Monthly Archives: February 2014

WHALEBONE ARCH

Whalebone Arch at start of Old Maids' Walk

Whalebone Arch at start of Old Maids’ Walk

Again prompted by a posting on the Teignmouth Oracle facebook page I dug out some notes I’d compiled a couple of years ago when doing some research on the history of the whalebone arches that once adorned one end of Teignmouth’s promenade.  It also prompted me to write the following poem.  At the end is a link to some photos and a short history of the arches.

Whalebone Arch

Whalebone arch,
jaw-bone relics
of leviathans that spanned the oceans deep.
In harmonies that haunt,
in melancholy melodies you speak
of Man the hunter
shunting through the waves
and you the prey,
speared, screaming whale-death song
in days long gone.

Whalebone arch,
cetaceous portal
that straddled once the Old Maids’ Walk,
garnering the goss,
the pitter-patter, chitter-chatter talk
of crinolined ladies
shimmering through your lips
on summer days
to Sprey Point or beyond.
Those days long gone.

Whalebone arch,
decayed with time,
eroded by the wave-lashed scything spray,
grandeur gone,
Georgian pomp that’s had its day
of faded glory.
The hoary dogs of war
ripped you apart
and dumped you on the tip where destiny belonged,
your days long gone.

Want to know more?  Go to the Whalebone Arch page

Teignmouth by Patrick Wolf

Patrick Wolf and the Wind in the Wires album

Patrick Wolf and the Wind in the Wires album

Looking for verse with associations to Teignmouth brings some interesting results.  These are the lyrics of a song written by Patrick Wolf for his album ‘Wind in the Wires’.  Its ‘romantic’ qualities are reminiscent of Keats as he might have written today.

 

Teignmouth

Teignmouth
On the night train
From the city to the south
I saw spirits
Crawl across the river mouth
In skewed ascension
With no destination
Like this lone bachelor in me
This constant yearning
For great love and learning
For the wind to carry me free

So when the birds fly south
I’ll reach up and hold their tails
Pull up and out of here
And bridle the autumn gales
Down to the burning cliffs
To the unrelenting roll
To marry the untold blisses
And anchor this lost soul

From my window
I saw two birds lost at sea
I caught our reflection
In that silent tragedy
But with hope prevailing
I draw galleons sailing
In full sail billowing free

So when the birds fly south
We’ll reach up and hold their tails
Pull up and out of here
And bridle the autumn gales
I give you my hand
The fingers unfold
To have and forever hold
To marry the untold blisses
And anchor this lost soul

Want to know more?  Check out:

Patrick Wolf and Teignmouth
Lyrics
The song

Of Smugglers, a Parson and the Clerk

The smuggling tradition of Teignmouth and surrounding areas

The smuggling tradition of Teignmouth and surrounding areas

The apocalyptic storms which have hit the coast here over the last week or so brought one thread on the Teignmouth Oracle facebook site concerning the well-being of the Parson and the Clerk.  This is a cliff formation a couple of miles NE of Teignmouth close to Smugglers Cove.  Fortunately the formation survives but it reminded me of the “Smugglers’ Song” by Rudyard Kipling which sort of captures the notion of the smuggling history of the area as well as having the serendipitous reference to the parson and the clerk.

 

A SMUGGLER’S SONG

If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse’s feet,
Don’t go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street.
Them that asks no questions isn’t told a lie,
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Five and twenty ponies, trotting through the dark.
Brandy for the Parson, ‘baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Running round the woodlump if you chance to find
Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine,
Don’t you shout to come and look, nor use ’em for your play.
Put the brushwood back again – and they’ll be gone next day!

If you see the stable-door setting open wide;
If you see a tired horse lying down inside;
If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;
If the lining’s wet and warm – don’t you ask no more!

If you meet King George’s men, dressed in blue and red,
You be careful what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you “pretty maid”, and chuck you ‘neath the chin
Don’t you tell where no-one is, nor yet where no-one’s been!

Knocks and footsteps round the house – whistles after dark –
You’ve no call for running out till the house-dogs bark.
Trusty’s here, and Pincher’s here, and see how dumb they lie –
They don’t fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by!

If you do as you’ve been told, ‘likely there’s a chance,
You’ll be given a dainty doll, all the way from France,
With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood –
A present from the Gentlemen, along o’ being good!

Five and twenty ponies, trotting through the dark.
Brandy for the Parson, ‘baccy for the Clerk.
Them that asks no questions isn’t told a lie –
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

 

Rudyard Kipling (from Puck of Pook’s Hill)

Want to know more?    Then check out these links on this site …..

Smuggling     and     The Parson and Clerk

Storm

Teignmouth being pounded

Teignmouth being pounded

The two previous posts have concerned the sea, which plays a role in Teignmouth’s life every day.  This week has seen the “apocalyptic storm” hitting the Southwest coast.  Teignmouth has suffered along with other towns.  Someone was inspired to post a poem on the Teignmouth Oracle facebook site, which I have reproduced here …….

Storm

by Dorothy Dawson

From the river mouth across the bay
a blood red stain
The essence of our land, our wealth
scouring from the hills
The river fulfilling its task
bearing it away
Menacing, opaque, earthen, silt-laden, stone-bearing waves
Hurling skywards
Chisel out mortar, stones, slabs, chunks, sections, structures
reclaiming lost ground
The silly debris of builders’ unwise toil
redistributed
Storm clouds churn across the unhappy sky
Rain whips
And Nature’s constant thunderous clamour shakes foundations
‘My turn!’

Want to know more?  Go to the following link on this site:

The Cruel Sea