The Yew

Taxus baccata is a conifer native to western, central and southern Europe, northwest Africa, northern Iran and southwest Asia. It is the tree originally known as yew, though with other related trees becoming known, it may now be known as common yew, English yew, or European yew.’ Wikipedia

Needles of toxicity
Hardened death bringer
But Celtic resurrector.

There are many myths surrounding the Yew tree. It is one of the most lon lived trees around and its wood is very dense and therefore good for things like furniture making. Yet every part except the fleshy part of the fruit is toxic to humans (although you would have to eat over 50 – 100 grams!). Some animals do not seem to get poisoned by eating yew.

There was tree in the graveyard at Selborne, Hampshire UK, which was reputedly about 1400 years old. Its girth was 26 feet. Unfortunately it fell in a gale in 1990 and did not recover.

The trees are evergreen although the needles do fall at times of the year. There are male and female trees and in the early Spring the male ‘flower’ send out clouds of pollen. The berries are not real berries but form small red fleshy blobs on the female trees.

Celtic mythology links the tree to both death and resurrection. This idea builds on the ancient Norse tradition of Yggdrasil, which in turn links back to the ancient world-wide stories of the Tree of Life or Tree of Knowledge.

References: https://www.ancient-yew.org/s.php/frequently-asked-questions/2/2 : https://www.hampshire-history.com/the-great-yew-of-selborne/:https://www.backyardnature.net/yew.htm

The Glory of Autumn

River in shadow, twisting through banks ablaze
With the russets and reds, ambers and apricots
Wealth of nature, invested in gold,
Dropping to earth.

Autumn light and low sun reflecting in water
A landscape of stillness and quiet moments before
Winter storms and cold freezing skies strip
The branches bare.

Creation in temperate lands at its
Most magical,
Most colourful,
Most glowing
In glory at its death.

Poem and photo copyright Englepip©

Listen for the Silence

Listen for the silence in the darkness

The perfect note we can all get right.

The snow falls earthward

Unheard, dropping silently and

Populating the land with stars of white

Millions –

Billions of flakes, binding together

And smoothing over the disparate,

Broken and unsightly.

For snow silently signals delight,

Wonder, happiness and harmony.

We look on,

Mesmerised by a world changed

Under a clean, white blanket of

Virgin snow,

untouched innocent forgiving.

And I wonder what would happen

Should humanity take a clean sheet

Stop its septic squabbles

To share a blanket of forgiveness.

Hush now.

Listen.

When you hear the silence

You will know we have got

At least one note right.

Photo and poem copyright Englepip©

Little Me

My house is my home
And it goes where I roam
And as I grow big
So does it.
It’s always my size
Never too tight a fit
Though I eat and I graze
All night long.
Though it’s comfy and warm
And it keeps me from harm
I never eat in; watch TV.
So tonight I’ll eat out
While the birds not about
And I hope you won’t
Mind little me.

Poem and photo copyright Englepip©


Love Like Thistledown

Your love is like a thistledown.

So soft and smooth, was our delight

As to lie upon it for the night. 

You, my love, and I would bed,

A tender pillow at our head.

Under down that’s silky smooth,

As is your skin, which I had wooed.

But come the Spring with seeds unsprung

When new shoots shot and leaves unwound

Then spikes they grew with wretched prickles

To wreck our bed with constant bristles

And love which started gossamer-light,

Turned to splinters overnight –

That pricked and stuck beneath the skin,

Unleashing a spite that underpinned

A love not firm, based on flocculent things:

For thistledown that’s smooth without

Is treacherous, secret-sharp within;

Beguiling love: your gentleness

Has a  knife-edged paradox built in.

Photo, poem and idea, copyright to Englepip©

Strawberry Hill

The house frontage onto the gardens with current marquee/ cafeteria extension. Note Queen Mary’s University is actually attached.

An iced fairy-cake,
White Gothic structure
Shining in the sun with
Turrets, towers and chimneys
Spires, like icing sugar
Spiking heavenward,
Brilliant against
The dome of a blue sky.
Castellations of legends
And pointed, arched windows
Full of intricate tracings.
Paradise of imagination,
Packed with curiosities
In the collections of
Walpole’s desires
And eccentricities.

Strawberry Hill, London, is currently open to the public with an exhibition of some of the items collected by Horace Walpole (son of Britain’s first Prime Minister). He was an avid collector of art and curiosities, from fine art to armour and coins etc.

Chimneys and spires against a stormy sky at Strawberry Hill.

The house originally fronted onto the Thames, but the land in front has now been built upon and the site has been developed as part of Queen Mary’s University, London, in fact the students wander around the campus on the lawns outside and have lectures in the adjoining rooms.

Walpole designed this house together with his friends Richard Bentley and John Chute, as a ‘private retreat and a house for show, a place for study and for elaborate parties.’*

Not only is the exterior beautiful, but the interior has rooms or varying shapes, and sizes, ceilings which must be some of the best examples of Gothic revivalism known. There is a mirrored gallery, glitzy with gold and cream Gothic pinnacle ceiling and the prettiest library I remember ever seeing. Unfortunately I could not photograph the interior this time due to so many of the artefacts being on private loan.

It is well worth a visit though for those who like the Gothic style.

The turret and ornate iron staircase at Strawberry Hill.

Poem, prose and photos copyright Englepip©

The New Dawn

The new dawn wakes the world.

A bitter, numbing night
Of piercing winter frost,
Gives way to densest fog
At the first dawn light.
And what was frozen 
Leaks into new life.
Icy whiteness drips
Onto iron-hard earth.
Diamonds of crystal light
Melt into essence, until 
The new dawn wakes the world.
We should never despair.

Diamonds of crystal light.

Poem and Photo Copyright Englepip©