Poems of the Month...

August 2020

"Harold and the Trouvaille"

Publius Sirus and Hippocrates, Aristotle and Carneades

Classics in Roman Greek and Hebrew, in basement shelving hid from view.

Faded pages foxed in places, tied in bundles, unopened pages.

Hands atrembling hold up to view, forget the mildew...ah, deja-vu.


What’s this here? Something special?

Bottom shelf lowest level?

Choirs of angels, furtive glances, treasure here, a fore-edge bevel..!


Stand up slowly, creaking elbows..find the light, a window view.

It is, it is..a Baron Corvo! Joy abounding…who else to know?


Frail the hand that holds the volume, that this morning read The Mail.

Comfort now, springtime’s senescence…

…at last, at last, the Holy Grail.
R. J. Speer. 2019.

July 2020


‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

   Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;

All mimsy were the borogoves,

   And the mome raths outgrabe.


“Beware the Jabberwock, my son

   The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

   The frumious Bandersnatch!”


He took his vorpal sword in hand;

   Long time the manxome foe he sought—

So rested he by the Tumtum tree,

   And stood awhile in thought.


And, as in uffish thought he stood,

   The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,

   And burbled as it came!


One, two! One, two! And through and through

   The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

He left it dead, and with its head

   He went galumphing back.


“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?

   Come to my arms, my beamish boy!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”

   He chortled in his joy.


‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

   Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;

All mimsy were the borogoves,

   And the mome raths outgrabe.

Lewis Carroll. 1832 - 1898.

July 2018



I who am dead a thousand years,
And wrote this sweet archaic song,
Send you my words for messengers
The way I shall not pass along.

I care not if you bridge the seas,
Or ride secure the cruel sky,
Or build consummate palaces
Of metal or of masonry.

But have you wine and music still,
And statues and a bright-eyed love,
And foolish thoughts of good and ill,
And prayers to them who sit above?

How shall we conquer? Like a wind
That falls at eve our fancies blow,
And old Mæonides the blind
Said it three thousand years ago.

O friend unseen, unborn, unknown,
Student of our sweet English tongue,
Read out my words at night, alone:
I was a poet, I was young.

Since I can never see your face,
And never shake you by the hand,
I send my soul through time and space
To greet you. You will understand.
James Elroy Flecker


“The Minister for Exams”

When I was a child I sat an exam. The test was so simple
There was no way I could fail.

Q1. Describe the taste of the moon.
“It tastes like creation” I wrote,..”..”it has the flavour of sunlight”.

Q2. What colour is love?
“Love is the colour of the water a man
lost in the desert finds”, I wrote..

Q3. Why do snowflakes melt?
I wrote…”.. they melt because they fall
on the warm tongue of God”. 

There were other questions. They were just as simple.
I described the grief of Adam when he was expelled from Eden.
I wrote down the weight of an elephant’s dream.
Yet today, many years later
For my living I sweep the streets
…and clean out the toilets of the fat hotels

Why?     Because constantly I failed my exams.

Why?     Well…let me set a test..
Q1. How large is a child’s imagination..?
Q2. How shallow is the soul of the Minister for Exams…..?

Brian Patten

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