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MONEA

The day was cold as the north wind blew, At the Church I viewed the ancient yew; Beech, Thorn and Holly left to right, Primrose on banks within my sight.   Ahead of me the stones of old Monea, Roofless and haunted to this day, By those who refuge there did seek; The strong, the…

THE WIDOW

Here I rest with eyes closed, our child plays at my feet, Reflecting back to youthful days, in repose upon this seat.   The home is neat and tidy, only toys across the floor, From the shadow of my dream, I hear him coming to the door.   Remembering back to when we met on…

JUSTICE – Monty Alexander 1997

The Belfast Gaol and Courthouse were both built in the 1840s facing each other on opposite sides of the Crumlin Road.  A tunnel under the road connected the two buildings for convenience in transferring prisoners in either direction.  There were many, both staff and prisoners, who found ‘The Tunnel’ oppressive and claustrophobic.  The last prisoners…

Poetry by HUGH ALEXANDER (1892 – 1978)

Included is a selection of poems written by my father.  He was a natural poet from whom rhyme continually flowed. This gift manifested itself at an early age and the poem ‘Ringland’s Dream’, was written when he was 14 years old. He travelled extensively and loved to converse with people everywhere, being an accomplished linguist.  He was…

SEASONS – Hugh Alexander 1909

The springtime comes, the leaves and flowers appear And butterflies and bees pursue again, Their journeys o’er the meadows and the hills; The days grow warmer and the bloom appears, Upon the trees and perfume fills the air. The birds assume a brighter dress and sound; Among the woods a louder sweeter song. Then summer…

THE PATRIOT

When just a boy I stood there at my Mother’s knee, Beaming down into my face she said a Patriot I would be.   She told me heroic stories of times long ago, When Ireland’s sons fought for her against a savage foe.   I learned the language of the Gael being our mother tongue,…

A VISION TO BE

The day was bright and still the breeze When a veil was lifted from that scene; As I gazed from a mountain frieze Into a valley lush and green.   Behold an ancient city of long ago, Turrets, spires and adornment there; Neatly laid across that valley low, Transfixed I could but stare.   It…

WAVES AND TIME

The winds of change are blowing Across the stones of time; With the winding river flowing, To the sea.   Hawthorne marching to the hill, Bordering fallow fields; And Gulls soar on wings held still, Above the sea.   Gloomy winter’s pall, shadow of decay, But life awaits in ambush; For the bright and lengthening…

TSUNAMI

Death bells toll in every clime For the flotsam of humanity, Drifting on a fateful tide of time After tumult on the azure sea.   No pity in its grasping thrust, To kill, obliterate, defile; The darkest side of nature’s lust, Across the spread of beach and isle..   O where were the Seers that…

TO YOU MY LOVE

Reflections of youth, sun high in the sky, Recall now memories of times gone by; ‘Twas then I first saw the glint from your hair And thanked all the Gods for being just there.   A stream running through yon meadow of green, Your sweet form a’gilding that magical scene; With skin flawless and pure…

THE REF

Spare a thought for the old Referee, One contemplates, ‘Why does he bother?’ Twenty-two men all running free, Abused by one side or the other.   The dancing mob yell insults at him, To place his parentage somewhat in doubt; Ignoring them all with face looking grim, He gives not a damn what they shout.…

THE RAINBOW

The eternal essence of all life has fallen on the land; Washing petal, leaf and grass a picture sharp and grand. At times a symbol from our God, the Halo does appear; Entrancing those beholding by refraction through each tear.   Now Bacon measured the angle from its zenith to the ground; Newtown counted the…

THE HAWK

A perfect day, the brightest morn, Sun kissing leaf and tree; A bird afar seems all forlorn What can the matter be?   Then a movement on the grass Brings home the reason why; A Sparrowhawk has made its pass And a meal has had to die.   A cruel beak; fierce callous eye, Surveying…

THE GUN

In Bangor’s Ward park, County Down, is a German Submarine gun from U.B.19, to commemorate the exploits of the Hon. Edward Barry Stewart BINGAM RN who won the Victoria Cross at the Battle of Jutland on the 31stMay 1916. He was rescued from the sea by the German Navy after his ship HMS Nestor was sunk…

THE DEAD PENNY

Corporal George Frazer Parker, 13849, 8thBattalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, died aged 25, on Wednesday 6thSeptember 1916 and is remembered with honour at Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval, France.  Corporal Parker was the son of James and Margaret Parker, Drumbanagher, Jerrettspass, County Armagh.  After the Great War they were the recipients of a bronze plaque in honour…

