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Poetry and Place. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Poetry and Place.

I had not seen in time that it was a time for poetry. But I am not daunted. And as you may expect, my tastes are dauntlessly conservative, from a time when poetry meant something. I have culled a vy few favourites (and none in Latin or Greek) from my vast store of cherished poems, and here offer them.

DRAKE he’s in his hammock an’ a thousand miles away,

(Capten, art tha sleepin’ there below?)

Slung atween the round shot in Nombre Dios Bay,

An’ dreamin’ arl the time o’ Plymouth Hoe.

Yarnder lumes the Island, yarnder lie the ships,

Wi’ sailor lads a-dancin’ heel-an‘-toe,

An’ the shore-lights flashin’, an’ the night-tide dashin’,

He see et arl so plainly as he saw et long ago.

Drake he was a Devon man, an’ ruled the Devon seas,

(Capten, art tha sleepin’ there below?)

Rovin’ tho’ his death fell, he went wi’ heart at ease,

An’ dreamin’ arl the time o’ Plymouth Hoe.

‘Take my drum to England, hang et by the shore,

Strike et when your powder's runnin’ low;

If the Dons sight Devon, I’ll quit the port o’ Heaven,

An’ drum them up the Channel as we drumm’d them long ago.’

Drake he’s in his hammock till the great Armadas come,

(Capten, art tha sleepin’ there below?)

Slung atween the round shot, listenin’ for the drum,

An’ dreamin’ arl the time o’ Plymouth Hoe.

Call him on the deep sea, call him up the Sound,

Call him when ye sail to meet the foe;

Where the old trade’s plyin’ an’ the old flag flyin’

They shall find him ware and wakin’, as they found him long ago!

– Sir Henry Newbolt, Drake’s Drum

God of our fathers, known of old –

Lord of our far-flung battle line –

Beneath Whose awful hand we hold

Dominion over palm and pine –

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget – lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;

The captains and the kings depart:

Still stands Thine ancient Sacrifice,

An humble and a contrite heart.

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget – lest we forget!

Far-called, our navies melt away;

On dune and headland sinks the fire:

Lo, all our pomp of yesterday

Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!

Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,

Lest we forget –lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose

Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe –

Such boasting as the Gentiles use

Or lesser breeds without the Law –

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget – lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust

In reeking tube and iron shard –

All valiant dust that builds on dust,

And guarding, calls not Thee to guard –

For frantic boast and foolish word,

Thy mercy on Thy people, Lord!


– Kipling, Recessional

Dear Land of Hope, thy hope is crowned.
God make thee mightier yet!
On Sov’reign brows, beloved, renowned,
Once more thy crown is set.
Thine equal laws, by Freedom gained,
Have ruled thee well and long;
By Freedom gained, by Truth maintained,
Thine Empire shall be strong.

Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?
Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set;
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.

Thy fame is ancient as the days,
As Ocean large and wide:
A pride that dares, and heeds not praise,
A stern and silent pride:
Not that false joy that dreams content
With what our sires have won;
The blood a hero sire hath spent
Still nerves a hero son.

– AC Benson, Coronation Ode

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s 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
’Til we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.

– Wm Blake, Milton: Jerusalem

Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;
Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mad,
Tros ryddid collasant eu gwaed.

Gwlad, gwlad, pleidiol wyf i’m gwlad,
Tra môr yn fur
I’r bur hoffbau,
O bydded i’r heniaith barhau.

Hen Gymru fynyddig, paradwys y bardd,
Pob dyffryn, pob clogwyn, i’m golwg sydd hardd;
Trwy deimlad gwladgarol, mor swynol yw si
Ei nentydd, afonydd, i mi.

Gwlad, gwlad, pleidiol wyf i’m gwlad,
Tra môr yn fur
I’r bur hoffbau,
O bydded i’r heniaith barhau.

Os treisiodd y gelyn fy ngwlad dan ei droed,
Mae hen iaith y Gymry mor fyw ag erioed,
Ni luddiwyd yr awen gan erchyll law brad,
Na thelyn berseiniol fy ngwlad.

