On Saturday afternoon I had friends over and they wanted to go for a walk. Fortunately, Exmouth is blessed with quite a lot of beach, and if you start at Orcombe Point you can finish at The Grove on the Esplanade and feel you’ve earned a swift half or six. These are some of the things you’ll see if you take that route.

This is Orcombe Point. Pick the wrong time and you'll find all of this sand underwater, so work out the tides first

This is Orcombe Point. Pick the wrong time and you'll find all of this sand underwater, so work out the tides first

Once you're round Orcombe Point, the scale of the task becomes apparent.

Once you're round Orcombe Point, the scale of the task becomes apparent.

There are always a few sandcastles along the beach. A message requires this one not to be touched.

There are always a few sandcastles along the beach. A message requires this one not to be touched.

Exmouth's new lifeboat station, which you could just see in the distance in the last picture

Exmouth's new lifeboat station, which you could just see in the distance two pictures ago.

Sand dunes along the beach

Sand dunes along the beach.

The RNLI station from the dunes. In the distance is Orcombe Point

The RNLI station from the dunes. In the distance is Orcombe Point.

This line of beach huts is about half-way along the route. The volleyball nets are only a couple of years old

This line of beach huts is about half-way along the route. The volleyball nets are only a couple of years old.

The landing stage is usually out on sunny days, but it's winched up the beach at night. It's absolutely ancient and must be on its last legs.

The landing stage is usually out on sunny days, but it's winched up the beach at night. It's absolutely ancient and must be on its last legs.

Eat your heart out, Washington: we have an Octagon, and it sells ice cream.

Eat your heart out, Washington: we have an Octagon, and it sells ice cream.

The clock tower was put up for Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. Reaching it means that the walk is nearly over.

The clock tower was put up for Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. Reaching it means that the walk is nearly over.

The Grand Hotel. The pub is at the end of this line of buildings.

The inaptly named Grand Hotel. The pub is at the end of this line of buildings.

Looking out to sea from here you can see Dawlish Warren. The visible portion is the nice part of Dawlish Warren: go by sea and don't waste time on the tourist area.

Looking out to sea from here you can see Dawlish Warren. The visible portion is the nice part of Dawlish Warren: go by sea and don't waste time on the tourist area.

The end of the line: The Grove, where you can now spend the rest of the day recuperating.

The end of the line: The Grove, where you can now spend the rest of the day recuperating.

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Back to form, of course, means more medievalism and more melancholy. It’s been a phenomenally busy week, and not just because I’ve been describing in nauseating detail how to do my job. The next pictorial guide will, I’m sure you’ll be relieved to hear, describe the walk from Orcombe Point to The Grove, comprising some two and a half miles of beach. Today, however, we have naming of verse.

First is another of Rupert Brooke’s earlier poems, this time from 1904. Yet more wistful melancholia, I’m afraid, but it seems terribly difficult to track down good comic verse at the moment.

The Path of Dreams

Go, heart, and pluck beside the Path of Dreams,
Where moans the wind along the shadowy streams,
Sad garlands wreathed of the red mournful roses,
And lilies o’ moon beams.

Strange blossoms faint upon that odorous air,
Vision, and wistful Memory; and there
Love twofold with the purple bloom of Triumph
And the wan leaf of Despair.

Go heart; go quickly; pluck and weave thereof
Dim garlands, scattering pallid dew above,
And far across the sighing tides of darkness
Lay them beside my love.

Next, more riddling from the Exeter Book. This one has an Old Testament theme, but that’s all the clues you’ll get from me.

Wer sæt æt wine mid his wifum twam
ond his twegen suno ond his twa dohtor,
swase gesweostor, ond hyra suno twegen,
freolico frumbearn; fæder wæs þær inne
þara æþelinga æghwæðres mid,
eam ond nefa. Ealra wæron fife
eorla ond idesa insittendra.

A man sat at wine with his two wives
and his two sons, and his two daughters,
beloved sisters, and their two sons,
noble firstborn; the father was there within
Of those princes both, with
an uncle and a nephew. In all there were five
Lords and ladies sitting within.

