I have a friend and neighbour, John, who is a sheep farmer, with a flock on Carningli. His family have lived there for many years.
From time to time I adopt my temporary guise as #theoccasionalshepherd and help him with sheep related duties. For me, it is one of the greatest pleasures of living here in Newport, Pembrokeshire.
Two or three times a year a group of local people, often graced with the presence of Anwen and Chris, help John,and his sister, Aeres , to gather the sheep off the mountainside. Until this spring we also always had Aeres’ husband, Granville, with his ever gracious smile, care and concern for all, and delight in the mountain and all it’s ways.
Sadly (an understatement if ever there was) Granville died in May this year. This poem is for him, for Aeres, Anwen, John and Chris, and for all who help out this delightful family. It comes with love.
We are walking the old ways
Bracken snatching at our heels
Stone stumbling across the narrow tracks
The sun on our backs
Feet sinking occasionally in rushwards marsh
Sticks swishing bramble, as we make the pass
Larks rising abundant, trilling
A red kite patrolling the sun split skies
Crows flap, unwilling, it’s all a bore
Quite sure, they’ve seen this all before.
Is that a rock, recumbent?
Or a ewe, two lambed
Blue hooped, bread rolled, sometimes sooty from burnt gorse
Woolly marshamallowed, on matchstick legs
Stirring grumpily from a sleepy hollow
Answering the call
Her Master’s Voice
As John whistles, shouts, limbers, long shanked
Carningli’s highways and by ways
On the back of his hand
Whilst we follow, as best we can
Shepherding by osmosis
To the sheep, his tones, distinctive
The flock moving on demand
Alive to his ever familiar command
Sweating slightly with the July heat
The Bay below,
Curtain called velvet blue,
The sky frames paper triangled sailing boats at play
Church and castle
At our feet
Maybe they hear us working?
In the graveyard, the tall trees bend to listen too.
Now we turn, the flock funneled towards homecoming fields,
Sweet grassed, comforted, steadfast and settled
A few rebels
Break for the mountain
But are black bag flapped through the 5 bar gates
Baler twined and strung in
Scurrying, heel kicking, stream leaping
To dot the meadows
An Impressionist painting for the Pembrokeshire hillside
Above beach, and town
Seeping sandy time and tide.
We leave, turn away
Even though there’s more, much more to do
(Shearing, dipping, marking, treating)
But maybe not today
For even farmers
Have to play
Leave the flock to graze
To raise the bleating clarion call
Dawn to dusk
By night, by day.
The wind, sweet heather breathed, new credential
Steeps and gusts above Stone and Castle Hill
Sighing gentle benediction
The Gathering complete
Under John’s direction
Yet we all missed one element, essential,
It leaves us, still,
Our friend, coralled, slumbering long, elsewhere
And now the feathering breeze
Whispers one name
75 years before…….
Young men stumbling into the shell bound surf
Silver flying fish
The boys, wading on and in
Falling, camouflaged no more
Booming, battling forth
Whistling bullets, the siren song of war
Deafening the ocean’s unerring roar.
I watched ‘Saving Private Ryan’
With Pete Bibb
Self appointed ‘old timer’
Who left the movie house
“Cannot watch this, have to go”
As the faux machine guns
This D Day morning
The robes of priests, clustered
The coat tails of politicians
And hats of royalty
As the bemedalled veterans
Old men now
Memories shared, perhaps, despairs
Some stood and stared
As the peace yearning prayers
In the fields at home
The buttercups, the thistle heads
Were bowing in the stiffening wind
That blows across the Channel
The clouds scud seawards
A breath of memory passes
Back across to France
Where death gleaned a mighty harvest
No respect for rank, for officer classes.
The flags and flowers
The crowds lost
In collective trance
Subdued respect, even awe
And own them all, we all surely must
Others sand blasted,dust
Their debt, in full, is met
And not forget.
Greetings to all friends who are generous enough to follow this blog of mine. I appreciate it very much.
I (hopefully) make it to 60 today, 12th May 2019 (and a quick hats off to the late and great Ian Dury, with who I share a birth date and who gave me/us ‘Reasons to Be Cheerful’).
I have always loved George Carlin’s piece below, and it seemed like a good day to share it!
Meanwhile : Marc Mordey’s song….
60 years on,
In the merry merry month of May,
Managed a little work
Enjoyed a great deal more of play
Been drenched in love and affection
Avoided most harms and misdirection
Laughed, cried, not much denied
A small measure of pain
Bucketfuls of joy
Tried to be a man
But better at being a boy!
(photo : Helen Carey – the Queen of my dancing days – and I, in Aruba, February 2019)
George Carlin’s views on Ageing
Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we’re kids? If you’re less than 10 years old, you’re so excited about aging that you think in fractions. ‘How old are you?’ ‘I’m four and a half!’ You’re never thirty-six and a half. You’re four and a half, going on five! That’s the key.
You get into your teens, now they can’t hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead. ‘How old are you?’ ‘I’m gonna be 16!’ You could be 13, but hey, you’re gonna be 16!
And then the greatest day of your life … . You become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony . YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!!
But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There’s no fun now, you’re Just a sour-dumpling. What’s wrong? What’s changed?
You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you’re PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it’s all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone.
But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. You didn’t think you would! So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60.
You’ve built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it’s a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday! You get into your 80’s and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30 ; you REACH bedtime.
And it doesn’t end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards; ‘I Was JUST 92.’
Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. ‘I’m 100 and a half!’
May we all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!!
“If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry” Emily DickinsonPosted: May 9, 2019
My grandmother ( the angel upon my shoulder) always used to tell me that the first word to say, on the first of each month, was Rabbits. I don’t know where this tradition/ superstition came from, nor why our lop eared friends were chosen but, whenever I am up early ( as I am this May Day, 2019) and listening to the silence outside, I think of our beloved Eleanor Alice, and, in good faith, I whisper the word…..
Would that my grandmother were alive today
As Pembrokeshire awakens to this year’s May Day
That’s the very first word you must say.
And my spring time wish for you?
And freedom of spirit
Accompany you all
Upon your way.
Like so many people, across the world, I was shocked and saddened by the images of this famous and beautiful building being consumed by flames. Forest fires can cleanse and purge, regenerate. Maybe President Macron’s pledge to rebuild will materialise. I hope so. But the building is so much more than that. It is a collection of memories, stories, hopes and fears, intrigues, plots, births, marriages, deaths and funerals. For many, a house of God, for some, a box ticked in the tourism guide, and for all, a centre for humanity. So this, in memoriam….
The building falls
Enflamed at the last,
The spire, hunch backed, then broken.
The world exhales,
A collective gasp,
A sob, a tear,
The siren shriek.
A fiery breath roars skywards.
What’s gone from here?
An icon, yes.
A feature, a show,
Somewhere for hordes of tourist to go,
The chatter, clatter, camera whirl,
Babble, rabble, rainbow guided swirl,
Notre Dame, an oasis perhaps, in this,
Our restless, curious, irreverent world.
(Believers came here too. Who knew?)
More than this though,
Sparks stumbling the night sky,
And thus, atomised
Learning to fly :
The church embattled
Across the years.
As the structure breathes its last
The symbol sighs
The crowds groan, moan, mourn this troubling
Aloft, the smoke belching
Fire fuelled repast
The bell no longer tolls.
The silence is that of the bombed out building,
The ghetto razed,
Au revoir, divine.
Our mutual loss?
The whispering echoes of time.