Gwlad, gwlad, pleidiol wyf i’m gwlad,
Tra môr yn fur
I’r bur hoffbau,
O bydded i’r heniaith barhau.

– Evan James and Jas James of Pontypridd, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land of My Fathers)

This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Fear’d by their breed and famous by their birth,
Renowned for their deeds as far from home,
For Christian service and true chivalry,
As is the sepulchre in stubborn Jewry,
Of the world’s ransom, blessed Mary's Son,
This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,
Dear for her reputation through the world….

– Need I even say?

Here dead lie we because we did not choose

To live and shame the land from which we sprung.

Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose;

But young men think it is, and we were young.

– AE Housman: More Poems : XXXVI

From Clee to heaven the beacon burns,

The shires have seen it plain,

From north and south the sign returns

And beacons burn again.

Look left, look right, the hills are bright,

The dales are light between,

Because ’tis fifty years to-night

That God has saved the Queen.

Now, when the flame they watch not towers

About the soil they trod,

Lads, we’ll remember friends of ours

Who shared the work with God.

To skies that knit their heartstrings right,

To fields that bred them brave,

The saviours come not home tonight:

Themselves they could not save.

It dawns in Asia, tombstones show

And Shropshire names are read;

And the Nile spills his overflow

Beside the Severn’s dead.

We pledge in peace by farm and town

The Queen they served in war,

And fire the beacons up and down

The land they perished for.

‘God save the Queen’ we living sing,

From height to height ’tis heard;

And with the rest your voices ring,

Lads of the Fifty-third.

Oh, God will save her, fear you not;

Be you the men you’ve been,

Get you the sons your fathers got,

And God will save the Queen.

–AE Housman, A Shropshire Lad: I

OF ALL the trees that grow so fair,
Old England to adorn,
Greater are none beneath the Sun,
Than Oak, and Ash, and Thorn.

Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs,
(All of a Midsummer morn!)
Surely we sing no little thing,
In Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Oak of the Clay lived many a day,
Or ever Æneas began.
Ash of the Loam was a lady at home,
When Brut was an outlaw man.
Thorn of the Down saw New Troy Town
(From which was London born);
Witness hereby the ancientry
Of Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Yew that is old in churchyard-mould,
He breedeth a mighty bow.
Alder for shoes do wise men choose,
And beech for cups also.
But when ye have killed, and your bowl is spilled,
And your shoes are clean outworn,
Back ye must speed for all that ye need,
To Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Ellum she hateth mankind, and waiteth
Till every gust be laid,
To drop a limb on the head of him
That anyway trusts her shade:
But whether a lad be sober or sad,
Or mellow with ale from the horn,
He will take no wrong when he lieth along
’Neath Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight,
Or he would call it a sin;
But—we have been out in the woods all night,
A-conjuring Summer in!
And we bring you news by word of mouth—
Good news for cattle and corn—
Now is the Sun come up from the South,
With Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs
(All of a Midsummer morn)!
England shall bide till judgment Tide,
By Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

– Kipling, A Tree Song, from Puck of Pook’s Hill

IF YOU wake at midnight, and hear a horse’s feet,
Don’t go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street,
Them that ask no questions isn’t told a lie.
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark—
Brandy for the Parson,
’Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Running round the woodlump if you chance to find
Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine,
Don’t you shout to come and look, nor use ’em for your play.
Put the brishwood back again—and they’ll be gone next day!

If you see the stable-door setting open wide;
If you see a tired horse lying down inside;
If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;
If the lining’s wet and warm—don’t you ask no more!

If you meet King George’s men, dressed in blue and red,
You be careful what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you ‘pretty maid,’ and chuck you ’neath the chin,
Don’t you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one’s been!

Knocks and footsteps round the house—whistles after dark—
You’ve no call for running out ’til the house-dogs bark.
Trusty’s here, and Pincher’s here, and see how dumb they lie—
They don’t fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by!

