The BeZine, October 2017, Vol. 4, Issue 1 , Music to the Eyes

Source: The BeZine, October 2017, Vol. 4, Issue 1 , Music to the Eyes

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Underneath The Stairs

P1100485

Wentworth Castle from the Parkland (Photo: John Anstie)

This tale is told by many tongues,
of now and yesteryear.
Three hundred years of life are here,
but memories disappear.

Between each line, a thousand words
of love, of heart and soul,
there’s mystery here, it must be said,
when tales remain untold,

they seed a search for history,
a sparkle in the eyes
of once romantic sons of yore;
a family’s demise.

Refrain:
And how their days would start at dawn
to sounds of clacking feet.
Underneath the stairs they’d run,
their serving paths to beat.

Stone dressed, these monuments became
far more than home sweet home,
for they withstood the test of time
in centuries to come.

And who could guess, in such a place,
we’d cast our eyes and, more,
write stories in organic dust,
of lives that went before.

Their toil, by standards of today,
would break, in half the time,
the backs of men and women who,
at forty, passed their prime.

[Refrain]

Faint tinkling of bone china plates
their masters’ breakfast fare,
the focus of their energies
to serve, make good, repair.

And all day long these duties pressed
their shoulders to the stone
all day, each week, each month, each year,
their lives were not their own.

No leisure time to recreate,
without upstairs’ consent.
With no spare time or energy,
their lives were paid as rent.

[Refrain]

No time allowed away from toil
save worship Sunday morn,
where duty bound them to this house,
all but their souls forsworn.

So much depended on their strength,
their duty, loyalty;
with half a day each week to rest
they earned their royalty.

They had to cast off any thought
of freedom, every day,
they bore their obligation and
they signed their lives away.

[Refrain]

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The Victorian Conservatory, beside the Victorian Wing (Photo: John Anstie)

Then, life meant building grander things
mere ornaments to scale,
denying the austerity,
when nation could not fail.

And here to glimpse humanity,
their own great compromise;
to fall from favour and love’s loss;
so too a great house dies

… and with it all dependant life,
no welfare scheme was theirs
for all of its inhabitants
underneath the stairs.

[Refrain]

And as his mansion starts to die,
the Earl sold on his lot,
the need for education rose
and a roof to stop the rot.

But here’s the final irony:
for those who served in fear
of losing jobs for which, today,
we freely volunteer.

This grand estate, these monuments
this house and gardens too
are all the product of an age,
restored and serving you.

Refrain:
And how their days would start at dawn
to sounds of clacking feet.
Underneath the stairs they’d run,
their serving paths to beat.

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The Cast inside the conservatory (Photo: Brian Parkhurst)

This landscape’s green and pleasant land
its rooted, verdant gold
captures all these mysteries
for you that we unfold.

The following is an edited extract from the whole piece, recorded in Dennis Tuckerman’s Cellar Studios on 21st April 2017. All music: composed, played with pick and bow on six-string bass guitar by Joseph Alen Shaw. Voice: spoken and sung by John Anstie.

Words: © 2013 John Anstie (lyric edited 2016).  Music: © 2016 Joseph Alen Shaw 

[ This lyric is based on an original ballad, written for this historic site, three years before, but never published until it was given its first outing last year. It was extensively edited and augmented for Joseph Shaw’s commission, the ‘Wentworth Cantata’, which was performed in the historic Victorian Conservatory of Wentworth Castle Gardens, South Yorkshire on 16th October 2016. This song was comprised of six cycles of four verses; each cycle consisting of two spoken and two sung verses, the last of which was a reiterated refrain ]

Posted in Ballad, Collaboration, Composition, conservation, History, Music, nature, nostalgia, poem, poetry | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Thousands and Millions

One hundred thousand
Poets for change,
so many voices and
carefully chosen words,
at times decay into a void
of the anechoic chamber.

Earthly Fathers praying
for the Establishment,
that sets our stage,
and casts our values
in concrete, steel,
plastic … and carbon.

Leaders of the World,
whose balance sheets and
logical, numerate intellect
measure only a notion
of success. What is that?
Temper your ambition.

For aren’t we just that,
a wealth of rich and
creative intelligence,
maybe the only hope
for our universe
to understand itself?

Heavenly Mothers ask us
why digitise and monetise
and worship at the alter
of the great god, Thworg,
when we are in the face of
richness beyond measure.

Escape to the stars, if you will,
but answers will be found not
in the vanity of space-time travel,
but here, with this unaided vision
they lie in the green and blue,
right before your disbelieving eyes.

Permit your heart to rule
even if only one day a week, when
the visceral, and the common sense
will sit above logic and intellect, and
that subliminal noise in our head
will slowly rise to the conscious.

Maybe, one day we’ll be
Seven Thousand Million
Poets for Change!
Our time will come. Atonement beckons.
It’s in the wind, this beating heart,
a movement beyond the gaze of mortals …

© 2017 John Anstie
(All rights reserved)

[This is my tribute to the 100,000 Poets for Change – 100TPC 2017 – movement, which had its annual celebration on 30th September]

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Let The Rains Fall

“Water, water, every where
… Nor any drop to drink.”

If I should have enough to weep
some tears before we sink
into the deep … then

let the rains fall everywhere

where land is parched
where lips are cracked
where leaves are starched
and odds are stacked
agin the ones least able

to feel the rain upon their face

and cleanse decaying life
of toxic overload
and feed the food that’s rife
and rich as any lode
but for strife … and greed

that let the acid rain fall foul

… and cost us dear.

