Fa – the Green Dragon

A Place for the Odd Musings of an Expat Bristolian


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The Farm

THE FARM
There’s a farm atop that yonder hill
An old man plies his labours still
There’s grass enough for cows to graze
And crops he tends like beans and maize

He ploughed the sod when it was new
And in its clearing, trees he hew
He settled there before the road
Before cars were a transport mode

Horses and wagons ruled back then
His eggs fresh daily from a hen
Now alas, farms are fading fast
Dim reminders of our past.

When armed with scythes upon the mow
Our wheat was cut and with a bow
The sheaves were tied with the harvest knot
And food was cooked in an iron pot.

Nowadays if by chance a farm you find
It’s probably the corporate kind
There are no people going to and fro
Just machines that make it go

There are no farmers on the land
No more cow-men close at hand
And farmers’ wives are long-gone too
A dying kind, it’s sad but true.

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the Three R’s (a new take)

THE THREE R’s (a new take)

I cannot tell you what joy it is to write words down in rhyme;

The practice perfected in past medieval times.

Court jesters, Rhymesters, bards and gleemen all trained in how to tell

In epic ways, of battles in which their heroes fell.

Tales of glory handed down from father then to son;

But nowadays we do it, just because it’s fun.

Poems are but retellings, of things we live in life.

Of new-found love and sometimes alas, about a shrewish wife.

Of many things that ail us and the past which brought us pain

But looking on the bright side, the things we’d do again.

We also know of joy and happiness galore

We’ll never know for certain though if we don’t pass through that door.

And therein lies the rub; holding back to no avail.

So take the chance, just sally forth, like a galleon under sail.

I start by simply sitting, day-dreaming of my youth

Then with a pen and paper I go about my proof.

It takes a bit of thinking and lots of trial and error

But after words are changed about it soon looks much the fairer.

There are many rules for poetry, which happily we ignore

Nothing would get written if we did not, of that I am quite sure.

A little trick I find, is to write then walk away;

Save what I’ve written in a drawer until another day.

I also find that reading, works of every kind

Helps to order random thoughts that run throughout my mind.

Why don’t you join me, share in all my joy?

Start by sitting down to play with words just like a toy.

Maybe then you will find out that what I say is true

But Reading, Riting and Rhymatic is entirely up to you.


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Uluru Called my Name- a never-ending quest

Uluru Called my Name- a never-ending quest

Yesterday an old friend with whom I’d been at sea

Stopped by my digs to check, what land-lubbing had done to me.

We sat and talked for many hours, reliving sailing days.

Remembering high-seas and hurricanes and desert island cays.

We opened some bottles of Lindeman 45 and we reminisced.

We talked of opens seas and ocean swells and of the girls we missed.

And the time we sailed from Bremen, Our cook Helmut not the best

every day for seven weeks he put our taste buds to the test.

Seemanns Lapskaus, a most unpleasant dish

We often heaved it overboard if you get my drift.

I heard Uluru call my name and said I have to go.

But why right now I cannot say. I simply do not know.

Where to my friend asked as if he were in shock?

I’m off to watch the sun at the place they call Ayers Rock.

I closed my eyes and drifted off with dreamtime in my mind,

And with Matilda underarm I waltzed away, to see what I could find.

I walked for many weeks, just guided by the stars;

Miles away from Kingsgate, the Outback has no bars.

I camped by a Billabong as Patterson had done

It was already dawning and then I saw the sun

Changing Uluru’s colour; the reason why I came.

But gently carried on a breeze, I still could hear my name.

 


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Teardrops keep falling

I have been cleaning out my garage for some months now and  now getting down to the nitty-gritty. I came across a bunch of stuff from mid to late 60’s. Here’s one of them.:

Teardrops keep falling

 

 

And so the saying goes.

A flower grows for every tear that’s shed.

Is there sorrow in this world?

Although it seems to look so fine!

Remember let no one see where your tears fall,

Lest they upon that place do tread.

Only from good hearts, come these tears.

As with good grapes that make a perfect wine.

 


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An Imaginary Conversation with Robert graves (Part II)

As we strolled through the garden, Mr. Graves pointed to a small walled recess. A pergola covered with Bougainvillea, stood over a bench, a wrought-iron arm chair and a matching round table. I say wrought-iron for want of a better word. All the furniture had a dull green patina.

But I digress.

G: Shall we sit awhile? After we had settled ourselves, he reached above his right shoulder and a bell sounded. Very soon a plumpish lady appeared.

G: Mrs. De Luna, I know you are busy preparing our evening comestibles, but please, bring a bottle of the Varela and a plate of sardines.

We sat in silence, enjoying the evening air. I could hear sounds of traffic in the town.

Graves waited until his housekeeper had served us before continuing.

G: As I was saying, I am really a poet. I have devoted a lot of my life to getting it right. Of course, not everybody agreed with me. But that’s life I suppose.

My mind wandered slightly. I found myself thinking could it be really true that I was sitting with someone who had had a love affair with Siegfried Sassoon.

