The Power of the Dog

Rudyard Kipling – 1865-1936

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie—
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find—it’s your own affair—
But… you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!).
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone—wherever it goes—for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long—
So why in—Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Cherry 🍒 Sussex Summer.

Cherry-ripe, ripe, ripe, I cry,
Full and fair ones; come, and buy:
If so be you ask me where
They do grow? I answer, there
Where my Julia’s lips do smile;–
There’s the land, or cherry-isle;
Whose plantations fully show
All the year where cherries grow.

Robert Herrick (1591-1674) English poet.

I know that summer has truely arrived when the cherries are for sale on the Sussex roadside. Grown in the neighbouring county of Kent, you will not come across a finer cherry 🍒

England and St. George.

‘…Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’

William Shakespeare (from Henry V)

Happy St. George’s Day 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

Adrift! A little boat adrift!

Photograph by Emily Dudley

Adrift! A little boat adrift!
And night is coming down!
Will no one guide a little boat
Unto the nearest town?

So Sailors say – on yesterday –
Just as the dusk was brown
One little boat gave up its strife
And gurgled down and down.

So angels say – on yesterday –
Just as the dawn was red
One little boat – o’erspent with gales –
Retrimmed its masts – redecked its sails –
And shot – exultant on!

Emily Dickinson (1830- 1886).

Robert Burns.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For days of auld lang syne

We twa hae run about the braes
And pu’d the gowans fine
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit
Sin days of auld lang syne

We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn
Frae morning sun till dine
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin days of auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For days of auld lang syne

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp
And surely I’ll be mine
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere
And gie’s a hand o’ thine
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught
For auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne

Robert Burns (1759- 1796. Scotland’s national poet.

Have a wee dram for Rabbie Burns tonight.

In the Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rossetti.

Well who knew?

I have only discovered today that my favourite Christmas Carol was written by a favourite poet of mine.

In the Bleak Midwinter was published originally under the title “A Christmas Carol “and was first collected in book form in Goblin Market, The Prince’s Progress and Other Poems(Macmillan, 1875).

Then in 1906, the composer Gustav Holst composed a setting of Rossetti’s words (titled “Cranham”) in The English Hymnal, which is sung throughout the world. Gustav Holst drew inspiration from walks in his native Gloucestershire: the tune for Rossetti’s poem. The tune was named after the small Cotswold village where his grandparents lived.

Goblin Market, as readers of myblog will know, is a favourite of mine too.

Christmas by Sir John Betjeman.

A Christmas treasure by Betjeman, describing the traditions of Christmas compared to the story of the birth of Christ.

‘The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
‘The church looks nice’ on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says ‘Merry Christmas to you all’.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children’s hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say ‘Come!’
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true? And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ?  For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare –
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.’

The Crocodile by Roald Dahl.

“No animal is half as vile
As Crocky–Wock, the crocodile.
On Saturdays he likes to crunch
Six juicy children for his lunch
And he especially enjoys
Just three of each, three girls, three boys.
He smears the boys (to make them hot)
With mustard from the mustard pot.
But mustard doesn’t go with girls,
It tastes all wrong with plaits and curls.
With them, what goes extremely well
Is butterscotch and caramel.
It’s such a super marvelous treat
When boys are hot and girls are sweet.
At least that’s Crocky’s point of view
He ought to know. He’s had a few.
That’s all for now. It’s time for bed.
Lie down and rest your sleepy head.
Ssh. Listen. What is that I hear,
Galumphing softly up the stair?

Go lock the door and fetch my gun!
Go on child, hurry! Quickly run!
No stop! Stand back! He’s coming in!
Oh, look, that greasy greenish skin!
The shining teeth, the greedy smile!
It’s Crocky–Wock, the Crocodile!”

Carved crocodile. Standen House Estate.

Goblin Market (again)

By Christina Rossetti

Stumbled across this guy on a walk at the weekend. So had to do another Goblin Market post…!

Batemans, Burwash East Sussex.

‘…

So without further parleying,
If you will not sell me any
Of your fruits though much and many,
Give me back my silver penny
I toss’d you for a fee.”—
They began to scratch their pates,
No longer wagging, purring,
But visibly demurring,
Grunting and snarling.
One call’d her proud,
Cross-grain’d, uncivil;
Their tones wax’d loud,
Their looks were evil.
Lashing their tails
They trod and hustled her,
Elbow’d and jostled her,
Claw’d with their nails,
Barking, mewing, hissing, mocking,
Tore her gown and soil’d her stocking,
Twitch’d her hair out by the roots,
Stamp’d upon her tender feet,
Held her hands and squeez’d their fruits
Against her mouth to make her eat…’

(Extract)

The Secret Garden.

Bateman’s Robin. Burwash East Sussex.

‘The robin flew from his swinging spray of ivy on to the top of the wall and he opened his beak and sang a loud, lovely trill, merely to show off. Nothing in the world is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows off—and they are nearly always doing it.’

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Chapter 8. “The Robin Who Showed the Way.

An autumn walk around Bateman’s gardens and this engaging robin reminded me of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. A childhood favourite book.

Village Cricket.

“You don’t win or lose the games because of 11 you select. You win or lose with what those 11 do on the field.”

Rahul Dravid

Cricket Pavilion Sheffield Park

A key part of cricket is the pavilion- the main building in which the players usually change and the main location for watching the cricket match for members and others.

It’s also the epitome of Englishness- the place where the ‘cricket teas’ are served. Pots of tea, sandwiches, sausage rolls, scones, cream and jam and of course cake. Summertime personified.

The 2020 cricket season is now over, for what it was worth this year, in England. Let’s hope village cricket has a better ‘run’ in 2021.