Category Archives: Sonnet Collection

When Last You Called My Name I Wasn’t There

When last you called my name I wasn’t there
My soul is flown, spread fine across the wind
Cast up towards the stars yet freed from pain
Lost to human life and blown beyond repair.

So when you in tears sit choking on the stair
And press my image to your faltering heart
Think not that I, willing, have flown from you
When having called my name, I am not there.

Fevered, floundering mud the dying clawed
No more clogs my annihilated, boyish limbs
Since I from you am parted, freely leaping
Unbodied now and formless, seek the Lord.

A soldier boy was I at Passchendaele
Now vapour in a moistly spattering hail.

 

(This boy was unmade at Passchendaele and is no more.)

 

The Day The Dead Passed By

Out from the shadows the marching men
Thumbs up and laughing passed by
But I feared as I lived I’d not see ’em again
They’d been sent to this place just to die.

For these were our boys in youthful blush
With ammo strapped hard to their chests
Marching as one they passed in a rush
While Death smiles and never protests.

In alarm came the rattle of returning souls
Death prodding onward his charred brigade
This is the place where the scythe patrols
And I wept for I was sore dismayed.

Then Death returned and spat bile in my face
In triumph at the betrayal of our human race.

 


The Third Battle of Ypres, now known as Passchendaele, followed the Somme
into inglorious annals for the fearful killing and wounding of so many of
our boys* and young men serving on the Western Front exactly 100 years ago.

Ten battalions of The King’s Regt [Liverpool] fought at Passchendaele, along
with so many other regiments of the British Army.

The battle involved millions of troops from both sides fighting for Passchendaele
Ridge and surrounding areas from 31st July until 10th November 1917.

Casualty figures were truly appalling, with the British and Germans together losing
In excess of 500,000 troops killed and wounded. Virtually nothing was gained
yet so many were lost.

May those who perpetrated this vile horror, from both sides, be swathed in guilt
and infamy for evermore.

* Many 14-year-olds served at the Front, including the father of a family friend
who was trained, sent to the front, received a shrapnel head wound
and was repatriated home all before his 15th birthday!

 

A Prince Comes To Venice [1740]

The Prince slowed his brig with a show of surprise
In the glory of this fabled lagoon
Acknowledged her beauty that ravished his eyes
And a palace shall be his by noon.

The Prince draped in rubies and silks under pearls
Stepped ashore in pink pantaloon
Amused by the clamour, absorbed by the girls
As they flounced and pretended to swoon.

Parasols, revels, jesters, dance and song
Serenade this fine Prince in tune
Dreaming of Venice he knew he’d prolong
His joy as he sang to the moon.

Prelates and merchants ablaze with wealth, the Doge and his glorious lords
Danced attendance, saluted the Prince, while a small servant child applauds.

 

Cecilia, My Precious! [Milan 1490]

Cecilia! Cissy! Can you hear me, Sweet?
I’m here in the drapes close beside you
I shall love you forever, beautiful child
Sweetheart, I see that Leonardo smiled.

It is I, Milan, who adores you, fine beauty
With my people enraptured before you
My regal devotion is yours to command
Pray, accepting this Duke, take his hand.

O Cecilia, my hand embodies betrothal
A promise I grant you, pure angel divine
Come to me, come to me, true pure one
And let all others around us begone.

I spoke but blindly when first I spoke love to you
Two hearts broken that my heart spoke not true.

 

See Leonardo da Vinci’s famous 1490 painting of Cecilia Gallerani, as the 17-year-old
mistress of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. One of the most beautiful girls of the past 500 years, in my humble opinion. She came within the Duke’s circle because her father was in the employ of the Court.

Although Ludovico’s favourite, they could not marry even though she had given birth to their son, Cesare, as he had to make a dynastic alliance with another politically important family. Consequently, Ludovico reneged and married Beatrice D’Este instead. Sadly, Beatrice died in childbirth aged only 21. By this time Cecilia had married a friend of the Duke and one can only speculate on the levels of distress caused at this dreadful turn of events.

Cecilia was revered by the Duke, Leonardo and all the learned and outstanding men of Milan because she combined immense beauty with a powerful and creative intellect. To them, a creature so favoured by the gods must have been favoured by God Himself.
A Milanese poet of the time suggested that the portrait looked as if Cecilia was distracted by someone calling to her. Such is the power of the painting.

This gave me the idea for my sonnet.

Lady with an Ermine   Leonardo da Vinci   1489-90
Owned by Poland and exhibited in Krakow

 
 

 

Incoming Gods Arrive: Is Jesus Here?

