Saturday, 26 April 2014

By George, What Do We Mean?

Here's something in response to St George's Day (23 April for those who don't know!). 

It occurred to me that, whilst we are familiar with the imagery (of a knight with a lance, a red cross and a dragon), what is the reality? If there is a reality at all? Is anything real? I think I'd better lie down.

By George, What Do We Mean?

One tale of Georgious, noble born,
Of Diocletian’s favoured few:
Beliefs he held could not be torn
From him despite what they would do.
To Roman gods he would not bow,
Refusing bribes to change his stance;
Through torture he would not kowtow,
His soul he would not leave to chance.

In preparation, days before,
He’d left the poor all that he’d owned,
He would not need it any more:
Intransigence was not condoned.
At last, on April twenty-third
By Nicomedia’s city wall,
A swinging of an axe occurred
Thus causing George’s head to fall.

Though dead, his influence lived on
And Christians some would become.
The Empress Prisca – she was one;
Perhaps this led to martyrdom .

 A death in three-oh-three AD?
It doesn’t fit. I’m at a loss:
As there’s no dragon I can see;
I cannot find St George’s cross.

A legend, in another age,
With children taken to a lake,
To give their lives to curb the rage
And hunger of a fearful drake.
The daughter of the king was due
To satisfy the dragon’s ire,
But George, by chance, was present too,
The time the beast reared from the mire.

From horseback George thrust out his lance
Blessed by the symbol of the Cross.
The dragon’s wound let him advance
And take advantage of its loss.
Into the town he led the drake
And promised he would use his sword
To slay the beast if they would take
Leave of false gods and praise the Lord.

A dragon slain by sword or spear
Might have the right mediaeval spin;
Excite the folk of yesteryear
With magic tales to drag them in.

In this sophisticated age
We only trust the facts we get
Referring to a Wiki page.
Reliable – this Internet?

Friday, 18 April 2014

Shakespeare: Ham Lettuce Piccalilli

There's a number of events coming up locally with regard to celebrating Shakespeare's 450th birthday. Although I appreciate his contribution to the English language, to date I have not invested any of my time into understanding the meanings of his literary output. Consequently, my contribution to Bill's big day is a little different.

The following should be read with Shakespeare's famous Hamlet Soliloquy in mind. Scholars may even choose to place this alongside the original version... 

Ham Lettuce Piccalilli

To eat, or not to eat: risk indigestion:
With the peach cobbler I’ve a mind to suffer
The stinks and horrors; borborygmus consumes;
Though to take antacids and seize some truffles,
And with lips closing, eat them? To fry: to make
Quite sure; to fry it deep to say “pretend
That heartburn will not rouse with natural chalks”,
That fish will snare you; ‘tis appreciation
Of trout there to be fished. To fry, to eat;
A treat: purchase ice cream: ay, there’s the grub;
For in such treats of chefs what dreams may come
When we have stuffed ourselves with olive oil,
Most give us pies. We won’t reject
Cornflakes, calamari, even Long-Life;
Fast food – beefburger, chips, sweetcorn – sublime,
The ox’s precious tongue, the Hellman’s, cranberry
Meringues; and what prized lobster’s claws convey:
Enhanced – our sense of focus, and this spurns
Abstinence for it’s true we prefer the steaks,
When on the shelf there’s a pie we must make
With prepared pumpkin. How would noodles fare,
To grill with swede under a kitchen knife?
But then the bread is something for the cress;
The bun is covered, country fromage, quorn,
(No gravlax concerns, expel the swill,)
And makes us gather fare – such thrills we have,
To try provenders that we know not of.
Thus nutrients doth make gourmands of us all;
Ingest the native foods that evolution
Has handed o’er without the slightest thought,
And this comprises the plate that we are sent.
With this regard the curries burn, that’s why
We choose to take this action.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Home on the Hill

Fylde Coast Community Radio broadcast a programme called "A Poetry Show" each Saturday night at 8pm. The featured poet for 12 April 2014? Edgar Allan Poe. I thought "Poe - that sounds like a good idea," and was - sort of - inspired.

The Home on the Hill

The darkness of the starless night
Removed three figures from the sight
Of sentinels beneath the ground;
They hid there, waiting for a sound
Of movement through the blackened land,
For reasons none would understand.

They did not stir, they did not see
Or hear the figures; carefully
The three companions crept on by
Through grassland leading low and high,
Passed darkened windmills they would tread:
No chance of moonlight overhead.

Despite their silent movement they
Would not dare venture here by day.
Although the dark way was perverse
The light’s exposure would be worse:
As, quiet as the three could be,
The watcher in the sky would see.

They did not use the childhood names
From times when here they once played games,
From when the singer bounced her ball
When joyously her friends she’d call,
Each playing with their precious toys –
But now they would not make a noise.

At last, they saw the place they sought.
They’d reached there without being caught:
The singer with her yellow head,
The bagman glancing round with dread,
The drinker with his hat on, still
They reached the home upon the hill.

The doors were locked. To get inside
They vowed they would not be denied.
They clambered up the sloping wall
As once they did when they were small
And used the entrance on the crown
And slid and slid ‘til they were down.

With lamp held low and out of sight
They chose to risk a beam of light,
To search the house for they had heard
That an abduction had occurred,
That their dear friend had been brought here –  
Then they saw something there, quite near.

A body lay there, was it dead?
Awash in scarlet, foot to head,
But no – some breathing, slow and deep.
‘Twas Po! And she was fast asleep.
They gently shook her ‘til she woke.
She said “Eh-oh” and then she spoke.

“Oh, Tinky-winky, my dear friend,
“And Laa-Laa, Dipsy: I commend
You for your courage coming here.
You’ve put yourselves at risk, I fear.”
At that, a snuffling made them quake.
Their doom – –  the Noo-noo was awake.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

The Fair Weather Gardener

The rain on the window was the inspiration for this one. There seems to have been more than a fair share of that lately.

A few consecutive days with dry, non-windy weather, and who knows what might happen. You may just see that pig fly by.

The Fair Weather Gardener

Hi! I’m a fair weather gardener;
I think that’s the term that they use.
The slightest appearance of rain in the air
It gives me the chance to refuse
To go out the door – it would damage the lawn,
If “lawn” is a suitable term –
It’s green and it grows and it responds to mows,
Beyond that, I’d have to confirm.

So I cannot get through to the edges
Where the grass and the weeds tend to grow;
Where dandelions drill down with oil-seeking roots –
They don’t understand the word “no”.
I can’t reach the shrubs where, last season,
They threw out their branches with glee,
Resulting in orientations
That leaves a new challenge to me.

The weeds and the couch grass blown in from next door,
I need to root those out once more.
I need to prune back the growth on the trees –
That’s something I cannot ignore.
I need to dead-head the rose bushes,
I need to rake out all the leaves
That have covered the borders all winter,
I really must roll up my sleeves.

The trellis needs urgent attention
The posts have been rotted by rain
The wind then altered their aspect:
Don’t think I can fix them again.
I’ll probably shift them as soon as I can
But will not replace them just yet.
I need to decide if there’s something out there
That does not react to the wet.

A few days of sunshine would do it,
A chance for the ground to grow firm.
I’d get out the mower and push it around –
A quick win in quite a short term.
It brings such a sense of achievement
To win each new garden campaign:
At least ‘til the weather unfairly fights back
And I’m sent back inside once again.