Make Mercia Great Again – Offa’s Dyke.

I had a chance to walk on Offa’s dyke. About 800 AD (or CE if you’re a stickler), Offa, the king of Mercia built a wall along the border with Wales. Parts of it still survive.

It was rather dark under all that growth, so the picture isn’t quite as clear as ideal. It wasn’t really a fortification, but more of a definition of the boundary between the two kingdoms, and no the Welsh didn’t pay for it. You can see where the Mercians dug stone and earth from the English side to build it up – usually on the edge of a ridge where there wasn’t room to grab soil from the Welsh.

The trail follows the wall for about four kilometers. We came back through Beech’s farm (a good looking campsite) and down “Miss Graces’ lane.”

There’s a ‘goddess’ offering near the Devil’s pulpit (since Tintern Abbey is in ruins, I guess he’s winning).

The pulpit, itself, with the ruins visible in the haze below. The Devil was supposed to preach to the monks from here.

English Robbins have set up near here. There were at least to male birds, both begging and chirping loudly to each other. (Get off my lawn?).

Long-horned cattle that reminded me of Aurochs as they moved through the forest were in the woods near our car.

Trebuchet Balls

These, from a disused corner in Harlech castle in Wales show that they really did fling stones from Trebuchets.  DSC_0730The gateway to the castle.

Draft cover

This shows a draft cover for the sci-fi-fantasy-romance that my co-author and I have put together. It’s what were doing right now for weekend writing warriors. I’ve also put a couple of chapters up on here

Wonder and Joy

Robinson Jeffers, 1887 – 1962

The things that one grows tired of—O, be sure
They are only foolish artificial things!
Can a bird ever tire of having wings?
And I, so long as life and sense endure,
(Or brief be they!) shall nevermore inure
My heart to the recurrence of the springs,
Of gray dawns, the gracious evenings,
The infinite wheeling stars. A wonder pure
Must ever well within me to behold
Venus decline; or great Orion, whose belt
Is studded with three nails of burning gold,
Ascend the winter heaven. Who never felt
This wondering joy may yet be good or great:
But envy him not: he is not fortunate.

The Tyger

William Blake, 1757 – 1827

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water’d heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Willow Poem

William Carlos Williams, 1883 – 1963

It is a willow when summer is over,
a willow by the river
from which no leaf has fallen nor
bitten by the sun
turned orange or crimson.
The leaves cling and grow paler,
swing and grow paler
over the swirling waters of the river
as if loath to let go,
they are so cool, so drunk with
the swirl of the wind and of the river—
oblivious to winter,
the last to let go and fall
into the water and on the ground.

Modern Love

John Keats, 1795 – 1821

And what is love? It is a doll dress’d up
For idleness to cosset, nurse, and dandle;
A thing of soft misnomers, so divine
That silly youth doth think to make itself
Divine by loving, and so goes on
Yawning and doting a whole summer long,
Till Miss’s comb is made a pearl tiara,
And common Wellingtons turn Romeo boots;
Then Cleopatra lives at number seven,
And Antony resides in Brunswick Square.
Fools! if some passions high have warm’d the world,
If Queens and Soldiers have play’d deep for hearts,
It is no reason why such agonies
Should be more common than the growth of weeds.
Fools! make me whole again that weighty pearl
The Queen of Egypt melted, and I’ll say
That ye may love in spite of beaver hats.

(Bath rather than London for the image.)

Wonder and Joy

Robinson Jeffers, 1887 – 1962

The things that one grows tired of—O, be sure
They are only foolish artificial things!
Can a bird ever tire of having wings?
And I, so long as life and sense endure,
(Or brief be they!) shall nevermore inure
My heart to the recurrence of the springs,
Of gray dawns, the gracious evenings,
The infinite wheeling stars. A wonder pure
Must ever well within me to behold
Venus decline; or great Orion, whose belt
Is studded with three nails of burning gold,
Ascend the winter heaven. Who never felt
This wondering joy may yet be good or great:
But envy him not: he is not fortunate.

The Unexplorer

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 – 1950

There was a road ran past our house
Too lovely to explore.
I asked my mother once—she said
That if you followed where it led
It brought you to the milk-man’s door.
(That’s why I have not traveled more.)

I just saw this, and given the oft told hint – “The Glint in the Milkman’s Eye” I love the double-entendre.

A Fixed Idea

Amy Lowell, 1874 – 1925

What torture lurks within a single thought
When grown too constant; and however kind,
However welcome still, the weary mind
Aches with its presence. Dull remembrance taught
Remembers on unceasingly; unsought
The old delight is with us but to find
That all recurring joy is pain refined,
Become a habit, and we struggle, caught.
You lie upon my heart as on a nest,
Folded in peace, for you can never know
How crushed I am with having you at rest
Heavy upon my life. I love you so
You bind my freedom from its rightful quest.
In mercy lift your drooping wings and go.