And here they come, moving quite overwhelmingly
Unhindered by creaky laws of science known to us
Out of a darkened sky to make our narrowed sight
Bleed at the fierce intensity of such pulsating light
Arriving as blazing flamingos slowing in a final rush
To stand, engulfing all around in a blind caress.

Useless stupefaction consumes those present here
And terror empties all from urgent thoughts to flee
Frozen watchers glimpse Earth’s new alien dawn
Our tomorrow, where alien tanks are on the lawn
Presuming annihilation, unless the living Christ is
Among these inward gods of travel, gods of space.

We plead to Heaven for Jesus, accumulating centuries
Of Angels now advancing, redrawing space and time.

 

 

[Not too long ago we were told that Earth was probably the only inhabited planet in the Universe.
Since then our understanding has broadened and deepened, with thousands of planets in the habitable zones of solar systems within the Milky Way having similar possibilities of life. As NASA and others have so much more of the Universe to investigate, we’ll very possibly be thinking of numbers on a hugely greater scale in the coming years.
Just as we have been reaching out into space for some time, isn’t it likely that other planets are doing the same? The intense thought struck me as to where that left our concept of God, Jesus and Heaven. Would we be rescued from an alien invasion? Or left to our own sinful devices and our newly altered destiny? Or perhaps we share our Lord and Jesus in our Heaven with all the other planets?]

La Ragazza Col Mandolino (1490)

Dolce ti è la vita, o mia signora
Tu ed il tuo mandolino
Che brilla, per opera del Maestro
Dentro al tuo fresco palazzo.

La sua melodia riflette la tua grazia
La purezza della tua anima senza peccato
Firenze ti circonda con il suo clamore
Prima che la sua potente oscurità la pervada.

Le corde pizzicate cantano con soave dolcezza
È il signore stesso a sfiorare il tuo mento
Una spada colma di gemme giace sul marmo
Mentre le danze dell’amore stanno per cominciare.

Ah, nel fresco e dolce profumo di quel palazzo Fiorentino
Io sarò tuo, o mia signora, Se tu vorrai essere mia.

 

( Roberto – Thank you for your fine translation! )

 

Girl with Mandolin [1490]

Life is sweet for you, Lady
You with your mandolin
Gleaming from the Maestro’s making
Your palace cool within.

The tune reflects your beauty
A pure mind avoiding sin
The clamour of Florence about you
Yet free from its mighty din.

Plucked strings so sweetly singing
The Lord then touches your chin
Jewelled sword lies on the marble
As a courtship is due to begin.

Ah, in the cool and fragrant palace Florentine
I shall be yours, my Lady, if you’ll be mine.

 

 

Damn’ Golfin’ Gals of Muirfield

“Damn’ funny chaps, these golfin’ gals”,
The aged one vaguely remembers
“They’re full of froth with squeaky pals
To trample us when they be members.

“They damn’ well crave their rights with us
By Jove, they’ll mount a frilly revolution
They’d change our laws, just monstrous
Thank God for a cast iron Constitution.

“Our comfy rules can block their pesky plans
To scrub our g ‘n’ t, our pipes an’ whisky
We’ll mount the barricades with all our fans
No gal members here, however frisky!

“The Church, the Lords, MCC an’ many other splendid chaps
Succumbed an’ took the gals at last, as so may we perhaps.”

 

 

Coffee, Honey?

‘Honey, d’ya wanna coffee?’
The sister barista shouted
‘An’ shall I add a toffee?’
As in the sun she pouted.

‘I’ll have it strong, I’ll have it now’
The sleepy beauty snorted
‘Forget the toffee, stupid cow’
Was what Facebook reported.

‘It’s comin’ up, it’s comin’ up’
Replied the qualified barista
‘Speak not like that to me, you pup
Or I’ll give you such a blister!’

Such flashy speech between these glitzy, slack-mouthed sisters
Would curdle milk and scald the mood of the gentlest of baristas.

 
 

Unquiet the Shattered Grave of 1791

I just missed treading on his gravestone
At least, on the corner I saw
Quite unattached the fragment’s alone
Not so far from the Cathedral door.

Clerics laid paths with these headstones
Drenched once with family tears
Now Tom’s not mourned by his loved ones
Gone themselves these two hundred years.

Whatever the whys and the wherefores
Tom’s history lies sadly shattered
His grave soul never claps in applause
Vandals triumphant when it mattered.

Silent lie the spirits of those beneath their stones content
Not they whose graves lie broken, snarling for argument.

 
 

Captive Yet Free

Mike's tree 2

I found you watching from within those trees
One captive soul from someone’s captive flock
Yet free to run and question why indeed I’m here
Free to race on skipping feet to place a gorge
Between your panting self and those who might
Wish you dark misfortune on this dazzling day.

