It’s interesting the impressions that different people have when thinking about and describing Teignmouth.
Adding to earlier posts of verse by Patrick Wolf and Don Pearson here’s an alternative view, ‘Mesh’, by Ian Chamberlain. As with Don Pearson’s earlier poem it was inspired by a workshop with Barbara Sealey-Bowers.
Ian is one of the founders of ‘Poetry Teignmouth’
MESH (Ian Chamberlain)
The churn of tides and Teign
stirs up a clinker-build
of brig and saltern, lime and herring
streets divided, steam and diesel…
life stories bogged in overlap.
History hunter comes to fish:
names, dates, information.
Tale catcher, scale remover
threads inquisitive nets
among the town’s foundations.
Passion of the seeker rakes the silt.
A long tongue of river speaks
of earth, fire, wind. And water
elemental in the sediment
of Sealeys, Hooks and Boynes.
(Sealey, Hook and Boynes are names of old fishing families in Teignmouth)
Want to know more? Check out Poetry Teignmouth for more information about Ian Chamberlain
Technical problems with WordPress seem to have been resolved so here’s the belated next posting from Keats’ Ghost.
Wall poetry at the Ness House Hotel
You can live in a place for years and not notice things. Then you do and you get that thrill of a new surprise. Remember my first posting on this blog? It was a poem by Keats which is to be found on the wall of the New Quay Inn. Well take the short ferry trip across the mouth of the estuary to Shaldon, walk up to the Ness House Hotel and there on the wall you will find these two snippets which make a wonderful juxtaposition – old and new views of the sea.
Sea Fever snippet (John Masefield)
I must down to the sea again,
To the lonely sea and sky
And all I ask is a tall ship
And a star to steer her by.
Milligan’s version (Spike Milligan)
I must down to the sea again,
To the lonely sea and sky.
I left my shoes and socks there,
I wonder if they’re dry.
This week is National Get Walking Week, part of the Walking for Health scheme. Teignmouth’s local name for this scheme is ‘Walk This Way’ and there are two groups who meet weekly to enjoy walking as a shared exercise. Today’s verse is an exhortation to get walking.
Walk This Way
Don’t baulk at talk
of going for a walk.
Don’t sit, get fit,
get outside for a little bit.
First stride, take pride,
feel pleasure inside.
It’s not hard to promenade,
avoid the extra inch of lard.
No need to scramble through briar and bramble,
just go and peramble.
Go for a stroll, it’s good for the soul,
it makes yourself whole.
So “Get on yer bike” and go for a hike.
See what it’s like
when you smell the fresh air, feel the wind in your hair,
with no tyre to spare.
Put on a smile as you pass that first mile
and swagger with style.
It makes you feel good as you walk through the ‘hood’
and know that you would
be stronger, live longer,
to a group who feel cock-a-hoop
that they can now troop ….
for miles and miles and miles.
To counter your ills don’t just take the pills,
but take to the hills.
On 3rd May 1818 Keats left Teignmouth. On the eve of his departure he wrote to his friend Joshua Hamilton Reynolds. It was also to Reynolds that he had written six weeks earlier including in his letter his final poem written as part of the ‘Teignmouth cycle’.
It is a long poem and I have extracted here the last stanza which, it is believed, contains references to Teignmouth and his feelings whilst here. For more information about the poem and its interpretation follow the link at the end.
Epistle to Joshua Reynolds (John Keats, 25th March 1818)
Dear Reynolds! I have a mysterious tale
And cannot speak it. The first page I read
Upon a lampit rock of green sea-weed
Among the breakers; ’twas a quiet eve,
The rocks were silent, the wide sea did weave
An untumultuous fringe of silver foam
Along the flat brown sand; I was at home
And should have been most happy,– but I saw
Too far into the sea, where every maw
The greater on the less feeds evermore.
But I saw too distinct into the core
Of an eternal fierce destruction,
And so from happiness I far was gone.
Still am I sick of it, and though to-day
I’ve gather’d young spring-leaves, and flowers gay
Of periwinkle and wild strawberry,
Still do I that most fierce destruction see,
The Shark at savage prey, the Hawk at pounce,
The gentle Robin, like a Pard or Ounce,
Ravening a worm — Away, ye horrid moods!
Moods of one’s mind! You know I hate them well.
You know I’d sooner be a clapping Bell
To some Kamschatcan Missionary Church,
Than with these horrid moods be left i’ the lurch.
Do you get health — and Tom the same — I’ll dance,
And from detested moods in new Romance
Take refuge. Of bad lines a Centaine dose
Is sure enough — and so ‘here follows prose.’