THE COVENANTERS

In Southern Scotland near the little town of Thornhill in the valley of the River Nith, is old Dalcarnoch Graveyard.  The Church and Village that once existed beside it have long been obliterated, by those requiring an easy supply of stone to build elsewhere. However, preserved just inside the gates to the burial ground sits a…

THE COAST

‘Tis an old grey morning overcast The cloud letting light pass through; Dare I ask is this weather’s to last, No chance of a change of view?   Watching the sea’s pulsating sheet, Breathing mountainous mass so alive; Scavenger birds on rocks at my feet, I see the lone Comorant dive.   Ship on the…

THE APPRENTICE

The transition of Schoolboy to Apprentice and the slow progression to the rank of Tradesman or Journeyman within engineering, was an arduous time and truly a learning experience.   THE APPRENTICE   The boy stood tall and scrawny, tow upon his head; His arms they were not brawny, all confidence had fled.   The Engineers…

SAINT COMGALL

In the Isles of the West where cold winds blow, There dwelt a young soldier a long time ago, Who lived by the sword, the spear and the bow, Then these ways he forsook; That soldier was Comgall from Antrim’s shore, Blessed with wisdom and vision that opened a door, To the ways of the…

REFLECTIONS AT EASTER

The power of word will last and last, When monuments have crumbled, Drawing memories from our past, After mighty towers have crumbled.   Thoughts surviving time and span, From those with gifted vision; Immortalised in words of man, With merit and precision.   When paper lies in dank decay; Minds of men will still relate;…

RAILS OF YESTERYEAR

The Bushmills to Portrush Hydro-Electric Tramway, built in the 1880s was the first of its kind in the World, an engineering feat by men of talent and vision.  It is regrettable that circumstances dictated it had to be closed and dismantled in 1950. Many times, as a child with my parents I waited beside the track…

PRODUCE OF CREATION

The summer’s eve declining, One reclining in repose As the gillyflowers of garden Seduce the senses of the nose.   Was our own Creator Able to foresee, Pleasure in the meadow blooms Sprinkled on the lea?   Rosettes of earth’s creation, Paying homage to the Bee, Clouds forever forming Suspended o’er the sea.   Seasons…

PIECES OF IRON

A Hammer met an Anvil one day, “I’ve seen you about”, the Anvil did say. “Yes, I’ve met you before in the past, We were introduced by the Shoemaker’s Last”. “What of the Last have you seen him about?” “Now and again I‘d give him a shout. He’s redundant in the old backyard, And very…

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

As I strolled along in sunset bower, My vision picked a wandering flower; With the grace of a bird in flight, Her eyes were sparkling with delight.   Gilded ‘gainst the setting sun, Slowly she began to turn; Thus, her gaze found me just there, Lost for speech I could but stare.   Then my…

LOST TRADES

For over 200 years, engineering and related endeavours evolved and bloomed in our industrial heartlands, with thousands in each region earning a living by the skill of their hands, which they passed down to subsequent generations. These workers along with the Farmer were the productive base line of the nation, supporting the infrastructure, also those who…

HALLOWE’EN

On the thirty-first of October In the coming of the year, The night is full of Witches And the people full of fear.   On looking up above One might see a few Banshees Moaning and a’howlin’ As they wind among the trees.   Warlocks, Ghosts and Spectres Will fill you full of dread, And…

BREAD OF LIFE

December’s sun is glistening On the foliage of the Pine; Chillled, I stand a’listening As beams of light define.   Snow! Crisp upon the ground, Silhouetted trees so still; A Robin’s chirp! The only sound Trying to find its fill.   A Wagtail with its funny gait Marches up and down; Sparrows join and congregate…

BEST UNITED

On a rainswept December day in 2005, the people of Belfast and the World paid tribute and gave thanks for the life of George Best a Footballer of repute.   BEST UNITED   They came from beyond and near, The tears of Heaven falling down; Anointing all who held him dear, For his being and…

AN ISLAND CHURCH OF ERNE

The rock hewn Cross of Inishmacsaint, To the west wall of that sacred ruin; Monument to Christ and the Mason quaint, Dispersed islands around it strewn.   In that windswept watery wilderness, Some met there to worship their God; That gathering bowed, the Cleric did bless, As they rested from net and the sod.  …

