On Friday, when the week is done
and time for leisure just begun,
I take the tube from Surry Docks
and ’neath the sprawl of London’s grime,
journey home with ample time
to dwell upon the weekend jaunt,
which surely as the last will haunt
my memory the whole week through
whilst mundane work I feign to do,
the landlord’s rent to pay. Ere long
my mind is bursting o’er with song
as nearer home with joyous speed
I draw, now that my heart is freed
from daily boredom of the week
that soon would make life’s future bleak,
were not I able to escape
the urban blocks whose dreary shapes
would drive me quickly to despair.
Along the platform, up the stairs
I drift along as in a trance
and ’wakening is but merely chance
when I am almost at the gate -
and all maintain that I am late.
Into the car then jump we five
to with the rush hour traffic strive
and slowly to the city wend
through Stratford, Bow and old East End;
the Mansion House and Bank we pass -
between the Oxford Street plate glass
to Marble Arch where long we wait
until we fear we must be late.
But soon we’re on the Great West Road
and now the car her joyous load
bares onward with a better will.
Through Hammersmith we’re dawdling still
but under Chiswick’s motorway
the engine will no longer stay
in second gear. Now is the mass
of London’s monster almost passed
as here the airport hurries by
and there the hillside meets the sky.
The motor sings a sweeter tune
and Staines is by-passed very soon
as on to Bagshot now we hurl
before a choking dusty whirl;
a vortex trailing far behind
across the hills and sure to blind
another driver at the rear.
Too soon we find we’re drawing near
the coffee bar at Camberly
where in we saunter noisily
to half an hour of idle talk,
unceasing bobbing of a cork
on laughing ripples of a stream,
whose mirth within a hazy dream
across the tables stained with tea,
upon a wave of careless sound
that does the chrome and glass resound.
At last we journey on again
and all our anguished urban pain
is withered by the burnished tongues
as time’s revenge redresses wrongs
that human minds might strive once more
to unleash from Creation’s store
of inspirations infinite
some tiny spark, forgotten light
and so achievement’s joy will share
within a brief existence bare.
Now swiftly are the miles devoured
and soon our thoughts of lateness scoured
by sweet mists ’neath the scented trees
who murmur to the dying breeze
a lullaby of highwaymen
whose ghostly shadows ride again
along the hedgerows in the dusk
and past us, as the wind, do rush.
Soon elms and hawthorn fall behind
as on across the plain we wind
with swiftness lent by Mercury;
and here the ancient Salisbury
its narrow streets lays bare, that we
might quickly from its walls be free.
Onward ever still we race;
now to the right broods Cranbourne Chase
while on the left the coastal plain,
washed green by legendary rain,
unfolds towards the magic waves
whose spells enchant the smugglers’ caves
and pulls as rabbits from a hat
we pilgrims from our urban flat.
Blandford, Milbourne, so near we draw
to Hardy’s timeless Wessex shore
that trembling with excitement’s pain
the western conflagration’s mane
I seem to lose within my dreams
of roaring logs and panelled screens.
At Puddleton my conscience wanes;
at Dorchester my leg complains;
then lost am I in fantasies
of all the coming mysteries.
My lashes seem to barely meet
when suddenly I find my seat
is tilted downwards as a slide
and ere my wits are ’wakened wide
I think I’ve dreamed the whole affair
while sitting in my office chair;
but now the sharp, salt sea air spray
dispels my fears with quiet content
and there below I see the light
that glimmers warmth into the night
between the chinks of curtains drawn
behind the panes and leading, worn
by centuries of salt and rain
around the sea folks’ nightly fane -
the bar room parlour window bay.
Now passed forever is the day
into a misty twilight haze,
beneath the dancing starry maze
that spreads a mosaic canopy
across the great domed dynasty
of mythological surmise
and astronomical surprise.
The village street unfolds once more,
where welcome answers every door,
the tide is always coming in
and jovial is the quayside inn
when sets the Sun at half past nine
and soft the Moon begins to shine,
shedding all her graphite rays
of sadness on the whispering bays.
The tavern door is opened wide
and there the landlord stoops inside
his dim-lit narrow entrance hall
with oaken panels on the wall
proffering brazen riding lights
whose watery lenses o’er the white-
encrusted plaster shadows cast
of ancient beams from ages past,
whose distance from the reddened tiles
sarcastically on stature smiles.
A sign upon the left hand side
with gothic characters and pride
proclaims the parlour and the bar
whilst opposite the letters are
of similar style and sympathy,
revered in this locality
for here the smoking lounge is known
to be the business metronome
and all who wish to make a deal
or bargain strike, discuss with zeal
their problems, profits and the rest
to see which one will have the best.
Here sit we down with seasoned meat
until the more we cannot eat;
which after smoke we then a while,
consuming from our tankards ale
whose crystal sparkle through the glass
matures the beech and burnished brass,
encompassed by a pewter base
that tapers, beaten, to the face;
and flattered by such overtures
the palate praises connoisseurs.
