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You are in: Northamptonshire » Features

June 2004
Write '04
The entries

The First World War
By John Lock

1914 -1918
"Of No Further Military Value".

Standing here I think of many things,
My last minutes appear to flee,
Since first I heard that judgement,
"Of no further value", surely it can not be.

What constitutes value I repeat again,
I have tried to do everything I can.
For my nerve ends are still shot through,
Even so, I still remain a man.

They sit in their "Ivory Bowers",
Far, far away from the front.
They have not faced the pounding guns,
My fragile nerves are torn and blunt.

"Keep a stiff upper lip my boy",
The sergeant said to me.
But he too shook when the cannons,
Blew to pieces, the likes of you and me.

I was wounded then hospitalized,
My life no longer to be free,
For as soon as my wounds were healed,
Sent back to the front, there to be.

Shot for actual cowardice
Even though, my whole body shook with pain,
Caused by the nerves and the guns of war,
" Please sir, please sir, not that again".

Even then, still in their "Ivory Bowers",
The officers sealed my fate.
At dawn on this cold grey morn,
Further pleas are far too late.

I shake with torn nerves and fear,
Oh sweet life, let me feel no pain,
Let me rise above this uncaring world,
Please let me be, with my loved ones again.

A tribute to all those poor souls shot at dawn by a dehumanized society. Their crime was that they showed the fear which we all have in us.

 

The Wanton Wayfarer

Pilgrim, what made you come this way,
This is not the track, that leads to Fontleray.
Were you lost, or had you no design,
To bless the Virgin Mary, at her woodland shrine.
What! Now you halt, half only in your stride
Is there something else, you now wish to hide.
Or have you forgotten, that I am always here,
To bring wanton wayfarers, my wrath brimmed fear.
Now you cower, just like a silly child,
Did you really believe, that I was meekly mild.
Look closely, look deep into my eyes,
Can you not see the terror, and hear mens sighs.
So, have you come, to join along with them,
Or do you wish again, some others life to stem.
Are you dumb, or have you lost your tongue,
Perhaps you need my wrack, or your body strung.
Do not splutter, tell me now what's in your mind,
For I am the reaper, for all mankind.
Ah! now you say, this was is not for you,
You are mistaken, for I've watched your life right through.
Many chances came, as you passed each roads divine,
But in your haste, you forgot whats there beside,
Many crossroads you traveled, since the day of your birth,
Yet always seeking the easy route, debauched with mirth.
Can you recall, even one small occasion.
When you were never devious, and without approbation,
You misused your power, with all those a round,
Grinding each life, deep down within the ground.
You left them with no dignity, nor even any pride,
As you always used their lives, for the trade you plied.
No! do not feel, that life is now unjust,
For you took each morsel, even to its very crust,
From all of those, who looked for you in need,
But all you gave them, was your incessant greed.
So judgement day, has come for you at last,
Not one good deed was bled, from your voracious past.
You continue to feed, from off another's table,
Though with your wealth, you knew you were able,
To make the choice, from bad to good,
Even when you really knew, which way you should.
So! Do not tremble, nor cower with your fear,
What! Now do I perceive, just one single tear.
Now come, gather well within my cloak,
And together we will suffer, your very life to choke,
Then I'll show you, all those you have defiled,
You will see their corpses, how well you piled,
All of your abuses, and wantonness upon their souls,
Now at last it's your turn, for whom the death nell tolls.

 

Westerham

Westerham blooms above the weald,
A homely sight for all to see,
Around its green, shops and houses sprout.
A fine church stands within its lea.

In the George and Dragon, A four poster,
Bears the scars of so many scenes,
When young lovers were caught by angels,
Amid the beauty of their dreams.

Atop the village lush fields stretch out,
Allowing all to walk their fill,
Until evening's dusk draws it's light,
And the birds quit their shrill.

Upon the green two monuments stand,
Covering, two sons of the earth,
Churchill, who lived his days at Chartwell,
Wolfe, a true son of Westerham birth.

Both were heroic leaders of men,
Each in turn gave their all,
Churchill stirred us on to victory,
At Quebec, Wolfe heard death's clarion call.