I don’t think I’ve yet put up anything in Middle English, which is quite an oversight, given the sheer variety of works from that period. I’ll rectify the omission with a little piece that I found in Kenneth Sisam’s A Middle English Reader. This was written down at a time when the old runic letter thorn (þ) was being supplanted by ‘th’, so instances of both can be seen in this piece. A bit of vocab for you: seuenist is an old spelling of sennight, which is a week. The old word ‘fortnight’ has remained in use, but sennight has gone the way of all flesh, probably because it’s easier to say or write ‘week’. Dryng just means ‘drink’, chelde is ‘cold’ and a primerole is a primrose. Other than that, welle carries the old sense ‘good’ and the rest you should be able to work out for yourselves. It’s a simple little poem, but it has a definite charm to it.

The Maid of the Moor

(Bodleian MS Rawlinson D.913)

Maiden in the mor lay,
In the mor lay,
Seuenyst fulle, seuenist fulle,
Maiden in the mor lay,
In the mor lay,
Seuenistes fulle ant a day.

Welle was hire mete;
Wat was hire mete?
Þe primerole ant the, –
Þe primerole ant the, –
Welle was hire mete;
Wat was hire mete? –
The primerole ant the violet.

Welle was hire dryng;
Wat was hire dryng?
Þe chelde water of þe welle-spring.

Welle was hire bour;
Wat was hire bour?
Þe red rose an te lilie flour.

I’ll move on from poems in difficult language to a poem that’s a bit more challenging. Sylvia Plath is famed for cryptic expression, and this is actually one of her more explicit poems.

Crossing the Water

Black lake, black boat, two black, cut-paper people.
Where do the black trees go that drink here?
Their shadows must cover Canada.

A little light is filtering from the water flowers.
Their leaves do not wish us to hurry:
They are round and flat and full of dark advice.

Cold worlds shake from the oar.
The spirit of blackness is in us, it is in the fishes.
A snag is lifting a valedictory, pale hand;

Stars open among the lilies.
Are you not blinded by such expressionless sirens?
This is the silence of astounded souls.

Next I’ve chosen a poem by a favourite of mine – Wilfred Owen. I don’t think I’ve seen this one outside the collection edited by Edmund Blunden.

The Unreturning

Suddenly night crushed out the day and hurled
Her remnants over cloud-peaks, thunder-walled.
Then fell a stillness such as harks appalled
When far-gone dead return upon the world.

There watched I for the Dead; but no ghost woke.
Each one whom Life exiled I named and called.
But they were all too far, or dumbed, or thralled;
And never one fared back to me or spoke.

Then peered the indefinite unshapen dawn
With vacant gloaming, sad as half-lit minds,
The weak-limned hour when sick men’s sighs are drained.
And while I wondered on their being withdrawn,
Gagged by the smothering wing which none unbinds,
I dreaded even a heaven with doors so chained.

Finally (and this is an edit, so apologies if Facebook jumped the gun a bit), a Thomas Hardy poem that takes a wry look at a distinctly Victorian issue. This is by way of a little joke for a friend of mine, but I’m sure we can all appreciate it.

The Ruined Maid

“O ‘Melia, my dear, this does everything crown!
Who could have supposed I should meet you in Town?
And whence such fair garments, such prosperi-ty?”–
“O didn’t you know I’d been ruined?” said she.

–“You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks,
Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks;
And now you’ve gay bracelets and bright feathers three!”–
“Yes: that’s how we dress when we’re ruined,” said she.

–“At home in the barton you said ‘thee’ and ‘thou,’
And ‘thik oon,’ and ‘theäs oon,’ and ‘t’other’; but now
Your talking quite fits ‘ee for high compa-ny!”–
“Some polish is gained with one’s ruin,” said she.

–“Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak
But now I’m bewitched by your delicate cheek,
And your little gloves fit as on any la-dy!”–
“We never do work when we’re ruined,” said she.

–“You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream,
And you’d sigh, and you’d sock; but at present you seem
To know not of megrims or melancho-ly!”–
“True. One’s pretty lively when ruined,” said she.

