Po­ets’ Cor­ner 100 Years Prior Christ­mas Eve I Stop At The River The Com­ing Of Christ­mas: A Grand­mother’s Eye View The Christ­mas Card Tell Mary I Love Her Christ’s Birth­day

This England - - Contents - An­drew Mill­ham J. D. Daw­son Brian Baker Sy­bil Steel Gil­lian Walsh Ernest Barber Jen­nie Caddy

Are you haunted by a few lines of a poem and want help to find the rest of the words? Do you have a favourite verse you’d like to share with us? Or have you been writ­ing po­etry for many years and would like oth­ers to read your work?

If the an­swer is “yes” to any of these ques­tions, please write to us at: “Po­ets’ Cor­ner”, This Eng­land Mag­a­zine, 185 Fleet Street, Lon­don, EC4A 2HS or email editor@thisen­g­land.co.uk

Young ta­lent is very much ev­i­dent in 18-year-old An­drew Mill­ham’s poem “100 Years Prior”, which he has writ­ten to com­mem­o­rate the cen­te­nary of World War I. As the con­flict passes out of liv­ing mem­ory, it is en­cour­ag­ing to see that the youth of to­day are con­tin­u­ing the es­sen­tial tra­di­tion of remembrance.


100 years prior, this land here was mud, The soil en­trenched with the spilling of blood. Have we now for­got­ten the sac­ri­fice made, By the 100-year youth who died in war’s shade? The war to end wars left the land­scape quite bare, Just the mix­ing of blood with the pop­pies so fair. An east­erly breeze now dis­turbs the si­lence, Pass­ing the crosses laid to ren­der it time­less. Those fields have seen more than they can share Of sor­row, of mad­ness, shell-shock and de­spair. The English Tommy, “Climb out!” of the trenches, March slowly to­wards the ma­chine-gun, de­fence­less. 100 years on, this mem­ory now fades In the minds of the youth who re-en­act it in games. But some do re­mem­ber and carry it still, Know­ing 100 years prior those boots would be filled, By me. An­drew Mill­ham

Mar­i­anne Daw­son, from Ari­zona, shares this poem, “Christ­mas Eve”, writ­ten by her late hus­band. She made a cross-stich of the verse and framed it to hang in the house over the fes­tive pe­riod. Thank you, Mar­i­anne.

Af­ter a reader rec­om­mended our “Poet’s Cor­ner” sec­tion to Brian Baker, he sub­mit­ted “I Stop At The River” for our con­sid­er­a­tion, and we are de­lighted to pub­lish his work. Un­able to read or write, Brian uses the voice-tran­scrib­ing func­tion on his iphone to put down his verse.


The river is rich with mother earth’s gift as it flows by, with brown trout eye and dam­sel­fly, slowly snaking its way to sea or lake to give back to her as rain again. The river is rich bringer of life, a mag­i­cal thing in brook and spring. As bab­bling sings, songbirds it brings, with an­cient spir­its run­ning through it over rock and stone dressed in sil­very wa­ter. When you are by the river you’re never alone. It quenches my be­ing as I head home. Brian Baker

Of course, the high­light of win­ter is Christ­mas and Sy­bil Steel’s poem per­fectly cap­tures the hus­tle and bus­tle in their run up to the big day.


The com­ing of Christ­mas, the mak­ing and bak­ing. Phon­ing the fam­ily ar­rang­ing the days Stir­ring the pud­dings and mak­ing a wish, Ic­ing the cake in fa­mil­iar ways. Buy­ing red can­dles, gath­er­ing holly, Dig­ging the tree which sur­vived from last year Find­ing the lights, the baubles and tin­sel – Those loved dec­o­ra­tions that al­ways ap­pear. Mak­ing the beds and lay­ing the ta­ble Hear­ing the car­ols by the King’s Col­lege Choir, Mulling things over, all seems to be ready So there’s time for a mo­ment of quiet by the fire. Then the ar­rivals, all laugh­ing and kiss­ing, Your chil­dren, their chil­dren, stars in their eyes Giv­ing, re­ceiv­ing, car­ing and shar­ing United in lov­ing, that is the prize. Then all of a sud­den the tree drops its nee­dles The baubles are dusty, the lights have gone out. The holly is dull, the ivy has with­ered And the cards have slipped over and fallen about. The mistle­toe berries have lost their zest And the crib in the cor­ner looks ready for rest So, lov­ingly packed, it is all put away Un­til, once again, there’s a new Christ­mas Day. Sy­bil Steel

The Christ­mas pe­riod is of­ten felt by many to be a fes­ti­val of ma­te­ri­al­ism rather than a re­li­gious cel­e­bra­tion, or sim­ply qual­ity time spent to­gether as a fam­ily. Yet in “The Christ­mas Card”, poet Gil­lian Walsh reme­dies this with a sweet and sim­ple verse that en­cap­su­lates what re­ally mat­ters at this time of year.


Through the tears of sweet nos­tal­gia Which glazed a mother’s eyes, I looked upon a Christ­mas card From decades long gone by. It was made by hand and faded, And no flow­ery words did hold, But through its light of in­no­cence It glit­tered more than gold. And like the Christ­mas story, From that ten­der in­fant’s scrawl Shone forth a love that knew no bounds – The great­est gift of all. Gil­lian Walsh

Ernest Barber’s poem cap­tures a sol­dier’s last thoughts and was even set to mu­sic. Ernest, we very much en­joyed the record­ing.


This war is nearly over, There will be peace to­day, But this morn­ing I was wounded, On this stretcher I now lay. Feel the dark clouds loom­ing, Now my eyes can hardly see, But the pain I am now feel­ing Is for the loved one far from me. Old friend, may I ask you One last favour? It would be I have a girl in Lon­don Please take this mes­sage home for me. Tell Mary I love her, Hold her in your arms for me, Hold her gently when you kiss her, She may imag­ine that it’s me. Brush away the tears if she’s cry­ing, Tell her not to cry over me. Tell her, “Mary I’ll be wait­ing In that land of eter­nity.” Tell Mary I love her, Hold her in your arms for me, Hold her gently when you kiss her, She may imag­ine that it’s me. Ernest Barber

In­stead of send­ing their usual fam­ily news­let­ter last Christ­mas to friends and fam­ily, bud­ding poet Jen­nie Caddy felt in­spired to write her own spe­cial poem in­stead.

Cel­e­brat­ing Christ’s birth at Beth­le­hem, Jen­nie also painted a paint­ing to ac­com­pany her words, which were grate­fully re­ceived and we show to­gether here.


An azure sky with stars so bright, They shine on earth with milky light Upon a cave, a hum­ble place. Just peep in­side and see Christ’s face. He lies upon his throne of straw, His reign be­gun, a lov­ing law. His Mother Mary; hear her sing To this elysian new­born king Pro­tected by the heav­enly host, His fa­ther, God and Holy Ghost. Jen­nie Caddy

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