Poems and Pictures

(Platinum Print)

The Illyrian Girl

I saw her dark eyes painted on a wall,
Laughing, in a villa in old Pompeii,
It was so strong a presence it could call,
From that patrician home beside the bay,
‘They brought me here from far Illyria
To tittilate a Roman magistrate,
Can you, across two millennia,
Bring me to a different fate?’
I saw her again on Clapham Junction
Waiting quietly for a Windsor train.
Passing time had brought a change of function.
Now she stood bedenimmed in November rain.
Oh Illyrian lady with dark eyes
Your mystery now is deeper to the wise.
© Terry King May 2003

(Platinum Print)

Romsey Parish Church

It is better to approach the Abbey
Through the arch by the Baptist church;
From the east it is easy, but shabby,
The mystery is increased with the search.
Come to the north door by the tree lined side,
To soften the view of ragged stone;
The beauty and the wonder lie inside.
Weight and substance, chiaroscuro, tone,
Simple round Norman arches progressing,
As the money came and the money went,
To Gothic points further from the crossing,
Signs of dearth and plenty, that represent
The cycles in our lives of boom and bust
Which ever affect our prayers, and lust.
© Terry King 25th December 2002

(Platinum Print)


It was the English landscape when I was young,
But more than fifty years have passed since then,
Yet here yellow cowslips glowed, and among
The trees a man stooped, in dappled open
Shade, cutting wild garlic for the pot.
This was lost England; this was Normandy.
High above the trees stone arcades towered not
Proud to God but delapidatedly.
Here those who freedom gave, imposed the way
To think, perceive and later even be.
In the smoke stained abbot’s parlour the day
Passes as the gardienne gathers Euros quietly
To pay the few skilled craftsmen to rebuild
The beauty intellectual pride had killed.
© Terry King May 2003

(Platinum Print)

Winterborne Tomson

Winterborne Tomson was not on the map
Winterborne Zelston was certainly there
Winterborne Kingston was well past the flap
But Winterborne Tomson did not appear.
We went through Wimborne and Ringwood to look
For ourselves, it’s where the A31
Narrows and winds, where it says in the book,
Off a track, off a lane, to Anderson,
Is Winterborne Tomson, the house, the farm
And the church that Jack built, its Norman wall
Battered and tapering and rustic and warm
From the calves in the pen hard by the North wall.
Inside white wash and box pews of bleached oak
Evoke contentment to be of these folk.
© Terry King July 2002

(Platinum Print)

Stoke by Nayland

(Platinum Print)


On a promontory above the Stour.
Among Constable’s calabrese trees,
There stands the perpendicular tower
Of Stoke by Nayland church, here, on their knees,
Generations of south Suffolf folk
Have thanked the good Lord for their well being,
Even those who were underneath the yoke
Of labour still thanked through lack of seeing,
Still they gather round the ancient carved stone font
To start the young off in a different world
Where hunger arises from a different want,
Where Christian banners remain unfurled,
The spirit is not raised by ancient frescoes
But totted up on the tills at Tesco’s.
© Terry King May 2003
He was a young worker from Rotherham
Walking and talking with a Yorkshire mate.
Telling him why he has got to leave them,
What the strong wrench was which had turned his fate
What is taking him from the hammer scene
Of working steel to these Cistercian stills,
In a quiet vale off the M18,
Hushed and hidden among the haunted hills.
Industry dies as the mills stop rolling.
Dead monks are remembered, as live jobs die.
Dead abbeys saved, the iron bell is tolling,
Dead stones are tended as young men fly.
Fly far away to the antipodes
With the peace of Roche in their memories.
© Terry King October 2003

(Platinum Print)

The Dean Bridge

Edinburgh is a ruckled city
Of history, geology and style,
One ridge capped with medieval Reekie
The other with Georgian ranks in file,
With culture and the railway in between.
Before the land dips down towards the north,
A far less ordered canyon called the dene,
Channels the Water of Leith to the Forth.
The Water chatters under the trees beneath
The squares but when in spate it shatters, grinds
Tree trunks and roots to force them down to Leith,
Rus in urbe, a douche of force beyond men’s minds.
Above soar Telford’s elegant arches
Smoothing the road as progress marches.
© Terry King July 2002

(Platinum Print)