“–I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown,
And a delicate face, and could strut about Town!”–
“My dear–a raw country girl, such as you be,
Cannot quite expect that. You ain’t ruined,” said she.

That’s your lot for this week. I hope I’ve managed to get a bit more variety in this time, and if it’s gone from dark to dark via abstruse that’s just the way I roll on a Monday. I hope you enjoyed them anyway: I certainly did.

I’m choosing to interpret the complete lack of response to yesterday’s helpful guide to making clasps as an urgent demand for more of the same. Today’s guide describes what to do with a cobalt-chromium denture framework once you’ve got it out of the casting machine.

We start by leaving the mould for half an hour. This is partly because the metal inside has a temperature of about 900 Celsius, and is therefore impossible to work on unless you have asbestos hands; but mainly because if you cool cobalt-chromium alloy too quickly it plays merry hell with the metal’s crystalline structure and the denture will break.

After about half an hour the metal has completely solidified, and can be immersed in cold water to cool it down. Doing this also damps down the investment, the dust from which contains silicone and other nasties that you don’t want to breathe in. When it comes out of the water, the muffle looks like this.

Ready to remove the investment. The delicate technical instrument we use to do this is in the top-right corner

Ready to remove the investment. The delicate technical instrument we use to do this is in the top-right corner

A few scientific taps with a hammer and most of the mould falls off. Once you can get your fingers around the cone at the top of the sprues, do so and smack it with the hammer until most of the investment falls off. If you put your hand underneath the framework to support it, it will get bent and you’ll have to start all over again. Presuming that this didn’t happen and that you haven’t broken a finger or something equally daft, you should be left with something like this.

Free of the investment, the metal clearly needs a lot of work.

Free of the investment, the metal clearly needs a lot of work.

One of the reasons I like this process is that I get to hit things with a hammer, then get out some power tools. In this case, it’s a high-speed grinding unit, with a carborundum disc rotating at 25,000 rpm. The sprues are cut off as close to the framework as is possible without cutting into it (that gets you belted around the head with the hammer). This leaves us with something like this.

The sprues have been cut off, so now we can get on with finishing

The sprues have been cut off, so now we can get on with finishing

Now we need to get rid of the investment and oxides that are all over the job. We do this with a sandblaster full of 25 micron aluminium oxide blasting compound. Two minutes of that, and you have sand everywhere and a chrome that looks like this.

Nice and clean. Time to start the real work

Nice and clean. Time to start the real work

Now we need to clean up the casting. There are the stumps of the sprues to remove and pieces of flash metal all around the edges, and the rests and other delicate shapes need to be defined and shaped. Once it fits on the model and we’re happy with the result, it goes back into the sandblaster to homogenise the surface. By now it’s looking more like something you’d put in someone’s mouth.

It fits. Time to make it shiny

It fits. Time to make it shiny

The sandblasted job goes into an electrolytic polishing bath for ten minutes at just under five milliamps. Then it’s smoothed off using hard rubber wheels and rubber points on the high-speed grinder. Once that’s been done it looks a bit shinier, but not shiny enough.

Better, but it needs more polish

Better, but it needs more polish

Next we get out the hand-held motor, fit a mounted steel wire wheel to it and set it to 9,000 rpm. The whole chrome gets a good going over with a fine metal polish and the wire wheel until any lines or marks have been removed. Since cobalt-chromium is quite a lot harder than steel, the wire does no harm to the surface. Actually the polish is doing all of the cutting, and the brush is only made from steel because anything else will wear down to nothing in seconds. After the first polishing our casting looks like this.

After polishing with the wire wheel, it's nearly finished

After polishing with the wire wheel, it's nearly finished

Now we need to get that extra bit of lustre, for which we use felt wheels and points and an even finer metal polish. Once this is done and the whole thing has been scrubbed in near boiling water and laundry detergent (that combination will get rid of anything – try it on that tannin-stained coffee mug), it’s ready to have the fit checked and go out to the client.

Polished and cleaned off, the chrome shines forth in all its glory. My work here is done.

Polished and cleaned off, the chrome shines forth in all its glory. My work here is done.

