… 400, 90 and 18!
2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. His plays and sonnets are enjoyed the world over and are still as pertinent today as they were when he wrote them. In William’s honour, I am going to share my parody of the bard’s eighteenth sonnet followed by the original. I hope you enjoy them.
Shakespeare’s 18th Worm* – Celia Warren
Shall I compare thee to a bit of string?
Thou art more bristly and more flexible:
Rough soils do hold the horrid stones that sting
And cruel clay is heavily inedible.
Sometime too wet the mouth of heaven spits,
And often are thy segments clogged with dirt,
And every squirm from squirm sometime desists,
By chance of nature’s sending in a bird.
But thy eternal wriggle shan’t grow weak,
Nor lose possession of that squirm thou hast,
Nor blackbird brag thou danglest from his beak,
When in eternal stringiness thou growest.
So long as worms can squirm or hedgehogs fast,
So long as birds are late your life will last.
Shakespeare’s 18th Sonnet – William Shakespeare
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
Meanwhile, in the same week, Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 90th birthday. So here’s a lighthearted limerick for our queen:
For Queen Elizabeth II
Our queen will turn ninety this week,
Which means she is almost antique.
She is also the queen
Whose reign has now been
Quite the longest – which makes her unique.
Celia Warren 2016
If you enjoy reading limericks, I have written 1265 others. Each one defines a word from the English language. I wrote them as part of an international project to write a dictionary that defines every word by way of a limerick. It’s called the Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form.
*This worm sonnet is the only worm poem I’ve written that doesn’t appear in Don’t Poke a Worm till it Wriggles — but if you like worms, you know where to find more!
On the 19th March 1886 my maternal grandmother was born. My mother used to tell me stories of her own childhood, and stories that her parents had told her of their childhood. In time, such little, personal stories become lost. On the world stage they are insignificant. Even within a family history they are forgotten. As a writer, it’s my privilege to preserve such stories from time to time. For me, it is such everyday human stories that bring history to life, the universal experiences that could happen as easily today as hundreds or even thousands of years ago. This story from my grandmother’s childhood dates back to the late 1880s, when my grandma would have been aged about two. (She’s older than that in the photo below, of course.)
When my grandma was two, so they told me,
a little Victorian girl,
she played on the beach at the seaside
and watched the seagulls whirl.
She dug in the sand for hours,
with her simple wooden spade,
and collected sea in a bucket
for the castle-moat she’d made.
Her little bare feet found softness,
a smooth and gentle squish …
but her squeal of delight turned to tears:
she was standing on jellyfish!
So many stories they told us,
of ancestors, now long gone.
Many are lost and forgotten,
but my grandma’s tale lives on.
© Celia Warren 2016
I’ve seen Portuguese flowers
and Portuguese birds,
eaten Portuguese food,
spoken Portuguese words.
I’ve seen Portuguese fishing boats
and their returns,
but I’ve never yet seen any
I’m just back from another wonderful holiday on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Although the land belongs to Portugal, it is a lot further south – a sub-tropical island in the Atlantic. The climate is such that in February, the warmth of the sun is like a British early summer’s day – not too hot, but pleasantly warm. Of course, it is still winter, and the locals, who are used to hotter summers than ours, are well wrapped up against the cold. So tourists from northern countries stick out like a sore thumb: only foreigners would be wandering around in shorts and teeshirts!
As usual, I saw some wonderful sights: Madeiran chaffinches – the same species as chaffinches at home, but different colours – more green than crimson. I saw magnificent Monarchs – the huge, colourful orange butterflies that live there. And there were lizards everywhere, too. It’s a volcanic island. The rocks are black and the soil is red. But, as my little poem says: I never saw a single worm!
Wishing you happy reading on World Book Day.
If you want to find some worms, you know where to look …
… and tomorrow. All you have to do is watch a small area in your garden or a park – or anywhere, really – and count the highest numbers you see at one time of any one species in one hour. Today, I’ve counted four chaffinches, two robins, a dunnock, a blackbird, a pigeon, one blue tit and one great tit. I even photographed some of them. When you finish your bird count, send your results to the RSPB.
If you love birds and wildlife, and drawings, paintings and poems about them, then you’ll also enjoy The RSPB Anthology of Wildlife Poems. ISBN 978 1 4081 3118 3
When your brain’s crackling with inspiration
and ideas that you’re burning to share;
when your pen’s almost smoking as you write
then you might say, “I’m on fire today!”
Inspiration comes in bursts, and it’s exciting for writers when they’re on fire! Ideas come at all sorts of unexpected times and in surprising places. Who’d have thought they’d find a poem – or at least, a little ditty – on a garage forecourt?
What is the point of fire?
To keep us warm,
To cook our food,
To frighten wolves away,
To burn as beacons
Back in the day.
But a fire point?
Without a doubt,
To put fires out.
© Celia Warren 2016
be the best there’s been:
Hearts full of kindness,
Heads more creative,
bright and keen.
be the best ever seen:
God bless us all,
not forgetting The Queen*.
© Celia Warren 2016
*whose 90th birthday falls in the new year.
Meanwhile … can you guess who wrote these new year’s resolutions (apart from me, of course!)?
Whose New Year Resolutions?
Stay out of boxes
And off hills
Blow out candles
Climb no beanstalks
Save fat for spouse
Keep thumb out of pies
Build new house
© Celia Warren 2015
Wishing all readers health and happiness throughout 2016
The chessmen don’t have cell phones
and the landline’s just for kings.
And queens. And sometimes bishops.
Oh, and rooks and knights and things.
So if the pawns, at Christmas,
want to phone a distant friend
or family, they’ve no choice but
to queue for hours on end
at the only public phone box
within miles of their board.
So, let’s wish them Merry Christmas
and mince pies as their reward.
© Celia Warren 2015
This is the latest in the adventures of my chessmen. For a preview of “Secret Moves”, a book of many of their earlier adventures, click here.