And yet, proud ewe, I’ll have you know my peace
To you and all your kith around us grazing here
That I, who passing by, a stranger to your fell
Admire your haughty self and sunny, upright form
And though your captive fleece be taken soon
You keep your place to outstare our future selves.

That passing moment caught when we two beings met
And yet again before life’s curious circumstance is set?

 

The Angel Comes

Quick the armoured Angel comes, in majesty
Quite blazing up the shivering room
With a blinding incandescence
Dancing round His searing, wondrous form.

In trepidation peering, a heart so riven
My scalded, mortal eyes search His
And, seeking prophesies, I stand
Consumed in the Angel’s grace.

His feathered mail pulsing liquid gold
His wings, now furled, alive in brilliance
As chastening, illuminating my inner self
The Angel clarifies a newly burnished soul.

He reaches out to me, beckoning
Burning proud sins, I’m reckoning.

 

The Brilliant Hotel Golden

Eternal Rome, shimmering anew in her glorious heat
Brings us alive, despite dizzy heads and aching feet

While Mama delights us daily with her exquisite food
We then explore your history before another interlude

Of coffee, cakes quite gluten-free, with glitzy Roman ices
And later still, the pastas, pizzas and finest Italian spices

Laughing and jesting with boisterous Italian waiters
Then loving Roman history with her fallen gladiators

Limping home to Marco or Giuseppe or even dear Papa
Or Maria or Alina; our day at Villa D’Este so spectacular!

Our spotless rooms, so pleasing to four exhausted friends
Refresh us for new restaurants, our fashions setting trends

And then to sleep, to dream of further Roman explorations
Thrilled by this grand hotel, we’ll seek further reservations!

 

I’m Coming! [For A Newborn Baby]

I’m coming early in September
And I’ll be happy to arrive
My life’s something to remember
As gladly I shall strive
To love my family dearly
Enjoying life as a laughing girl
I think I see that clearly
As I skip and shout and whirl.

I know I’ll be loved for all of time
As through childhood I shall leap
And thrive on joy when in my prime
So much to do, little time to sleep.

For I shall be your own darling child
Who met your gaze and ever smiled!

 

For Those Who’ll Greet This Tiny Child

Snapdragon and violets alongside showers of flowers with fancy spots
Advancing shiny beetles, jaunty, leaping dogs and wild forget-me-nots
Hollyhocks and roses, this arching, yawny, golden cat, sweet columbine
Await your entrance softly as I hold you loving close, dear baby mine.

Warm breezes dry uncoiling worms, our slippy slugs and fragile snails
A falling apple, high-flying clouds, bright laughter and infrequent wails
Here for you too, my sweet, the curious robin and many a dancing friend
Greet you, embrace you as, with dawning eye, on these you will depend.

The prowling, green-eyed, glinty fox acknowledging your own grand arrival
Parades our hedge wherein shy, hidden creatures cling to their survival
Darting birds, the shaded mouse and countless creatures jumping, leaping
A host of life to thrill you as, now glancing, I catch you dreaming, sleeping.

Here in this garden place, beloved child, you’ll sing and dance and play
For, as God wills it, our natural world shall blessings grant this day.

 

On The Day Of Our Wedding – A Sonnet For Love

I beseech you, husband
Be kind to me

And I beseech you, wife
Be fond with me

Travel closely with me
And keep me, loving, near

I am with you a lifelong time
Shorelines walked with truest hearts

With mind and soul and body
We face the world complete

And from our loving selves
May new life, joyful, leap.

This day is ours from which all springs
From here begin all our rememberings.

 

 

Jig O’ Th’ Sea An’ Th’ Golden Ale

I’m th’ master of me golden ale
An’ that’s th’ way to be
But should it lead to th’ olden jail
I’d run away to sea.

Yet I’d be back, no need to frown
I’d race me home for thee
I’d dance a jig from Bridport town
To clasp thee on me knee.

An’ home again, me bonny girl
I’d never again depart
We’ll marry wi’ a ring o’ pearl
For th’ mistress of me heart.

An’ who shall say t’was just a song
We’re golden as th’ day is long.

 

Teddy’s Fortune At Last

I’m just a plain old teddy bear
Long in age but short of hair
Who has been launched far into space
By a furious friend who thought it ‘ace’
To hurl me at another child
Who ducked and launched me back and smiled
Then shot me through the open door
And so I skidded on the wooden floor
Then kicked away by angry Dad
By now I’m feeling desperate sad
Fiercely captured by the family dog
I thank the God of Steiffs I’m not a log.

But loved and licked and guarded true
My terrier friend treasures me anew.