We do about five or six of these a day, so several other castings were going through the same stages alongside this one. That takes us from about eight in the morning, when the casting happens, to about three in the afternoon, when it’s time to start making the wax patterns that will be cast into frameworks the next day. It’s a busy life, but you do get to cut things up with power tools; and is that not what man has dreamed of since first he looked upon the stars? Probably not, but it’s not bad.

Many of you won’t be wondering what I do for a living, but I’m going to tell you anyway so that I’ll get out of this nasty habit of only putting up one post a week. To that end, I’m going to walk you through a typical lab process that I’ve had to carry out about nine times in the last week: processing an acetal resin clasp.

Stage 1. The framework fitted down to a duplicate model with the clasps patterned in casting wax

Stage 1. The framework fitted down to a duplicate model with the clasps patterned in casting wax

We start with a duplicate model, on which we pattern the clasps in casting wax. This model is then trimmed to within an inch of its life, leaving us with only those parts of it that are supporting the denture and the wax clasps. Then we get out an injection moulding flask.

A flask, already greased with petroleum jelly to aid in devesting.

A flask, already greased with petroleum jelly to aid in devesting.

The bottom half of the flask is filled with plaster, into which the prepared model is sunk, taking care not to allow the plaster to cover the wax patterns. The surface is smoothed out and undercut areas are eliminated. This leaves us with something like this.

The bottom half of the mould, ready for spruing.

The bottom half of the mould, ready for spruing.

The resin will need to get into the mould somehow, so the next stage is to add some sprues. This is done using 3mm sprue wax from a coil.

The finished sprue system

The finished sprue system

Now the two halves of the flask can be bolted together. The bottom half of the plaster mould is coated with water glass first to ensure that the whole thing separates neatly later on.

Ready to begin topping

Ready to begin topping

Now we put the flask on a vibrating table and slowly pour in more plaster, taking care to keep air bubbles away from the wax. Once the plaster has set the mould will look something like this.

The completed mould, ready for boiling out

The completed mould, ready for boiling out

After allowing the plaster to set completely (I leave it twenty minutes, which is a bit more than it really needs), the flask is immersed in boiling water for another fifteen minutes to remove the wax. When it’s opened after boiling there’s usually some residual wax, so it needs to be cleaned with boiling water and washing-up liquid. While the kettle’s boiling, it’s a good idea to check for feathered edges in the plaster that will break off in the resin and ruin the clasps. These are removed with a scalpel.

The mould after boiling out

The mould after boiling out

Nice and clean, and with any thin areas of flash plaster removed

Nice and clean, and with any thin areas of flash plaster removed

Now that the mould is finished, it needs to be coated with separating solution so that the resin won’t stick to it. While that’s drying, we prepare an injection cylinder.

The injection cylinder, resin ingots and plunger

The injection cylinder, resin ingots and plunger

This goes into the injection moulding machine, and a metal cap is placed over it. The hole that forms the beginning of the sprue system sits over the cap, which is all you can see of the whole cylinder assembly once it’s in the machine.

The cylinder in place, we're ready to add the flask

The cylinder in place, we're ready to add the flask

The flask is bolted back together and clamped down in the machine. The injection process is automated, so once you get to this stage you can forget all about it for forty-five minutes.

Ready to inject. The red elastic band is there for a very technical reason, and not at all because that metal shield won't stay up on its own. Oh no

Ready to inject. The red elastic band is there for a very technical reason, and not at all because that metal shield won't stay up on its own. Oh no

Now that I’ve done something else for three quarters of an hour, the machine has finished its cycle and the job can be removed from the mould. If the earlier stages were done properly, the mould should open cleanly, leaving us with something like this.

What you see on opening the mould after injecting. I've already cut through the sprues with a carborundum disc

What you see on opening the mould after injecting. I've already cut through the sprues with a carborundum disc

Now the investment can be removed, leaving the denture framework ready to be cleaned in the ultrasonic bath. Once it’s been in there for about half an hour, the clasps can be trimmed and polished, leaving two flexible clasps that are more or less the same colour as the patient’s teeth.