If you do as you’ve been told, ’likely there’s a chance,
You’ll be give a dainty doll, all the way from France,
With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood—
A present from the Gentlemen, along o’ being good!
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark—
Brandy for the Parson,
’Baccy for the Clerk.
Them that asks no questions isn’t told a lie—
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

– Kipling, A Smuggler’s Song, from Puck of Pook’s Hill

Down Vizes way zom years agoo,
When smuggal’n wur nuthen new,
An people wurden nar bit shy,
Of who they did their sperrits buy.
In a village liv’d a Publican,
Whi kept an Inn, The Pelican,
A man he wur, a man a merrit
An his neam wur Ikey Perritt.
Ael roun about tha country voke
Tha praise of thease yer landlard spoke;
Var wen any on’em wur took bad,
They knaw’d wur sperrits could be had;
An daly it wur nice an handy,
At tha Pelican to get yer Brandy.
Twer zwold as chep as tis in Vrance,
Tho a course, twer done in iggerance.

One winter, Crismis time about,
Thease lanlords tubs as ael ran out.
Zays he, this yer’s a purty goo,
Var mwore what ever shall I do;
Thie smugglin Zam’s a purty chap,
Ta lave I here wieout a drap;
An wen a promised dree months back,
A hooden vail ta bring me whack.
Bit praps tha zizevoke voun his trail,
An med a pop’d inta jail,
Howsemdever, I’ll zen and zee,
Ta marrer wats become a he.
Zoo nex day at nite he off did start,
Two girt chaps wie a donkey cart.
Ta Bristil town thay took ther way,
An got there as twer gettin day;
Tha smugglers house tha zoon voun out,
An tould’n wat they wur com about.
Ael rite, zays he, I’ve plenty bye,
Bit we mist keep a cuteish eye,
Var tha zize voke, they be in tha watch,
An two or dree have lately cotch.
Zoo tell woold Perritt thats tha razin
I coudden zen avore ta pleaz un.
Soo wen twur dark thase smuggler bwold,
Got dree tubs vrim a zacrit hould;
An unobsarved he purty smart,
Zoon clap’d em in tha donkey cart;
An tha top a covered up we hay,
Then zent tha chaps an cart away;
Ael droo tha streets quite zaef an zound,
Thay zoon jog’d out a Bristil town.
An vore tha vull moon ad rose,
To ther neative pleace, wur drawin close;
Wen to ther girt astonishment,
Thay met wie a awkurd accident,
In passin auver Cannins Brudge,
Tha stubborn donkey hooden budge;
Tha chaps thay leather’d well his back,
Bit a diden keer var ther attack;
Bit jibb’d an beller’d, shook his mean
Then kick’d bouth shafts right off za clane.
Up went tha cart, tha tubs vill out,
An in tha road zood roll’d about;
An vore tha chaps cood ardly look,
Ael dree ad roll’d straite in tha brook.
Well here’s a purty goo zays one,
Why Will, wat ever’s to be done?
I’d like ta kill thic donkey quite,
If thee wurst, zays Tom, tid zar un rite.
Doost knaa wat tha matter wur?
I thinks a got a vorester;
Var I nevir knaw’d un hack like this,
Unless zummit wur much amiss.
Look at un now he’s in a scare,
An gwain as hard as he can tare;
We bouth shafts danglin on tha groun,
A wunt stop till he gets wom I’m bown.
Zoo let un, I dwoant keer a snap,
Var then thay’ll gace thease yer mishap;
An zen zumbiddy on tha road,
Ta help ess get wom saef tha load.
Bit zounds, while thus we do delay,
Tha tubs, begar, ull swim away;
We mist get em out at any price,
Tho’ the water be as cwoold as ice.
Dwoant stan geapin zo, var goodness zeak,
Run to thic rick an vind a reak;
I thinks that I can reak em out,
Var ther thay be swimmin about.
Two reaks wur got, an then thaese two
Did reak an splaish we much ado;
Bit nar a tub diden lan,
Thay hooden zeem ta com ta han.
Zays Tom, I’m tired a tha job,
An hooden a tuck un var ten bob;
I ad a mine ta let em goo,
An zoo I will if thee hoot to.
Get out, girt stup, we mist get in,
Tho we do get wet ta tha skin.
Till never do ta let em be,
Zo tuck thee pants up roun thee knee.
Tha chaps then took tha water bwould,
Tho thay wur shram’d ni we tha could;
An jist as thay did heave one out,
Ael at once a feller loud did shout--
HEL’OH, me lads, wat up to there,
NIGHT POACHERS, ah, if teant I swear.
Let goo, zays Will, I’m blow’d if tent,
Vizes excizemen on tha scent;
Push off tha tub var goodness zeak,
Get out tha brook, teak hould a reak;
Reak at tha moon a shinin zee,
An dwoant thee spake, I’ll tackle he,
Bit av ad a mishap as ya see.
Comin frum Vize we donkey cart,
On tha bridge tha donk mead zudden start;
An jirk’d, an jib’d, then gied a kick,
An het bwouth shafts off purty quick.
Out went our things wich as ya zees,
Lays ael about, an yer’s a cheese;
He roll’d rite on straite in thease brook,
An Tom's a reakun vor’un look!
Tha Zizeman swallered ael o’t in,
An ta zee Tom reakun, gun ta grin,
Girt vool, zays he, as true’s I’m barn,
Why that’s tha moon, thee beest reakun vor’n
An then a busted out agean,
An zed of ael, that beat all clean;
Ta zee a crazy headed coon,
Reak at the shadder of the moon.
Will wink’d at Tom, Tom wink’d at Will,
Ta zee how nice he’d took tha pill;
Ah, zur, you med laff as long as ya please,
Bit we be zure it be a cheese.
Zee how he shows hisself za plain,
Com Tom, lets reak vor he again.
Zo slap an dash went on reakin,
While Zizeman he var vun wur sheakin;
An off a went houlden his zide,
Var longer there a cooden bide.
We grinnin his eyes did auverflow,
Ta zee thay chaps a reakin zo;
An ta think that now he’d tould em zo,
Tha girt vools hooden ther frake vergo.
Zoo up a got upon his hoss,
An as tha brudge a went across,
He zet up another harty grin,
Wen a look’d an zeed em bouth get in;
An zed girt vools till zar em rite,
If thay da ketch ther deaths ta nite.
Bit wen he ad got clane away,
Tha tubs wur got wieout delay;
And hid away, quite zeaf and zoun,
Var a dark nite wen tha moon wur down.