 

Nightmare Nursey

Do you ever get that uneasy sense of dislocation?
And feel the world just wishes to impinge
On idle fascination with your chronic inflammation
As nurse advances with the ultra big syringe.

Such jumbled thoughts quick tumble in rotation
As Nursey’s jab is more than just a twinge
She shows a grinning pleasure at my agitation
Her reloading of the jabber makes me cringe.

She comes again to jolt my dry mouthed palpitation
And cannot understand what makes me whinge
She grimly says she has to save me for the nation
That I may just recover when next I’m on the binge.

O keep me from the close designs of nightmare Nursey
And latch me on to one who shows true quality of mercy.

 

Note: To all nurses and to all those who admire nurses, including me, – I’m only joking!

 

Albert of Liverpool

Poem 2 The Staring Man

From his sister’s house steps out the staring man
Shocked speechless by the juddering shells
Some fifty years before
Seeing not the playing child
Who, studying the ramrod man but fleetingly
Sees him marching ahead and only ahead
Towards his daily, unconnected world again.

Only now does the former child
Sense perhaps the fearful prison
That held poor Albert
In its savage grip
For fifty years.

And the child of those far distant days
Now weeps for him.

Amen.


Should Bobby, Margery or Raymond read these two poems about their uncle, I would love to hear from them. Ric.

 

The Untruthful Chorus Master

Sang the chorus master to his choir
‘I don’t quite know where I’ve been to
I’ve written this song that might aspire
To a masterpiece born in the lean-to’.

The choir responded with something tonal
That their chorus master was a just a fraud
For the composer was surely Señor Gronal
Coming not from a lean-to but from abroad.

‘Get out of our sight!’, trilled all the sopranos
In harmonic support thundered baritones too
The tenors as one threw over-ripe tomatoes
The Master fled for his life as he hid in the loo.

Melancholic the tale of this Master of Chorus
Whose untruthful claim I’ve set out before us.

Dat Macbeth’s One of Us, La!

When Macca came ter Liverpewl

‘E turned around an’ said

Dem judies at de Grafton

Wud look dead good in bed.


Wid all dat fancy talkin’

Wid all dat fancy slang

‘E got a mind ter sling dat kilt

An’ join dat Scouser gang.


An’ so Macbeth, ter break away

Came ‘ere ter feel more free

Came down ter start a takeaway

An’ make a mint in Wavertree.

 

From den till now ‘e wasn’ foreign

An’ dat’s because ‘e ‘id ‘is sporran.

Grafton Judies Hail Macbeth

Grafton judies clocked our Macca’s charms

An’ hasty-like slammed in fresh bubble-gum

Many judies shimmied in ‘is red an’ ‘airy arms

An’ fantasised about ‘is crackin’ kilted bum.

 

But Macca couldn’ grasp de Grafton lingo

Our chewin’, darlin’ judies quickly uttered

Mobbed by grisly grannies ‘ere for bingo

Many a falsie bosom ‘eaved and fluttered.

 

Our sweatin’ grannies licked der cherry lips

An’ gasped dey’d never seen a better feller

Clockin’ ‘airy chest an’ ‘airy arms an’ ‘airy ‘ips

As Macca fled, three judies snarled ‘Yer yeller’.

 

Our Macca couldn’ hack it back on gruesome Dunsinane

Or in de Grafton, Speke, Sefy Park or even Penny Lane.

 

 

(The second, and concluding, sonnet concerning Macbeth,

who journeyed south to become our Macca.  He became

a proud Liverpool Scot.)

Amalda, Booze and Party-time Collide

Unfortunate Amalda Potts

Dosed up on beer and cider

Unpleasantly she got the trots

Only drunks would sit beside her.

 

She vowed a vow to end all vows

She vowed a vow to heaven

She vowed she’d drink what came from cows

At least till half-past seven.

 

But Amalda Potts, a tad unstable

Demonstrates her party trick

Dumping mates beneath the table

Hailed the hottest party chick.

 

So youthful pleasures, booze and party joy

Are swell or Hell for flirty girl and giddy boy.

 

 

 

( A cautionary sonnet warning of incendiary powers

at work when flirty girls, giddy boys, booze, and

party-time collide. )

Miss Amanda Milinthrop the First

Miss Amanda Milinthrop the First

Developed a substantial thirst

Resulting in her looking bleary

Hoping mates still find her cheery.

 

She loves the thrill of gin and tonic

Although affected something chronic

Dancing on or slumped under table

To cope with booze she wasn’t able.

 

Miss Amanda Milinthrop the very First

Screwballed when she’d slaked her thirst

Swigged from Three to well past Eleven

And woke up dead just outside Heaven.

 

The moral of this tale will maybe shock

A crazy mind won’t let you safely rock.