Taking down tinsel
and other decorations
is the thing to do, perhaps.
can be evoked if they’re left,
dusty though they be.
They speak of the hopes one had
about friends and family-
How sad to dispense with those
festoons of good will.
When you vacuum the glitter,
you eradicate your dreams.
A re-blog from Sat., Nov 5th last year.
(Photo by Jonathan Billinger, 2007. St John the Baptist Church, Great Rissington; Wikimedia Commons)
I visited the church today as I wanted to somehow commemorate five
brothers who were all killed in World War 1. Their youngest brother-
Percy Soul- died of meningitis after the war. He was the sixth son.
Apparently some villagers were annoyed that Mrs Soul received financial
‘compensation’ for her five sons’ deaths in service.
Later she moved to Great Barrington. She had three daughters who must
have been traumatised by the loss of their brothers.
I kept thinking of Fry’s Five Boys chocolate, for some reason and I checked
that it was in production when the boys were young. It was. I hope they
were able to enjoy this childish luxury as they ran around the fields,
scratching their names on the beams of a barn. Maybe not, if they were
(Photo by Kim Traynor, 2013. Own work of enamel sign.)
It was freezing cold today. Inside there were wall monuments to others
who had died – centuries before. One girl had only been 19 when she
There was a little trapped wren inside and an aspiring organist who
arrived for a practice. I don’t know how he could have attempted to play
with cold hands!
Anyway, I went home and thought I’d try a villanelle. The rhymes are
limited, but there are 5 tercets- one for each brother, maybe. It ends with
a quatrain, where the rhyme feels a bit anti-climactic. But then, maybe it
suits the content… All ready for Remembrance Day. Let’s Not Forget.
The Lost Souls of Great Rissington
So, she wouldn’t stand for God Save The King,
though all five sons lay down for him and died.
For each life she pocketed a shilling.
The candle in her window kept burning,
watched by a girl who’d never be a bride.
And a mother and three sisters crying
was no salve for the sharpness of Death’s sting.
Over the cow-common, The Windrush sighed
and, in a drawer, telegrams were yellowing.
The candle guttered- a Soul was leaving.
The Roll Up Yonder couldn’t be denied.
No bugler registered this sibling.
In a village barn there is a carving-
names of hopeful lads which emphasised
desires for immortality. Living
in a peaceful hamlet? No, perishing-
even a twin had no one at his side.
While some entrenched neighbours were gossiping,
lethal as shrapnel and more exacting.
(St John the Baptist Church, Great Rissington
Photo by Jonathan Billinger, 2007)
Occasionally, some of your visitors may see an advertisement here
You can hide these ads completely by upgrading to one of our paid plans.
With tastes beyond means,
you are asking for trouble.
marriage will bring you comfort.
A man needs backing.
A good father-in-law helps:
on both sides favours.
Settle the verdant foothills
and eschew the volcanoes!
Think of your good name;
moderate your ambitions.
That’s the way to peace.
Overlook minor details
and you’ll see the way forward.
Katsushika Oi – a poem about
Hokusai’s daughter, herself an artist.
He went to brothels
to conduct his art business.
I rode on his back.
I liked courtesans.
In the tea-houses we laughed,
before their pimps came.
I didn’t need you,
so I divorced you.
I laughed at your work.
To me it looked like spilt oil.
Go back to your shop!
I was third daughter.
When both his wives had left him,
he called to me, Oi!
Loyal to Iitsu:
I changed my name to this, but
some called me Tipsy.
I liked alcohol.
I posed for his shunga
and drank a little.
He drew Strong Oei
Pouring Sake as tribute
to my assistance.
I painted beauties
and ghosted his work, dipping
my brush in moonlight.
When my musicians
played their instruments, their wrists
curved like The Great Wave.
Though struck by lightning,
the old man did not die then.
He rose from the flames
like a phoenix. He
instructed me in shadows,
before light was spent.
At last he bowed out
of his studio; Xian-like,
I disappeared too.
‘Old Man Mad On Art’…
Hokusai – my kind of guy.
I was mad on you.
(Fine Arts, San Francisco. Artist: Isoda Koryusai; c 1770 Achenbach
Foundation. Gift Miss Carlotta Mabury)
bullied, you wasted away.
Your son was banished.
Fujitsubo looks like you;
the Emperor wed her, but
The Shining Prince will return.
Let’s hear it for his twin sister, St Scholastica too!
Benedict I had heard of, but I was touched that there was
also St Scholastica, his twin sister. Surely she
must be a patron saint of female teachers?
Apparently not. She did ally herself with convulsive children and
thunderstorms, however. Hope she holds off the storm for Djokovic
Whether St Scholastica was buried at Fleury, or at Le Mans is a moot
point, but one on which I haven’t decided. I’d prefer if she had been
laid to rest in the crypt with her brother.
It is a pity that the name of the sanctified lass seems to have connotations
with a surgical stocking which might prevent DVTs. Maybe it resonated
with an educational publisher’s title. Or was it more coolly channelling a
For starters, she had been rewarded with a meteorological miracle which
put her brother’s signs and wonders in the shade. She had been given a
divine imprimatur on her heartfelt desire to be sociable and her brother
had learned that rigidly sticking to his timetable was not that better part.
Her tears had brought down a hailstorm which prevented him from returning to
Montecasino and his cell. She reproved him for not listening to her when God
had heard her. So much for the usual portrayal of Benedict with his
finger over his lips and his injunction to pin back one’s inner ears.
Practise what you preach might have been dinned into him by a loud
However, since it is his Feast Day today, let’s celebrate the sainted
Their Last Supper – did she know?
(Benedict had prophesied his demise.)
A twin, she dreaded separation,
so she begged him to delay departure.
He resolved to adhere to his own Rule:
to return to his cell before sundown.
An adept at resisting temptation,
he’d shooed a blackbird; mortified his flesh
and could spot a poisoned chalice; restore
broken vessels, but worshipped his routine.
Whereas Scholastica, in sincere love,
pleaded with him to delay a little.
When tears did not avail, she cried in prayer –
the clear sky darkened and a storm arose.
Benedict, rooted to the very spot –
coldly angry, began to lecture her,
but her petition had prevailed with God.
Three days on he witnessed a dove ascend.
Her soul took flight, leaving her corpse below,
illuminated by a beam of light.
Benedict placed her body in his tomb.
Their celestial converse carries on,
their bones together, or apart, at peace,
transcending the rules, united in love.