Then at the Pelican thease chaps,
Purty zoon wur tellen ther mishaps;
Bit ael ther troubles they vergot,
Wen they’d emptyied well tha landloard’s pot,
An wen he a coose did pay em well
Thease little stowry not ta tell;
Zo wen tha Zizemin nex did com,
Woold Perritt he a coose wur mum.
An in a glass did jine wie glee,
Wen Zizemin twould tha tale ta he;
Bit he laff’d mwore wen zeaf one nite
Tha tubs wur brought wom snug an tite;
An many a bumper went a round,
To think thay’d beat tha Zizemin zound.

Bit he tha tale did zoon let out
To ael the countery roun about;
An to thease day, people da teeze,
All Wilsheer voke about tha cheese.
Bit tis thay as can avourd ta grin,
To zee ow nice a wur took in.
Zoo wen out thease county you da goo,
An voke da poke ther vun at you;
An caal ee a girt Wilsheer coon,
As went a reakun var tha moon.
Jist menshin thease yer leetle stowry,
And then bust out in ael yer glowry,
That yer smeart Excisemin vresh vrum town,
Wur took in wie a Wilsheer clown.

– Edw Snow, The Wiltshire Moonrakers (the unoffical official County Ode)


Midwinter spring is its own season
Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,
Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.
When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,
The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,
In windless cold that is the heart’s heat,
Reflecting in a watery mirror
A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.
And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,
Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire
In the dark time of the year. Between melting and freezing
The soul’s sap quivers. There is no earth smell
Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time
But not in time’s covenant. Now the hedgerow
Is blanched for an hour with transitory blossom
Of snow, a bloom more sudden
Than that of summer, neither budding nor fading,
Not in the scheme of generation.
Where is the summer, the unimaginable
Zero summer?

