Category Archives: Just Stuff

Nostalgia and the Poet – Kevin Morris

Nostalgia (a yearning for a golden, bygone age) is present, to a greater or lesser degree in all of us. This hankering for the past runs through much poetry and is beautifully expressed by A. E Housman in his “A Shropshire Lad”:


“INTO my heart an air that kills

From yon far country blows:

What are those blue remembered hills,

What spires, what farms are those?


That is the land of lost content,

I see it shining plain,

The happy highways where I went

And cannot come again”.


In the above lines, Housman evokes a happy childhood. The recollection of which is, however tinged with regret, hence “into my heart an air that kills”. We cannot, try as we might, recreate the past and melancholy oft creeps into our soul when gazing back.


Nostalgia frequently expresses itself in a wistful evocation of a vanishing way of life. Take, for example the speech delivered by Stanley Baldwin to the Royal Society of St George in 1927:

“To me, England is the country, and the country is England. And when I ask myself what I mean by England when I am abroad, England comes to me through

my various senses — through the ear, through the eye and through certain imperishable scents … The sounds of England, the tinkle of the hammer on the anvil

in the country smithy, the corncrake on a dewy morning, the sound of the scythe against the whetstone, and the sight of a plough team coming over the brow

of a hill, the sight that has been seen in England since England was a land … the one eternal sight of England”.


Baldwin was a one-nation Conservative and one can detect in his speech the longing of the man of a conservative disposition to preserve what he considers to be the intrinsic characteristics of the society which nurtures him.  Baldwin was both a political and (small c) Conservative. As such the beauty of the above passage touches the souls of those who are small (c) conservatives, as well as individuals who are Conservative with a big (c). At the time of Baldwin’s speech, agriculture was already well on the way to mechanisation (the horse was being replaced by the tractor, and the tinkle of the blacksmith’s hammer on the anvil was becoming a rarity), yet Baldwin felt their importance as, for him they helped to make England, England.


My own work is not immune from nostalgia. Take, for example my poem, “Squire and Peasant” which runs thus:


“I see a vanished land

Where the squire held command

Over the countryside,

Before the tide


And paternalism was spurned,

Or merely ebbed away

Ushering in a new day.


To hounds he rode

Or through his estate strode

In search of grouse or pheasant.

With countenance pleasant

Or severe

He ruled his peasants

Far and near.


Sometimes a thinker

And often a drinker

He felt a connection with the whole

Estate, his soul

Was as one

with generations, long since gone.

Frequently inarticulate

He did hate

The untried

And cried

Out for the preservation of the old ways.


Nothing stays


The rock-like squire faltered

As the wind of progress

That does redress

All ills, brought salvation

To the nation.

Now those who the price of everything know, hold command

While squire and peasant stand

Bemused, upon this altered land”.


The relationship between squire and peasant could be abusive. There where (and remain) bad landowners. However, at its best the connection between the squire and his tenantry was one of mutual dependence. The lord of the manor felt an obligation to his tenants who, in turn where glad to have a benign squire. This semi-feudal state of affairs has now vanished (in the west at least) and cannot be recreated. Yet, at its best is there, perhaps not something to be said in defence of this “vanished land”? or is the loosening of social bonds and the glorification of the individual an unmitigated good? Some may object that it is easier for the squire to be nostalgic than the peasant for it was the former who “held command”. Perhaps …


In conclusion, nostalgia is a characteristic present to a greater or lesser extent in most of humanity. Looking back to a “golden age” is, ultimately a harmless activity and can help people to cope with what can seem a cold and rather plastic present. While we cannot live in the past, we can learn from it, for by no means everything predating the present age was wholly bad. We must, however be wary of allowing nostalgia to degenerate into a blind reactionary hatred of the present. The position of racial minorities, women and other previously marginalised groups has, for example, improved over time and few would wish to put the clock back as regards such progress.


(Kevin Morris’s collection of poetry, “My Old Clock I Wind and other Poems” is available at

Give the Gift of Protecting Yourself

As we all know, our blogs, emails, and other internet sites are protected by things such as user names and passwords. In order for me to allow my computer to use for the day, I have to provide a password. Having passwords is necessary, to be sure, however keeping your password a secret might not be the best thing.

Recently, the blogging community has been abuzz with the information that one of our own is experiencing a downturn in her health. Her daughter has reached out to inform everyone of her mother’s condition. In her frustration, she has stated that because she doesn’t have her mother’s passwords, she cannot manage her mother’s affairs.

Addressing this topic, I took it upon myself to provide a trusted friend with ALL the information she might need to manage my accounts, should I not be able to function in that capacity. This includes information for my email accounts, social media sites and sites where I have items I create and are for sale, such as Zazzle, Amazon and Etsy.

