Tag Archives: Don Pearson

Exciting News

Cover imageIt has been a little while since the last post mainly because I have been busy putting together a selection of these poems into a book “Pebbles on the Shore”, which is currently at the printers.

Poetry and Song have long been a traditional way of recording stories of people and events, as an alternative way of remembering.  So, with that in mind, each piece of verse in the book has a brief story attached to tie it in to its place in the shaping of Teignmouth and the surrounding area.  I have also worked with a local artist, Maureen Fayle, who has illustrated the various pieces.  Her superb pen and ink sketches lend so much more depth to the stories that unfold.

Fresh to Bleed 13-cropThe selection goes back almost 400 years but there are a few contemporary pieces as well so thanks to the ‘modern-day’ contributors for allowing me to include their work:  Ian Chamberlain (one of the co-founders of Poetry Teignmouth), Kim Edwards, Bob Freshwater (and the Back Beach Boyz), Deborah Harvey, Barbara Hine, Don Pearson and Tacy Rickard.

Teignmouth 27 - cropped1This project started just over two years ago with a thought and a question. Walking up the cliff path through the beautiful Mules Park in East Teignmouth I saw a poem, The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy, posted on the noticeboard. Who put it there I don’t know, but it struck a chord. My thoughts drifted to Keats. Teignmouth is proud of its association with John Keats even though he stayed here only three months whilst looking after his brother Tom who had come earlier in hope that the sea air would alleviate, if not cure, his consumption. Then came the random question – were there any other poems or poets associated with Teignmouth? And so this project was born.

The journey to this book has been like a walk along the beach, occasionally finding interesting pebbles whose shape, texture and colour define the shoreline like poems marking time in the history of Teignmouth.



Teignmouth News

audi vide taceAlmost 100 poems on “Teignmouth in Verse” and still a few to come. So what will the New Year bring? I’m taking a brief detour from the theme of ‘people’ for this poem by Don Pearson which presents an apocalyptic view – a reminder of all the troubles in the world today and how it might be if the tables were turned, lest we forget.

Happy New Year everyone!

Teignmouth News
(Don Pearson)

(For all of us for whom such news has always been from somewhere else)

Reports are coming in from the UK that a large number of insurgents were killed today in an air strike. The strike took place on Teignmouth in a hitherto calm area of England, two hundred miles West of London.

An Allied spokesman dismissed claims that those who died were civilians, saying, “We had indisputable intelligence of a meeting of insurgents and carried out a precisely-targeted strike on their position.”

Elsewhere in Britain, a suicide bomber, thought to be a Scot, killed more than sixty people at a shopping centre on Tyneside.


When the curfew was lifted
We gathered in “Ye Olde Jolly Sailor”,
The Jolly to locals,
Close to the wrecked TAAG Gallery,
Hit by a stray “precisely targeted” bomb.

Maybe more, still under the wreckage of St. Michael’s.
The “insurgents” had only been
A couple of local boys
Who brought in cheap tobacco
In the age-old trade.
Their rivals in the feud
Had expected them to get
A bit of a kicking.

I watched the eyes of those around me.
In the mirror, my own reflection
Showed a face I hardly recognised,
Telling the same story.
This must be stopped.

Earlier, when the fires had subsided
And it had seemed that it might be safe,
I walked down the hill towards the smoke
That obscured the sea and the Ness.
I cut through the lane from Ferndale
Past the brambled hedge
Half-hiding the old mulberry tree,
And entered Paradise Road
With its mature gardens,
The tulip tree, the tamarisks
And the rubble where my friends had lived
And which now muffled their dissent.
On Lower Brimley, I avoided the chalk circles
Around dog-muck on the pavement,
Drawn by a thoughful walker.

As I crossed the railway,
French Street was burning again
After more than three hundred years.
I glimpsed a tank driving
The wrong way along Regent Street
Towards the Triangle.

A group of soldiers huddled
Around a brazier by the station,
Sheltering from the rain and the scything wind,
Wary, frightened even, but determined.
To them, we were just “Brits”.
All of us were a risk.
None of them spoke English
And I did not understand the shouts
But the pointed rifles and gestures told me
To stand some way off in the car park,
Take off my overcoat, turn around,
Then lie spread-eagled in a puddle.
Two of them came over slowly,
One aiming a gun at my head
While the other searched me.
Young Mary Clayton’s body lay nearby
Surrounded by the wreckage of her shopping
That might have been a bomb.
I had felt sorry for these lads
So far from their home,
These peacekeepers in a land
Where war had been a distant memory.
They had expected a welcome,
Had received it in some of the cities,
Back in the early days.
I was turned back
But I could not have gone on.

