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This England

This England is the quarterly magazine for all who love our green and pleasant land and are unashamedly proud of their English roots. Published since 1968 the magazine has now become one of England’s best loved magazines and has a readership of over 115,000 people from around the world. As well as being popular in England it outsells all other British heritage magazines in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and is sent to readers in every country of the world. Published in Cheltenham, in the heart of picturesque Gloucestershire, the magazine is edited, printed and despatched direct from England. Subscribe today and celebrate all that is best about England and the English way of life.

I am a dog known rather

I am a dog known rather well: I guard the house but how that came To be my whim I cannot tell. With a leap and a heart elate I go At the end of an hour’s expectancy To take a walk of a mile or so With the folk I let live here with me. Along the path, amid the grass I sniff, and find out rarest smells For rolling over as I pass The open fields toward the dells. No doubt I shall always cross this sill, And turn the corner, and stand steady, Gazing back for my Mistress till She reaches where I have run already, Are you haunted by a few lines from a poem and want help in finding the rest of the words? Do you have a favourite verse you’d like to share with us? Or have you been writing poetry for years and would like others to read your work? If the answer is “Yes” to any of these questions please write to me, Susan Kelleher, at This England, The Lypiatts, Lansdown Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 2JA, or email editor@thisengland.co.uk And that this meadow with its brook And bulrush, even as it appears As I plunge by with hasty look, Will stay the same a thousand years. Thus “Wessex”. But a dubious ray At times informs his steadfast eye, Just for a trice, as though to say, “Yet, will this pass, and pass shall I?” Ido get numerous letters asking if I can trace half-remembered poetry, and it’s always a great pleasure when I can help. However, I usually have to pass the request on to readers in the hope they can identify the poem. And they often do! In the last issue a poem about a dog called Spot was being sought and Mary French from Chelmsford, Essex, was quick to respond. She found this poem by Rodney Bennett and wonders if it is the right one. MY DOG SPOT I have a white dog Whose name is Spot, And he’s sometimes white And he’s sometimes not. But whether he’s white Or whether he’s not, There’s a patch on his ear That makes him Spot. dog poems. It was written by Thomas Hardy (1840–1928) about his much-loved wirehaired terrier Wessex who was a terror as well as a terrier! He had a habit of jumping onto the dining table when guests were trying to enjoy their dinner, and he was known to take a bite or two at passing ankles. However, his character and devotion far outweighed these minor blemishes and Hardy adored him. When Wessex died on 27th December 1926 Hardy wrote in his diary: “Wx sleeps outside the house for the first time for 13 years.” Hardy wrote this poem about Wessex in 1924. Margaret Hilton of Alveston, Gloucestershire, was searching for a poem that began “Give me a good digestion Lord”. This was quickly recognised as the start of an anonymous ancient prayer that was reputed to have been found in Chester Cathedral. Give me a good digestion, Lord, and also something to digest; Give me a healthy body, Lord, with sense to keep it at its best. Tongue lolling in the heat, this golden retriever appears lost in thought — just like the dog Spot described in the poem on this page. TOM WESTON He has a tongue That is long and pink, And he lolls it out When he wants to think. He seems to think most When the weather is hot. He’s a wise sort of dog, Is my dog, Spot. He likes a bone, And he likes a ball, But he doesn’t care For a cat at all. He waggles his tail And he knows what’s what. So I’m glad that he’s my dog, My dog, Spot. Although he couldn’t find a poem about a dog called Spot, James Carswell from Manchester sent me one of his favourite 32 THIS ENGLAND, Winter, 2017

First the Mayor called the meeting to order And said they’d a lot to get through, So if they didn’t mind, to get off on’t right lines, He’d like to put his point of view. He thought they might go for a sort of tableau Wi’ people standing about All in fancy dress, and a Loyal Address Which he, of course, would read out. “Nay, nay”, said Fred Day, “That’s not the way, We could make the whole town look nice. In my shop I’ve got flags and bunting and banners — And all at a very good price.” “Or....”, said Mrs. Hare, the patissiere, “Why don’t we just have a party? Give the children a treat, with plenty to eat: If you like I could feed them right hearty. “I’d give each child a drink, and some jelly I think, And a sandwich with lovely fresh bread; For each child I’d bake a small fancy cake — And all for just £5 a head.” A dusting of snow ices the ancient roofs of Chester Cathedral. Once an abbey and with a history spanning 1,000 years many prayers have been said here but one in particular has been requested by a reader. CLINT HEACOCK Give me a healthy mind, Good Lord, To keep the good and pure in sight; Which seeing sin is not appalled, But finds a way to set it right. Give me a mind which is not bored, That does not whimper, whine or sigh; Don’t let me worry over much About the fussy thing called ‘I’. Give me a sense of humour, Lord, Give me the grace to see a joke; To get some happiness from life, And pass it on to other folk. Thank you once again for the many poems that you send in to me. I never cease being amazed by the literary abilities of This England readers. Unfortunately, space limitations mean I only have the chance to publish a few in each issue — and many of these have been on file for years as you can tell from this poem, sent in to me by Grace Smith of Clacton-on-Sea, Essex. Written by her husband Gordon, it is a humorous poem about discussions on how to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee. THE JUBILEE At the Town Hall they convened a meeting And people were let in for free To consider a suitable function To mark the Queen’s Jubilee. In the chair was the Mayor, the Vicar was there, And most of the councillors too; There were several who came ’cos they’d summat to say And a few ‘cos they’d nowt else to do. Although the bracken is browning and the air is sharp with frost, a walk through Twigmoor Woods, Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, on a crisp November morning is a delight. The month is portrayed in a poem written by a reader, see this page. JOHN F. WHITAKER “FIVE POUND?” cried John Phipps, “Why my Fish and Chip Shop’ll charge you not five pound but three. They’ll get chips on a platter, fresh cod in batter, Mushy peas, and a nice cuppa tea.” “Now that’s quite enough”, t’Vicar cried in a huff, “We’re supposed to be planning a tribute; But you’re all on about what you can get out Instead of what you can contribute... “I therefore propose that this meeting be closed And we go home in quiet contemplation; And while on the way you may care to pray For the Queen of so selfish a nation.” So the meeting broke up in confusion And nothing was settled just then, And I never did hear the conclusion; Of what was done, who did, and when. And we end on rather a chilly note — David Fleming of Barnhill, Dundee, has sent in poem entitled “November” that is evocative enough to make you put on the central heating! Stone-built villas, as mysterious as forgotten symphonies, Wait in damp gardens which hold the rotting remains of summer’s splendour. Leaves scurry in the streets like hungry crowds with rumours of bread; Forgotten extras of a silent film. The wind hurries from the sea, A tossing sheet of grey, And rain patters through this tired, lost year As we await celebrations And the coming of snow. THIS ENGLAND, Winter, 2017 33

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