Burn burn burn

My Dad, who was normally a rather serious and often even stern individual,  used to recite a little poem to us when we were kids.  It has stuck in my head I guess cos it was rare to see my Dad indulging in nonsense at all, and this one was dolled out regualarly.  I remember him first recounting it for us over at Straddie and then BigSal and myself rock hopping around Point Lookout reciting it  –

The boy stood on the burning deck,
Picking his nose like mad
Rolling them into little balls
And flicking ’em at his Dad!

We thought it was hilarious at the time, and I always thought was a stupid little thing to be taken about as seriously as a limerick.  The other day I was wondering if there was more to it than that… maybe it had more nonsense verses out there somewhere… maybe it would be a good one to teach to Angel to take to school 🙂   So I did a bit of a hunt around and found some more parodies  –

The boy stood on the burning deck
Playing a game of cricket
The ball flew down his trouser leg
And hit his middle wicket!

The boy stood on the burning deck
Eating a tuppeny Walls*
A bit dropped down his trouser leg
And paralysed his balls!

Anyway, what mostly came up about this poem wasn’t nonsense at all.  The original poem that has spawned these was called Casabianca and was written by a woman named Felicia Hemans.  It’s a tragically serious poem that commemorates the courage (fear?) of a small boy of about 12/13 who wouldn’t desert his post when his ship, L’Orient, was on fire and sinking during the Battle for the Nile in 1798 for fear of disappointing his father or perhaps…. and more likely, fearing retribution for doing so.   So the actual opening lines of the poem reads –

The boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but he had fled
The flame that lit the battle’s wreck
Shone round him o’er the dead.

And now I find that the parodies aren’t so funny anymore.  My Dad was obviously forced to study this poem in primary school and no doubt to recite it from memory ad nauseum in that especially torturous delightful way educators use as they attempt to drill appreciation of poetry into the heads of unwilling children.  (I have rather traumatic Clancy of the Overflow memories that resemble this myself!).   Anyway this poem is well worth a read and while you’re at it say a little thanks for not being born in Victorian England.

 * I have no idea what that is…??

I concur….

I really love the seaside
the feel of sand running across my skin
I love the salty smells and turbulent sounds
the feel of water rushing around my feet
I love it… always constant yet ever changing

I equally love the forest
the feel of cool breeze against my skin
I love the luscious green leaves and filtered light
the feel of the forest floor beneath my feet
I love it… so permanent yet ever growing

Does loving the forest as much as I do
Mean I ought bid the seaside adieu…
Each evokes different feelings each day
Each enriches me in various ways

and yet somehow I know…..

My love for them would not decrease
If also I loved the mountain peaks


sept baronial sonnet

I wrote this sonnet as a competition piece for the Septemeber Baronial – I strongly doubt I will be entering it, as I don’t envisage wanting to share it with our wider circle of acquaintance. I have worked on it back and forth for months, and felt when I was writing it that I was trying to place myself in the situation of an infertile medieval woman who had no chance of asssitance from the medical community, and was bearing the heavy weight of infertility on her own . It always seemed an exaggerated version of how I felt from my own personal sense of loss from infertility. Just reading it through this morning, I find it doesn’t feel so much of an exaggeration any more. Even though I have my son, this is how I feel some days. As poetry goes, it’s not very good unfortunately.

Outwardly merry is my worldy mask.
Yet shrouded beneath, my soul is in tears.
What causes mine heartache, thou might well ask?
Alas, cruel barren stars torment my years.

What past sins have brought me this wretchedness?
How didst I purchase this seditious womb?
Must I bide this curs’d state of childlessness?
Am I bound in sorrow to pitieous tomb? 

Herbs and potions, witchcraft and doctoring,
I’ve endur’d them all whilst Khronos marches!
Hateful courses mark each month’s swift passing,
Still bairns came not to these fruitless pastures.

Alone with my thoughts, my heart in riot.
I compose my mask and bide in quiet.