ALAS! POOR QUEEN         Marion Angus

She was skilled in music and the dance

And the old arts of love

At the court of the poisoned rose

And the perfumed glove,

And gave her beautiful hand

To the pale Dauphin                                               

A triple crown to win  –

And she loved little dogs

And parrots

And red-legged partridges

And the golden fishes of the Duc de Guise

And a pigeon with a blue ruff

She had from Monsieur d’Elboeuf.

Master John Knox was no friend to her;

She spoke him soft and kind,

Her honeyed words were Satan’s lure

The unwary soul to bind.

‘Good sir, doth a lissome shape

And a comely face

Offend your God His Grace

Whose Wisdom maketh these

Golden fishes of the Duc de Guise?

She rode through Liddesdale with a song;

‘Ye streams sae wondrous strang,

Oh, mak’ me a wrack as I come back

But spare me as I gang.’

While a hill-bird cried and cried

Like a spirit lost

By the grey storm-wind tost.

Consider the way she had to go,

Think of the hungry snare,

The net she herself had woven,

Aware or unaware,

Of the dancing feet grown still,

The blinded eyes –

Queens should be cold and wise,

And she loved little things,


And red-legged partridges

And the golden fishes of the Duc de Guise

And the pigeon with blue ruff

She had from Monsieur d’Elboeuf.

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The Bird of Freedom Jon Plunkett

The Bird of Freedom  (Hirundo rustica)

We have tried to cage it
with our words and superstitions,
poured the devil's blood
into its veins and forked tail.
We tether it to summer,
have it bring spring on the wing
and turned its mud and spit
into portents of protection.
A bird in the hand's worth two
in the bush we say, but a swallow
on your shoulder spells magic.

But this bird cannot be held
in superstition's cage.
It cannot endure captivity.
It must cross desert sands, flit
miles of open sea to join again
in the clear north air.
It needs to fickle over fields
of ripe corn, to feed
and drink on the wing,
to dance the full width of sky.
Surely that is magic enough.





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Lonely Hearts   Wendy Cope

Can someone make my simple wish come true?

Male biker seeks female for touring fun.

Do you live in North London? Is it you?


Gay vegetarian whose friends are few,

I’m into music, Shakespeare and the sun.

Can someone make my simple wish come true?


Executive in search of something new –

Perhaps bisexual woan, arty, young.

Do you live in North London? Is it you?


Successful, straight and solvent? I am too –

Attractive Jewish lady with a son.

Can someone make my simple wish come true?


I’m Libran, inexperienced and blue –

Need slim non-smoker, under twenty-one.

Do you live in North London? Is it you?


Please write (with photo) to Box 152.

Who knows where it may lead where it may lead once we’ve begun?

Can someone make my simple wish come true?

Do you live in North London? Is it you?





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More Fishiness Basking Shark

Basking Shark                                      Norman MacCaig

To stub an oar on a rock where none should be, 
To have it rise with a slounge out of the sea
Is a thing that happened once (too often) to me.

But not too often - though enough. I count as gain
That once I met, on a sea tin-tacked with rain,
That roomsized monster with a matchbox brain.

He displaced more than water. He shoggled me
Centuries back - this decadent townee
Shook on a wrong branch of his family tree.

Swish up the dirt and, when it settles, a spring
Is all the clearer. I saw me, in one fling,
Emerging from the slime of everything.

So who's the monster? The thought made me grow pale
For twenty seconds while, sail after sail,
The tall fin slid away and then the tail.
Norman MacCaig
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Catch of the Day – a celebration. Catch the exhibition at the Fisheries Museum, Anstruther

Apologies the wall has been hibernating.

Caller Herrin’

Wha’ll buy my caller herrin’?
They’re bonnie fish and halesome farin’;
Wha’ll buy my caller herrin’,                      
New drawn frae the Forth?

When ye were sleepin’ on your pillows,
Dream’d ye aught o’ our puir fellows,
Darkling as they fac’d the billows,
A’ to fill the woven willows?
Buy my caller herrin’,
New drawn frae the Forth.


Wha’ll buy my caller herrin’?
They’re no brought here without brave darin’;
Buy my caller herrin’,
Haul’d through wind and rain.


WhaIl buy my caller herrin’?
Oh, ye may ca’ them vulgar farin’
Wives and mithers, maist despairin’,
Ca’ them lives o’ men.


