06 March 2016

Devil's Deeds

Some say the devil’s dead, the devil’s dead, the devil’s dead;
some say the devil’s dead and buried in Cold Harbour.

Others say he’s rose again, others say he’s rose again;
others say he’s rose again, apprenticed to a barber.


SCENE: Inside an old inn.

Villagers are seated at tables, talking and laughing. Jack the middle-aged keeper serves behind the bar (right of stage) and his daughter Bess collects glasses and chats with the customers. There are subdued sounds of a storm outside and often rain is blown against the inn’s windows (back of stage). The old inn door (also back of stage) bursts open to admit Arthur, a well-bearded fisherman, and the sound of the wind howling. Arthur struggles to close the door, then removes his sodden overcoat and hangs it on a stand just inside the door, before walking slowly to the bar, greeting people he recognises as he passes the tables.

Arthur:    A foul night, Jack.
Jack:                                         Aye, Art, ’tis filth.
Arthur:                                                                   The Devil’s work, I’d say.
                   They just brought in a boat, she hit the rocks on Beezel’s Bay.
Jack:          Not one of ours?
Arthur:                               Nay, one I never saw, called Summer Breeze.
Jack:          She don’t sound sturdy for a storm. A pint?
Arthur:                                                                                   Aye, if y’please.
                   I heard young Ned, the lifeguard, say, no bodies was on board,
                   I’d wager they’re Cold Harbour way, more souls for Satan’s hoard.
Jack:          Aye, some folks say, the Devil’s dead and buried deep down there.
Arthur:    ’Tis true.
Jack:                         But if he’s dead, then how’s he workin’ rain and air?
Arthur:    He’s hauntin’, Jack, his spirit’s with us, though he sleeps below.
                   Ah, evenin’ Bill.
Bill:                                       Hello there, Art. One more, Jack, ’fore I go.
Jack:          So what’s your thinkin’, Bill, this storm, the Devil haunts the sea?
Bill:          He haunts? You think the Devil’s dead?
Jack:                                                                                ’Tis Art says that, not me.
Bill:          Aye, that’s the story fisherfolk hold dear, when storms come through,
                   they hear his voice in howlin’ winds, in’t so, Art?
Arthur:                                                                                           Aye, ’tis true.
Bill:          But others say, the Devil rose from death and came ashore,
                   he’s ’prenticed to a barber now, sweeps hairs from off the floor.
Arthur:    ’Tis prattle, Bill – why’d Satan choose a barber, of all types?
Jack:          Perhaps he likes that pole, y’know, the white an’ blood-red stripes.
Bess:          That may be, Father, for they used to bloodlet, days gone by,
                   do surgeries, take teeth, e’en put a leech upon your eye!
Jack:          What, leeches? Nay, Bess, you’ve been readin’ nonsense books again.
Bess:          ’Tis my encyclopaedia.
Jack:                                                   Look – glasses! Ern and Gwen!
                   She’s always at that book of hers.
Bill:                                                                      She’s right about the leech,
                   the takin’ teeth as well, enough to make you shout an’ screech!
                   If I was Satan, then I reckons, that’s the life I’d lead,
                   instead of lyin’ out at sea, all dead and wrapped in weed.
Arthur:    Well, each his own, but if you knew the ocean, all its might,
                   and seen a corpse come shoreward, blue and bloated, ghastly sight,
                   well, then you’d see, ’tis Devil’s work.
Bill:                                                                              I reckon that I would,
                   though bein’ a barber’s boy, and leechin’, that still sounds quite good.
Jack:          Perhaps the Devil’s harboured and apprenticed, takes two forms.
Bess:          Aye, daily doin’ surgeries, but nightly makin’ storms!


* * *

Here is the Poem of the Month for February, originally published on the official Happenstance website <(:-)

And here are the P-i-R's notes:

Welcome to Poem of the Month for February!
The P-i-R has composed something a little different this month: ‘Devil’s Deeds’ consists of a scene inspired by the song performed before Happenstance launch into the dance entitled ‘Much Wenlock’.
I had thought there might be a connection between the town and the lyrics, but my sources proved vague on this: ‘What is it all about, you ask? Goodness knows!’
Readers will note that the lines take the form of an eight-verse fourteener. I’ve written notes on this to accompany my ‘The Winchcombe Morris side of yore’, here: http://happenstancepoetry.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/the-winchcombe-morris-side-of-yore.html
And here is a video of Happenstance performing ‘Much Wenlock’, in Tewkesbury on Boxing Day 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmEIt4Qdh-8
Huzzah!
<(:-)

17 January 2016

Solstice Song

Slow and stately, majestic Sun climbs the cold sky
   in his gown of gold flames spreadin’ warmth upon earth,
now the time of the end-of-year solstice be nigh
   as we waken from Winter in wondrous rebirth.
In his gown of gold flames spreadin’ warmth upon earth,
   Sun ascends over fields, over forests and hills
as we waken from Winter in wondrous rebirth
   and from day to day part from the season of chills.
Sun ascends over fields, over forests and hills,
   in their barns, sheep and cows dream of fresh grass in Spring
and from day to day part from the season of chills
   to the upsurgin’ age, when Green Jack becomes King.
In their barns, sheep and cows dream of fresh grass in Spring,
   blackbirds, robins, crows call from their feathery nests
to the upsurgin’ age, when Green Jack becomes King
   and we venture outside without wearin’ our vests.
Blackbirds, robins, crows call from their feathery nests,
   deep in woods, lusty flickers stoke velvety moles,
and we venture outside without wearin’ our vests,
   rabbits peep eager eyed from their hibernal holes.
Deep in woods, lusty flickers stoke velvety moles,
   tiny buds form on oak, and on beech, and on birch,
rabbits peep eager eyed from their hibernal holes
   pigeons practise love’s ditties on horse-chestnut perch.
Tiny buds form on oak, and on beech, and on birch,
   seed-sprouts start their slow crawl to the fertile soil top,
pigeons practise love’s ditties on horse-chestnut perch,
   on the hill, farmer stands and surveys his young crop.
Seed-sprouts start their slow crawl to the fertile soil top
   now the time of the end-of-year solstice be nigh,
on the hill, farmer stands and surveys his young crop,
   slow and stately, majestic Sun climbs the cold sky.


* * *
Welcome to Poem of the Month for December!

Here is the poem published on the official Happenstance site last month. It’s a pantoum that celebrates passing the darkest day of the year and moving towards the Spring.

I wasn’t sure whether there was any association between the Winter Solstice and Morris, so I emailed Cressida for guidance. Her response was positive and she provided many useful pieces of information to inspire my poem. A thousand thanks to Cressida from the P-i-R!

Any readers interested in the pantoum form are welcome to read my notes on the first such piece I composed for Happenstance, at http://happenstancepoetry.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/isbourne.html

Happy Solstice!
<(:-)