle sits,Old pussie
An' wi' her loof her face a-washin;
paw
But Willie's wife is nae sae trig, trim
She dights her grunzie wi' a hushion;
wipes; mouth; stocking-leg
Her walie nieves like midden-creels, big fists; dung-
Her face wad fyle the Logan Water;
foul
Sic a wife as Willie had,
I wad na gie a button for her!




There was twa Wives

by Robert Burns.

There was twa wives, and twa witty wives,
As e’er play’d houghmagandie, fornication
And they coost oot, upon a time, went out
Out o’er a drink o’ brandy;
Up Maggy rose, and forth she goes
And she leaves auld Mary flytin,scolding
She farted by the byre-en’ cowshed
For she was gaun a shiten.

She farted by the byre –en’,
She farted by the stable;
And thick and nimble were her steps
As fast as she was able:
Till at yon dyke-back the hurly brak back of the wall; storm broke
But raxin for some dockins,looking for some dock leaves
The beans and pease cam down her thighs
And she cackit a’ her stockins.




A Red Red Rose

by Robert Burns.

O my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
O my Luve's like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve!
And fare-thee-weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' 'twere ten thousand mile!




Scots Wha Hae

by Robert Burns.

Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led;
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victory!

Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour;
See approach proud Edward's power—
Chains and slavery!

Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave!
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!

Wha for Scotland's king and law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa',
Let him follow me!

By oppression's woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!—
Let us do or die!




The Sniper

by Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy
otherwise known as Woodbine Willie.

There's a Jerry over there, Sarge !
Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy.
Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy - 1883 - 1929
Can't you see 'is big square 'ead ?
If 'e bobs it up again there,
I'll soon nail 'im - nail 'im dead.
Gimme up that pair o' glasses
And just fix that blinkin' sight,
Gawd ! that nearly almost got 'im,
There 'e is now - see ? 'Arf right.
If 'e moves again I'll get 'im,
Take these glasses 'ere and see,
What's that ? Got 'im through the 'ead, Sarge ?
Where's my blarsted cup o' tea ?




To Stretcher Bearers

by Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy
otherwise known as Woodbine Willie.

There's a shell 'ole on your left there,

The Rev. G.A Studdert Kennedy was nicknamed Woodbine Willie from his habit of handing out Woodbine cigarettes to troops in the trenches during the Great War.

My mother introduced me to his poems at a very early age.

Lift 'im up a little 'igher.
Stick it, lad, ye'll soon be there now,
Want to rest 'ere for a while?
Let 'im dahn then — gently — gently,
There ye are, lad. That's the style.
Want a drink, mate? 'Ere's my bottle,
Lift 'is 'ead up for 'im, Jack,
Put my tunic underneath 'im,
'Ow's that, chummy? That's the tack!
Guess we'd better make a start now,
Ready for another spell?
Best be goin', we won't 'urt ye,
But 'e might just start to shell.
Are ye right, mate? Off we goes then.
That's well over on the right,
Gawd Almighty, that's a near 'un!
'Old your end up good and tight,
Never mind, lad, you're for Blighty,
Mind this rotten bit o' board.

We'll soon 'ave ye tucked in bed, lad,
'Opes ye gets to my old ward.
No more war for you, my 'earty,
This'll get ye well away,
Twelve good months in dear old Blighty,
Twelve good months if you're a day,
M.O.'s got a bit o' something
What'll stop that blarsted pain.
'Ere's a rotten bit o' ground, mate,
Lift up 'igher — up again,
Wish 'e'd stop 'is blarsted shellin'
Makes it rotten for the lad.
When a feller's been and got it,
It affec's 'im twice as bad.
'Ow's it goin' now then, sonny?
'Ere's that narrow bit o' trench,
Careful, mate, there's some dead Jerries,
Lawd Almighty, what a stench!
'Ere we are now, stretcher-case, boys,
Bring him aht a cup o' tea!
Inasmuch as ye have done it
Ye have done it unto Me.




The Road to Gundagai

by Banjo Paterson.

The mountain road goes up and down,
Banjo Paterson.

Banjo Paterson - 1864 - 1961

He was the Robbie Burns of Australia, writing ballads and poems of rural life.
He was the son of a Scottish immigrant so that is no surprise.

Andrew Barton Paterson worked as a war correspondent, was wounded as a soldier in the Great War and was a Rugby League fan but you can't have everything!

From Gundagai to Tumut Town.