Graves poured some more sherry commenting, “Not a bad stuff, this Varela. What do you think?”

Without waiting for my reply he continued.

G: I have a confession. I could not always sit here in the garden like this.

I was wondering, why ever not. But, before I had chance to voice what I was thinking he continued.

G: After the being wounded at the battle of the Somme, I could not stand strong odors of gas or even the scent of flowers. I feel better nowadays. I even like the sardines. Ha ha, he laughed, how about you?

Being something of a novice at this kind of life I thought that the sherry and sardines went well together; quite tasty in fact!

Sitting with Graves chatting like this, brought to mind the old saying: that when a wise man speaks it’s because he has something to say. When a foolish man peaks it’s because he has to say something. I held my tongue for fear of revealing my inadequacy chatting casually with such a man of learning.

Graves had been an officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers and had had  the title of honorary Welshman bestowed as a result of eating a leak before his assembled regiment on the feast of St. David, the patron saint of Wales. He wasn’t Welsh by birth. No, he was born in Wimbledon in Surrey about 10 miles south of the city of London.  He was related in fact to a German noble family that went by the name of von Ranke. This fact got him into a lot of trouble during his school days; but that’s another story.

A gong sounded in the house.

G: Our dinner is ready. Let’s see what Mrs. De Luna has prepared today. I heard she was down at the fish market so we might be in for a treat.

 

We sat down  to a splendid meal   a chilled  cucumber soup with bitter melon, Basque style fillet of sole,  paella with clams and shrimp, chorizo, chicken and squid on a bed of saffron rice with diced Romano tomatoes. The tapas we had eaten in the garden had sharpened my appetite; I was hungry. The dishes were all arranged nicely in the center of the table. We were expected to help ourselves.

 

G: Here, try some of this. I think you’ll like it; goes well with the fish and the clams for that matter. It’s from Catalonia and has become one of my standbys when I have guests for dinner. I poured the wine and handed back the bottle.

As we spooned our soup I asked Graves what he meant by an historical grammar of poetic myth. He explained.

G: Many people tend to take poetry at face value and what’s more they miss the deeper meaning that the poet is conveying.  This had a root back in medieval times when court poets were asked to entertain, by the re-telling of ancient stories, they purposely garbled most of their work. They did this for several reasons. Some of their stories contained secrets which they did their best to conceal. Also, many heresies were contained in their works for which they did not want the prying eyes or in this case ears of the burgeoning church to discover. You understand, much of their work had already survived the invasion of Ireland by the Vikings and what wasn’t burned or otherwise destroyed by the marauding Danes was both rare and precious. On top of this, the court poets regarded their masters as illiterate morons. They approached their work with caution however, in order not to bite the hand that fed them.

The garlic sauce accompanying the sole was light and did not overpower the fish is the slightest way.

G: So you see, there are questions which by now are probably long forgotten but for any one with the inclination to pursue a mystery they could start with some questions: Who cleft the devil’s foot? What secret was woven into the Gordian knot? Why did Jehovah create trees and grass before he created the sun moon and stars? Where will wisdom be found? The answers lie hidden in poetry.  I’ve spent a life-time looking.

G: have some more of the paella Mrs. De Luna will be pleased.

Graves continued: You have to know that these court poets spent at last three years in apprenticeship learning several hundred traditional stories by heart and often as many as one hundred and fifty different cypher alphabets. They were indeed a very elite class of people. No wonder they held their illiterate masters in tacit contempt. The alphabets they mastered were not the simple ABC’s that we have nowadays. No sir, they included both finger and tree Oghams, which have long fallen into disuse.

The ancient bards brought all sorts of hidden knowledge with them in their travel from court to court. Then slowly as the years passed and Christianity took hold, sympathetic magic and pagan ceremonies were forgotten.  Times changed.


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The Burnham Light

The Burnham Light

Peering through the darkness and descending fog

We see the Burnham Light

It will surely guide us

On this frightful night.

It’s a welcome beacon that we see,

 off our starboard side.

We start our final homeward stretch

Upon the rising tide.

At Avon’s estuary we sound

Two blasts upon our horn

But there is no returning sound to us,

 on this cold and wintry morn.

Slow steam ahead the captain calls

And through telegraph relayed

And in the engine room below

Slow steam ahead displayed.

The engines go quite quiet,

Just the surf we hear.

As through the mist we forge ahead

Our hearts filled with fear.

The cold night air upon the deck

Chills one to the liver.

Upon the bridge, a friendly smile

Hello captain, my name’s Tom

Your pilot for the river.

We enter in the stream

Green and red lights in our spotlight beam

Steady on the port side Sir

And slow astern I deem.

Our vessel she’s the Monterrey

And she has served us well

With St. Brendan as our guide

She’s brought us through the swell.

The worst is Biscay bay

When storms come from the west

The back of our old vessel

Is put unto the test.

But now we approach home port

And hearts we left behind.

This sailing an adventure;

No regrets for which I signed.

I’ve got my book and pay galore

And glad to step ashore

But I know that in a week or two

My heart will yearn for more.