On the end of Station Road
The ex-servicemen’s club and the hair stylist’s had gone.
Part of one wall remained of
The Masonic Hall
With a blasted doorway,
Above it inscribed, “Audi Vide Tace”,
“Listen, see, be silent”.
The rest of the quotation from Latin,
“if you wish to live in peace”
Had not been written over the threshold
In any language.
I could see the charred ruins
Of people whom I must have known.
Scraps of bloodied fabric
Lay in the road and
A single severed finger
Rolled in the wind,
Its ends pointing
To two places of worship
On opposite sides of the street.

There are reports that three Allied soldiers were killed today by a roadside bomb near Teignmouth in South-West England.

28th August 2008

Haiku Serenade

Haiku Serenade Sculpture

Haiku Serenade Sculpture

Poems from Pellew’s time are often long and obviously written in a flowery, grandiose and hyperbolic language that seemed appropriate for the time. So I need to intersperse them with some more ‘readable’ verse, for my own sanity as much as anything!

So, back to the Teignmouth sculpture TRAIL – this time from 2013. Some previous posts have contained poems about art in Teignmouth, whether that be ‘classical’ art from Turner or modern street art. In 2013 there was a piece in the sculpture trail which combined art and poetry – Haiku Serenade.

I like the idea of bringing together different senses in a single art form which was at the heart of Haiku Serenade. The recycled bench framework had a simple black and white linear design analogous to a musical stave. The “notes” on the stave were haikus celebrating Teignmouth from its birth 250 million years ago on the equator to the present day. Hanging tiles clinking in the wind brought sound. The whole was the serenade.

The original piece had the theme of ‘Summertime in Teignmouth’. Others were invited to contribute to that theme with their own haikus. Thanks to Don Pearson and Meredith Matthews for their contributions.

Haiku Serenade

(Various authors)

俳句 セレナーデ

Summer in Teignmouth.
Calm sea: soak, splash, swim, sail, sigh.
Rough sea: ride the surf.

Matt, Chris, Dom they are
music that’s travelled so far.
You can call them MUSE

Summer in Teignmouth.
The pier, bands, gigs, vintage cars.
Coolest place on earth.

Fish and chips, yum yum.
Childhood beach time, never glum.
Memories of fun.

Summer in Teignmouth.
Balmy nights by back-beach bars,
Pints, music, muse, mirth.

Fairground laughter rings.
A man squats on the dry grass
Weeping for his youth.

Summer in Teignmouth.
Eroded breccia beaches
from equator’s birth.

Flying ant day dawns:
The glut is unheralded,
Swifts still sleep aloft.

Fallen from its nest,
A gull chick pleads to be fed.
The knowing fox waits.

Summer in Teignmouth.
TRAIL, artefacts recycled,
showing sculpture’s worth.

Want to know more?  Check out:

TRAIL 2013 …..


River beach, Teignmouth

River beach, Teignmouth

The last few posts have been about specific events or aspects of Teignmouth.  Today is about ‘impression’. What does Teignmouth mean to different people? What is the image the town, its history, its aura, its essence conveys?  Charles Causley wrote about a poem about Teignmouth which will feature in a future blog. We have already had a view from Patrick Wolf.  Today another poem by Don Pearson giving a different perspective on the town.



(For Barbara Sealey-Bowers)

Seemingly from nothing,
on my first descent,
the town below was revealed
on an azure wash
of sky and tranquil sea,
framed by water
and warm sunlit hills.

Only later, much later,
did I notice the sea wolves
ravening beneath and above the surface,
fattening amidst sand eels.

Here sits a ragged soldier,
leg lost at Waterloo,
begging from the gentry.
Here also, a bare-legged cockle-woman, once sturdy,
now hunched and hungry herself,
she sells her wares to the boat-builders.
Even now, she awaits her man,
drowned centuries ago
hunting the cod off Newfoundland.

Elsewhere, in all but place,
hardly touching the same earth,
the landowner and his lady
parade the beach
and their wealth.

A chill mist rises,
Reabsorbing the wraiths
into the water and the earth.
Their clamour for recognition
And for discrimination dies away,
Leaving only traces of themselves
in their worn and helpless progeny.

And the salt stays dissolved in the water
While the foam’s borne away by the winds
And the ghosts of the past live forever,
While the mist on the river remains.

Don Pearson 13th July 2013


See also:  Teignmouth by Patrick Wolf