OH Westerham thy beauty still lives on,
You entice me with your luxuriant charms,
Memories still invade my dreams of sun,
And winds breath, skimming through grass.

 

Anderida Found

Oh Anderida, what beauty lay within your forests,
That others may have seen.
Let me explore those hidden secrets,
That made up thy mystic depths.
And discover all that lived and breathed,
Within thy wooded scene.

Let me wander through the trees,
And your sun shielded glades,
Sensing fully the smells,
Of each tree and every flower,
That carpeted your earth with mossy grass
Sprouting out, blue bell blades.

Primroses grew in great profusion,
Around the base of your trees,
And wild daffodils with tulips,
Pointed their daggered stems,
As each flower waited for its own pollination,
From swarms of honey bees.

The bees buzzed amidst the dragon-flies,
And many warbling birds,
While robins and sparrows flitted
From branches finding food anew,
Whil'st wise owls perched high above them,
Watching thy deer grazed herds.

Shrieks and calls pierced through,
Your misty sunlit air,
Startling pigeons and red Squirrels,
Peering all around
Then continued to flutter or feed, whil'st swallows,
Dived, without a care.

The leaves on oaks, ash, poplar,
Even chestnut and thine elm,
Began to poke through from sticky buds
Bright green shoots,
But, it was the evergreens of holly, pine and yew,
Who kept guard of your realm.

Oh Anderida, what else was done
Or could be seen,
Within thy hidden folds
That beguiled each being,
Into a sense of tranquillity, where even the foxes,
Their cubs too could wean.

The trickle of waters seeped,
From all the gouged out troughs
That scored the forest floor,
Where many animals had already rutted,
Including badgers, weasels and slinky stoats,
Even the tracks of wild boar snuffs.

As the trickles formed into streams,
Beavers and otters began to build and dam,
Causing wilder lakes to grow, while
Fish and Frogs began to feed or spawn,
Amongst grassy beds of reeds, where newts
And tadpoles cram.

Wolves and bears roamed freely too,
Throughout all thy wooded ways,
Feeding off what could be found
Or killed within thy secret bowers,
Attacking in their packs, or even sometimes waiting,
To tease in their forays.

High up in the branches, nests of eagles
And other birds could be seen,
The wood pigeons sent out
Their coo, cooing sounding song,
Heightened only by the tap, tap of woodpeckers
Their beaks now to glean.

Cabbage whites floated upon,
The whispering sun stroked air,
Settling to taste the pollen cupped,
Within tiny flowery bowls,
Before setting up in staggered windswept flight,
Just to flit here or there.

And when winter came,
Its winds stripped your forest bare,
Apart from the evergreens,
Whose foliage still protected your realm,
While snows and frost clung to all, until spring,
Covering up winters white maned hair.

Gradually the sun shifted its flight,
Right across the dying sky,
Casting alternating shadows
As it quickly flew away,
Leaving a chill to descend upon the living forest,
And for daylight to close down its eye.

Oh Anderida, I have tried to discover
Those secrets of your ancient wooded scene,
Your forests were so vast, but man
Then trespassed without any care,
Burning, cutting, destroying all, then in total ignorance
Forgetting all that you had been.

Oh Anderida, I feel totally devasted,
By mans incessant ignorance and greed,
When it took many thousands of years,
For your wondrous beauty to evolve.
Now only a figment is left, I an stung to my soul,
Even my heart for you doth bleed.


The Old Man

The old man looked ahead,
Eyes seeing, yet not with sight.
His mind burdened with age,
And his face was set so tight.

In his head visions came,
Of all those years gone by,
When as a boy he strolled,
Then played beneath Gods sky.

A flicker of his eyes now,
Showed the memories he could recall,
But still his eyes started blankly,
Straight at trees, now in fall.

He remembered all that had been,
All the good and the bad.
O fall the decisions made so wrong,
But others which made him glad.

Oh he thought of his Aggie,
The girl of his constant dreams,
She who always laughed so,
Near bursting to her seams.

Gradually his face softened,
His eyes became wet with tears,
For his vision of his Aggie,
Brought back those happy years.

Aggie had always been there
Throughout the good and the bad,
Not only did she give him laughter,
She gave him all she had.

The tears very slowly rolled,
Right down to his stubbled chin,
But still he sat rigidly,
While tears welled to their rim.

