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From your last clue, I want to say that it's R S Thomas - I know Betjeman thought very highly of him. I do know there's a famous quote by Larkin about him - I just can't remember if it was complimentary or not*. He had the sort of status towards the end of his career that make it quite plausible that he could have been considered for Poet Laureate - and I know he only died in the last few years, so it could have been in 2003.....the only problem is, the poem you quoted sounds like nothing at all he's ever written, so I don't think it can be him.

 

Hmmmmm.....

 

*To be honest, I can't quite imagine Philip Larkin being complimentary about anyone - my impression of him is someone who was cynical through and through, though I'm not sure what I base that on!

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I have been following this last entry and am so frustrated. I know that I read this poem only a few days, or couple of weeks ago and cannot for the life of me rememeber who wrote it. There is no point my going through my collection it would take too long - I just keep hoping someone will come up with the answer and put me out of my misery. And I know I will say, 'Of course' when I read it. Come on Chuntzy, you sound awfully close, I'm sure you will think of the answer very soon.

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Ok, I take it that none of you recognised my favourite poet Charles Causley, which grieves me very much.

 

The verse I posted is from A Ballad For Katherine Of Aragon, inspired by a visit to her tomb in Peterborough Cathedral.

A Ballad for Katharine of Aragon

 

As I walked down by the river

Down by the frozen fen

I saw the grey cathedral

With the eyes of a child of ten.

O the railway arch is smoky

As the Flying Scot goes by

And but for the Education Act

Go Jumper Cross and I.

 

But war is a bitter bugle

That all must learn to blow

And it didn't take long to stop the song

In the dirty Italian snow..

O war is a casual mistress

And the world is her double bed

She has a few charms in her mechanised arms

But you wake up and find yourself dead.

 

The olive tree in winter

Casts her banner down

And the priest in white and scarlet

Comes up from the muddy town.

O never more will Jumper

Watch the Flying Scot go by

His funeral knell was a six-inch shell

Singing across the sky.

 

The Queen of Castile has a daughter

Who won't come home again

She lies in the grey cathedral

under the arms of Spain.

O the Queen of Castile has a daughter

Torn out by the roots.

Her lovely breast in a stone cold chest

Under the farmers' boots.

 

Now I like a Spanish party

And many O many the day

I have watched them swim as the night came dim

On Algeciras Bay.

O the high sierra was thunder

And the seven-branched river of Spain

Came down to the sea to plunder

The heart of the sailor again.

 

O shall I leap in the river

And knock upon paradise door

For a gunner of twenty-seven and a half

And a queen of twenty-four?

From the almond-tree by the river

I watch the sky with a groan

For Jumper and Kate are always out late

And I lie here alone.

Some may be more familiar with the powerful I Am The Great Sun, which would have been easier to find online!

 

If you are interested, you can click this link to hear Causley's distinctive Cornish voice reading my favourite poem Timothy Winters

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I could add that my favourite poem was written by this poet, but I don't think I've mentioned that recently, so it's a clue that would only help long-term members...who don't seem to be having a go at this. :(

I wouldn't have remembered that, Meg. However, I really didn't recognise that - I like Causley but obviously wasn't able to place that one. Sorry!

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I've only just joined the forums (today), but can I have a brownie point for saying I would have recognised Causley's "Ballad for Katherine of Aragon"??? I love the poem, and can remember hearing a version of it set to music at the Pipers Folk Club in St. Buryan almost 40 years ago ...

 

As a Cornish girl, I have great affection for Causley, and for another Cornish poet, Jack Clemo. Anyone else remember him?

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can I have a brownie point for saying I would have recognised Causley's "Ballad for Katherine of Aragon"???

You can have more than that, Tregeagle! Since Meg had to give the answer to her own poem it seems to have left a bit of an hiatus in the flow of the game, so why don't you post your own snippet from a poem for us to guess? The poetry section tends to be a quieter area of BGO since most of our members tend to stick to novels (they don't know what they're missing, eh?), so it would be great to have someone else join the BGO poetry gang!

 

I'm afraid I don't know Jack Clemo. Would you like to start a thread on him and post one or two of his best poems? We all enjoy being introduced to new writers.

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O.K., thank you, David; I'll have a go.

 

I'm feeling very spring-like today, given the glorious weather outside, so here's a snippet of something lush! I think it's pretty easy, so I'm sure someone will recognise it:

 

"What wondrous life is this I lead!

Ripe apples drop about my head;

The luscious clusters of the vine

Upon my mouth do crush their wine;

The nectarine and curious peach

Into my hands themselves do reach;

Stumbling on melons, as I pass,

Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass."

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Tregeagle,

I'm so pleased that there is someone else here who appreciates Causley! I have come across Jack Clemo's poems (at about the same time that I discovered Causley, 40 years ago!), but they have never 'spoken' to me in the same way. Could be that I respond more to the ballad style (being a bit of an 'Old Folkie':o )

 

I have just looked at a few of Clemo's poems (for the first time in years), and am struck by his many referenes to clay. I will now think of him every time I plant something my garden, as that's what I mostly garden on! :rolleyes:

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Nothing wrong with old folkies - I'm one too!