30thNOVEMBER 1995

I stood at Belfast’s City Hall And heard the President make the call; To thousands of people gathered there, Addressing them with panache and flair. On reasons why the peace should hold, So in future days it would be told; How reason and tolerance won the day, With tranquillity the state of play. He was…

TULLYEAR

Tessie and William Halliday dwelt for many years in the Townland of Tullyear, near Banbridge in the County of Down in the direction of Rathfriland.  Their cottage was beside an ancient earthen Fort, the origin of which was lost in antiquity.  Its perimeter was marked all round by hazelnut trees and part of a moat. …

THE WAIF

  Spare a thought for the poorly child wherever they may be; Give freely for that tragic child at home or o’er the sea.   Neglected mites of this great world, such plights mar all mankind; Their minds not on God like some, but where a meal to find.   I see those faces, black…

THE TROLLEYBUS RUN

  In Belfast Town away long ago, Trolleybuses ferried people to and fro.   To enter a Trolley you went to the back And then just stepped onto the deck.   I would sit on the seat beside the door, Where there was a pole from roof to floor.   It was nice to sit…

THE SPINNER

(Sion Mills, County Tyrone)   THE SPINNER   There’s a place in my heart from old Tyrone, Indelibly held in memory sown.   The spinning frames stood upon the floor, From wall to wall inside the door; Each cared for by a maiden fair, With shoeless feet and plaited hair.   No ‘Prima Donna’ could…

THE SEA

  The Sea, The Sea the wonderful Sea, Lashes and washes around you and me; Moon with the tide covers the scree, Foaming white horses reach for the lee.   The Sea, The Sea, rolling great deep, Fishermen casting, so as to reap; Haven for some to swim or to creep, Bed for the weed…

THE ROUND TOWER

  The rounded Tower upon the hill With its mortared wall; An imposing structure still A symbol to us all.   Of ancestors long since past Who walked this sacred land; When the Invader’s net was cast, To defend they took a stand.   Here they faced the Viking And withstood the Dane; As many…

THE MARY DELL

Having served my penal yoke, I stood a Felon freed, Seven years and transportation the Judge he had decreed.   An older man and wiser, my thoughts they were of home, As I gazed at the Tasman Sea with its ribbons of frothing foam.   I could see breakers crashing in another hemisphere, Around an…

THE HIGHLANDS

  Rain coming down and grey the day, With cloud there is no shadow; To the sun, “Come back”, we say, “Kiss mountain top and hollow”.   Oh! Land of the deer and eagle, Perennial gorse to live and die; Oh! Land of the scenic and regal, The tick and tormenting fly.   Damp swirling…

THE EXILE

  Here I am on a Chilean shore, I know I’ll wander this World no more; I’ve had my three score years and ten, Time allotted to mere mortal men.   There is no doubt I’ll soon expire, I feel my limbs and body tire; In my mind I see a place, To the North…

THE BOMB CALL

  The call would come when the time was right Made when the Bomber was well out of sight Five, ten or fifteen minutes to go You had to be fast and never slow Clearing the area a policeman’s concern Over the years many lessons to learn Get the people to leave or push them…

THE BALLYLESSON BLACKSMITH

  A Forge of repute was Sandy Gray’s At Fort Road below Purdysburn Hill; Where that Magician in steel and the shaping of iron, Displayed the Blacksmith and Farrier’s skill.   Taking metal white hot straight out of the fire, Held in tongs that were blackened and worn; On the Anvil he’d hammer with sharpness…

SANTA-CLAUS

  ‘Tis Christmas Eve in starry night, Oncoming sleep the children fight; They listen for the sleigh bell ring, Thinking of what it will bring.   They see Reindeer prancing in the sky, As across the heavens they fly, Pulling Santa-Claus along behind, Determined every child to find.   Parcels big and parcels small; Oh!…

SACRIFICE

  Wind from the wings of the hovering gun ship, swept the ground where they lay.   Warriors down prone upon the grass, to keep the unwanted at bay.   Alert was their stance around and about, with the slash of breech steel.   Amid the roar of the engine’s power, and crunch of the…

REVISITED

  Here I stand in the old school yard and think of yesteryear, Echoes of the past within my head as I wipe away a tear.   I feel the presence of long ago at this familiar scene, Surrounded by giant Beeches and fields of emerald green.   The old School House is still here…

REST ASSURED

  As I wandered along the old Highway To my home at the end of the day; I saw the Church with its heavenward spire, Behind it the Sun that celestial fire.   Silhouetted over the graveyard wall Were stone markers ornate and tall; This scene before me, in just a blink, I became aware…

