Rhymes Recollected – 4th May 2020 – with Audrey Whyte

by | May 4, 2020 | Events

We had a great on-line Rhymes Recollected session this afternoon, when the poems you chose were read by Audrey Whyte.  To listen, follow the link above or, it it desn’t work in your browser, click here.

Here are all the poems  Audrey read, including some new work from D. James Ross, Gill McWhirter, Margaret Johnston and Audrey Whyte.

From a railway carriage

By Robert Louis Stevenson   Chosen by Pam Lyall

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,

Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;

And charging along like troops in a battle,

All through the meadows the horses and cattle:

All of the sights of the hill and the plain

Fly as thick as driving rain;

And ever again, in the wink of an eye,

Painted stations whistle by.


Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,

All by himself and gathering brambles;

Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;

And there is the green for stringing the daisies!

Here is a cart run away in the road

Lumping along with man and load;

And here is a mill and there is a river:

Each a glimpse and gone for ever!


Reflections of Venice

by  D. James Ross

(James, from Culloden, has just launched a new book of his poems, Open Sea which costs £8. If you’d like a copy, please get in touch with Audrey and John and we’ll put you in touch with James>)


I have stepped into a vibrant Canaletto,

Magnificently framed on three sides

And still being painted on the fourth.


No click of clapperboard needed,

As a myriad tiny figures magically

Start to go about their business.


Elegant gondolas, sluggish traghetti,

Cool speedboats, crowded vaporetti

Begin to ply their trade between

Lapis-blue washes of sea and sky.


To the slap-slap of lapping waves,

Gondolas are nodding, champing

At the bit, butting quaint quays

With their seahorse-stallion heads.


The Renaissance palazzi are an armada,

Stately galleons, temporarily drawn up

In lines of battle along the Grand Canal.


A great sacred cavern, gouged by voices,

Gilded and bejewelled San Marco

Envelopes me in sonorous awe.


Like a posturing Baroque peacock,

La Fenice ruffles flamboyant feathers

And spreads its shivering tiers.


Late into the charmed night,

I lie enchanted by the liquid moonlight

Dimpling, dappling my bedroom ceiling.


Venice – an improbable coincidence,

Drifting in and out of focus,

Already washed out, dissolving

Now I am no longer in the picture.



By W. S. Turner    chosen by Ros Noble


When I was but thirteen or so

I went into a golden land,

Chimborazo, Cotopaxi

Took me by the hand.


My father died, my brother too,

They passed like fleeting dreams,

I stood where Popocatapetl

In the sunlight gleams.


I dimly heard the master’s voice

And boys far-off at play,—

Chimborazo, Cotopaxi

Had stolen me away.


I walked in a great golden dream

To and fro from school—

Shining Popocatapetl

The dusty streets did rule.


I walked home with a gold dark boy

And never a word I’d say,

Chimborazo, Cotopaxi

Had taken my speech away.


I gazed entranced upon his face

Fairer than any flower—

O shining Popocatapetl

It was thy magic hour:


The houses, people, traffic seemed

Thin fading dreams by day;

Chimborazo, Cotopaxi,

They had stolen my soul away!


I hate flying  

By Margaret Johnston


I   HATE  flying , though I’ve done it in the pastand yes I agree it gets you there fast.

Yes above the clouds the sky looks so bright,

but I’m there quietly quivering with fright.

I know its so silly and I know it’s absurd,

But I’m leaving flying strictly to the birds.


Long Haul Flight

By Gill McWhirter


Slipping over

the rim of the earth,

I follow the sun

as worlds beneath

catch up with daybreak,

lose count of fiery dawns

illuminating far horizons.



like crusted jewels

zoom into sight

and fade again to darkness.


We glide between the stars

as hours merge with days

and thought’s suspended

across times,

above worlds,

between the here and there.


The Moon of Other Days

By Rudyard Kipling


Beneath the deep verandah’s shade,

When bats begin to fly,

I sit me down and watch—alas!

Another evening die.

