Saturday, 10 January 2009

A sense of place

During the many whistle-stop tours I've taken round Blogland, since I discovered it on Christmas day, I've been delighted with the way contributors add little pieces to a huge jig-saw collage. A kaleidoscope of images, whether in words or pictures, coalesce in my mind and the world has painted itself on a different canvas. To each person 'Home' is unique, be it in wide open grasslands, bustling, modern city or exotic oriental setting.

This started me thinking about where I live. What's so special about this spot on the South Coast of England? Eventually I decided it's a sense of history, closely followed by the simple pastoral image of the rolling, switchback hills of the Southdowns, and the neighbouring sparkling waters of the Solent that saw the start of so many Naval escapades, from Henry Vlll onwards. And we mustn't forget the Isle of Wight with its Dinosaur legacy!

At Portchester, there are the remains of a Roman Castle, and not too far off in Fishbourne, a Roman Villa lets us gaze at a tessellated floor exposed by excavations and now displayed in a purpose built museum protecting the site from the elements. In Havant, St Faith's Church goes back to the eleventh century, and you can read all about its history online, if you're interested.
So the whole area is steeped in history, and has echos of it which still resound in our senses - which is why I wrote the following:-

Echoes From The Past

Two ways lead to the seashore.
One's by a street through town
where you hear the racing traffic
rush, honking, up and down.

The other's by a woodland path.
That's the way I like to go,
for Roman Soldiers strode there once,
many years ago.

But one day, in this leaf strewn lane,
I heard a marching sound...
and that's when I began to wish
I was on the road through town!

The slap of leather sandals
kept up a rhythmic beat;
I found my pulses racing,
keeping time with marching feet.

My heart pounded frantically
and I began to run,
as shadows of plumed helmets
were created by the sun.


  1. You have a special way with words, friend. I've got a feeling you'd do just as lovely with free verse. Write on!

  2. Thanks, Angie - I promise to give you a taste of that in future blogs. Rhyming verse is maybe just a sprat to catch a mackerel, to keep the analogy true to my Piscean nature.

  3. So you're new to blogging! Nice to meet you. You'll find it can become rather obsessive. I enjoyed your poem. I enjoy writing both rhyming and free verse, but I find I can write the former when I'm washing-up whereas the latter takes more quiet contemplation and I'm not a quiet contemplative person!

  4. Let us walk through fields together, shall we?
    I am so wonderfully excited to have "met" you!

  5. I am so glad you found blogging, and that I found you! That's a wonderful poem, Jinsky. While reading it, some scenes from the old "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" movie with Angela Lansbury sprang to mind. That's intended as a compliment.

  6. I loved what you wrote,and I am glad I found you. I have been blogging since November, thanks to my daughter. I live in Arkansas, in a small town that is on the Historical Register ( the whole town.) Eureka Springs is a beautiful town built in the Ozark mountain range and we have many natural springs here. Your writing is wonderul, too. See you later

  7. Pat, I think you picked up on the fact the poem is actually amongst a collection aimed at children; I add to it from time to time with a sneaking hope to one day find an illustrator who could help turn the whole thing into a book. But I guess the 'kids' I write for are aged 9 to 90, anyway...
    And in reply to The Muse - I hope those are fields of clover?!

  8. Leslie, you crept up on me, even as I was writing the last note! Hello! Didn't mean to ignore you...

  9. Your introduction makes the piece especially vivid to me. This history of England is amazing. I have read Rutherford's London and started Sarum, but it seemed so similar to London that I didn't read that far into it. I also read part of Whyte's Arthur/Merlin series before it also bogged me down on length and sidetrips.

  10. Your poetry reminds me a bit of the great Philip Larkin, a real sense of Englishness!

  11. AC - If you're talking Arthur/Merlin, have you read Mary Stewart's saga? The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The last Enchantment and The Wicked Day are a MUST READ for anyone to whom the old story appeals.
    Glad you got the picture in the intro...

  12. Lovely description there. And I've always envied people who could write rhyming verse that scans correctly!

  13. I really like this poem. It captured my imagination.

  14. jinsky,
    Where have you been all of my life? "The best words in the best order"--Remember Mary Stewart's heroine in Nine Coaches Waiting quoting Coleridge's definition of poetry? (These long decades my year-younger sister and I have been acolytes of Stewart's poetry and prose.) Coleridge's words certainly apply to your verse, jinsky. Yes, sometimes rhyme, which Stewart refers to as having "incantatory power," will indeed conjure a frightened traveler hearing Roman legionnaires and seeing plumed helmet shadows in the deep woods. Lovely verse. Lovely premise. Congratulations on your writing! My sis-in-law just sent me your link. Thanks for the word trip to England from a confirmed American Anglophile! Oh, to be in England. Did someone say that?

  15. Jinsky,
    Let's have a go at getting my email address published. (See how British I am!)

  16. Hmmm - like the new name you bestowed in me Mary Ann - I see jinksy has now turned a bit Russian?!

  17. You can tell, I'm in a spin from everybody's kind words - Please read 'on' not 'in' ... I should have 'More haste less speed' tattooed on every finger...

  18. Well I’d like to add to that picture clear,
    I too have walked with Romans here!
    I also recall the adjacent path,
    where smugglers roamed in darkest dark.
    The graveyard and field where kites were flown.
    Its such a shame that I have grown!
    As to what’s so special about south coast glee,
    well I call it home because its part of me.

    Much love from number one! x

  19. Q, you brought a lump to my throat! You are a true chip off the old block... Love, Ma X

  20. Wow, Jinsky! That's as good as any story I've ever heard. I could feel the suspense in the story as you told it. Someday I'm gonna visit England and when I do I want to see all those wonderful historical places I've read about for so many years. English history is among my favorite subjects to read about.

    Another thing that delighted me was seeing how your number of commentors has grown. Fantastic!

  21. Lovely, Jinsky. And as with any place, home is what you make it. You've made yours so poetic.

  22. Um, jinksy, sorry 'bout that Russian twist I inadvertently gave your name. Obviously my brain power is slower than my typing.

    Have so enjoyed reading your posts. Thanks to my beautiful sis-in-law, Angie, I've now got a window to my beloved England.


Curiosity Cats can leave a whisker here...but not before noting, please, that I choose to have an award free, tag free, meme free blog. But by all means, talk to me by email - I love to 'chat'...