When Auntie Died

Not all I write is based on any personal experience. 
In a narrative it is necessary to get inside a character and their feelings!
Novelists can be good at this, it is a part of their skill set. Narrative verse must have this capacity if it is to succeed!

 

When Aunty Died

I felt a kiss upon my cheek,
Her ghost it then was gone.
I felt no urge to move nor speak
And neither was I wan.

My Aunty was no longer here,
About me people wept,
Yet she had lived so long in fear
And now at last she slept.

Her face that once was drawn and grey,
That showed such signs of pain,
Seemed peaceful now on this calm day,
With no more lines of strain.

I’d felt her last breath on my cheek,
Her spirit then was gone.
She’d found the light we all might seek,
It seemed to me she shone.

© Trevor Morgan 12 April 2006

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Tales of the Gewissae (part 1)

The so-called Dark Ages fascinate me.
My major work is a series of partly fictional narratives interspersed with ballads and sonnets about the people of this land (the South West of England) from the end of the Roman Empire in Britain to the year 1065.  I love narrative verse.

The people who emerged as dominant, in what became known as Wessex, were originally called the Gewissae. They claimed descent from a legendary figure named Gewis. Their first recorded king, Cerdic (possibly a short form of the Welsh name Caradoc) was crowned in Winchester in the year 519.

My first narrative covers the mythical characters of their past. The second starts with Cerdic, King of the Gewissae.

As an aside the English royal family and all but three English Monarchs claim descent from the royal line of Cerdic. These were once known as the Cerdicingas.

The story starts after a defeat and their struggle just to survive as they sought aid from their Goddess.

Cerdic and the Soothsayer

Deep in the wood beneath a sacred ash
Lit by the moonlight of a waxing moon,,
As from the east there came a lightning flash
Thor’s booming thunder followed there and soon
There came a roaring squall a raging gale.
The soothsayer and the earl would face this night.
The mystic clad in furs the earl in mail,
When visions came then one of them felt fright.
Cerdic could face an army charging down
On horse, though he’d stand firm and mostly win the day.
This man of war and courage and renown
Stood terrified of gods and of the fey.
Yeoster the goddess of his kin was near;
‘Twas Cerdic not the sayer who felt fear!

Aelfwine feared not this goddess whom he knew,
But Cerdic faced what to him was unknown.
His faith in all the gods was firm and true,
Without their help he could not gain a throne.
That hill near Bath had seen a great defeat ,
Their army riven through they’d lost the day.
Though he could kill a foe in battle’s heat
When ransom’s paid then men increase their pay.
But Dux Bellorum’s men killed all they caught,
Their throats cut like a sacrificial beast.
For those who got away life had been fraught.
In time though all that harassing decreased.
So, this night in the woods by Frillford Heath
He stood here with this strange slime on his teeth.

Fly agaric may open doors ajar
And new perceptions may be seen
And opened minds may wander wide, afar,
And then may know what mysteries may mean
In time the door will firmly swing back shut
And then the body writhe in pain
Convulsing through the limbs, the chest, the gut
True visions may well help but cause such strain

He’d chewed that stuff that Aelfwine gave to him
Mid ruins of some temples to the gods .
It made him retch; its cloying taste was grim,
He did this now to even up the odds.
Without divine support their cause was done .
But none of his folk cared to be a slave
And Britons would enslave them when they won.
Now all of them would sooner face the grave
Than be the trophy of some oafish chief.
But Britons now engaged in fratricide;
Now was the time and Britons would know grief.
In time he hoped they could be forced aside,
So, here this night within this holy glade
He prayed the Goddess come now to his aid!

The gods sometimes they may toy with a man.
Whole nations may be used and thrown aside.
But there’s much to be done in one short span
And Faith told him his Goddess was his guide.
Then Aelfwine started some strange mythic hymn
But Cerdic did not know what these words meant.,
His vision blurred and all about seemed dim
The strength within his limbs now all was spent.
The ground there seemed to roll like waves at sea,
That rhythmic chant now echoed through his head.
He seemed to leave his body and float free.
The Goddess must be here, he was not dead,
As Aelfwine’s voice then dwindled to a hush,
Then phantoms swarmed about him in a rush.

Aelfwine’s Hymn to Yeoster

“Oh, Yeoster goddess of the earth
Eternal you must be.
Goddess of Death and all Rebirth
All seasons are in thee.

The spring, the summer and the fall
Winter with icy breath,
They are all at your beck and call
For you are life and death.

Dead things they go back to the earth,
So life may thrive and grow.
You bring all sadness and all mirth
On Midgard here below.

The fall, the winter and the spring
The summer, warm as well,
Are all the seasons that you bring
In this land where we dwell.

