Rhymes Recollected – 4th May 2020 – with Audrey Whyte
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,
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,—
Had stolen me away.
I walked in a great golden dream
To and fro from school—
The dusty streets did rule.
I walked home with a gold dark boy
And never a word I’d say,
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;
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
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
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.
By Padraig O’Tuama Chosen by Duncan MacPherson
Because sometimes we
and those heady times we
imagine the freebody
Because sometimes we
and from those hard paths we
conjure an image of
Because sometimes we
and those lonely times we
forget all the others
we’ve travelled with
Because sometimes we
need to be
because sometimes were in need of
that light comes in circles
and small moments
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
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.
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
I ponder on journeys:
that first expulsion from
to the last rattle of death,
and in between
to be traversed.
With unsure steps,
we forge ahead through
on to adulthood,
stumble on love,
and found again);
grumble a little
as the aging process
and vigour is usurped
possession turns to loss.
‘Tis all life’s journey.
Signposts of faith
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
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
Wear muzzles, masks? Very bad
Now it seems our owners are the ones who are barking mad.
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.