 

© 2017 John Anstie
All rights reserved.

[The first two lines are taken from “The Rime of The Ancient Mariner”, the most epic of his lyric ballads, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This was first published in the June 2017 edition of the BeZine]

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The Honeymoon’s Over

Spring’s promise of high summer
has passed, the lush greens gone,
and now less vibrant. Parched.
Stale somehow. Disappointing.

The promise so much sweeter
than reality; the heady warmth;
sun filled days and mirage haze
the balmy heat, hot naked nights.

We should enjoy this time, by rights
but if it brings us closer to the fall;
the Autumn of our life, if that is all
then can we not enjoy the cooling

promised winter chill, another world,
its yielding to the blacks and whites
mysterious greys, the icy haze,
the freezing hibernation, preserving.

But no. An earlier Spring, that comes
too soon, and sooner still the melting
Arctic ice. One day, there’ll be no more
dreaming of a summer honeymoon.

© 2017 John Anstie
All rights reserved.

Posted in conservation, environment, Fear, Global Warming, Hope, melancholy, nature, Pleasure, poem, poetry, sadness, Uncategorized, Weather | 11 Comments

Big Questions

They could not see
the end
of their noses
the end
of the last century
the end
of infantry and cavalry
of Boys Own battles
and yet they stand
today in ceremony,
the successors
and descendants
of those, who may have
invoked
supplied
and managed
this catastrophe,
with military pomp.

Somehow
it glorifies,
it excuses
it avoids
the actions,
the decisions,
the consequences
the tactical and
maybe strategic folly
the utterly desperate
and tragic outcome,
somehow …

And yet, how else
can we remember
those, who were,
without question,
persuaded to be brave
enough to give up
their lives
for a five mile
quagmire?

[This is the only way I can commemorate Passchendaele. Today, 31st July, is the centenary of the start of that horrendous battle. It raged for 100 days and took hundreds of thousands of lives. The oft spoken words: “We will remember them” are not enough any more. We should now be asking big and much more difficult questions]

© 2017 John Anstie
All rights reserved.

Posted in Death, Free Verse, poem, political, sadness, War | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Children

Their wayward spirits pull
in opposition to wavering
forces of parental aspiration.
They threaten fraying threads
in seams of bedlam’s bursting bag
that barely contains the chaos.

The morning school run
a controlled explosion
ruthless and well oiled
the caring machine runs
this oft trodden path
through anarchy.

But dare they dream
of that perfect sound
of peace and quiet
the heaven
the bliss
the hope

… the fear
of that deafening silence
the hour before dawn
when they fledge
maybe to return
one welcome day.

© 2017 John Anstie
All rights reserved.
~~~~~

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The Chalice

Dear Earth, you are a sacred aqueous Isle
in a dark and endless sea of universe.
You may never reveal your strategy.
We may be  bound  by  genetic code
to the presupposing chemical destiny
of one great astrophysical master plan
for all living things. We, who represent
your malaise,  your chronic infestation;
we,  like a fleeting itch in your long life,
will never comprehend it.  But, in truth
you know too well  that  we can never
understand more  than one percent
of all there is to know. You contain
the knowledge that is beyond us.
We are but a rash on your skin.

One day, we know you will
raze all of our delusions,
prepare us for the day
when a blinding light
will  inoculate  you
and inform us  of
a moment when
extant humans
will, at last be
prepared to
distinguish
the  l i e s
f r o m
truth
and

so
we
a r e
m e r e
a t o m i c
p  a  r  t  i  c  l  e  s
inside   a   temporal   chalice

© 2014 John N Anstie
All rights reserved

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On One of My Tomorrows

(for Celia)

Our last goodbye was casual
as if I would see you again
on one of my tomorrows

I touched your arm
you flinched. In pain.
I felt persistent guilt

Born of carelessness
only nervous uncertainty
could freely demonstrate

Born of habitual presumption
that you were in charge
you weren’t. Not really.

You never were, save
your own sense of duty
to boss, nay care for everyone

Too much on small shoulders
that weren’t as strong as the
force of that inner being

The force that stopped being
that was someone once
whom I loved and miss

Some time after we’d helped you
to meet your God, one starlit night
I heard your voice as clear as the sky

O lamb of God, who takes away
the sins of the world, have mercy
and grant us peace. I swear.

This. Was. Not. My. Voice!

© 2017 John N Anstie
All rights reserved

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Head Over Heals

So soon, familiar sounds again,
the birds are on the wing.
A starling, dizzy, calling his mate
head over heals we sing.

The grass is growing faster
underneath our feet
and here we are, like Arab Spring,
where two extremists meet.

It’s difficult to fathom how
those two imposters hail
from just one body, so opposite,
yet apposite, they fail

to sustain this perfect, vibrant beauty
when offspring promise fades,
but need such boundless hope and joy
recede into the shade?

And yet the awesome speed of light,
with unimagined pace,
still takes too long to speak to us
from farthest outer space.

Fewer shorter days remain
to save the obvious child,
with a simple kind of husbandry
to wrest it from the wild.

Why deny a time that bursts
with forms of life that bring
their seeds to Earth for us to reap,
head over heals in Spring.

© 2017 John Anstie
All rights reserved

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