This can come in handy to update people about your status. Helping others close your sites, if need be and make sure that if you have monies owed you or products out there, your inventories can be managed. Gee, so much to consider.

You may be thinking that there is a lot of work involved and yes, it can be. However, I was gifted the idea of taking a phone book and alphabetically listing all my information. Genius!  I got myself a book and a mechanical pencil and took that idea to heart. This made creating the document so easy, because all I had to do was lift the information and type it into my word processing program. Because I saved it, I can update it as required.

Consider this, please. Helping others help you handle your business, when you are unable is a gift you have the capacity to give!

Colleen’s Weekly Poetry Challenge #37 Smoke & Veil

The winds of change blow

Veil of mystery will lift

Then the smoke will clear

©2017 Annette Rochelle Aben

Crooning Under the June Moon

Ah yes, there IS a June Moon rising in the magical digital skies…   You can enjoy this spectacular vision all month long right here: The Magic Happens

Here is the collage of the articles I have submitted for this month.

Our world-wide collective of talented writers have filled this issue with their views and voices on a variety of topics. This month’s themes from which they had to choose were: FICTIONWALKBUSINESS.

We have new prompts each month and would LOVE to have YOU share your talents in the magazine! Contact our fearless leader, Kathleen Anne McCarthy at this email address:

Thank you for enjoying our magazine, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary in July!  Wow, that’s pretty cool.

Crooning under the June moon, with you!

Annette Rochelle Aben, Editor, The Magic Happens Magazine

Tallis Steelyard A Harsh Winter and Other Stories Blog tour

Annette here, I am honored to hold the space for the debonair Tallis Steelyard, to share his new book!  Of course, that means Jim Webster is along for this tour too!  There is contact information for both gentlemen further down in this post. Without any further ado, I shall turn this over to my favorite poet from days of yore….  Tallis Steelyard.

Draw a bow at a venture

Asilrigg Wellhopper was a much admired young man, charming, tactful, and
frankly too handsome for his own good. He was, as they say, an adventurer.
Now I know that in modern parlance the word can be a synonym for ‘rogue’ or
‘bounder’ but in Asilrigg’s case that usage would have been unkind.
Within strict limits Asilrigg was almost entirely honourable. If a maiden
carrying a purse full of gold and leading a small child needed escorting,
the Asilrigg was the one you could safely entrust them to. The small child
would arrive somewhat more widely educated, the gold would be intact, and
the maiden possibly still a maiden. As I said, almost entirely honourable.
His presence in Port Naain was just ‘one of those things.’ I never found out
why he arrived here. Perhaps a temporary shortage of monsters to slay, or
tyrants to overthrow; perhaps he’d accepted a commission to deliver
something of immense value safely to the city? Frankly I never asked him and
those who did received various responses which translated as ‘I’m afraid I
cannot tell you.’
Still, he arrived in Port Naain with enough money to live rather well for
several months. During this happy period, he seems to have found his way
into polite society and polite society, always keen on novelty, welcomed
Now it must be admitted that free-spending young heroes of obvious gallantry
and irresistible charm never seem to lack for admirers. Asilrigg could well
have been swamped by them had it not been for his less than secret weapon,
his valet, Gort.
Gort was a weather-beaten, wry-faced, dark-visaged man. He scowled
perpetually, acted as Asilrigg’s valet in refined places and guarded his
back, axe in hand, when they ventured away from the comforting illumination
of civilisation. He it was who would interpose himself between Asilrigg and
an admirer. He had many weapons in his armoury, he could leer most
impressively, had a fine grasp of crude innuendo, and it is rumoured that he
could even break wind at will.
So those who wished to ‘set their cap’ at Asilrigg had to first separate him
from his valet. Effectively this meant when Asilrigg was invited to some
soiree and Gort wasn’t present. Unfortunately for the lady with Asilrigg in
her sights, she then had to somehow overcome the competition from sundry
other ladies who had the same idea. For Asilrigg there was indeed safety in
Lesser ladies would bow out at this point, but not Miss Melinia Verbit.  A
young lady of wide accomplishments she was no shy and retiring wallflower.
If she had been forced to list her accomplishments, they would include not
merely dance and witty conversation, but hunting, fishing, and the use of
assorted improvised melee weapons. (The latter accomplishments almost
inevitable for a mettlesome girl brought up with six brothers.)
She laid siege to Asilrigg with the cunning that one of the great
condottiere captains of our glorious past would have admired. She separated
him from Gort by inviting Asilrigg in person to her home, and then separated
him from everybody else by suggesting they spent the afternoon riding out in
pleasant countryside to the north of the city.
Thus the battle was on, Melinia fighting with all her cunning against Gort
for possession of Asilrigg.
Melinia had considerable advantages; she was charming, witty, beautiful,
wealthy and not afraid of an active life. Gort was as ugly as sin, but
cunning and of course had known Asilrigg longer. Thus he knew just which
strings to pull which tugged most painfully at the young man’s heart.
Hence after a few months, with money running low, the Port Naain season
beginning to pall, and in spite of Melinia’s best efforts, Asilrigg
announced that he must return to the south.
Melinia redoubled her assault; she may even have tried weeping. Certainly it
is almost certain that the pair of them enjoyed considerable intimacy over
this period. But all to no avail. Asilrigg, with Gort riding behind him,
rode south.
Melinia was not a lady to take this sort of thing lying down, (Whatever the
level of intimacy.) A betrayal such as this must be avenged!
In grim earnest Melinia rode south, remaining elegantly attired in spite of
the conditions she had to live in and overtook the dastard who had betrayed
her. Now as I’ve said, I am not one of her intimates, and have only various
second-hand tales of what came about. There are stories that circulate, of
her cunning, her skill, her ability to sleep fully dressed in a cave and
emerge next morning looking as elegantly coiffured as if she had been
accompanied by three maids.
On the other hand I was present when she arrived back in Port Naain and rode
directly to the house of Mistress Hanchkillian. The old matriarch was held
in high regard by the younger ladies, and her wisdom and approval were
widely sought.
Melinia walked into the grand salon and gave a slight curtsey. Mistress
smiled at her and asked how her trip had gone. Will an eloquent gesture
Melinia emptied a sack onto the floor. A human head rolled out. I stopped it
with my foot and found myself staring down into the twisted features of
Mistress looked at Melinia and raised an expressive eyebrow.
Melinia gave a complicated little shrug and said, “Well killing the other
one would be a waste.”
Mistress Hanchkillian smiled slightly. “Quite right my dear.”