In cycles of the moon you showed
The holy females worth.
With them alone there is bestowed
The joy and pain of birth.

All things that grow from out the earth
They must all come from you
And all you give is of great worth,
Beneath the sky so blue.

All men who come from out the womb
They too have come from you.
Tween birth pangs and the dismal tomb
We give to you all due.

Goddess of life bring love and joy
Pray let us all live long.
Oh, let your gifts your folk enjoy,
Let none here do you wrong.

Oh, Yeoster goddess of the earth
Eternal you must be.
Goddess of Death and all Rebirth
Pray Goddess come to me”

And then it was the sky and moon were gone
And both of them were in a lofty hall
And he could see his Goddess and she shone;
Her sensual form smelled sweet and she was tall.
In turns she then seemed girl child, wife and crone;
All phases of the life of womankind.
He wondered in what ways he could atone
For having had such limits to his mind.
When Yeoster spoke to Aelfwine then at last
He knew that here it’s he that must be mute.
He listened as she spoke of things long past
Yet Aelfwine here would be calm and astute
And Aelfwine asked of Yeoster that they see;
Not just things past but what was yet to be…

A mist it swirled around about them there
As Yeoster took the two men by the hand.
It was as though at once they were elsewhere
There to the south on Cerdic’s own sweet land.
His son stood there beside an open grave
His weapons and his shield lay on the ground.
Some old man spoke some words, said “…he was brave”,
And all about there was a wailing sound.
That mist it swirled about them there once more.
He saw his son’s shield burning on a pyre,
A man somewhat like him stood to the fore
Intoning prayers before that funeral fire.
“Your third king is the one who’ll win this fight
And bring an end to Britons and their spite”

“You tried hard to fit in and to belong
Your only use here was to fight and die.
These Britons though they know not right from wrong
They offered you good pay – that was a lie.
There’s no way that they’ll let you integrate,
It seems they feel they are more gods than men
And you were used as tools for their proud state,
And now you’re stuck here in their demon’s den.
Your homeland is long lost beneath the sea,
The gods of water drove you to this land
And Fate has blown you here like some ash key
Windblown it has no need to understand.
Like ash that puts down roots in this damp earth
This land will be your folks – they are of worth”

“For now, your task here is to stay alive
Until your foe completes their fratricide.
There is no shame in those who just survive,
There’s folly in a fight that’s suicide!
Behold a Grandson stands at your son’s pyre,
Some ten miles from Mount Badon he will win,
And kill three kings and put three towns to fire
And cleanse this foe of all their foulest sin.
Enlarging then a realm ruled by your line,
Three hundred years will pass ‘til ravens feed
As hungry serpents gorge and then entwine
And hybrid forms across this land will breed.
Now you may see no more of what’ to come
The dawn will kiss the east – this night is done!”

Confused awhile he felt as though quite lost,
As hoar frost formed upon the morning ground
And yet a crocus flowered here in the frost.
So now it seemed those answers he had found.
A giddy swirling sense possessed them now
As each sank back into their worldly flesh.
It seemed the goddess was this mist, somehow
The air about was cold and damp but fresh
And bore the faintest hint of Yeoster’s scent.
He knew now that she was here everywhere.
He knew too that his foe would soon relent
And also that he must now tread with care;
Impetuous men find circumspection hard,
When Death’s about all must be on their guard!

The storm was gone this mist hung limp about,
Two men lay still in vomit on the ground.
Quite close they heard some foreign horsemen shout;
Both prayed to Yeoster that they be not found.
While mist is soft and all know it must yield,
It filled that woodland and the morning air
And so, two heathen men now lay concealed
From Britons who would calmly kill them there.
Both lay there then quite still throughout that day.
That night the moon was full and shone on high,
Two canny men then softly slipped away
Beneath a starry, lovely springtime sky.
The Dragon may well be a ravening beast
But Cerdic’s folk survived and then increased!

From: Cerdic and the Soothsayer

Notes.

The defeat near Bath was the battle of Mons Badonicus.

The fungus, Fly Ageric is common locally and a hallucinogen.

I situate this in Woods near Frilford Heath the site of ruined Roman Temples and the place of my birth.

Tyburn Tree Fruit

The eighteenth century is not my favourite period in history.
Yes, there were advances in thought and in inventions but it was not until the nineteenth century much of this was to bear fruit.
In particular I have no liking for the events that took place in Tuburn with its gallows and executions made into public performances for the entertainment of all. Tyburn is no longer there, it is now the site of Speakers Corner where freedom of speech is celebrated, partly by eccentrics expressing silly nonsense.  A better public spectacle than events here in the past.