When the creel o’ herrin’ passes,
Ladies-clad in silks and laces,
Gather in their braw pelisses,
Cast their heads and screw their faces,


Caller herrin’s no got lightlie:
Ye can trip the spring fu’ tightlie;
Spite o’ tauntin’, flauntin’, flingin’,
Gow had set you a’ a-singing


Neebour wives, now tent my tellin’;
When the bonnie fish ye’re sellin’,
At ae word be in yere dealin’ –
Truth will stand when a’ thin’s failin’,


Meaning of unusual words:
Caller=freshly caught
halesome farin’=wholesome food
braw pelisses=beautiful mantles
trip the spring fu’ tightlie=dance the jig very neatly
Gow= Neil Gow, the fiddle player

and listen to Cilla Fisher  sing it all on you tube   Songs of the Fishing 13

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If at first you don’t succeed – in Scots

The Spider’s Legend of Robert The Bruce               Hugh McMillan

Ah got scunnert tryin tae spin

a web for denner,

the stane wis a slaisterie,

ah couldnae get a grip,

ah wis hauf stairved by the end,

no even a midge tae claught,

then a big lug o a mon cam in,

raggety, right dosser,

mair hungert looking than me,

stairted eying me up,

ah thought, am off,

swung like a tarzan

oot the cave on a thread

thick as a wean’s wrist.

Seemed tae cheer him up.

Read more of the legend at

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Masterchef for Witches? Hallowe’en approaches

Round about the cauldron go;   
In the poison’d entrails throw.   
Toad, that under cold stone    
Days and nights hast thirty one   
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,   
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.   

     Double, double toil and trouble; 
     Fire burn and cauldron bubble.   

Fillet of a fenny snake,                
In the cauldron boil and bake;   
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,   
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,         
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,   
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,   
For a charm of powerful trouble, 
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.   

     Double, double toil and trouble;   
     Fire burn and cauldron bubble.  

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,	  
Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf	 
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,	 
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,	 
Liver of blaspheming Jew,	         
Gall of goat, and slips of yew	     
Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse,	 
Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips,	 
Finger of birth-strangled babe	  
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,	 
Make the gruel thick and slab:	 
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,	 
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

     Double, double toil and trouble;   
     Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
William Shakespeare           – Politically correct?

from Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I


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Autumnal Thoughts – a poem by our lovely Christine

Autumnal Thoughts                              Christine Johnson

Autumn has arrived with its mysterious

morning mists and mild frostiness.


The night rain has drenched the grass

with dewdrops which sparkle and shiver in the wind.


The cool morning sun penetrates the colourful trees,

dazzling the eyes with crimson reds,

soft yellows and deep dark browns.


The leaves whirl and swoop as the

wind scatters them along the stony paths.


Each one falling on the other like a giant kaleidoscope.

Shapes and colours twisting and

turning decorating the dry ground.


Their energy spent, they lie downtrodden and defeated.


They are dying when they seem most alive.


Shining with beauty, they patiently wait

for the wind to blow life into them once more.


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And they say there aren’t children like him any more – sixty years later

Timothy Winters       Charles Causley

Timothy Winters comes to school
With eyes as wide as a football pool,
Ears like bombs and teeth like splinters:
A blitz of a boy is Timothy Winters.His belly is white, his neck is dark,
And his hair is an exclamation mark.
His clothes are enough to scare a crow
And through his britches the blue winds blow.

When teacher talks he won’t hear a word
And he shoots down dead the arithmetic-bird,
He licks the patterns off his plate
And he’s not even heard of the Welfare State.

Timothy Winters has bloody feet
And he lives in a house on Suez Street,
He sleeps in a sack on the kitchen floor
And they say there aren’t boys like him any more.

Old man Winters likes his beer
And his missus ran off with a bombardier.
Grandma sits in the grate with a gin
And Timothy’s dosed with an aspirin.

The Welfare Worker lies awake
But the law’s as tricky as a ten-foot snake,
So Timothy Winters drinks his cup
And slowly goes on growing up.

At Morning Prayers the Master helves
For children less fortunate than ourselves,
And the loudest response in the room is when
Timothy Winters roars “Amen!”

So come one angel, come on ten:
Timothy Winters says “Amen
Amen amen amen amen.”
Timothy Winters, Lord.

hear it read

Timothy Winters” by Charles Causley (read by Tom O’Bedlam …

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Table Edip Cansever

Table     Edip Cansever               Apologies, no room on the actual wall for all the lines

A man filled with the gladness of living

Put his keys on the table,

Put flowers in a copper bowl there.

He put his eggs and milk on the table.

He put there the light that came in through the window,

Sound of a bicycle, sound of a spinning wheel.

The softness of bread and weather he put there.

On the table the man put

Things that happened in his mind.

What he wanted to do in life,

He put that there.

Those he loved, those he didn’t love,

The man put them on the table too.

Three times three make nine:

The man put nine on the table.

He was next to the window next to the sky;

He reached out and placed on the table endlessness.

So many days he had wanted to drink a beer!

He put on the table the pouring of that beer.

He placed there his sleep and his wakefulness;

His hunger and his fullness he put there.

Now that’s what I call a table!

It didn’t complain at all about the load.

It wobbled once or twice, then stood firm.

The man kept piling things on.

Translated from the Turkish by Julia Clare Tillinghast and Richard Tillinghast

Are YOU filled with the gladness of living?

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