And branching off there runs a track,
Across the foothills grim and black,

Across the plains and ranges grey
To Sydney city far away.
* * *
It came by chance one day that I
From Tumut rode to Gundagai.

And reached about the evening tide
The crossing where the roads divide;

And, waiting at the crossing place,
I saw a maiden fair of face,

With eyes of deepest violet blue,
And cheeks to match the rose in hue–

The fairest maids Australia knows
Are bred among the mountain snows.

Then, fearing I might go astray,
I asked if she could show the way.

Her voice might well a man bewitch–
Its tones so supple, deep, and rich.

‘The tracks are clear,’ she made reply,
‘And this goes down to Sydney town,
And that one goes to Gundagai.’

Then slowly, looking coyly back,
She went along the Sydney track.

And I for one was well content
To go the road the lady went;

But round the turn a swain she met–
The kiss she gave him haunts me yet!
* * *
I turned and travelled with a sigh
The lonely road to Gundagai.




Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day?

by William Shakespeare.

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
William Shakespeare.
William Shakespeare - 1582 - 1616
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow'st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.




When icicles hang by the wall

by William Shakespeare.

When icicles hang by the wall,

William Shakespeare has no equal among English poets.

He wrote so much in his short life but here are a few more I like particularly:

  1. Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind
  2. Fear no more the heat o’ the sun
  3. Sigh no more, ladies

Perhaps my selection has something to do with all these being all set to music by John Dankworth and sung by the lovely Cleo Laine.

And here is Spike Milligan's take on Bill the Shake's prose:

Said Hamlet to Ophelia
I'll draw a sketch of thee.
What kind of pencil shall I use?
2B or not 2B?

And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipped, and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
To-whoo;
To-whit, to-whoo, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson’s saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian’s nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
To-whoo;
To-whit, to-whoo, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.




Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind

from As you Like it by William Shakespeare.

Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most freindship if feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze thou bitter sky,
That does not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As a friend remembered not.

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.




Fear no more the heat o’ the sun

from Cymbeline by William Shakespeare.

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o’ the great;
Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke;
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The scepter, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan:
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renownèd be thy grave!




Sigh no more, ladies

from Much ado about Nothing by William Shakespeare.

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more.
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea, and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.
Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into hey nonny, nonny.

Sing no more ditties, sing no more
Of dumps so dull and heavy.
The fraud of men was ever so
Since summer first was leafy.
Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into hey, nonny, nonny.




On The Ning Nang Nong

by Spike Milligan.

On the Ning Nang Nong
Spike Milligan.
Spike Milligan - 1919 - 2002

The master of alternative comedy and a raving lunatic. On his tombstone in Gaelic is the inscription: “Duirt me leat go raibh me breoite” (“I told you I was ill”).

Where the Cows go Bong!
and the monkeys all say BOO!
There's a Nong Nang Ning
Where the trees go Ping!
And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.
On the Nong Ning Nang
All the mice go Clang
And you just can't catch 'em when they do!
So its Ning Nang Nong
Cows go Bong!
Nong Nang Ning
Trees go ping
Nong Ning Nang
The mice go Clang
What a noisy place to belong
is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!




I'm walking backwards for Christmas

by Spike Milligan.

I'm walking backwards for Christmas,
Across the Irish Sea,
I'm walking backwards for Christmas,
It's the only thing for me.

I've tried walking sideways,
And walking to the front,
But people just look at me,
And say it's a publicity stunt.

I'm walking backwards for Christmas,
To prove that I love you.

An immigrant lad, loved an Irish colleen
From Dublin Galway Bay.
He longed for her arms,
But she spurned his charms,
And sailed o'er the foam away

She left the lad by himself, on his own
All alone, a-sorrowing
And sadly he dreamed, or at least that's the
way it seemed, buddy,
That an angel choir did sing -
An angel choir did sing.

I'm walking backwards for Christmas,
Across the Irish Sea.
I'm walking backwards for Christmas,
It's the finest thing for me.

And so I've tried walking sideways,
And walking to the front.
But people just laughed, and said,
'It's a publicity stunt'.

So I'm walking backwards for Christmas
To prove that I love you.




Orstralia

by Spike Milligan.

Orstralia – Orstralia

Spike's mother lived in Orstralia in a little place called Woy Woy in NSW.

Spike said nothing ever happened in Woy Woy, in fact, even the local whore was a virgin!

We think of you each day
Orstralia – Orstralia
At work or at play.
We think of yew in the morning
And in the evening too
We even wake up at mid-night
So that we can think of you.
Orstralia – Orstralia
We love you from the heart
The kidney, the Liver and the giblets,
And every other part.