It may be that you might not realise that Tallis Steelyard has just produced
his second book of stories and anecdotes. This is book, ‘Tallis Steelyard, a
harsh winter, and other stories,’ is available from the first of June.

The book is available to all discerning readers at £0.99 from

or $1.28 from

Were Tallis less busy he’d doubtless remember to thank me, Jim Webster, for
the efforts I make on his behalf. But you know what it is with someone like
Tallis who is constantly in demand. So I just get on with writing his stuff
down for him and from time to time making collections of his wit, wisdom and
jumbled musings available for a grateful public.

Tallis does have a blog, it is apparently de rigueur now for all writers. It
is available at

Riding in on his coattails I’ll merely mention that my own books can be seen
at Jim Webster’s Amazon page

May the Writing be With You

May I personally invite you to the, hot off the presses, May 2017 Edition of The Magic Happens

We’ve got so many words, there are plenty to enjoy now, enjoy later and even share with friends.  In fact, at the top of each article, there are social media sharing buttons.  How nice of you to spread the words….

Of course, my words fall under these titles

You are always welcome to leave a comment ( I will respond, I promise)

We’d LOVE to have you join our merry band of bards.  Contact Kathleen Anne McCarthy at kat (at) themagichappens (dot) com. I’d be thrilled to see your name listed as one of the writers in The Magic Happens Magazine.

Poem in Your Pocket Day

Walk around with a poem in your pocket, do ya?  Well, there is a day celebrated throughout the United States and Canada just made for folks such as yourself…

That’s right, April 27th is THAT DAY!  The American Academy of Poets continues to enjoy National Poetry Month (April) by inviting you to join them, by sharing your poetry, or your favorite poetry all day!  Visit for suggestions as well as to find out what others are doing in your area!

 The beautiful thing about sharing poetry is that sharing poetry is a beautiful thing! 

 YES! I am sharing a poem with you, here… This is one I wrote for one of the Ministers in my church in honor of his 50th birthday… As this was written back in the 1990’s he has since forgiven me…

Oh, How Nifty to be Fifty

To have the freedom to say exactly what you mean

And the right to be loud, and cause public scenes

And the fashion sense to wear colors that don’t quite go together

And the forgetfulness to dress inappropriately for all types of weather

And to understand they put rails in showers

And to enjoy doing absolutely nothing for hours and hours

And to appreciate creamed spinach and toast with chipped beef

And to be able to ride the bus without having to give up your seat

And to plan vacations for warmer climate states

And to be the reason most drivers tailgate

And to be truly rewarded for your half century

With major discounts through AARP

And while you’re younger than your children and older than your folks

You’re at the right age for public ridicule and to be the butt of cruel jokes

And yet you may be thinking of all the paybacks you could send

Remember, living well is truly the best revenge!

(c) Annette Rochelle Aben 2017

Okay, I showed you mine, now show me yours!