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Cobwebs and Brambles

AT LAST: Jack’s Poems are in print.

Collecting Cobwebs, Gathering Brambles cover imageHaving wished for some time to see Jack’s poems in print I am pleased to announce the publication and launch of “Collecting Cobwebs, Gathering Brambles” on Saturday 17th September 2011 at Stafford Arts and Book Festival.

We can all relate to the poems and verse by Elizabeth Leaper and her late uncle Jack Williamson that make up this collection. With their subject matter deeply rooted in a common heritage, sense of place, people and the natural world the two parts complement each other perfectly. Often amusing and sometimes poignant, this collection is above all thoroughly readable.

ISBN  978-0-9547010-2-4

Price:  £4.99 (plus p&p)

The net profits from the sale of this book will be donated to charity.

Available to order now from:

Silverburn Publishing: www.silverburnpublishing.co.uk

To order email: enquiries@silverburnpublishing.co.uk

Birch Trees

This poem was written around 1991 and I believe is previously unpublished.

Birch Trees

Against a sky of blue or cloudy grey
Whatever the day, pale and slender boughs,
Like early summer nudes, exposed through
Frondle trails of leafy green, slightly
Bend and sway, while bushy heady tops
Are tingle-teased by a fresh spring
Early morning breeze.

Arched, white spine straining. Young stripling
Stems stretched out like yesterday’s abandoned
Streamers. Fledgling leaves ripped, stripped
From life, lost and tossed aside without
apparent rhyme or reason unless, perhaps?
A wild futile gesture of appeasement, against
This heedless, needless rampaging.

Tall white masts lying at anchor
On a neap tide of evening sylphid mist.
Faded russet topsails shrouded in calm.
The hold laden with silence and a
Nostalgic late autumn balm. While over
The horizon the first grey mast of winter
Waits patiently to cross the bar.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Note: The ‘s’ at the end of the word ‘waits’ in the last line is my addition and did not appear in Jack’s original. It may have been a typing error. I could have just as easily added it to the word ‘mast’ in the penultimate line instead but it seemed to me to be a better fit here.

A River Of Stones

A River of StonesI regret that this site has been rather dormant for a while. I certainly have not run out of Jack’s Poems but rather have been busy with other things – like the arrival of a new grandson! It is hoped that normal service will return in the New Year.

Also in the new year I will be participating in the International Small Stone Writing Month (January 2011). I have set up a blog especially for this and you can find it at: http://bythewobblydumdumtree.wordpress.com  Please do drop by, have a look and leave a comment if you like what you see.

More information about the International Small Stone Writing Month can be found at: http://ariverofstones.blogspot.com

This is a previously unpublished poem of unknown date.

Love I Have Known Thee Well

Love, I have known thee well,
The soaring happiness you bring
When hand clasps hand,
Or just the merest brushing of a touch,
Her presence in a room empties it of everyone
Except ourselves.
Eyes meet, and our thoughts are as one.
The understanding being so positive
I quickly look around the room
For fear that others saw and know about our bond.

But how speedily happiness can turn to pain,
For Cupid fires his arrows with random aim.
And so I find myself alone with wounds to heal,
And no-one can I tell, for all must be concealed.
And yet, was it concealed?
To her I know it showed,
For though I never spoke of love I could not hide the glow.
And she the same as I dare not speak of love
For someone else would drown
In our emotional flood.

And so it had to end and time has dulled the pain,
Both of us have lost,
Nothing has been gained,
But if love should ever come again
I pray with all my heart
That Cupid is less careless where he aims his darts.

To Albert and Hilda

This undated little gem was obviously a personal gift to some friends:

To Albert and Hilda
On the occasion of their 25th Wedding Anniversary

Something seen that makes you gasp,
Something heard that makes you smile,
Something happens that makes you wonder,
Something sad that makes you cry.
Little things all strung together,
Little highlights, little lives,
Little happenings shared with others,
Friends and sweethearts, husbands, wives.

Jack’s bookshelf contained work by many poets but probably more by, and about, Edward Thomas than any other. But it wasn’t until after Jack’s death when I read his poem “A Celebration” (the subject of my last post) that I realised how much this poet had influenced him. Until this time I had not read much of Thomas’s work and would only have been able to quote what is probably his best known poem: “Adlestrop”. I have since read much more of his work and found it full of richness.

Edward Thomas was born in London of Welsh parents and was killed in action in France during the First World War. This has led to him usually being included as one of the “War Poets”. However, unlike others of that name, such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon his poetry was not predominantly about war. Indeed he was a poet before he was a soldier and had not enlisted until 1916.

His father had wanted him to join the Civil Service but Edward wished to make his living as a writer from the outset. Most of his early output was prose about the English countryside, which he loved, literary reviews and articles. The stress of struggling to make a living in this way plus his “Celtic Soul” caused him to suffer from bouts of melancholy and depression all his life.

He was instrumental is bringing W H Davies to the public’s attention and was greatly influenced by his good friend Robert Frost. It was Frost who encouraged him to write poetry. He liked nothing more than walking alone in the countryside, observing nature and the rural way of life and this is reflected in much of his work. He began to be aware how much of this was threatened by the coming war and was full of a desire to record the old ways before they were lost forever. With his realism of approach and phrasing of natural speech his poetry moved away from the conventional rhymes, flowery language and ideals of earlier generations of poets and helped to bring poetry into the modern era.

It was this subject matter and style that I believe is what Jack reacted to. He saw in himself something of a kindred spirit as he, in his own way, wished to record the way of life from his own childhood between the two World Wars. He too mourned the loss of a time of greater tranquility and a much slower pace of life than we have today.

A Celebration

This previously unpublished poem was written by Jack around 1989. It introduces us to the poet who inspired him most – Edward Thomas. Regular readers please note that I will be off-line for a couple of weeks. On my return I shall consider what it is about Edward Thomas that so inspired Jack.

A Celebration

I write verse because I must.
Most end up as dry and stale as
An old crust of bread that barely
Keeps me alive, and I wonder why.
But I have to try again.
Then I lift my eyes to look at
A small treasury of books with
One, more careworn than the rest,
And sellotape repaired.
I lay open the page anywhere, the
Words are clear, misty, soft or sweet
As yesterday, while browsing with no
Intent to buy, the bold name
“Edward Thomas” caught my eye and
Instantly revived a nestling of
Words, once read, then stored, now
Brought alive, cheeping for all their
Worth, from a nestling miscellany of
Verse where it’s always spring.

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