The dream in Priddy Ring

Railway waiting rooms remind me of this first poem.  Waiting can be a chore.  I tend to nod off into a sort of half sleep and dream though part of me is awake.  I guess this is my alternative to boredom!
I imagined this dream of a soldier asleep in Priddy Ring during the retreat from Chippenham in the winter of 878AD.  I wrote it down on a train journey home.

 

The lone soldier at Priddy Ring

The circle of stones on the moor
Dripped wet with the drizzling rain.
It seemed like he’d been here before
In ways that he could not explain.

The tingle he felt on his head
As his heart now, it started to race.
Aware here of souls of the dead,
His blood now was drained from his face

The Dead seemed about everywhere.
The future seemed almost to speak.
The cold clammy feel of the air,
Made him feel as though he was weak.

He stopped and he knelt on the ground,
Embracing some soul who seemed wan.
He uttered an eerie low sound,
And all in a trice he was gone.

Gone out from that dreary wet day,
No longer alone in the rain,
The clear sky was blue and not grey.
All sorrow was gone from his brain.

The long dead they danced in the ring,
Though few seemed to see him stood there.
The stones in the henge seemed to sing,
Sweet perfumes now scented the air.

There seemed a strange joy in his mind,
The lives of these souls had been good.
Nowhere in this world would he find
Such joys as here where he stood.

That soul he embraced spoke to him,
She’d lived in an age long ago.
She told him his lot might be grim,
Because of the ravening foe.

“In your time you’ll be welcome back here
When your soul has gone unto Grace,
But for now you’ve no need to fear,
Be touched by the joy of this place”

The sun in the sky seemed to turn,
Reversing its course in the sky!
To her time they seemed to return,
Surrounded by green fields of rye.

She showed him that henge in the past,
She showed him the view from up there,
She showed him expanses so vast,
Her knowledge was his now to share.

He learned all the lay of the land,
He knew of each path and each stream…
He awoke with his face on his hand;
Had her soul just been a strange dream?

The circle of stones on the moor
Were dry and there was now no rain.
They weren’t like they had been before
And his soul was now cleansed of pain.

This one man returned to his king,
To face the grim battle ahead
And soon with those souls he would sing,
For quite soon he too would be dead.

Then he danced up there on the moor
With the souls of the happy, not wan,
He’s melded with those passed before
Stones glint neath the sun as it shone.

 

The Ghostly Reel

The ghost and man
They danced about,
They danced a raunchy reel.
So who can say what’s in God’s plan,
Or know what God might feel.

The man and ghost
With Heavenly host,
They danced that day away.
For providence that is divine
Was there upon display.

The dance slowed down
All things must end,
Day ends with soft twilight.
Sleep caught the man he seemed to frown.
Then slept right through that night.

The sun arose
The dream was lost
Night ends with break of day
The brand new day would soon disclose
How strange may be God’s way

From the “Tale of the glistening lights”

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The Day King Edgar came to Bath

I like the four line ballad form. It is useful for narratives.  I have many narratives to finish in the time that I have left.

Edgar at Bath (Whit Sunday A.D.973)

Besides the west door in a crowd
Frigar watched Edgar pass,
The sky was blue save one small cloud
As priests there call the mass.

That cloud it seemed to hover there
Like one small shade of doubt,
With happy faces everywhere
What could this be about?

The boy stood and gazed at the sky
Beneath that cloud so grey.
His heart heaved and he gave a sigh,
Then wept and walked away.

He wandered out across the town,
Went out the River gate.
Beneath an alder tree swooned down
Mid visions brought from Fate.

It seemed an ancient Dame was there,
Or was she but a maid?
There seemed all havoc everywhere,
Then silence in a glade.

And in that glade a woman stood
Her face a radiant glow.
“You’ll witness hate and great falsehood,
And you will be laid low.

Amongst the dead you’ll find new life,
You’d fight a soldier’s fight.
You’d never win through arms and strife;
At end you’ll conquer spite.

You’ll seek out joy through times all sad,
You’ll help a broken man.
You’ll comfort both the wan and sad,
You’ll do the best you can.

You are a part of my moist land,
You are my joyful boy.
The dark cloud showed you what’s at hand
Mid those crowds full of joy.

For you alone gazed at the sky
And saw that cloud all grey,
And you alone had pondered why,
Wept on this joyous day.