 

Tyburn Tree Fruit

Doing the rope dance at Tyburn,
Jerking and twisting about.
They twist to the very last turn;
Urine then all trickles out.
The agony ends in a haze
To the roar of a great happy crowd.
The fruit of this tree ends its days
Tossed nude in a hole in the ground.

You judge them condemn them and send
With panoply pomp and with power,
A decree that a life is to end,
At a suitable convenient hour.
Brought in with laws and decrees
Are reasons for arbitrary ways.
Relax and then watch at your ease
This fruit and the way that it sways.

Well life it is brutish and short.
Redemption cannot be got there.
One jerk and the rope it is taugh
And feet start their dance in the air.
The gasp for air that don’t come,
The trumpets, the “Horahs”, the cheers.
A march to the beat of the drum,
Not heard by these newly dead ears.

Doing the rope dance at Tyburn,
Jerking and twisting about.
The twist to the very last turn;
Urine then all trickles out.
The agony ends in a haze
To the roar of a great happy crowd.
The fruit of this tree ends its days
Tossed nude in a hole in the ground.

© T Morgan 1979

The Lee Shore

In the age of sail the greatest danger was not an enemy.
IT WAS THE LEE SHORE.

The gentle lapping waters of Lyme Regis Bay hold a secret. On the sea floor there are more wrecks than in most other parts of the seas. The Bay faces south west and the prevailing winds are from south west. In stormy seas this is a lethal combination.

The Lee Shore

They fought the wind, they fought the tide,
They fought the raging sea.
No matter though how hard they tried,
Those rocks stayed to the lee.

And lee shores are the curse of all
Who sail upon the sea.
For you don’t need the sirens call
With rocks close to the lee.

The wind and tide will kill you there,
Though you may tack up wind.
And drowning takes away all care;
Even when you’ve not sinned.

There’s no discerning in a gale,
The wind, the rain, the tide.
Exhaustion leaves you cold and pale
And there’s no where to hide.

The rocks they welcome each ships hull
And puncture it right through,
And they may fracture many a skull,
As lee shores welcome you.

So, fight the wind, and fight the tide;
Try tacking from the shore.
Lyme Regis bay is not that wide,
Where corpses wash ashore.

There many a widow has been made
Of wives of men at sea,
They plied the sea on honest trade,
Near shores there to the lee.

© T Morgan 10 January 2017

Message Lost

Not all messages get through!
I had an idea of a long narrative verse about the Rebellion of 1745 with the fat boy from France as the villain. I may get on with it some day.
This is all I ever wrote. It needs work to get it right.

Message lost

He whipped and he whipped
And his stirrups thrust.
His horse’s blood dripped,
Leaving flecks in the dust.
He’d ridden like rage
Throughout the long night,
Passed many a stage
In his headlong flight.
News he now took
Down to London town
Of a bonny plump boy
Who wanted the Crown.
Devoid of all joy
His soul was so sad
As he thundered on
He raged like the Mad.
But his heart was so wan,
The news of defeats
He was bringing now
Of traitors and cheats.
But in him somehow
He was tortured by doubts
That verged upon sin
And came on in bouts.
Behind his false grin
These made him go on
At his manic pace
The panic an’ loss
And all past disgrace
Made him tie his fate,
Like some loathsome thing
– So driven by hate –
To an alien King.
He’d change his mount
At the distant stage post;
Every minute must count
Now pursued by a host,
But he’d ridden too hard
With the stirrup an’ whip
Like a mark on his card
His horse was to slip.
So onward he rushed
Going down with his mount
And his skull was crushed
So, some efforts don’t count!
And his pouch with the letter
Were there by his side,
His foe was his debtor
For the fruits of his ride.

© Trevor Morgan 2002

The Last Flight

On Sunday, 3rd February 1957 an RAF pilot at the end of his career flew his Vampire jet under the Clifton Suspension Bridge, attempted a victory roll, lost control and died. I witnessed this long ago as a child.
People do stupid things when faced with an unknown future!

See:  https://www.cliftonbridge.org.uk/visit/history/bridge-as-an-icon

 

The Last Flight

He knew his service time was up
His service time was done
His Vampire soared above the clouds
Now he would have some fun

He’d flown for nearly 15 years
He’d flown right through the War
His father’s shop now beckoned him
For he would fly no more

Greengrocery is a useful trade
It just was not for him
Inside he raged a dark tirade
The future was so grim

He pushed the stick into a dive
For one last bit of fun
When up aloft he felt alive
He dived from out the sun

The children by the bridge below
All saw the jet fly under
There through the gorge above the trees
Roaring by like thunder

The right side wing then seemed to flip
The winds were furious there
Down to the left he seemed to slip
His flying ended there

A flash of flame a mass of smoke
Then sounds of his impact
In life he’d always liked to joke
Death was a joyless fact