RAMBLING ROSE

  Oh, Rambling Rose I see you grow In profusion through the hedge; I watch you weave to seek a place At every nook and mortared ledge.   Abundantly your buds appear Like little drops of dew; A sign of coming scarlet rosettes, Blossoms for all to view.   Then you’ll bask in proud display…

PURDYSBURN RIVER

  When just an inquisitive little boy I would watch the Burn, With innocent fascination from it I could not turn.   I noted the size and angle of every protruding rock, Some of them were mountain tops or harbours for ships to dock.   Not to skirt the river was my Mother’s rule; Without…

ON GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD

  The balance of nature, what a wonderful thing, Brings forth the blossom as the birds sing, And leaves on the trees burst outward and spread, In delicate spring when winter has fled.   Producers of honey, buzz along on the wing, Sweet nectar gleaned, to hives they will bring, Pollen on stamens, they brush…

HUGHIE LINTON’S SHOP

  Hughie Linton was a man who dwelt in Belfast Town, A buyer of antiquities for never more than half-a-crown; Trading on the Ormeau Road with shop front to the fore, Stock was from the floor to roof and packed around the door.   Now Hughie dealt in anything that ever came his way, Hoards…

FRUIT OF DEPRESSION

  I think of times long ago And sometimes think I can say ‘Hello’, To people who were once as I But time ran out and they had to die.   In my dreams I see my Father’s face Across the divide in another place; In his steps I must follow Over mountain, heath and…

EVENING THOUGHTS

Written after a visit to the old Mellon Homestead in the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, County Tyrone.   EVENING THOUGHTS   I remember long ago beside the warm turf fire, Father resting in his chair before he did retire; Oil lamp with double burner sitting on the shelf, High up out of reach, from…

BUT WHO WAS WILLIAM BYERS?

The Battle of Inkermann was fought on the 5thNovember 1854, between a portion of the allied British and French army besieging Sevastopol in the Crimea and a Russian army under Prince Alexander Menshikov.  Victory fell to the allies but only through the grit of the ordinary Soldier in fierce hand to hand combat.  Inkermann became…

CARRICKFERGUS CASTLE

  The Citadel of Fergus stands on a windswept northern shore, Where Angle, Scot and Norman are known from years before; In the ancient arch of chiselled stone above the entrance door, Are grooves where spears were sharpened by sentries of yore.   Enemies trapped by portcullises dropped awaited molten lead, Scalded, lampooned and blasted…

AVARICE

  When I was young I spent my days beside the River Bann, As it meandered through County Down along its banks I ran.   Or I would sit upon a knoll and with great patience wait, For that elusive king size fish to take my subtle bait.   Then I grew up and wandered…

ANNO DOMINI – MM

  A moment in eternity, two thousand years are past, Since the Carpenter was born, a presence made to last.   Child ‘Devine’ of Heaven’s light, revered by Wise and King, Who with lowly Shepherds, homage to him did bring.   Knowing youth of ‘Godly Grace’, quizzed teachers of the law, To astound with wisdom’s…

A TRIBUTE

  Groomsport is a little town On the coast of County Down, I often sit on its Harbour wall Listening to the seagull’s call. I hear the waves lap the shore At other times they crash and roar, I then will rest within the lee And watch the foam backed angry sea. In the habitat…

A SOLDIER’S LAMENT

The emergence of the British Empire and subsequent military obligations saw throughout its existence, millions employed in the Services for long periods overseas, especially in Africa and India. Their common bond was pride in their Unit and love of their Country, whether Scots, English, Welsh or Irish. Many left their homes as boy soldiers or sailors to…

A MOMENT

  In my dreams I see a place Which in my memory I can trace, Within a vale on Erin’s Isle, On a road beside a stile. Overlooking a field of golden corn, Leading to the cot where I was born.   It was just there in noon’s full glare, I fell bewitched by her…

WHITE HORSES

Viewing the white topped waves reminds one of the spontaneity of human life that appears and disappears, never two the same; each a unique creation.   WHITE HORSES   Atop the billow White Horses leap A date with destiny theirs to keep   Born of water’s ebb and flow A flash of time for them…

TRANQUILLITY

  Summer is here, the day is long, Swift and Swallow on the wing; Land of our Fathers, poem and song, That ‘Harpers’ used to sing. Trees intertwine above the bower, Where Pheasant peck and roam; A haze of warmth rests at this hour, O’er the grass I call my home.   Tide in retreat…