In sad days you will see the spite
That makes so many weep,
And you’ll see Wrong defeat the Right.
Watch wolves tear through the sheep.

You’ll help a mutilated man
Though his life may prove hard.
You’ll help the way a true friend can
Help him tell of Midgard”.

She held his hand that puzzled child,
She walked him through that glade,
She showed him things so strange and wild,
Then slowly seemed to fade…

What’s real and what’s a dream?
His brain it spun about
Is ought as it may seem?
The boy let out a shout…

“Dear Lady, Lady, tell me more,
Please do not fade away!
Pray do not leave me drenched with doubt,
Do tell me more I pray.”

Her voice remained though she had gone,
She said, “I’ll tell you true
And when you’re glad and when you’re wan,
Do know that I’m with you.

Spirits stood by when you were born,
It seems I am your one.
I’ll see that you’ll not stay forlorn,
When dark foul deeds are done.

Your heart it is a songster’s heart,
I’ll help you with each song
But now my sweet I will depart
You must my boy be strong”…

What’s a dream and what is real?
Now he seemed more sure.
A Spirit’s presence few may feel;
That holds this sweet allure…

He felt some rain upon his face
Beneath that alder bough.
It seemed he’d slept here in this place
Yet seemed not sleepy now.

There was a strange scent on the air,
A scent like womankind.
It seemed about him everywhere,
Was it just in his mind?

That rain dropped from a light blue sky,
That one small cloud was gone.
He fought against the urge to cry,
But his soul had turned wan.

In Bath that day the folk were glad,
The English had one king.
None saw that one boy oh, so sad,
The poor bedraggled thing.

For these strange visions left him weak
And sick throughout the day.
He sat about all sad, all bleak,
Yet watched the gleemen play.

They acted out some simple tale
As laughter echoed out.
Unseen a child stood drab and pale,
His soul was filled with doubt.

Then on the morrow they returned,
Back down the old Fosse Way.
He told his father what he’d learned
In Bath just yesterday.

He told his father of his dream,
And they spoke much of it.
But neither knew what Norns may scheme,
Nor knew what had been writ.

His father told him of Modron,
The day that he was born.
That this Midgard would soon be gone,
With futures so forlorn.

Though one would live to great old age,
The other was soon dead,
To leave a boy to grieve and rage;
That grief led on to dread.

Their household then was brought quite low,
His mother she grew ill.
Once happy homes may sink with woe,
As warmth may turn to chill.

That road through grief would twist and turn,
To travel there takes strength.
Through sorrows then the young may learn,
And gain through them at length.

From “Tale of Frigar”
© T Morgan 2007

Murder on the battlefield

I may not be with the popular mood.  I do not approve of downgrading a killing  and releasing a killer in response to popular hysteria.

 

Murder on the battlefield

They dragged that “bastard” out of sight
From those drones overhead.
The Sarge then shot him out of spite
And left that “shite” stone dead.

The Sarge was focused on that act,
Was his soul cold with Hate?
Some say that he may well have “cracked”.
This was no hand of Fate!

Far off there in Afghanistan
Where old beliefs may rule,
This does not mean each Taliban
Is just some worthless fool.

A family has lost a son
Who fought in their own land.
Yet some excuse a killing done,
Done there quite out of hand.

But who cares here about the tears
Some Afghan Mother shed?
A killer’s freed to many cheers.
A nameless man’s long dead!

© T.Morgan 28.4.2017

 Aneirin and the Bards

I sat and wrote this in a car during a football match in a park in Worthing.  I just do not know where it came from as it just came out as fast as I can write and has needed no amendment.  Some verse arrive unannounced like that!

I guess I just like Aneirin’s poem “The Gododdin”.

 Aneirin and the Bards

Aneirin wrote an elegy
To each of his dead friends
At Catraeth through their strategy
His people’s history ends

When all of the Gododdin fell
Their names would not be lost
Aneirin in his verses tell
Of his people’s holocaust

The Angle host behind each shield
Had withstood their attack
That firm shield wall that did not yield
Each stag fell to the pack

There Ida’s line from Bamburgh Head
Established dominance
From Catraeth where the soil’s soaked red
Those Angles would advance

The lonesome bard was left to write
Gododdin’s elegy
The soul survivor of that fight
A dismal destiny

So sadly then this bard would roam
Lamenting his dead friends
And how his Briton’s home was lost
The story never ends