When finally the bar is closed
and all objections are opposed
then up the scarp of ancient stairs
our feet the hollow cradles wear
with eager quickness to ascend
and lose our minds in dreams that wend
between the haze of misty fronds;
imaginings of white peeled wands
and ghosts of nymphs with silver hoods
and "good folk" creeping through the woods
from jagged foreland’s crumbling shale
upon which winds of wrath prevail
above a sea of phantom spray
that slowly drifts across the day
and merges with the fading sky
into the aeons passing by.
Perceptible awareness creeps
from hollows where the willow weeps
with damp leaves dripping in the dawn,
shivering in the early morn’
upon the faint awakening call
that lingers on the bedroom wall
then cries again of pallor faint
and textures blending, so to paint
the dormer panes o’er sleepily
above the eastern promontory.
Dark oak from ceiling to the wall
in rhythmic cadence seems to fall
enraptured by an unseen hand
that slides across the shingled sand
and whispers lunar fantasies
from ancient unsolved mysteries
whose troubled souls stir in their sleep
and oft’ are cast up form the deep.
Now loud the chorus from the trees
imagination strives to please;
and stirs my mind to fingers grey
that slowly creep upon the day
and prize my lids with icy stealth
to shower me with unbounded wealth
of true prismatic harmony -
kaleidoscopes of eternity
that fade into a fiery gold
(for now the dawn’s becoming old)
to praise a day that’s just begun -
another rising of the Sun.
The sting of water on my face
revives the soul as muscles brace
beneath the shock of droplets chill
that strive the fronds of sleep to kill,
whereupon scours the hot steel blade
a facial fungus which the shade
of night has nurtured with its breath -
a cool damp scent that smells of death.
But now a fragrance fills the room
that wakes the lie-a-bed too soon
and all are washed and dressed in haste,
for home cured bacon wins the taste
of any man whose ’wakening thoughts
are carelessly by hunger caught.
The kitchen chimney corner seat
is where we always sit and eat
the finest plateful ever seen
of bacon, eggs, tomatoes, beans,
beef sausages and crisp fried bread
with which we truly are well fed.
When every plate is mopped quite clean
then joy’s expression spreads a beam
across our hostess cook’s blue eyes
as she her husband’s breakfast fries
beside the great slate fireplace
whose hand carved frame of wooden lace
expands across the kitchen wide
o’er almost all the southern side.
Now here we take our leave of her
and through the door no little stir
amongst the gulls upon the quay
we cause as we talk merrily
while clattering o’er the cobbled street.
Upon the harbour wall we meet
old wool-capped Bill the boatyard man
whose cheerful face and ruddy tan
disclose a soul that’s full of mirth
and asks that none should prove his worth.
The sweater o’er his portly paunch
is pressed against an outboard launch
whilst he the gunwale varnishes
to cover ancient tarnishes.
His hand moves quickly to and fro
as he a cloud of smoke does blow
from knotted pipe of polished briar
of which he rarely seems to tire.
The morning thus we idly waste
dispelling thankless thoughts of haste
until out thirsts at last wax high
and we the bar are standing nigh.
An afternoon out in the sloop
amid those onshore gusts that swoop
with talons sharp upon our sails,
that shatter spars when timber fails
and all are helpless save we brave
young stalwarts five against the waves;
close hauled we race ’twixt mewstones tall
beneath the never ending wall
where tumbling chaos foams and boils
unleashing waters of turmoil
whose stinging spray upon the face
compels each one to ask for grace.
Now round she comes and running free
we dance upon the open sea
whilst racing proudly into port
with yet another battle fought
against such foes that greater skill
would not combat for fear of ill.
Exhausted now within the cove
with foresail backed we lie their hove
beside the mooring’s marker buoy
whose mirth expresses unknown joy
that fails upon our human lips
but silent from the masthead drips
while stow we now the canvass wet.
Shivering home our thoughts are yet
engrossed within the pleasure passed
until once more we brave the deep,
enfurled within the frond of sleep.
Oh, glory of a weekend’s rest -
the maidens in their Sunday best
who congregate outside the stone
four centred arches overgrown
with tinted shades of pastel green -
the open hearth and brazen screen
whose logs blaze warmth into the night
and laugh at foolish urban plight
across the age-worn polished boards
until the village lads are lords -
the swishing dance of power boats
upon the swell of watery nodes
that whisper ancient lullabies
beneath expansive rhythmic skies
of lost romance; imaginings
whose long forgotten happenings
inspire an unknown happiness
with almost human tenderness.
When at last we say goodbye,
how sadly seems the heart to sigh
as dance the waves into the mist
and tears our eyes cannot resist,
for who his fondest love could lose
yet not his heart and soul so bruise
that were not hope to meet again
then all would slowly die in pain,
oblivious to mortal sin
obscured by all the worldly din.
So now once more begins the week
when we no more may laughter seek
but I must sit the glass within
and pine once more our weekend whim,
for who will keep the world awake
if only for my lonely sake?
Yet even seems my desk to weep -
and I shall surely fall asleep.