THE WISE MEN

  A brilliance burning in the heavens a star to point the way, High up in the night sky, guiding the wise to where He lay. They trekked from a distant land to the Manger’s lighted gloom, Searching for the ‘Christ Child’, cradled in that lowly room. These men of a learned race, paid homage…

THE TITANIC

  Lines of rivets, plates of iron, portholes of burnished brass, Companionways, decks of teak, third second and first class.   Smoke rising from funnels three, although one counted four, Thrusting blades set at the rear, torque from the engine’s core.   To sail upon the briny sea, across the ocean’s waste, A crucible of…

THE TIED COTTAGE

  The Labourer on his sick bed lay, with heavy heart so worn, Result of all the ground ploughed and cutting of the corn; A wife showing all life’s strains, stood by him on that morn, In the abode allowed to them, where offspring had been born.   “O Annie dear what shall I do? …

THE PRICE OF PEACE

  There’s a wrought and ornate gate, Through a cut and dressed stone wall, To a churchyard on a hill in West Tyrone.   Splendid beech trees touch the sky, And luxuriant yews are lined, Giving shelter to a church in West Tyrone.   Gothic windows stained and long, Let light and song pass through,…

THE HAND OF TIME

As I sat in the Accident and Emergency department of the Belfast City Hospital a very old woman slumped in a wheelchair was slowly pushed past me. Her left hand hung down displaying two beautiful rings.   THE HAND OF TIME   Grey ravaged head within the chair A wrinkled withered hand on show; Sparkling facet…

THE EMIGRANT’S RETURN

  My eyes took in the gable wall from beneath the lintel stone; Pointing stark towards open sky, the tapering chimney cone.   Time worn timbers overhead, exposed by missing thatch; Forever gone the old half door, with its loose and welcome latch.   Precious memories engulfed me, across the divide of time; Standing there…

SUCH IS THE KINGDOM

  Children of God to be recalled Through Heaven’s open door; Lie wide-eyed in innocence. “Give comfort”, prayers implore.   Concerns and trivia in our lives Pale ‘neath descending pall; That humbling mantle’s shadow, Brings sorrow to us all.   Small stems of life not to flower, By each divine decree; But Christ awaits with…

STONES AND TIME

  The walls of stone with mortared vein, Bastions of a bygone age; Such builders we’ll n’er see again.   Who tore the rock from quarry face, Swathed in sweat and dust; For each edifice in its chosen place.   Gone are they but stones still stand, Staid reminders to the eye; Land embossed by…

SPAWN OF OAK

  An acorn fell from a mighty tree And lay upon the ground; A tasty morsel for a squirrel to see, To hide so as not to be found.   The squirrel went off to search for more And a jackdaw entered the plot; He stuck his head in the squirrel’s store, Stealing the acorn…

SHADOWS

  Shadows here and shadows there, Shadows on the ground; As the morning sun appears, Shadows all around.   Shadows long and shadows short, Shadows on the wall; With the emerging gift of light, Shadows for us all.   Shadows streaking everywhere, Shadows o’er the lawn; Shadows always at their best, Following on the dawn.…

PERFIDIOUS FINANCES

  Recession! Recession! On everyone’s lips, The plotting and planning has failed; Financial advisors all gone with their tips, The engine of fortune derailed.   The Premier talks of skill in the workplace, Never there himself in the past; Manufacturers to put us back in the race, Rising from where they were cast.   Grey…

LAGAN VALE

The Lagan Navigation System, passing through idyllic surroundings from Belfast to Lisburn and beyond to Lough Neagh, was completed in the second half of the 18thCentury.  It accommodated the passage of heavy-laden barges, carrying up to 50 tons or more at a slow rate, pulled by a large work horse.  Eventually motorised barges were introduced,…

GERRY THE WINO

  All my friends are ‘Winos’ and I’m a ‘Wino’ too, I hanker after spirits and I like what ‘winos’ do.   When I was young, I saw them, sprawled about the town; To hear intoxicated humour; beside them I’d sit down.   Funny words from bloated faces through dirt infested hair; People kept their…

ERNE

  The water lies like a silver sheet, with ripples reflecting the Sun; Hills descend the shore to meet as it has been since time begun.   If I were Monet this vision I’d paint in the ‘Impressionist’ style; Like the Fisherman or roving Saint, I have stayed here a while.   Alder and Ash…