If you came this way,
Taking the route you would be likely to take
From the place you would be likely to come from,
If you came this way in may time, you would find the hedges
White again, in May, with voluptuary sweetness.
It would be the same at the end of the journey,
If you came at night like a broken king,
If you came by day not knowing what you came for,
It would be the same, when you leave the rough road
And turn behind the pig-sty to the dull facade
And the tombstone. And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfilment. There are other places
Which also are the world’s end, some at the sea jaws,
Or over a dark lake, in a desert or a city—
But this is the nearest, in place and time,
Now and in England.

If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.


Ash on an old man’s sleeve
Is all the ash the burnt roses leave.
Dust in the air suspended
Marks the place where a story ended.
Dust inbreathed was a house—
The walls, the wainscot and the mouse,
The death of hope and despair,
This is the death of air.

There are flood and drouth
Over the eyes and in the mouth,
Dead water and dead sand
Contending for the upper hand.
The parched eviscerate soil
Gapes at the vanity of toil,
Laughs without mirth.
This is the death of earth.

Water and fire succeed
The town, the pasture and the weed.
Water and fire deride
The sacrifice that we denied.
Water and fire shall rot
The marred foundations we forgot,
Of sanctuary and choir.
This is the death of water and fire.

In the uncertain hour before the morning
Near the ending of interminable night
At the recurrent end of the unending
After the dark dove with the flickering tongue
Had passed below the horizon of his homing
While the dead leaves still rattled on like tin
Over the asphalt where no other sound was
Between three districts whence the smoke arose
I met one walking, loitering and hurried
As if blown towards me like the metal leaves
Before the urban dawn wind unresisting.
And as I fixed upon the down-turned face
That pointed scrutiny with which we challenge
The first-met stranger in the waning dusk
I caught the sudden look of some dead master
Whom I had known, forgotten, half recalled
Both one and many; in the brown baked features
The eyes of a familiar compound ghost
Both intimate and unidentifiable.
So I assumed a double part, and cried
And heard another's voice cry: ‘What! are you here?’
Although we were not. I was still the same,
Knowing myself yet being someone other—
And he a face still forming; yet the words sufficed
To compel the recognition they preceded.
And so, compliant to the common wind,
Too strange to each other for misunderstanding,
In concord at this intersection time
Of meeting nowhere, no before and after,
We trod the pavement in a dead patrol.
I said: ‘The wonder that I feel is easy,
Yet ease is cause of wonder. Therefore speak:
I may not comprehend, may not remember.’
And he: ‘I am not eager to rehearse
My thoughts and theory which you have forgotten.
These things have served their purpose: let them be.
So with your own, and pray they be forgiven
By others, as I pray you to forgive
Both bad and good. Last season’s fruit is eaten
And the fullfed beast shall kick the empty pail.
For last year’s words belong to last year's language
And next year’s words await another voice.
But, as the passage now presents no hindrance
To the spirit unappeased and peregrine
Between two worlds become much like each other,
So I find words I never thought to speak
In streets I never thought I should revisit
When I left my body on a distant shore.
Since our concern was speech, and speech impelled us
To purify the dialect of the tribe
And urge the mind to aftersight and foresight,
Let me disclose the gifts reserved for age
To set a crown upon your lifetime’s effort.
First, the cold friction of expiring sense
Without enchantment, offering no promise
But bitter tastelessness of shadow fruit
As body and soul begin to fall asunder.
Second, the conscious impotence of rage
At human folly, and the laceration
Of laughter at what ceases to amuse.
And last, the rending pain of re-enactment
Of all that you have done, and been; the shame
Of motives late revealed, and the awareness
Of things ill done and done to others’ harm
Which once you took for exercise of virtue.
Then fools’ approval stings, and honour stains.
From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit
Proceeds, unless restored by that refining fire
Where you must move in measure, like a dancer.’
The day was breaking. In the disfigured street
He left me, with a kind of valediction,
And faded on the blowing of the horn.