Blood-red behind the sere ferash 1

She rises through the haze.

Sainted Diana! can that be

The Moon of Other Days!


Ah! shade of little Kitty Smith,

Sweet Saint of Kensington!

Say, was it ever thus at Home

The Moon of August shone,

When arm in arm we wandered long

Through Putney’s evening haze,

And Hammersmith was Heaven beneath

The Moon of Other Days?


But Wandle’s stream is Sutlej now,

And Putney’s evening haze

The dust that half a hundred kine

Before my window raise.

Unkempt, unclean, athwart the mist

The seething city looms,

In place of Putney’s golden gorse

The sickly babul blooms.


Glare down, old Hecate, through the dust,

And bid the pie-dog yell,

Draw from the drain its typhoid-germ,

From each bazaar its smell;

Yea, suck the fever from the tank

And sap my strength therewith:

Thank Heaven, you show a smiling face

To little Kitty Smith!


If once you have slept on an island

By Rachel Lyman Field    Chosen by Wilma Robertson


If once you have slept on an island

You’ll never be quite the same;

You may look as you looked the day before

And go by the same old name,


You may bustle about in street and shop

You may sit at home and sew,

But you’ll see blue water and wheeling gulls

Wherever your feet may go.


You may chat with the neighbours of this and that

And close to your fire keep,

But you’ll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell

And tides beat through your sleep.


Oh! you won’t know why and you can’t say how

Such a change upon you came,

But once you have slept on an island,

You’ll never be quite the same.


Travelling Light

By Padraig O’Tuama   Chosen by Duncan MacPherson


Because sometimes we

travel heavy

and those heady times we

can barely

imagine the freebody

movement of



Because sometimes we

travel dark

and from those hard paths we

can’t even

conjure an image of


or moonrise

or starlight

or fire.


Because sometimes we

travel solo

and those lonely times we

forget all the others

we’ve travelled with


travelled with



Because sometimes we

need to be

travelling lightly

because sometimes were in need of

regular reminding

that light comes in circles

and waves

and small moments


and light

comes to find us

and light comes with hope.



by W.H. Davies    Chosen by David Budge


What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.


No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.


No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.


A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.


What Life Should Be

by Pat A. Fleming            Chosen by Sadie Boyd

(Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/what-life-should-be)


To learn while still a child

What this life is meant to be.

To know it goes beyond myself,

It’s so much more than me.


To overcome the tragedies,

To survive the hardest times.

To face those moments filled with pain,

And still manage to be kind.


To fight for those who can’t themselves,

To always share my light.

With those who wander in the dark,

To love with all my might.


To still stand up with courage,

Though standing on my own.

To still get up and face each day,

Even when I feel alone.


To try to understand the ones

That no one cares to know.

And make them feel some value

When the world has let them go.


To be an anchor, strong and true,

That person loyal to the end.

To be a constant source of hope

To my family and my friends.


To live a life of decency,

To share my heart and soul.

To always say I’m sorry

When I’ve harmed both friend and foe.


To be proud of whom I’ve tried to be,

And this life I chose to live.

To make the most of every day

By giving all I have to give.


To me that’s what this life should be,

To me that’s what it’s for.

To take what God has given me

And make it so much more


To live a life that matters,

To be someone of great worth.

To love and be loved in return

And make my mark on Earth.


Night Mail

By W. H. Auden    Chosen by Pam Lyall


This is the Night Mail crossing the Border,

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, 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.


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.


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.


Thousands are still asleep,

Dreaming of terrifying monsters

Or a 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?


The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost           Chosen by Iain Todd


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,


And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.



by Gill McWhirter


Pen poised,

I ponder on journeys:

that first expulsion from

the womb

to the last rattle of death,

and in between

the labyrinth

of thoroughfares

to be traversed.


With unsure steps,

we forge ahead through


on to adulthood,

stumble on love,

(love found,

now lost,

and found again);

grumble a little

as the aging process

signals change

and vigour is usurped

by frailty,

possession turns to loss.


