Poor Old Tree

When you planted me so long ago at the side of the track
Did you know I would outlive you?
Did you countenance the life that I would give
Not just to self replicate but in harbouring others?
From insects small to tawny owl nesting in my hollow.
Did you contemplate the years of shade
That I would afford travellers down this lane
From farm boy labourers to coaches drawn
And then to cranking cars and back to men?
Did you know that centuries later your ancestors
Would stand beneath me and wonder at my age
Drinking in the air that I expire and admire me
Almost as a generous god?
For the peace and the calm and the life I can give.

You would be sad to see how the world
Is treated with disdain
Your progeny, no longer guardians
But ravagers of nature
Greedy for expansion.
I weep and yearly drop my limbs,
Shrinking from the world at large
Drawing in on myself: to nothing.


Then drunk in their own excesses
They will choke on their own vomit
And there will be nothing you nor I can do.

Poem and photo copyright Englepip©

Reflections

When I stare out across the wide salt flats
I count my blessings, from a life so full
I’ve seen so much of beauty unsurpassed
In hills and dales; and becks that trickle past;
Of lakes that gleam with orange sunset light
Or slow appear from out a mist at dawn
From hills all bronzed with bracken-coloured growth
And crags dramatic grey in slanting rain.
I’ve heard the birdsong in the green hedgerow
And listened as the buzzard keens her call
Crossed hillsides where the sheep bleat all the day
Smelled garlic wild along the woodland way.
Although my body now is rather frail,
I see and hear and scent as on the trail,
For senses come to life each live long day
As the river washes all my cares away.
She stops in shallows near my wooden seat
Reflecting all that’s past just at my feet
I ponder on the waters on the sand
And know from these reflections from above
That heaven for me, is very close at hand.


Poem and photo copyright Englepip©

I wrote this poem after visiting Arneside and Silverdale, which is close to the Lake District in the UK, where I have spend many holidays. The Lake District is one of the prime hiking locations in the UK famed for its wonderful combination of mountains and lakes. Arneside and Silverdale is nearby and in fact you can see the hills in the distance from there but the river is the main attraction here. As we walked along the riverside, there were elderly couples sitting and reflecting and taking in the sunset. I imagined the thoughts of one gentleman there as he sat with his walking stick deep in thought.

Beware thistles

The dying thistles blow in the wind
Spreading next year’s crop
Of pain and beauty
Floating on the breeze.
Beautiful at a distance
They provide some
Sustenance for insects and birds,
Until on an urge to reproduce
They send out their
Seemingly innocent progeny,
On wings of fluffy parachutes
To colonise the world
In the same guise.
Then turning their shameless heads
Upwards, like little suns
Of self satisfaction
Too late they realise their
Mistake
And hang their heads
In death and repentance.


Such is misinformation
Difficult to stop
Attractive to look at
Apparently benevolent
But inflicting
Pain that pricks at our heels
And stabs our fingers.
And which misinformation,
Seeds itself in ways
That we cannot anticipate.

Beware thistles.

Poem and Photo Copyright to Englepip©

Solo survival strength

You think you’re alone
Cut off; shut in
Shunned by the world and
Separated by lockdown.


But look at your self
Look closely now
Search inside your mind.


There are intricate memories
Pictures of
Places been
Things seen.
Moments of
Complex relationships
Conversations had
Discussions
You
Could have had
Might have had
Maybe will have
And they can all be worked out
Listened to
Responded to
By your alter ego.


We are never only one.
How many names do you have?
All them you!

You are not alone.


And if you have a God
You also know He is there
Listening to you
Feeling your pain
Supporting you
And lying beside you in the darkest night
Holding you in your dreariest hour.

Never despair.
We are all more than one;
Always with you.
Strong.

This poem was inspired by looking at my photograph of this Echinacea. I zoomed in and found so many different levels and intricacies and I thought that within any structure in nature there is so much more, especially in the human mind – so many of us in one. Always more than one.

Photo and poem copyright Englepip©

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©

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©


Writer’s block


How does one deal with a brain that is blank
No interest in anything: dead?
How can one enthuse and react and excite
When the vacancy hangs like a cloud?
How can one exist in a life that seems full
Yet a whirlpool of nothingness looms?
How can one write when one’s mind can’t be found
When the Muse shuts all doors with dull sound?

I’ll sit here awhile and I’ll tap the keyboard
Try to shift torpor from my brain.
I’ll struggle to share the Lethe I feel,
Try to energise life from the depths;
And if even that fails, at least I’ll have tried
For my audience, a verse to provide.

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©

Is it winter?

There was a time when winters here were cold
When snow and ice bit deep into the bone
And frosted windows met us, rising, every morn
When icy pavements meant we slipped and slid along.
There was a time when summers were so warm
The sun shone bright between the clouds
And heat rose humid from the fields,
Bright with wildflowers, buzzing insects
And the heady scents of earth and farm.
But then came now, and now it should be winter
But the February temperature tells me no,
For I feel the heat rise across both town and country
See a clear blue unremitting glare upon the water
And the butterflies awake and flit and start
But it is winter or is winter summer now?
For this thing called climate change has confused us all.

Poem and photo copyright 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©