Pallid Moon

Like Li Bai I am enchanted by the moon.

The Pallid Moon

A pallid Moon hung in the sky
On this clear winter day
All’s placid now save for a sigh
That seemed so far away

I seemed to be the one who sighed
Though it felt far from me
Those inner conflicts here had died
Forlorn Hope was set free

The silence seems intense somehow
It held onto my soul
The cold Sun gleams so strangely now
Yet little here seems whole

The still air held its winter chill
Heard here was one bird song
That song brought its own special thrill
Somehow the weak grew strong

That pallid Moon will fade away
The sun is rising here
Today will be a special day
As we all conquer fear

© Trevor Morgan 2016

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

The Mariner and the Murmuration

I was on the Somerset Levels one early evening when I found myself amidst a myriad of starlings. Some flew so close I felt the draft from their wings. They then arose above me like a glorious host and filled the air, there must have been near to a million of them. I was transfixed. This was a very special gift to witness such an event. I saw a lone hen harrier stoop through the Murmuration and despite her efforts she failed to catch a single starling.  Her chicks went hungry that evening

Sonnet

The Murmuration of Starlings

“That streaming flight of birds went streaking by
It seemed as though they might block out the sun
A million starlings swarmed across the sky
The harrier there she stooped but she caught none
That flow of birds had parted round her flight
At sunset though the flock had settled near
They seemed to fill all trees within our sight
The twilight sky seemed calm and all was clear
The evening star grew bright until moonrise
Shone silvery light across the low wet land
Then myriad stars they seemed to fill the skies
There’s more to this than we may understand
Maybe there’s mystery in all we see
Yet none of us may know what is to be

Watching the Murmuration

The flock it seems to flow not fly
Like eddies in a brook
Above me there they filled the sky
And all here stopped to look

That flow of birds would twirl and roll
And reel around the sky
The sight of them they warmed his soul
As their flight rolled on by

A Mariner watched a harrier dive
And saw her pass straight through
I saw the starlings all survive
It was a wondrous view

The harrier passed right through the flock
Though it sought flesh to rend
Those myriad birds they seemed to mock
And seemed to part then blend

Coordination seemed the key
Each bird knew what to do
Was there in this some mystery
In how all these birds flew?

The harrier sought but it took nought
Each stoop here gained no prey
It rushed straight in the way some fought
This would not be her day

It seems attack is not the way
Where foes elude attack
We ought think of a better way
That we might now come back…

I watch each sunset full of Grace
Gaze at the evening star
I see the Moon’s big silvery face
And hear a lone night jar

Suns and Moons

The T’ang poet Li Bai loved to write about moons and about moon shadow. I know how he felt and how changing light can influence composition.

Suns and Moons

The rising of the sun
A brilliant orange sky
Now this long day’s begun
You tremble and you cry

The passage of the sun
From dawn through to midday
With journey that’s half done
It carries on its way

Noon sun in late July
The light and humid heat
Shimmer before the eye
When cool drinks are a treat

Noon sun in December
A bright light without heat
It’s a cooling ember
A brilliant lurid cheat

The passage of the sun
It’s run to west from east
So soon each day is done
And we’ll sit down to feast

The setting of the sun
A vivid ruddy sky
The long night has begun
But there’s no need to cry

The rising of the moon
That’s presaged by its glow
Its full disk is seen soon
What secret will it show?

The passage of the moon
Her sensuous glowing face
Like some foretelling rune
There’s glory in her grace

The moon’s shrunk to a crescent
A gentle subtle glow
With honeysuckles scent
All stress may fade and go

The moon has waxed to full
A fulsomeness of grace
It has a mystic pull
Reflecting light from space

The passage of the moon
From moonrise to moonset
It’s glow may go quite soon
But there is no regret

The setting of the moon
The dying of it’s light
The depths of darkness soon
The stars a glorious sight

2002

The arsenic waltz

Had a great visit today to the National Trust property at Killerton in Devon.  This included a  display on the history of dyes. One display moved me to write this:

Green Dyes
In a display at Killerton there was a description of early green dyes. There was a problem with fixing green dyes so large amounts of arsenic were used. This could be interesting, or dangerous, or deadly consequences when the cloths were worn.

The Arsenic Waltz

Your dress is pure green
So your skin’s turning white
With blue lips – how they sheen
You’ll be dead by tonight

© T.Morgan