Res John Burman (27th October 1942 to 'Not Yet! ' / London, Middlesex, England)
My place now is Cornwall
I was drawn here by the clean air and the sea
Driven by that heat-wave we had back in ’76.
Cornwall is where the granite spine of England
Lies exposed to the wind and the weather
Before dipping below the Wild Atlantic Ocean.
It is a hard county. These Celtic people lead hard lives.
It breeds strong, brave men, wide of shoulder.
From mining tin from the granite, wresting a living
From the sea, or crops from the land.
When a lifeboat is lost here, with all it’s crew
From one small village, they’ll spend a day
Looking for bodies or survivors.
The next day a full crew of volunteers
Report for duty on the next lifeboat!
I’ve seen this happen and their courage still astounds me!
Here the old boys talk to the granite!
They have built houses from it
And Cornish Stone Hedges
Since the Stone Age. They’ll cut it
And split it at will. Only telling it first
What they want it to do!
It is a poor county. Most of the wealth
Was torn from the ground and the sea
Generations ago. But the prevailing wind
Has the whole Atlantic over which to purify itself
Before reaching here. Sometimes it will storm in,
Hurricane force winds, but the air is clean
And the water is soft. And so are the accents.
And I’d rather be poor here, than rich in a city.
It’s a fine place to raise your children.
There are many things that will kill them…
But not so many that will sully their souls.
They learn to swim early, and surf and drive tractors.
Most boys sit their driving test on their sixteenth birthday.
And with narrow lanes they often drive as fast backwards
As they do forwards!
It is a place of rugged cliffs and rolling hills
Green pastures with dairy cattle always ready
For a conversation over the field gate.
Dogs at heel and friendly neighbours… well mostly!
Narrow lanes where bramble, hawthorn and blackthorn grow
Swampy lowlands rich with lemon balm and orchids!
And rugged moors, purple with heather, sharp with gorse.
The place is littered with Standing Stones,
Iron age forts and villages.
Legends that on a misty night you might swear
Were coming true. Great inventors like Humphrey Davy
And Trevithick and Old Henry Trengrouse,
Who invented the ‘Rocket life-saving apparatus’
After watching the whole crew of HMS Anson
Drown down at Loe Bar, below Helston.
If you imagine England as a Christmas Stocking
Cornwall is right down at the toe.
And like a Christmas Stocking
This is where all the nuts collect!
Artists love the light here and the blue of the sea.
Sculptors settle, witches brew, old soldiers come to rest,
Musicians pick, writers write and poets bloom
Which may be why I’m so happy here!
Copyright © Res JFB 20th April 2013
Poet's Notes about The Poem
Comments about this poem ('My Place' by Res John Burman )
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