COAST OF DOWN

  Here the rocks of time stand, Bulwark between the sea and land; Wearing nature’s lichen coat, Trim for the cauldron’s endless moat.   Where birds take rest in the sun, As they their daily sojourn run; And fishermen go out to reap A harvest from the rolling deep.   Forefathers stood at this same…

CELLARS OF THE MIND

  In dark dungeons of dejection Where despondent thoughts dwell; There’s no satisfaction of perfection In that subterranean Hell.   Where is the salve that can appease This hole of black despair? Is there a word or thought to ease A door for those trapped there?   Smug are they who’ve never worn The cloak…

CASTLE AND CAUSEWAY

Perched on a precipitous coastal outcrop of rock in North Antrim, between the towns of Portrush and Bushmills stands the ruin of Dunluce Castle.  It served as a place of sanctuary for many in the past, but for none more able than Sorley Boy McDonnell, c1505 – 1590; a Scoto-Irish Chieftain in Elizabethan times.  A…

CALM

  Calm is that time before the morn, with daylight about to begin. Calm is the quiet of an empty Church, far from everyday din.   Calm is the sea before the wild wind, causes the waters to flow. Calm is the watchful wily old Owl above its kingdom below.   Calm is the Burn…

A SILVER RIBBON

  The River flows through green meadows yonder, From the hillside I gaze and quietly wonder;   About all the past souls who saw it in yore, Absorbing it s beauty and now they’re no more.   Was it always so gentle and ever so trim? Caressing grasses along the bank’s rim.   Sweet liquid…

DELUSION

  As the snowflake falls and disappears, So do endeavours of our years; Temples embellished with riches and dyes Are temporal sights before our eyes.   Cloaks, pomp and ceremony to mesmerise Those of the world in human guise; Are just a sham of man’s mortal need To fuel crucibles of power and greed.  …

DICE OF DESTINY

  Whether your eye be brown or blue, Your skin black or white; Under God you’ll get your due, But equality in his sight.   The turbaned wallah in the dust, Beneath a scorching sky; A beggar searching for a crust Or sheltered place to lie.   Despise not these of low degree, For whom…

WHAT IF

  Will there be Snobs in Heaven still looking down their nose, To show that they’re superior and everybody knows?   Will intellects be levelled on passing through the gate? If so there will be protests spawning much debate.   Will prejudice still flourish if souls are all transparent? If so, they’ll need be labelled…

VIGELAND’S PARK

Adolf Gustav Vigeland (1869 – 1943) Norwegian Sculptor was born at Mandal in South Norway.  In early youth he studied wood carving as an apprentice and in 1889 produced his first work as a sculptor, being a relief depicting incidents from the Iliad.  Having touched semi-impressionistic art, he eventually adopted a more classical style.  Vigeland’s…

TURBAN GIRL

  There’s a turbaned girl beyond the sea where Lion and Antelope roam; Her image floats before me in life’s tempestuous foam.   Always young and ever fair as I grow grey and old; Her face I see with smile so rare a face so proud and bold.   Her eyes contain a message, too…

TRIALS OF THE LEADER

  In solitude the leader stands, Under shadow of the jibe and taunt; Response! Response! Clamour demands, Shall chosen course return to haunt?   In vitriolic bile or accolade, He must face the silent dead; A sacrifice that will not fade, Perhaps the shame of blame laid.   The dilemma his, nowhere to turn, As…

TIME

  The essence of time, elusive mysterious thing; Accounting for summer, autumn, winter and spring; A module of time, stone in eternity’s wall; Or is it a ball surrounding us all?   The future ahead, past reaching behind; At the universe centre a moment you’ll find; But if time is a line unswervingly straight; Time…

THE SHIP

  A ribbon of light upon the sea As the great Ship plys her way, Waves glint as shadows flee Making way for Sun of day.   The bow’s woven trim of lace, Swirling, curling o’er the deep, Sweeps past in gentle grace, Gauze of spray the breeze to reap.   Neptune, Lord of sea…

THE SCREAM

The Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, at a place in the hills near Oslo said he heard a scream from nature and that it was this that inspired him to paint his famous haunting picture ‘The Scream’.   THE SCREAM   A scream was heard from nature Where hills and valley blend; A haunting cry so…

THE ROSE

  I see the beauty of a Rose in abundance lush and pink, A miracle of creation affecting what I think.   You stand in proud majesty with blossoms to the Bee, But your barbs are cruel for one who fails to see.   Fragrance of your garniture wafting on the breeze, Gilds the thought…