The new clasps, ready to be trimmed and polished

The new clasps, ready to be trimmed and polished

And that’s how you process a pair of acetal resin clasps. I know: it’s a wild and crazy whirlwind of excitement in my job, but I like it.

As you may have divined from the title, my weekend of beer and tents has caught up with me, hit me repeatedly about the head with a blunt instrument and run off with my wallet. I managed to hold it together while working and driving today, but my consciousness is unravelling fast and I’ll have to be brief this week.

I’m sure I haven’t mentioned aeroplanes in at least a fortnight; it’s been even longer since I said something religious in Latin. These are both unacceptable oversights, but fortunately they can be remedied by a single poem by F. MacNeece Foster.

Laus Deo in Excelsis

The sullen cloud that screens the world below
Changes before my eyes to purest snow,
And peerless napery for mile on mile
Lies laden in the joy of Heaven’s smile.
And all the time the little aeroplane
Plays with its shadow on that wondrous plain.
And as for me, I nod
To mine own image bidden to the feast,
And for that moment, I am not the least
Of all the sons of God.

This next poem by John Fletcher concerns a subject that’s currently very close to my heart. I think it speaks for itself.

Sleep

Come, sleep, and with thy sweet deceiving
Lock me in delight awhile;
Let some pleasing dreams beguile
All my fancies; that from thence
I may feel an influence
All my powers of care bereaving!

Though but a shadow, but a sliding,
Let me know some little joy!
We that suffer long annoy
Are contente with a thought
Through an idle fancy wrought:
O let my joys have some abiding!

The next poem is a very short piece from Edgar Lee Masters’ strange collection, Spoon River. Perhaps because I stand poised between youth and age this has the look of a discussion forum signature to me.

Alexander Throckmorton

In youth my wings were strong and tireless,
But I did not know the mountains.
In age I knew the mountains
But my weary wings could not follow my vision –
Genius is wisdom and youth.

Lastly, before I collapse insensate upon my opiate couch, a wry little piece by Rupert Brooke. It isn’t about war, so you may not know it.

The Way that Lovers Use

The way that lovers use is this;
They bow, catch hands, with never a word,
And their lips meet, and they do kiss,
– So I have heard.

They queerly find some healing so,
And strange attainment to the touch;
There is a secret lovers know,
– I have read as much.

And theirs no longer joy nor smart,
Changing or ending, night or day;
But mouth to mouth and heart on heart,
– So lovers say.

1913

On such a note I must end this week’s selection, gentle readers. My eyes are burning and it’s time to shut them for a while. I would write more, but…zzzzzzzz

…I attend Chappel every year.

Thus speaks Tony’s Chappel Beer Festival shirt, and it’s a pun so terrible as to be worth sharing with the world. More of that later.

The Angel of the Dorks appeared unto me, saying: “Go thou unto the web that is world-wide, and proclaim unto the surfers, and to the spods, yea unto all thy fellow nerds, that a new thing has been brought forth in Cyberspace. For behold: I have spoken with she who sits at the head of Femen, and I have wrought of our words an article; and it is a thing of great majesty.” And I looked, and I beheld me the Interview, and saw that it was good. Therefore I say unto thee: go thou forth unto the place that is called Global Comment, and there wilt thou see much of benefit; but look thou especially for the interview with Anna Gutsol, and stand amazed.

As I was saying, the Chappel Beer Festival is the stuff of legend in Essex, and annually draws huge crowds of ale lovers from all over the country. I’ve been going since the mid nineties, when I was invited to go by a good friend of mine who was at university with me, and I’ve only missed one or two of the fourteen intervening festivals. I was there for the tenth and the twentieth, and barring accidents I ought to be there for the thirtieth in seven years’ time. This year was a light one, since I was only there for the final weekend, but I think I managed to cram enough into those two days to make the long drive worthwhile.

