I will say a few words before each poem, in explanation. The first one concerns the land known as The Westwood, near the Yorkshire town of Beverley.
High on The Westwood
Land of the pasturemasters, as of yore.
A green, unspoiled paradise, it still
Casts over me the same spell as before
It did, and I dare say it always will.
The Grandstand appears through a blueish haze,
Calling to gamblers and other like fools;
The distant Minster recalling those days
When people knew that it is Christ Who rules.
My grandfather's asylum fairly near,
Reminding us of the darkness within,
Which Dr Jung says we should hold so dear,
For, only in its gloom may we see light.
In summer's heat the land is dotted with
Ice-cream vans dispensing their sweet delight.
The next concerns my mother's mother:
Lilias Tweedie Davie (1894-1974)
Overlooked by Andrew Robb and his wife,
Her ancient ancestors from Peebles-shire,
My grandmother towards the end of life
Ate fine fruit cake with such sweet composure.
In younger days a watercolourist,
The charms of Bartok were to her unknown.
Hers the graciousness of the true artist,
When Tom Davie left her eight years alone.
Car headlights reflected on the ceiling
Of the nursery where I used to sleep,
On the wall my grandmother's engraving.
She'd studied at Edinburgh's School of Art.
I take from her her "can do" attitude,
And that in life we should play our full part.
The third relates to real events which happened to me in 2015/16
Injected by a sweet anaesthetist,
I enjoyed the losing of consciousness.
ECT might not have headed the list
Of experiences I craved, but unless
I am mistaken, it did me some good.
Psychiatric medication harmed me,
Taking away from me my taste for food,
And causing me to faint quite cruelly.
"You're putting it on" cried a Jamaican.
This was not true, though she may not have known.
The day came when I at home would waken.
Looking back, bipolar symptoms now ended,
I recall memories both bad and good,
Medicine and hospital transcended.
The fourth sonnet relates to travelling by train from Lincoln to Norwich in the early 1970s. John Nichols was my great-grandfather, pictured below.
Telegraph poles which were not quite upright,
Rows of poplars, and the gorgeous black soil.
Just some of the impressions which I might
Set down, and which time cannot ever spoil.
Locomotion an "English Electric,"
Our cosy compartment well-upholstered,
Corned-beef sarnies with mustard just the trick;
March South Junction, not forgotten once heard.
We passed Pinchbeck Marsh, where John Nickols farmed.
Later on, Lakenheath and its air base.
Tuliped Fenland, by this who'd not be charmed?
What wondrous farmland, dead-level, austere.
Criminals have come and ripped up the tracks,
Destroying so much of what I hold dear.