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
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 email@example.com
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
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.
I STOP AT THE RIVER
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: A GRANDMOTHER’S EYE VIEW
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.
THE CHRISTMAS CARD
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.
TELL MARY I LOVE HER
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