There are three conditions which often look alike
Yet differ completely, flourish in the same hedgerow:
Attachment to self and to things and to persons, detachment
From self and from things and from persons; and, growing between them, indifference
Which resembles the others as death resembles life,
Being between two lives—unflowering, between
The live and the dead nettle. This is the use of memory:
For liberation—not less of love but expanding
Of love beyond desire, and so liberation
From the future as well as the past. Thus, love of a country
Begins as attachment to our own field of action
And comes to find that action of little importance
Though never indifferent. History may be servitude,
History may be freedom. See, now they vanish,
The faces and places, with the self which, as it could, loved them,
To become renewed, transfigured, in another pattern.

Sin is Behovely, but
All shall be well, and
All manner of thing shall be well.
If I think, again, of this place,
And of people, not wholly commendable,
Of no immediate kin or kindness,
But of some peculiar genius,
All touched by a common genius,
United in the strife which divided them;
If I think of a king at nightfall,
Of three men, and more, on the scaffold
And a few who died forgotten
In other places, here and abroad,
And of one who died blind and quiet
Why should we celebrate
These dead men more than the dying?
It is not to ring the bell backward
Nor is it an incantation
To summon the spectre of a Rose.
We cannot revive old factions
We cannot restore old policies
Or follow an antique drum.
These men, and those who opposed them
And those whom they opposed
Accept the constitution of silence
And are folded in a single party.
Whatever we inherit from the fortunate
We have taken from the defeated
What they had to leave us—a symbol:
A symbol perfected in death.
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
By the purification of the motive
In the ground of our beseeching.


The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre of pyre—
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.


What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea’s throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.
The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree
Are of equal duration. A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
On a winter’s afternoon, in a secluded chapel
History is now and England.

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

– TS Eliot, Four Quartets: 4: Little Gidding

Was it worth keeping the Halt open,

We thought as we looked at the sky

Red through the spread of the cedar-tree,

With the evening train gone by?

Yes, we said, for in summer the anglers use it,

Two and sometimes three

Will bring their catches of rods and poles and perches

To Westbury, home for tea.

There isn’t a porter. The platform is made of sleepers.

The guard of the last train puts out the light

And high over lorries and cattle the Halt unwinking

Waits through the Wiltshire night.

O housewife safe in the comprehensive churning

Of the Warminster launderette!

O husband down at the depot with car in car-park!

The Halt is waiting yet.

And when all the horrible roads are finally done for,

And there’s no more petrol left in the world to burn,

Here to the Halt from Salisbury and from Bristol

Steam trains will return.

– Jno Betjeman, Dilton Marsh Halt

Up the ash tree climbs the ivy,

Up the ivy climbs the sun,

With a twenty-thousand pattering,

Has a valley breeze begun,

Feathery ash, neglected elder,

Shift the shade and make it run –

Shift the shade toward the nettles,

And the nettles set it free,

To streak the stained Carrara headstone,

Where, in nineteen-twenty-three,

He who trained a hundred winners,

Paid the Final Entrance Fee.

Leathery limbs of Upper Lambourne,

Leathery skin from sun and wind,

Leathery breeches, spreading stables,

Shining saddles left behind –

To the down the string of horses

Moving out of sight and mind.

Feathery ash in leathery Lambourne

Waves above the sarsen stone,

And Edwardian plantations

So coniferously moan

As to make the swelling downland,

Far surrounding, seem their own.

– Jno Betjeman, Upper Lambourne

Encase your legs in nylons,
Bestride your hills with pylons
O age without a soul;
Away with gentle willows
And all the elmy billows
That through your valleys roll.

Let’s say goodbye to hedges
And roads with grassy edges
And winding country lanes;
Let all things travel faster
Where motor car is master
Till only Speed remains.

Destroy the ancient inn-signs
But strew the roads with tin signs
‘Keep Left,’ ‘M4,’ ‘Keep Out!’
Command, instruction, warning,
Repetitive adorning
The rockeried roundabout;

For every raw obscenity
Must have its small ‘amenity,’
Its patch of shaven green,
And hoardings look a wonder
In banks of floribunda
With floodlights in between.