The Briton’s blood, the Briton’s soil
Had been merged into one
Their children would be left to toil
As slaves to those who won

But are those Angles known by name
Those men who won that fight
Without a Bard to sing their name
They have been lost from sight

The Angles had some power then
To dominate this land
Yet Bard’s words are remembered when
Old Glories turn to sand

Each elegy Aneirin wrote
Describes a long dead man
He does not rant, he does not gloat
Of chaff before a fan

For each one seems a close dear friend
And fit for sad lament
And now their fame may have no end
Bard’s words do not relent

The Poet and the Bard are here
To keep the dead alive
Defeated peoples find some cheer
Where their great deeds survive

A conquest by a stronger foe
Whose names are lost in time
Will let the future’s children know
All conquests are a crime

For Peoples and their lands are one
United, blood and place
Despite all of the wrongs been done
Defeats and past disgrace

Gododdin are still in this land
As stubbornness still shows
They’ve mingled through time’s flowing sand
As onward their line goes

At Catraeth British warriors died
The Bard has told their tale
Though widows and their orphans cried
Their blood line did not fail

The patterns in their genes are strong
Still here within this land
Despite who’s right, despite who’s wrong
There are new Bards at hand

Aneirin wrote of real things
All Bards should do the same
When of the past the singer sings
Old heroes live again

 

© Trevor Morgan 11 October 2003

Berserk mind set

It is in our history that we had death cults that encouraged our young to die in battle so they could serve divine power.  Our Norse and northern European ancestors generally had these cults long in the past.  The cult of the berserkers we do know about as their enemies wrote about them!

This is an extract from tales about the Battle of Edington in the Spring of 878.

The Mortal Wound at Edington

The Berserks dance then they advance
They knew that they would win
But where so much is down to chance
This pride would prove a sin

His foot stood on that foeman’s shield
The boy was down and done
Was confident that all would yield
But that downed boy had won

Beneath great feet you should be beat
When you are trodden on
But Fate can be a fickle cheat
Too soon you’re dead and gone

Through brave advance to sad mischance
All learning turned to dust
For then by some sad circumstance
Was felled by one sword thrust

The fire of pain raged through his brain
He knew that he was done
As down his legs there spread that stain
Yes, this felled foe had won!

After Edington

In confidence some naïve men
May not give foes their due
And all that follows on from then
Results from what they do…

A great Ash tree fell to the ground
That crash resounded so
With Valkyries there all around
They saw the fatal blow

The radiating agony
Those Valkyries then felt
A Bard who sang his elegy
Could make all cold hearts melt

So confident so young and bold
That breaker of great shields
So loved by gods he’d not grow old
One sword thrust and he yields

Flow the other way

The currents flowed so long
And they have flowed one way
The weak had now grown strong
Now they would have their way

Some confidence had gone
The bold now felt some doubt
The wrathful were now wan
Events had turned about

The long years of success are past
And much has turned awry
They knew the good times could not last
And each vain hope must die

A single sword thrust can change things
And alter great events
Lead to the rise and fall of kings
And to such sad laments

The sword between the legs
The manhood torn apart
Dragged down to the dregs
The dying process starts

The dying

That filthy wound gave monstrous pain
It held him on the ground
It oozed a great big spreading stain
Brave Haldane made no sound

He’d felled a foe who’d cut him down
Whilst there beneath his feet
That Gewissae showed such great renown
His counter thrust so neat

There’s irony here in his death
Where he died in this war
It stayed with him past his last breath
Perhaps forever more

The Wolf had taken Tyr’s right hand
Left their war god bereft
Yet he fought well on sea and land
And killed foes with his left

A Gewissae “Tyr” had cut him down
Left hand had thrust that blade
Despite the pain he lost his frown
His hero’s dues were paid

To die as if by Try’s own hand
A portent there maybe
All must be as the Norns had planned
This was his destiny

And now that Gewissae lay by him
Companions in Death
His spirit soared he was not grim
He yearned for his last breath

That young Gewissae he seemed to dream
And muttered in his sleep
The Norns they wove each dreadful scheme
But men were not their sheep

The Gewissae mumbled Mary’s name
He wondered, “Who was she?”
He did not rage he did not blame
He waited to be free

He hoped the Valkyries might come
Choose him for Odhinn’s hall
Through that long night his legs went numb
But saw no sights at all