THE GRANDFATHER CLOCK

Long-case clock made by Richard Bullock, Clockmaker of Ellesmere c1750   THE GRANDFATHER CLOCK   Proudly tall with its back to the wall Afforded life by the winding key; Faithfully showing the time to us all, Having been here longer than me.   Ticking away over two hundred years, Generations have looked on its face;…

THE FACTORY

The engineering factory was a place of hard work by tough men from Belfast.  Two labourers were Johnny and Wee John, both having served in the Great War (1914-18) whilst teenagers.  Wee John had a mangled hand with no fingers having been wounded at the Battle of the Somme.  He was employed all day every…

STONES AND TIME

  The walls of stone with mortared vein, Bastions of a bygone age; Such builders we’ll n’er see again.   Who tore the rock from quarry face, Swathed in sweat and dust; For each edifice in its chosen place.   Gone are they but stones still stand, Staid reminders to the eye; Land embossed by…

REFUGEES

The genocide of the 1990s in Rwanda resulted in vast refugee camps being established in Tanzania.  At the time of the millennium a few were still crossing the border to seek sanctuary in the camps.  This poem relates to one woman’s trek along with her children and is as seen.   REFUGEES   From the…

PASSION’S LEGACY

Many women lost partners in the Great War and lived out their lives in the loneliness of remembrance.  It has been said that there were those who somehow knew of their bereavement before being officially told.  However, every conflict has its own aftermath of sorrow.   PASSION’S LEGACY   O love where is your welcome…

MOURNE

  The Slieve of Donard up on high Above reflecting sea; Around the bay a town doth lie, Sheltering in the lee.   A slender spire points heavenward, Of tapering granite stone; Glistening blocks of quarry shard, Raised to stand alone.   Deep waters change to lustrous blue, Sun following on the dawn; Mountains still…

DRINK

  O how the world comes more transparent As the level in the bottle falls; One’s genius becomes much more apparent When the floor weaves with the walls.   The amber nectar resting on the table Awaits a searching reaching hand; A savouring sip of lip as smooth as sable, Or golden skin upon the…

CELLARS OF THE MIND

  In dark dungeons of dejection Where despondent thoughts dwell; There’s no satisfaction of perfection In that subterranean Hell.   Where is the salve that can appease This hole of black despair? Is there a word or thought to ease A door for those trapped there?   Smug are they who’ve never worn The cloak…

BEWARE

  Amnesia!  Amnesia! Last bastion of the liar, Embroidered with the sincere stare They hide their guilt with flair.   “These things that are spoken, I cannot recall”, Hoping no one lurks in ambush to remind; Amnesia is the armour of their kind.   A paragon of virtue presented to the world, On a network…

TO THE 27th

At the beginning of the 19thcentury more than 50% of the British Army was Irish.  I focus here on the 27th(Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot, later to become The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.  One of their most famous battle honours was gained at Waterloo in holding the ground at the centre of General Wellington’s line against a…

THE WITHERED WREATH

  The withered wreath upon the ground All but a year since Christmas past; A gesture then sincere profound, To fade away not meant to last.   Traversing link from past to future, Remembering those no longer here; Memories to recall and nurture, Those now in another sphere.   All are creatures of time and…

THE PIPES

  That soil is our soil, the place of our birth, The Highland, the Island, along by the Firth; Piper and pibroch, the sound of our land At Culloden and battles, where’er we did stand.   Nothing is sweeter than the skirl of the Pipe, On Mountain or Glen, when the barley is ripe; The…

THE NIGHT WATCHMAN

There was a time when municipal repairs being carried out on the streets of Belfast warranted the presence of a Night Watchman to guard the gear and material used during the day.  To facilitate him he was supplied with a hut or shelter, a large round iron brazier and a pile of coke (cinder residue…

SOLDIER OF DESTINY

Frederick Young (1786 – 1874) a British soldier of fortune from Culdaff, County Donegal, Ireland, recruited the first Gurkha soldiers into British service in the year 1815.  Young left his native Donegal in 1799 and travelled to London where he was interviewed and accepted into the service of the East India Company.  After a two-…

RETURN TO RATHLIN

  As a wide-eyed boy I listened to the stories often told, Of a far-flung rugged island around which the ocean rolled;   My father wistfully remembering how it was his native home Away from the coast of Maine beyond the Atlantic foam.   “My boy these things I speak of, you remember well And…