Leave no old village standing
Which could provide a landing
For aeroplanes to roar,
But spare such cheap defacements
As huts with shattered casements
Unlived-in since the war.

Let no provincial High Street
Which might be your or my street
Look as it used to do,
But let the chain stores place here
Their miles of black glass facia
And traffic thunder through.

And if there is some scenery,
Some unpretentious greenery,
Surviving anywhere,
It does not need protecting
For soon we’ll be erecting
A Power Station there.

When all our roads are lighted
By concrete monsters sited
Like gallows overhead,
Bathed in the yellow vomit
Each monster belches from it,
We’ll know that we are dead.

– Jno Betjeman, Inexpensive Progress

Across the wet November night
The church is bright with candlelight
And waiting Evensong.
A single bell with plaintive strokes
Pleads louder than the stirring oaks
The leafless lanes along.

It calls the choirboys from their tea
And villagers, the two or three,
Damp down the kitchen fire,
Let out the cat, and up the lane
Go paddling through the gentle rain
Of misty Oxfordshire.

How warm the many candles shine
Of Samuel Dowbiggin’s design
For this interior neat,
These high box pews of Georgian days
Which screen us from the public gaze
When we make answer meet;

How gracefully their shadow falls
On bold pilasters down the walls
And on the pulpit high.
The chandeliers would twinkle gold
As pre-Tractarian sermons roll’d
Doctrinal, sound and dry.

From that west gallery no doubt
The viol and serpent tooted out
The Tallis tune to Ken,
And firmly at the end of prayers
The clerk below the pulpit stairs
Would thunder out ‘Amen.’

But every wand’ring thought will cease
Before the noble altarpiece
With carven swags array’d,
For there in letters all may read
The Lord’s Commandments, Prayer and Creed,
And decently display’d.

On country mornings sharp and clear
The penitent in faith draw near
And kneeling here below
Partake the heavenly banquet spread
Of sacramental Wine and Bread
And Jesus’ presence know.

And must that plaintive bell in vain
Plead loud along the dripping lane?
And must the building fall?
Not while we love the church and live
And of our charity will give
Our much, our more, our all.– Jno Betjeman, Verses Turned…

I also note that my friend captainjames has suggested that we all share a bit of family history.  I seem to have anticipated him, although it does not detail how my parents met (and frankly, the story of her first meeting with her prospective in-laws, involving as it does a sudden bolt of assorted livestock, a problem with a gate, and the shameful conduct of a theretofore-blameless spaniel – not, as it happens, named Montmorency – is quite likely too revealing and identifiable to be told here). My icons effectively reflect the places the names of which I invoke, but I may post a few more idyllic and Arcadian images in time.

There: that should do to be going on with.

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3 comments or Leave a comment
lasayla From: lasayla Date: September 21st, 2005 09:54 am (UTC) (Link)

Kipling and Newbolt

I wish I had the ability to make fanvids. I'm rather obsessed with the idea of doing one for If using Harry Potter clips with the poem read as a voiceover, (the way they keep doing for the footie.) I had a go at doing it with an icon, but it's not the same.

I want to do a Quidditch/Fighting Voldemort one to Vitaï Lampada, too. There's something about that type of poem that lends itself to it. I want to do one to my old school song which is rather obviously influenced by Newbolt and contains fun lines like "Where the iron heart of England throbs beneath its sombre robe" and "Here's no place for fop or idler; they who make our city great feared no hardship, shirked no labour, smiled at death and conquered fate."

Full of vim and bombast with a tune you can really belt out. Beats "Hogwarts, Hogwarts! Hoggy warty Hogwarts!" into a cocked hat.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 21st, 2005 03:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

Lord, Yes.

For all their faults, they'd confidence, had they not?

I'd love to see such vids. Flist? Any volunteers?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 21st, 2005 07:34 pm (UTC) (Link)


So, you're a Ted?

Old Edwardians do crop up in the damnedest places, I see.
3 comments or Leave a comment