The children by the bridge had run
To try to get some aid
But there was nothing to be done
His mess bills went unpaid

© Trevor Morgan, 2018

Winds of Change

Adaptability is crucial in times of change
We are now living in such times

Winds of Change

“Whirling and swirling in patterns so strange,
The dust out of doors is dancing about.
This is not the same as strange winds of change
That make things once certain now feel full of doubt.
The future’s scarce like such swirling’s of dust,
For it’s in no way as easy to see.
Yet each in their time must do as they must.
This now it seems is the way things ought be,
Who is secure then when old realms decline?
When problems abound and times become hard
Beneath the dark cloud who sees the sun shine?
Like dust and like dirt outside in the yard,
Now, oft times we see such swirling’s of hate
When fleet winds of change are beckoned by Fate.”

From: “The Children of Gewis”

“Let’s Roll”

Some have heroism thrust upon them!
This happened to passengers on a plane on 9/11.

Tod Beamer a Leader

‘Are you guys ready?’ one hero said
And then he said ‘Let’s roll’.
Those heroes won though soon were dead;
We wept for every soul.

He led the way that we must go
In these dark awful times
As we confront each wicked foe,
As they pursue their crimes.

Though reason is a splendid thing,
Blind faith is not the same.
It has within a toxic sting
And kills in some god’s name.

Our bodies they may easily die,
Who knows about the soul.
We seem confronted by a lie;
Time’s come, so now “Let’s Roll”!

T Morgan, 21 October 2017

Hooded man in the wood

We have many myths.  Some are based on real characters or events, some not.
Sadly we cannot tell which are and which are not.  In a way this does not matter.  We all ought to enjoy some stories.

 

Hooded man in the wood

The path meandered through the wood.
A walker walked that way.
He wore a heavy woven hood,
This was a brand-new day.

It seemed strange as he walked along
There through the silent trees.
This day he could not hear bird song
So, he was ill at ease.

The sun rose silent in the sky,
The wood seemed denser yet.
He dropped his purse but let it lie;
He had no cares nor debt.

There may be care most everywhere
He felt no care nor fear
Some things you do you may not share
Soon he would lie dead here

He’d fought his last fight late last night,
Alone he’d walked away.
His wound at first had seemed quite light;
It seemed not so this day.

Alone he had struck out for home,
In pain he’d wandered on.
Then he let out a muffled moan,
Right there his strength seemed gone.

I found him dead beneath a yew,
Cobwebs upon his face.
He’d done what others dared not do:
They live on in disgrace!

I dug his grave deep in the wood
But took his hood to keep.
I think he thought he had done good.
How so, when many weep?

© T Morgan, 21 October 2017

Brutality of War

Wilfred Owen said he wanted to write of the “Pity of War”.   He did that so well. I saw things through different eyes in a different time and in beautiful and far away places. With the backdrop of forests, mangroves and the tropical seas things seemed more contrasting to me.  The stink of phosphorous within the exotic ecology of  North Borneo seemed so brutal.

 

He still sees the glint of sunlight

Those two men were clear on the height,
I noted their slow stooping run,
Through the sun’s glint on the fore sight
Quite calmly I aimed the bren gun.

I felt the recoil in my shoulder,
Heard metal sounds of the spent rounds,
Chill gripped my soul and grew colder.
My conscience screamed like baying hounds.

The men jerked up static and stiff,
Each grunted a guttural sound,
There came an end to this mischief
As folding they slumped to the ground.

I still see the glint of sunlight,,
There on the fore sight of the gun
But an evil can’t be put right:
“Oh My God – Just what have I done!”

 

Aftermath of Action

Sweet sickly smelled the killing scene
Where so much rich red blood congealed.
The scene seemed intimate, serene,
As if some sacred scroll was sealed!

Until all of their blood had chilled
He stood in shock and shook with grief;
As violently as they’d been killed
This aftermath brought no relief.

There was there now a strange bond sealed
‘tween soldier and his victim
And his stained soul would hold concealed
How killing them had altered him.

For really, he could not see why
All these young men just had to die.

 

Sonnet
Tauau Bay, Sabah, 1963

Tracer tracks and the stinking smell of smoke,
For it was there faith sank without a splash
As hope ebbed slowly in the stink and choke
To the sounds of fire and the distant flash.
Then charity failed and it had to go
As landing craft ran round into the bay;
Helicopters whirled down and flew in low,
The action was fought out on that fine day,
With pressure on triggers so gently squeezed
Until the gun recoils against your grip.
Death in a vicious spitting hail’s unleashed.
This with the flashes from a distant ship
And with the whine of shells erupting fire
There came the news stories written by a liar

 

From: “Saga of Sabah”, 2002