He’d trained so hard to fight this foe
Who’d swept Gudrum aside
There was so much he did not know
Yet now he felt great pride

He’d done what he’d been asked to do
He’d do it all again
The dawn’s sweet glimmer came in view
He lay there racked in pain

His pain he’d earned and death is sweet
When men die – sword in hand
The Valkyries he had to greet
Here on the foeman’s land

Haldane Blood Hammer drew his sword
And prayed to Mother Fri
“Please let the gods speak just one word
Before I fade and die”

His groin oozed filth upon the earth
Sad Fri she wept a tear
She knew all things do have their worth
She said, “My child, I’m here”

Haldane through pain sought to explain
Fri said, “Peace child, I know”
There on that plain he’d not complain
Inside he felt aglow

Haldane reached out his arm at last
His sword he held up high
“Odhinn I see my life ebbs fast
And I know how to die”

Haldane then died but none there cried
One Gewissae felt some loss
As sunrise cast a shadow wide
That sword seemed like the Cross

A Valkyrie embraced him there
And led him to her steed
‘Til Ragnarök he’d know no care
Nor lack a single need

For Odhinn needed those like him
Brave souls who knew no fear
To face a future stark and Grim
As Odhinn’s death drew near

From: “Tale of a Half Dane” 2005

The Tamil Girl

In October 1963 in Singapore I was too slow to stop a fatal motor accident and a little girl died.  I spent months involved in the Indonesian Confrontation, an undeclared war, along the shores and mangrove swamps of Sabah, Borneo.  I am still troubled by dreams they have nothing to do with conflict.  It is a nightmare where a child died.

R.I.P. Little Girl

 

Ghost of a Tamil Girl

The Tamil Girl died in my grasp
Though not a word was said
I hold her still though I’m now old
– Sad memories in my head –

I held her dying on that day
I’d tried to save her life
As Death will have the final say
My soul’s now torn by strife

For, “If only”, “Oh, If only…”
Repeat around my brain
In a soul now sad and lonely
I bear this bitter stain

Oh, if only I had stopped her
Running into the road
My conscience feels like I’m a cur
I’ve had to bear that load

For on the day that She had died
My actions were too slow
Time and again I’ve sobbed and cried
About that fatal blow

“Watch out” I’d said – not in her tongue
She’d run out all the same
I’ve never heard her requiem sung
And never knew her name

I’d fetched her from that roadside there
Placed her before her folk
But I still carry so much care
It makes me almost choke

And now at night deep in my sleep
In dreams I meet this child
And she looks sad if I should weep
Her ghost’s serene and mild

Are souls of those who have died young
Like angels of the Lord
And in our dreams are we among
A sort of heavenly horde?

Are we shown glimpses of a place
Beyond the void of Hate
Where there may be a state of Grace
Beyond the grasp of Fate

The Dead who flit about our dreams
May help us in our woe
They’re not as real as waking schemes
Yet bring a gentle glow

Through sorrows we may face each blight
Protected by their charm
These dead who visit in the night
May guard the mind from harm

 

© Trevor Morgan 18 April 2004 amended 2012

Wars and change

After the retreat of the Romans from our lands we enter into a period somewhat misnamed as the “Dark Ages”.  This comes from there being only a limited number of written records of the time.  We do have archaeology and now more recently DNA evidence.  The Dna map recently published (by the Welcome Trust I think) shows that most of our population has changed little.  Yes rulers come and go but the ordinary folk remain at where they call home.  This work is a part of a much longer book I am writing about the origins of those people who called themselves the Gewissae and went on to build the Kingdom of Wessex and to unify the English into one nation.  There’s was a history of wars, invasions, and eventual success in adversity followed by decline and the Norman Conquest.

This poem is about the immediate aftermath of the departure of the Romans in 410AD to the arrival of Hengest and Horsa and their defeat of Vortigern in 455AD.

The Midwife at the birth of change

“This land so pregnant here with change
Once then faced the starkest strife;
The birth of change is not so strange,
Where wars act as midwife!

The Picts would rally and rage down,
The Irish too would raid;
Then plague would empty many a town
As trade and wealth decayed.

One tyrant felt he could hold sway
With troops he got for hire.
These men they gained much more than pay;
That tyrant felt their ire.

For once they’d put the Picts to flight
And drove the Scotti out;
The hirer, them, he felt their might,
That tyrant faced his rout.