For once Friday lived up to its POETS acronym: for the first time in ages I managed to clear my schedule and get on the road by four. It’s a six-hour drive including stops for sandwiches and Red Bull, and the less said about it the better. I managed to get about half way before I had to put the roof back up, and I was in the field at the back of the East Anglian Railway Museum by ten in the evening, absolutely dog tired, but ready for some beer and chat. I caught Mad Phil before he left, and was there for his story about the time he met Jimmy Page while they were queuing for a cup of tea in London. Gary – the man who first introduced me to Chappel – was there too, wearing a hat he found in his Land Rover when he bought it; and his greeting was as warm as ever. Actually I ran into him first, while waiting to be served at the Shunter’s Arms. Tony and Nikki were there too, bearing a four-pint carry out that they’d co-purchased with Phil, and we all had a merry time of it until about half-past eleven, when the party broke up.

Gary and the Land Rover crowd had set up a laager (the only kind you’ll find at Chappel) and spread a tarpaulin over it. They also had beer, guitars and some funny stories, which kept us occupied until gone two in the morning. We were even told off for being too noisy, which brought back happy memories of festivals past, when we were noisy youngsters instead of people old enough to know better. Thus passed the first evening.

TheLaager

Circle the wagons, lads; and watch out for chavs

There’s no other way to say this: Saturday morning started far, far too early. After a fine breakfast down at the festival, we settled down to bask in the sunshine until we were all sober enough to drive (I’d forgotten to get out any cash for the second year in a row, and the nearest machine is five miles away). While we were sobering up, my camping buddies got out their guitars and managed to find some songs we all knew. It transpires that there aren’t very many of those, and most of the morning was spent listening to Gary riffing on various chord progressions. It was like old times.

The family men disappeared at about noon, when I drove off in search of some cash. Suitably cashed up, I returned to the festival to find out who was around for the Saturday afternoon session. Tony was working on his Masters dissertation, but he took the afternoon off and he, Nikki and I started drinking. We continued to do that until ten, and this photograph was taken somewhere in the midst of that binge.

Cattle class is slow, but you get there in the end.

Cattle class is slow, but you get there in the end.

After much conversation with people too numerous to be enumerated, we called it a night at about ten, and I crawled into my sleeping bag to prepare for the mighty odyssey back to Devon.

Which is where you find me. I got back here at just after five, extremely tired and about ready for a kebab. I am, in fact, off to purchase just such a comestible as soon as I’ve finished writing about it. Another year of Chappel is over, and the next big event is Oxonmoot in two weeks’ time. September is such a busy month.

Although I’m suffering from my usual Monday energy gap – which normally lasts until some time on Thursday afternoon – it’s about time that the Monday poetry slot got filled on a Monday. I’ve decided to try for a lighter tone today, so please excuse me if you wanted to be depressed.

The first poem was written by Captain J.D. Olive for trainee pilots in the first half of the last century. Other than that it’s pretty self-explanatory.

The Pilot’s 23rd Psalm

1. As the telephone operator who giveth wrong numbers so is he who extolleth his exploits in the air.

2. He shall enlarge upon the dangers of his adventures, but in my sleeve shall be heard the tinkling of silvery laughter.

3. Let not they familiarity with aeroplanes breed contempt, lest thou become exceedingly careless at a time when great care is necessary to thy well-being.

4. My son, obey the law and observe prudence. Spin thou not lower than 1500 cubits nor stunt above thine own domicile. For the hand of the law is heavy and reacheth far and wide throughout the land.

5. Incur not the wrath of thy Commander by breaking the rules; for he who maketh right-hand circuits shall be cast out into utter darkness.

6. Let not thy prowess in the air persuade thee that others cannot do even as thou doest; for he that showeth off in public places is an abomination unto his fellow pilots.

7. More praiseworthy is he who can touch tail-skid and wheels to earth at one time, than he who loopeth and rolleth till some damsel stares in amazement at his daring.

8. He who breaketh an undercarriage in a forced landing may, in time, be forgiven, but he who taxieth into another aircraft shall be despised forever.

9. Beware the man who taketh off without looking behind him, for there is no health in him verily, I say unto you, his days are numbered.

10. Clever men take the reproofs of their instructors in the same wise, one like unto another: with witty jest, confessing their dumbness and regarding themselves with humour. Yet they try again, profiting by his wise counsel and taking not offence at aught that has been said.