‘Tis all life’s journey.

Signposts of faith

distinctly mark

the way ahead

and in the distance

seems to be a pledge

that all roads

lead to healing,

gentleness and peace.


My pen’s no longer poised.

I’m through with pondering.

Better press on

to journey’s end.

The feet might ache,

and blisters could appear

but it’s all in the long day’s walk.

and the going’s good,

yes, the going’s good.


For the Travel

By John O’Donohue  Chosen by Duncan MacPherson


Every time you leave home,

Another road takes you

Into a world you were never in.


New strangers on other paths await.

New places that have never seen you

Will startle a little at your entry.

Old places that know you well

Will pretend nothing

Changed since your last visit.


When you travel, you find yourself

Alone in a different way,

More attentive now

To the self you bring along,

Your more subtle eye watching

You abroad; and how what meets you

Touches that part of the heart

That lies low at home:


How you unexpectedly attune

To the timbre in some voice,

Opening in conversation

You want to take in

To where your longing

Has pressed hard enough

Inward, on some unsaid dark,

To create a crystal of insight

You could not have known

You needed

To illuminate

Your way.


When you travel,

A new silence

Goes with you,

And if you listen,

You will hear

What your heart would

Love to say.


A journey can become a sacred thing:

Make sure, before you go,

To take the time

To bless your going forth,

To free your heart of ballast

So that the compass of your soul

Might direct you toward

The territories of spirit

Where you will discover

More of your hidden life,

And the urgencies

That deserve to claim you.


May you travel in an awakened way,

Gathered wisely into your inner ground;

That you may not waste the invitations

Which wait along the way to transform you.


May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,

And live your time away to its fullest;

Return home more enriched, and free

To balance the gift of days which call you.



The following was chosen by Carol Stevenson:

According to a Punch anthology , passengers travelling on El Al, the Israeli airline, were given a card with an appropriate prayer. Here are two of the shorter ones .


A General Prayer for Travel


Keep Thou  O Lord, this charter flight,

Safe in the bosom of the night.

Deliver us from fret and fuss,

If not, at least deliver us.


A Prayer for Times of Turbulence


Be with us now, O Lord.

And when we’re told to breathe Thy oxygen,

From dangling masks, be with us then.


Be near us, Lord. We know that flight is but a challenge to Thy might.

A privilege and not s right.


O Lord , whose mercy we revere,

We know we shouldn’t be up here !!


Limerick   Chosen by Angus Lyall


“There was a young man who said “God

Must find it exceedingly odd

To think that the tree

Should continue to be

When there’s no one about in the quad.”



“Dear Sir: Your astonishment’s odd;

I am always about in the quad.

And that’s why the tree

Will continue to be

Since observed by, Yours faithfully, God.”



By Audrey Whyte  (written from the point of view of her Golder Retriever)


Leave my house

Only once a day

Can’t sniff my pals?

Keep two metres away?

Doggies don’t do s

Ocial distancing

Wear muzzles, masks? Very bad

Now it seems our owners are the ones who are barking mad.


Golden Retrievals

By Mark Doty         Chosen by Audrey Whyte


Fetch? Balls and sticks capture my attention

seconds at a time. Catch? I don’t think so.

Bunny, tumbling leaf, a squirrel who’s—oh

joy—actually scared. Sniff the wind, then


I’m off again: muck, pond, ditch, residue

of any thrillingly dead thing. And you?

Either you’re sunk in the past, half our walk,

thinking of what you never can bring back,


or else you’re off in some fog concerning

—tomorrow, is that what you call it? My work:

to unsnare time’s warp (and woof!), retrieving,

my haze-headed friend, you. This shining bark,


a Zen master’s bronzy gong, calls you here,

entirely, now: bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow.


The Great Journey  

By Hamish Whyte         Chosen by Ros Noble


The old couple

board the train

and make for a table

with facing seats.

The woman says

you sit here

and see where we’re going

I’ll sit there

and tell you where we’ve been.