Teeth

by Spike Milligan.

English Teeth, English Teeth!
Shining in the sun
A part of British heritage
Aye, each and every one.
English Teeth, Happy Teeth!
Always having fun
Clamping down on bits of fish
And sausages half done.
English Teeth! HEROES' Teeth!
Hear them click! and clack!
Let's sing a song of praise to them -
Three Cheers for the Brown Grey and Black.




On Wenlock Edge the Wood’s in Trouble

by A. E. Housman.

On Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble;
A. E. Housman.
A. E. Housman - 1859 - 1936

A man of Worcestershire who loved Shropshire.

I have stood on Wenlock Edge on just such a day and experienced the wood in trouble.

His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

’Twould blow like this through holt and hanger
When Uricon the city stood:
’Tis the old wind in the old anger,
But then it threshed another wood.

Then, ’twas before my time, the Roman
At yonder heaving hill would stare:
The blood that warms an English yeoman,
The thoughts that hurt him, they were there.

There, like the wind through woods in riot,
Through him the gale of life blew high;
The tree of man was never quiet:
Then ’twas the Roman, now ’tis I.

The gale, it plies the saplings double,
It blows so hard, ’twill soon be gone:
To-day the Roman and his trouble
Are ashes under Uricon.




Night Mail

by W. H. Auden.

This is the night mail crossing the Border,
W. H. Auden.
W. H. Auden - 1907 - 1973

You must listen to this poem being recited to properly appreciate it.
It rolls off the tongue like an express train. Here is a link to a recording with a nostalgic film of steam trains.

The next poem by W. H. Auden is "O Tell Me The Truth About Love" which is another one that Dankworth put to music and Cleo sang.

Bringing the cheque and the postal order,

Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
The shop at the corner, the girl next door.

Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:
The gradient's against her, but she's on time.

Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder
Shovelling white steam over her shoulder,

Snorting noisily as she passes
Silent miles of wind-bent grasses.

Birds turn their heads as she approaches,
Stare from bushes at her blank-faced coaches.

Sheep-dogs cannot turn her course;
They slumber on with paws across.

In the farm she passes no one wakes,
But a jug in a bedroom gently shakes.

II
Dawn freshens, Her climb is done.
Down towards Glasgow she descends,
Towards the steam tugs yelping down a glade of cranes
Towards the fields of apparatus, the furnaces
Set on the dark plain like gigantic chessmen.
All Scotland waits for her:
In dark glens, beside pale-green lochs
Men long for news.

III
Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
Letters of joy from girl and boy,
Receipted bills and invitations
To inspect new stock or to visit relations,
And applications for situations,
And timid lovers' declarations,
And gossip, gossip from all the nations,
News circumstantial, news financial,
Letters with holiday snaps to enlarge in,
Letters with faces scrawled on the margin,
Letters from uncles, cousins, and aunts,
Letters to Scotland from the South of France,
Letters of condolence to Highlands and Lowlands
Written on paper of every hue,
The pink, the violet, the white and the blue,
The chatty, the catty, the boring, the adoring,
The cold and official and the heart's outpouring,
Clever, stupid, short and long,
The typed and the printed and the spelt all wrong.

IV
Thousands are still asleep,
Dreaming of terrifying monsters
Or of friendly tea beside the band in Cranston's or Crawford's:

Asleep in working Glasgow, asleep in well-set Edinburgh,
Asleep in granite Aberdeen,
They continue their dreams,
But shall wake soon and hope for letters,
And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart,
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?




O Tell Me The Truth About Love

by W. A. Auden.

Some say love's a little boy,
And some say it's a bird,
Some say it makes the world go round,
Some say that's absurd,
And when I asked the man next door,
Who looked as if he knew,
His wife got very cross indeed,
And said it wouldn't do.

Does it look like a pair of pyjamas,
Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
Does its odour remind one of llamas,
Or has it a comforting smell?
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is,
Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
O tell me the truth about love.

Our history books refer to it
In cryptic little notes,
It's quite a common topic on
The Transatlantic boats;
I've found the subject mentioned in
Accounts of suicides,
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway guides.

Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,
Or boom like a military band?
Could one give a first-rate imitation
On a saw or a Steinway Grand?
Is its singing at parties a riot?
Does it only like Classical stuff?
Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?
O tell me the truth about love.