11. As a postage stamp which lacketh glue, so are the words of caution to a fool; they stick not, going in one ear and out the other, for there is nothing between to stop them.

12. My son, hearken unto my teaching and forsake not the laws of prudence, for the reckless shall not inhabit the earth for long.

13. Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not; thus wilt thou fly safely; length of days and a life of peace shall be added unto thee.

The next piece is one that I’ve had in my head longer than I care to remember. It’s by Monty Python, although no doubt afficionados will have their own ideas about whose writing style it best reflects. It’s a cautionary tale about the origins of a delicacy.

Horace Poem

Much to his Mum and Dad’s dismay
Horace ate himself one day
He didn’t stop to say his grace
He just sat down and ate his face
“We can’t have this!” his dad declared
“If that’s lad’s ate, he should be shared”
But even as he spoke they saw
Horace eating more and more
First his legs and then his thighs
His arms, his nose, his hair, his eyes…
“Stop him someone!” Mother cried
“Those eyeballs would be better fried!”
But all too late, for they were gone
And he had started on his dong
“Oh! Foolish child!” the father mourns
“You could have deep-fried that with prawns,
Some parsley and some tartare sauce…”
But H. was on his second course:
His liver and his lights and lung,
His ears, his neck, his chin, his tongue;
“To think I raised him from the cot
And now he’s going to scoff the lot!”
His mother cried: “What shall we do?
What’s left won’t even make a stew…”
And as she wept, her son was seen
To eat his head, his heart, his spleen,
And there he lay, a boy no more,
Just a stomach on the floor…
None the less, since it was his
They ate it-That’s what haggis is!

The conversation in this poem is conducted in Devonshire dialect, so apologies in advance to anyone who’s completely mystified by it. The poem’s by William Weeks.

The Better Plan

Young Tom, the farmer’s man, one night
Was going down the lane,
Candle and lantern in his hand,
To meet his Mary Jane.

Now, as it happen’d, farmer Giles
Was coming up the lane,
And meeting Tom with his lantern asked:
“Why, Tom, where be ‘ee gwain?”

Tom, looking sheepish, answered “Zur,
Sure you knaw where I’m gwain –
” ‘Tis courtin’ night an’ I’m jist off
To meet my Mary Jane.”

“But take a lantern courtin’, Tom!
You be a quare young spark!
I always thort that soort o’ thing
Was better in the dark.”

“Wull, maister, I ‘ave always yerd
‘Tis var the safest plan
To thraw some light ‘pon anything
That you may take in ‘an’.”

“Fudge! I’d no light to court my wive
When ‘er was Nancy Ridd.”
Sez Tom: “To jidge by the looks o’ ‘er, zur,
I shouldn’ think you did!”

Perhaps this one by John Davidson is a little more serious than the others, but you can’t live in these parts without thinking of boats from time to time. It’s a good poem for travellers too. You know who you are.

Song

The boat is chafing at our long delay,
And we must leave too soon
The spicy sea-pinks and the inborne spray,
The tawny sands, the moon.

Keep us, O Thetis, in our western flight!
Watch from thy pearly throne
Our vessel, plunging deeper into night
To reach a land unknown.

Finally a poem by Clem Marten written entirely in Devon dialect. I c’n unnerstan’ ‘er, zo you ort t’ave ‘ardly no bother.

Oh t’be a Blackburd

I zeed a liddle blackburd
A-zettin’ een a tree,
A purty liddle blackburd,
Za ‘ansome az c’n be.

E wear’d a shiney black co-at,
A-glissenin een th’ zun,
Jiy-vule zong vrum black drot,
Jiy-vule it were zung.

Zing a zong t’laady-love,
A zong ov jiy an mirth,
All be well een ‘eaven above
An all be well on earth.

Ef I cud be a blackburd,
A-zettin een a tree.
Wi all God’s gifts aroun me
Oh, ow ‘appy I wud be!

That’s it for this week. Maybe now that the poetry slot is out of the way, though, I can actually put something else up later in the week. Hope springs eternal, as they say.