Kirkstall Abbey

In the morning, like the river, people
Flow down Airedale into Leeds, but when
The day’s graft is over the tired people
Return up Airedale to their homes again
Along the A65 through Kirkstall
Abbey rising above suburban trees,
Visible, only when the tree leaves fall,
To the hurried driver who rarely sees
The abbey and its gatehouse on each side.
A red sandstone skeleton, opposite
The museum with a caff inside
Where a sad ex-working man can sit,
Watching his tea grow cold, his job is done,
Not eating, he has no money for a bun.
© Terry King October 2003

(Platinum Print)

Shottesbrooke 14th/21st C

To the south of the M4 corridor,
And the Maidenhead/Slough conurbation,
Lies Shottesbrooke whose village is no more;
Just one church, one house, in isolation.
For the plague had come creeping from the East
Culling the people round their new church spire.
The serf, the yeoman, the witch and the priest,
Godly, ungodly, the pure and the liar,
All fell in swathes under the Black Death’s scythe,
To black boils bursting in soft places,
To rigor driving them to sweat and writhe.
None were left to cry, to mourn, say graces,
None to wonder or to question why,
But the unworn spire pointing to the sky.
© Terry King December 2002

(Platinum Print)

Whistling at Wells

A verger whistling a poignant Gershwin air
Embroiders the cathedral’s early calm
As a few souls gather for morning prayer
Of silences, a reading and a psalm.
After evensong, on Cathedral Green,
Two girls play, laughing and loping before
Bed, the littler one dressed to be seen
In her cherry red bright new pinafore.
The reading today is from Judges 3,
“And they slew of Moab ten thousand men”'.
The two girls run and tumble sure and free,
The younger is seven, her sister ten.
“And Israel’s land had rest for fourscore years”.
Let these two have their fourscore free of fears.
© Terry King August 2004

(Platinum Print)

Valle Crucis

An abbey of the ascetic Cistercians
Should not be approached through modern north Wales,
The industry chimes with the wrong emotions,
There should be stress on peace, and not on sales.
So climb past old lead shafts over the mountain,
Where buzzards fly beside you in the wind,
Descend through a falling water fountain
To the place of prayer for those who sinned.
Above the trees, steam rises from the railway,
The gift shops gleam in the eisteddfod town,
Barbecues smoke in the caravanserai
As bangers and burgers flame and brown.
Approach the holy place, breathe in the smoke,
Not from swinging censers, but a swinging bloke.
© Terry King December 2006

(Platinum Print)

Ely, July

When I was a planner many years ago,
We drove through Ely, to Lakenheath
Or Mildenhall, to discuss what to do
If, or worse, when, ‘the bomb’ blew out our teeth.
Afterwards, the Isle of Ely rising
With its gothic crown from the faceless fen,
Inspired a faith far from our cold surmising;
A faith that there might be a few good men.
We are staying at ‘The Lamb’ with its board
Listing the lives of landlords since 1410.
In the cathedral, the tombs more record
Mortality, marking the deaths of men,
But as a call to everlasting life
Far, far above this life’s petty strife.
© Terry King August 2004

(Cyanotype Rex)

Southwold Harbour, November

Over the Blythe as dusk falls, mist rises,
Over the marshes it thickens into fog,
A grey figure materialises,
Then, retreating, fades, followed by his dog.
Decaying coal staithes rise like fleshless bones
From the mud where yachts and schooners sit
Waiting for the tide as their mobile phones
Chirrup with calls from Amsterdam and Split.
Their polish dimmed by damp, fishing boats strain
For the hunt for sole and bass and bream
For chefs to flavour subtly with perslane
As they aspire to a Michelin dream.
Rising above the flowing mists and low thick
Fog, can just be seen the tower of Warbleswick.
© Terry King August 2004


The Thames Flows Past

Chelsea, Fulham, Wandsworth and Battersea,
Potters and bishops, old ale and enamel,
Whistler, Girtin and D G Rosetti,
Pleasure grounds, gardens, kitchen and herbal,
Watermills, tramways, pots, palaces and tiles,
Fed and amused us, used and abused us,
From maltings and gasworks the smell spread for miles.
Carbon and concrete, glucose and refuse,
Underground railway, Lotts Road for power,
Colliers to Battersea, Point Pleasant
For oilers and over to Chelsea for flour,
Greased and maintained us, poet and peasant,
Biodegradable, recycled clay,
Designed obsolescent, we live our short stay.
© Terry King 2009