 

Yes, Clemo is an acquired taste ... A lot of his imagery is drawn from the landscape around St. Austell, particularly the pits and waste heaps associated with the china clay industry in that area. His most famous is probably "Christ in the Claypit" - very appropriate for this time of year.

 

Clemo's muscular Christianity can be a bit austere, and he's not in the same rank as Causley for me either - but, if I'm in the right mood, I enjoy his evocation of place.

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I'm feeling very spring-like today, given the glorious weather outside, so here's a snippet of something lush! I think it's pretty easy, so I'm sure someone will recognise it:

 

"What wondrous life is this I lead!

Ripe apples drop about my head;

The luscious clusters of the vine

Upon my mouth do crush their wine;

The nectarine and curious peach

Into my hands themselves do reach;

Stumbling on melons, as I pass,

Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass."

 

No takers? I thought this would be easy ... perhaps not. The poet was a Yorkshire lad, who learned a wealth of coarse invective from the shipmen of Hull. He later became MP for the port (and, no, it is NOT John Prescott).

 

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I've only just joined the forums (today), but can I have a brownie point for saying I would have recognised Causley's "Ballad for Katherine of Aragon"??? I love the poem, and can remember hearing a version of it set to music at the Pipers Folk Club in St. Buryan almost 40 years ago ...

It’s strange how things come around. Just before we went down to the Oxford Folk Festival, last week, I was googling up some of the musicians and as usual one site led to another and I came across a pdf file on a 2003 CD called ‘Last Year’s Love’ by a man called Alan Francis. I’d never heard of him, but looked through because I liked the idea, he had, of putting his lyrics and album notes on the net, as he couldn’t fit them into the CD case unless the writing was tiny. I noticed that he had put the Charles Causley ‘Katherine of Aragon’ to Music, so saved the pdf file.

 

This is what he wrote:

 

“In 1968, an Australian folksinger called Peter Parkhill turned up at the Troubadour, and sang this song. At the time I had only heard one other poem by Charles Causley set to music, Paul McNeill’s version of “Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience”, which he recorded on his album “Traditionally at the Troubadour”. This song, and Peter’s version of “Timothy Winters” opened the floodgates for me. Both had been set to music by another Australian, Mike Ball, and they rapidly became part of my repertoire. I have continued to sing them ever since, adding a few touches of my own in the process. Before he went back to Oz, I also introduced Peter to my old friend, Alex Atterson, who, similarly inspired, went even further and included a handful of Causley poems, with tunes written by himself, on his album “Pushing the Business On”.

 

Sad to say, neither Charles Causley nor Alex is with us any more, and it is some time since I

heard anyone else sing a song based on a Causley poem. This is a great shame, because not only is he, in my opinion at least, one of the greatest English poets of the 20th Century, but he had the skill to write with rhyme and metre, which makes turning his poems into songs very straightforward. His imagery was always breathtaking, as can be seen here and in “Cowboy Song” (Track 9). The cathedral mentioned is that of Peterborough, which contains the grave of Katherine of Aragon and a memorial to Causley’s friend “Jumper” Cross, who died in WW2. The “Flying Scot” train ran through Peterborough on its way from London to Scotland. A “party” is naval slang for a girl.”

 

(I hope you don't mind me going back a poem, but I couldn't resist.)

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Yes, thank you, Angel.

 

I can remember being very moved by the musical version of "Ballad for Katherine", although I'm afraid I can't remember for the life of me whom I heard singing it ...

 

I'd love to have details of an album on which it appeared. Any chance?

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Thanks Meg

 

 

Thanks for finding that Meg.

 

Another sung Causley poem that comes to mind is ‘Innocents’ Song’ – a rather chilling poem about Herod. We have this on a brilliant CD called ‘Witness’ by ‘Show of Hands’.

 

I first heard it on a compilation mini disc that my daughter and her husband sent out last year instead of Christmas cards (‘Show of Hands’ encourage the copying and sharing of their music).

 

I’m not sure how to make a link but you can hear a sample at

 

http://www.hmv.co.uk/hmvweb/displayProductDetails.do?ctx=12;-1;-1;-1&sku=506106

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What wondrous life is this I lead!

Ripe apples drop about my head;

The luscious clusters of the vine

Upon my mouth do crush their wine;

The nectarine and curious peach

Into my hands themselves do reach;

Stumbling on melons, as I pass,

Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass."[/font]

And now to the poem.

It's 'The Garden' by Andrew Marvell - I think you were right to call this verse 'lush', Tregeagle. The words were familiar and almost recognisable when I read them, but I wouldn't have got it without the clues - Andrew Marvel mentioned the River Humber in 'To My Coy mistress' and I knew he had been an MP. Not knowing many of his garden poems perhaps made this easier for me.

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Three posts in a row. I don't speak for ages and then you can't shut me up.

 

Assuming I was correct (!) here's the next poem. I don't think you'll need a clue.

 

and with night drawing in

we began drawing him,

the dog not the man down below,

which appeared on the snow of our pages,

out of the lead of our pencils,

and yours was 2B

and mine was 2B,

and I said we were 2B together,

and you told me 2B quiet.

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