I looked inside the summer-house;
It wasn't even there;
I tried the Thames at Maidenhead,
And Brighton's bracing air.
I don't know what the blackbird sang,
Or what the tulip said;
But it wasn't in the chicken-run,
Or underneath the bed.

Can it pull extraordinary faces?
Is it usually sick on a swing?
Does it spend all its time at the races,
or fiddling with pieces of string?
Has it views of its own about money?
Does it think Patriotism enough?
Are its stories vulgar but funny?
O tell me the truth about love.

When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I'm picking my nose?
Will it knock on my door in the morning,
Or tread in the bus on my toes?
Will it come like a change in the weather?
Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love.




Macavity: The Mystery Cat

by T S Eliot.

Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw—
T S Eliot.
T S Eliot - 1888 - 1965

Thomas Stearns Eliot was an American who became a British citizen and his "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" was a collection of poems which inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber to write his musical "Cats".

For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime—Macavity's not there!

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
He's broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime—Macavity's not there!
You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air—
But I tell you once and once again, Macavity's not there!

Macavity's a ginger cat, he's very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
And when you think he's half asleep, he's always wide awake.

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
For he's a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square—
But when a crime's discovered, then Macavity's not there!

He's outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)
And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard's
And when the larder's looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,
Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke's been stifled,
Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair
Ay, there's the wonder of the thing! Macavity's not there!

And when the Foreign Office find a Treaty's gone astray,
Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,
There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair—
But it's useless to investigate—Macavity's not there!
And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:
It must have been Macavity!'—but he's a mile away.
You'll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumb;
Or engaged in doing complicated long division sums.

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare:
At whatever time the deed took place—MACAVITY WASN'T THERE !
And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time
Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime!




The Lake Isle of Innisfree

by W. B. Yeats.

W. B. Yeats.
W. B. Yeats - 1865 - 1939

An Irish poet from the Protestant Anglo Irish community.

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.




High Flight

by John Gillespie Magee.

John Gillespie Magee.
John Gillespie Magee - 1922 - 1941

John Gillespie Magee was an American, educated at Rugby School, with a British mother. After finishing his education in America he joined the Canadian Air Force before the USA had entered the war. He wrote the poem 'High Flight' in August 1941 after one of his first flights in a spitfire aircraft. He died after being in collision with a training aircraft over Lincolnshire in December of that same year aged 19.
'High Flight' is the official poem of the RCAF and RAF while American Air Force recruits must learn it by heart.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.




To Autumn

by John Keats.

John Keats.
John Keats - 1795 - 1821

John Keats was born in London and died from tuberculosis at the tender age of 25.

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.




How do I love thee?

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning - 1806 - 1861

The wife of Robert Browning she dedicated this poem to him. She was disinherited by her ratbag father who disapproved of the match after she had eloped with him to Italy.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.




The Owl and the Pussy Cat

by Edward Lear.

Edward Lear.
Edward Lear - 1812 - 1888

Londoner Edward Lear was very fond of limericks and wrote many but this poem from his Nonsense Songs is one of his most popular and was set to music by many composers including Igor Stravinsky. The one I liked was composed by Elton Hayes which used to be played regularly in the 50's on BBC childrens hour.

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
  You are,
    You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"

Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
  His nose,
    His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
  The moon,
    The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.




The Soldier

by Rupert Brooke.

Rupert Brooke.
Rupert Brooke - 1887 - 1915

Born the son of a housemaster at Rugby School and a fine sportsman, his poems reflected the national feeling in the years leading up to the great war. He died of blood poisoning from a mosquito bite on the way to Gallipoli.

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
    In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.




How to get on in Society

by John Betjeman.

John Betjeman.
Sir John Betjeman CBE - 1906 - 1984

The English broadcaster and poet laureate from 1971 until his death in 1984. He loved Victorian architecture and was instrumental in saving many structures including St Pancras station in London.

Phone for the fish knives, Norman
As cook is a little unnerved;
You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes
And I must have things daintily served.

Are the requisites all in the toilet?
The frills round the cutlets can wait
Till the girl has replenished the cruets
And switched on the logs in the grate.

It's ever so close in the lounge dear,
But the vestibule's comfy for tea
And Howard is riding on horseback
So do come and take some with me

Now here is a fork for your pastries
And do use the couch for your feet;
I know that I wanted to ask you-
Is trifle sufficient for sweet?

Milk and then just as it comes dear?
I'm afraid the preserve's full of stones;
Beg pardon, I'm soiling the doileys
With afternoon tea-cakes and scones.


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