Why risk your life to fight for pay
When you may gain much more.
The ways of old have had their day
These lands would now know war

New powers would be slow to rise
Like tides things ebb and flow
They fall from Grace who are not wise,
Proud hearts should know true woe.

The roots of trees may slowly spread
And topple any wall.
Ah, Pride, it has been often said
May cause the great to fall!

This land so pregnant here with change
Would now face such deadly strife;
The birth of change is not so strange,
Where wars acts as midwife!”

THE ATLANTIC BLOCKADE (1807-1860)

HMS_Black_Joke_(1827)

The political correct brigade here [In Britain], say we should apologise for the slave trade. It seems the long campaign by the Royal Navy to blockade the trade is now forgotten: Can we also say “thank you”?

The Royal Navy’s Africa Station blockaded the Atlantic approaches to the West African coast from 1807 to 1860. This was a long and unsung struggle to end the slave trade. Now it is forgotten and the English are told they must apologise. Yes, English merchants had profited from the trade but this was atoned for in this blockade and with the loss of life endured during those long decades. There should now be a public thanks giving to go along with the empty gestures of apologies. For it was only by this long struggle that the trade was gradually erased.

Fact: Ships of the West Africa Squadron seized almost 1600 slave ships and freed 150,000 enslaved Africans aboard them.

The Volunteer Slipped

He heaved into his hammock
That watch was long and dull
Monotony’s so long and strong
Goes on without a lull

His dreams were strange and fitful
Long years had took their toll
The work they did was good, not wrong
And yet it sapped the soul

Most slave ships could outrun them
Yet still they strove to win
Disease had took so many a man
Yet there they fought dark sin

For decades on this station
The navy would endure
They strove to stop an evil trade
In that there was allure

His fitful sleep soon over
He was soon back aloft
As lookout high up on the mast
The morning breeze blew soft

Eleven long years he’d done here
This would be his last ship
The yardarm damp with morning dew
Was said to cause the slip

Death came when he hit the deck
And silenced his last yell
The ships log would record a death
It said: “… the Lookout fell…”

Long years that watch had been kept
The dark trade would demise
But thankless tasks are soon forgot
For this world is not wise

That long watch would at last end
The slave trade would be gone
This long blockade would be forgot
Yet widows would be wan

Efforts of this long blockade
Have fallen now from sight
Our people need no dark tirade
Our people stopped the blight

Yes, Our work stopped this foul trade
We died ‘neath tropic skies
Our efforts though have been betrayed
Where dupes apologise!

 

Liars and Perjurers

There are many, especially in public life, who tell lies wilfully and with such ease.   Politicians have gone to prison for perjury in recent years but it seems that lessons just have not been learned.

Spirals of Liars

“Three perjurers so full of glee
All sneered there at the dock
Their victim now would not be free
And fops prepared to mock

These gutless monsters sup on blood
Schemed each new enterprise
But ended mired in filth and mud
And never won the prize

Their victim then in time was free
Time fills with cloying fear
When perjurers would know no glee
Truth now lurks ever near

The winds of change are seeming strange
Old ways now sink below
Whilst Fate she seems to rearrange
As Truth brings falsehood low

Then Lies and Truth will clash head on
That one may cease to be
If Hope returns then few are wan
And some may be set free

Each artless, pointless scheming one
Finds no more glut of gore
As all is lost and none is won
New sneaks come to the fore

New perjurers will perjure then
New victims will go down
There seems a glut of wicked men
Each of such low renown”

Laura’s Starlight

This lyric was inspired by reading Sarah Wilson’s book about her experience as a survivor of Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham.  Her sister, Laura,  was murdered leaving Sarah to bring up Laura’s little girl.  This lyric came to me in an instant when I was reading her book.

Laura’s Starlight

There’s a star in the night
High above all the spite
But the cause of great loss still remains
The sun’s in the sky
And the song birds fly high
But a whole town is riven with pains

Dark waters had hid
The dark deeds demons did
The day that dear Laura was slain
Searchers had found
Some blood on the ground
And a shoe that bore a red stain

Now Hope won’t elope
In the arms of despair
There will be no surrender to fear
The starlight so bright
Shines down its sweet light
An Angel seems now with us here

With strength we shall share
Here and everywhere
The burdens of what must be done
Till we set to flight
All lewd lust and spite
And justice and truth will have won

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© Trevor Morgan