POMPEII

  I wander now the paths of Pompeii, Where the ash is scraped away, Revealing places of another day.   Again sun shines on sculpted stone, Nigh on two thousand years have flown And here I contemplate alone.   A sentry faithful at his post, Tied to duty, now a ghost, Just one of the…

ORPHAN OF RATHLIN

  There is a place that I adore It lies to the north off a northern shore   Surrounded by a rolling sea That beckons through my dreams to me   Oh Rathlin!  I miss your rugged scene ‘Tis many years since I have been   Upon the land where I was born To welcome…

AT THE LAKESIDE

In the wetlands of Fermanagh where the Heron stalks its prey, The Mallard quacks and paddles in the newness of the day; With reeds gently swaying, caressed by winds that blow, To dance with lapping waters sweet and low. Tranquillity of beauty in a special blend so rare, The generous harvest of God’s bounty scattered…

AFTER WORDSWORTH

The English Lake District a place of beauty, has inspired and enchanted painters, poets, writers and visitors down through the years but its most well known exponent was William Wordsworth famed for his verse, especially his perception contained in the poem, Daffodils, which paints in the mind’s eye the abundance of the small native variety…

A VISION OF DOWN

Mid morning light across the Mourne Defining hill and valley; ‘Tis a trick of light where I was born And once where I did dally. Fountain of my youth beyond the sea That laps thon yonder shore; To warm the heart as years flee Through memory’s open door. In this land of the blazing sun…

D-DAY ANNIVERSARY

On Sunday 6th June 2004 heads of state and dignitaries from around the world gathered in Normandy to commemorate the invasion of Nazi Europe 60 years earlier.  Media coverage included interviews of elderly combatants from both sides telling their stories.   Lines of shimmering stones in morning light, Upon the sheets of brilliant green; That blanket…

JUST A MEMORY

The 9thBB band was a sound to be heard, dogs howled and toddlers scared, Marching forth to the beat of the drum, in military fashion spectators struck dumb. First there was Toby, tenor trombone, with Beo on B-Flat he wasn’t alone, High note of the cornet stitching the air, Davy playing along with poise and…

DACHAU

At the concentration camp we stood looking into the oven incinerators. “This is where they raked out the ashes”, said our guide. “You are now standing on the remains of the dead”, he told us. A hush descended only broken by the hum of a Bee as it gleaned its harvest from the meadow flowers…

TO THE PEOPLE OF IRELAND

Spectres from their former years Lurk in the dusk of wounded souls, Recalling death, the latent fears and those gone on before.   Time was when all were keen and young Oblivious of the toll bell hung, Silently waiting to be rung, high in the steeple’s core.   No longer primed in youthful flush, Only…

CIRCLE OF LIFE

 The circle of life like a wheel it is turning, With young sleeping peaceful as elders turn gray; A moon in the night sky awaiting the morning, When radiance of sun will turn dark into day.   We have watched the passing of spring and the swallow; Seen sheen of light in lanes lush and…

THE SEARCH

Power and avarice filled my mind as I walked upon the lea, Great achievements behind me lined, trophies filling me with glee. No thought to those I cast aside, in life and underhand, And all the deeds I had to hide, where’er I was to stand. Just then I heard a haunting sound, the lonesome…

THE BELFAST ENGINEER

It is the town where I was born within green rolling hills A place of thriving industry and resplendent red bricked mills. As I have wrought in this foreign clime where the temperature is high, I think back to Belfast Town where the gantries touch the sky. I see great ships I worked upon that…

THE MINER

The price of coal concerned us all as it heated House and Manor hall; A blessing in each homely grate, its embers burning bright. Black ebony in seam and sheet, far below beneath our feet, Waited for the gloomy glow of the miner’s prying light. He dropped away from sight of sun, to glean his…

A DELL I KNOW

Travelling along to Crawfordsburn you’ll come on Nature’s bower, Where ivy and buttercups abound and trees above them tower. Here and there one also sees the subtlety of the fern, Clinging to the mossy banks or protruding from a cairn. At its given time a shimmering sea of blue and delicate bell, Another wistful adornment…

A BELFAST LAMPLIGHTER

As the town of Belfast grew in size, dependable street lighting became a necessity. Piped coal gas from a new gasworks completed in 1823 solved the problem for over 150 years, before being superseded by electric at the latter end of the 20th century. The gas lanterns were mounted on substantial caste iron standards, with…