The visions and the vicissitude,
Turned over in his mind,
The pain of Aggies leaving,
Was God really so unkind ?

Cancer of the womb struck,
During the time she looked so well,
It took all of them by surprise,
None knew, nor none would tell.

Even though the agony showed,
She smiled through those days of gloom,
Although her laughter was lighter,
It still rang within each room.

But those years now sp far off,
Left him to master all his fears,
With whatever life was left to him,
Which then formed many years.

Each day he dreamed of her,
His only love throughout his life,
But each day after she died,
Was a burden without his wife.

He sighed now in his chair,
His face was wet with tears,
His hands so frail and knarled,
Now brushed away his fears.

Now he thought, I must move.
I must go to her grave at last,
Must go to visit where she lies,
Where her roses grow so fast.

His rigidity now was lost,
As he stirred his weary frame.
He tried to reach for his coat,
Then suddenly cried out her name.

But then as he tried top stand,
He heard that wonderful laugh again,
Then he saw her standing before him,
Her loving smile, no longer full of pain.


The Joint Burial Easter Time AD 656

This poem covers the burial of the young King Peada who was King of the Middle Angles in this area from 653AD to 656AD. His Father was King Penda of Mercia who was "Brentwalda" in all but name, during the 10/20 years preceding his own death in 656AD at the Battle of Winwaldel near Leeds.

Easter Time
AD65 6
The Joint Burial

While wind stirred up the last winter leaves,
The procession slowly made its way to the hill,
Some mourning the death of Peada and Alchflaed,
Others praising deeds, of warrior King still.

Many haunting blasts from tribal Saxon horns,
Broke into sounds of early mornings day,
When sun began to trawl the eastern sky,
Bowing low in salute, of King Penda's sacred way.

Up the hill the creaking mortuary cart,
Was gradually hauled by a sturdy legged dray,
Straining to lead the mourners on,
To the place, where the open grave now lay.

It faced onto the old Roman "Watling" road,
Where the brow, at last began to dip its head,
In final honour to the young dead Peada,
Allowing bright sunlight, to warm his earthen bed.

Around the grave-side the mourners stood,
Gods creatures, were lifted to the fragrant air,
The beautiful Queen Alchfled was laid at first,
Wild flowers were plaited in her hair.

With eyes closed she looked fast asleep,
A coloured shawl, covered her clinging dress,
Arms were crossed in Christian supplication,
Her hands shielded her full grown breasts.

The morning wind speared its breath
Ruffling the shawl loose around her dress,
But the Queen's maids quickly tucked it safe,
While the bearers laid her down to rest.

Then carefully King Peada was lain upon her,
His face pointing upwards to the sky,
With an embossed shield placed upon his chest,
And sword laid, within his right hands lie.

Wulfheres words were loud and strong,
"I will build Peada's Abbacy at beautiful Medehamstede,
Where it shall be a beacon of blazing light,
For the love I bear and his soul, beside its river's bed.

I too shall build where ever I can,
To the glory of God so all can pray,
For my brothers soul in abbeys all across my lands,
Blest within the sight of God's eternal rays.

Now in peace Peada, for all eternities time,
Sleep deeply during the long night of dreams,
Where your life is no longer fraught with pain,
And memories past, will create life's only means ".

Yet in death Peada still protected his betrayer,
Their lives burst brightly for such a little while,
But in death, no one could "still" their earthly passions,
For their souls live on, without lifes earthly trials.

The sun still shines brightly upon their dreams,
The River Nene still meanders through those lands,
Far below within the valley's heart,
Close to the hill, where the ruined villa stands

To the Mercian Saxons the site was sacred,
They built a royal palace by it too,
Giving the area its beautiful Saxon name,
And where the Ham of Weedon began to grow.

It means "The sacred place on the hill".
Where for nearly fourteen hundred years,
Their two bodies lay there safely undisturbed,
Before man stumbled, upon their long forgotten tears.

Their full story remains within their dreams
But their death in sacred memory gains
The light borne out of times passing years,
And the full glare of deaths romantic aims.

 

Also see
• Write '04 - index of entries
• More on Write '04
• Writing homepage

 


 

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