The Poems of Dorothy Gray

The Emmaus Road

Our hearts were heavy as we strode
Along the hot and dusty Road
We talked, and being overwrought
We tried to analyse each thought
And as we viewed the past events
Nothing seemed to make much sense
The one who’d come to set us free
Had died before us on a tree
Then, a lone traveller drew near
The better our discourse to hear
It seemed, the news he had not heard
So we retold it, word for word
“But now” said we, “our Lord is gone”
Our friends have seen the empty tomb
And we are lost, for who will lead?
He said “Then you are fools indeed”
You seem reluctant to believe
The Prophets?  Cannot you perceive
What they foretold is happening?
“No tomb can hold the risen King.”
And as He spoke, our spirits soared
He calmed. He reasoned, re-assured
And as we talked, and tiredness fled
We saw Emmaus just ahead
The stranger would have carried on
“But Sir” said we, “the day is done
Come sup with us, and rest a while”
And so he thanked us with a smile
And when the modest meal was spread
He broke, and then he blessed the bread
And gave to us, and then we knew
That all the Prophecies were true
This was the Christ who came to save
And He HAD risen from the grave

The Promised “Comforter”

We sorely missed our Master and our Friend
But he had said a ‘Comforter’ He’d send
We knew not how, we knew not where, or when
We waited, apprehensive, nervous men
Peter, who had thrice denied his Lord
Was quiet for once and saying not a word
Thomas, solemn, silent and aloof
Ever doubtful, waiting for some proof
What Church could on the likes of us depend?
Indeed, we found it hard to comprehend
Then, suddenly, the promised ‘Helper’ came
In rushing wind, with fiery tongues of flame
It settled on each one, and Oh! The power
That came upon us in that blessed hour
And altogether we began to speak
Not in our native Jewish tongue or Greek
And everyone around looked on in awe
Never having heard the, like before
Men from places foreign and far flung
All now heard the Word in his own tongue
“Are not these simple men?” they asked, amazed
And some I think, imagined we were crazed
And we ourselves could hardly yet believe
That humble ‘WE’ could such a gift receive
“Tis clear” some said “that they are full of wine”
But Peter answered “Sir it is but nine
Indeed, we are not drunk, as well you know
This is the prophecy from long ago
Where, through his prophet Joel, our God says
“I will pour out my Spirit in those days”
And so he spoke in voice both strong and bold
Just like the Peter we had known of old
But playing now a very different role
With the Holy Spirit in control
And many in the crowd that day believed
And they themselves the precious gift received
Many came to join us on that day
About three thousand souls some people say
Once more our Lord His promise did fulfil
And His Spirit works among us still

Firmament

Behold us when the night is clear
Plough: Orion: Cassiopeia
Since dawn of time, each in our place
Obeying laws of time and space
And down the ages, in their day
From Ancient Egypt to Cathay
Men have gazed in wonderment
Upon the heavenly firmament
And wondering how, and when, and why
Such beauty chanced to grace the sky
And some will toil and sacrifice
To build a mighty edifice
A marbled city, dome or tower
To boast their skill and flaunt their power
Aiming to prove in one short span
The ingenuity of man
Their ruins lie in every land
Yet still the mighty mountains stand
And heaven proclaims to keener eyes
God’s handiwork in starry skies

Heritage

Ancient house in busy street
Thatch and latch and old porch seat
Oh! What changes you have seen
Since they built you on the green
Once you saw the haycarts go
Rumble, tumble to and fro’
Watched the children dance and sing
Round the maypole in the Spring
Making chains of daisy flowers
Where the supermarket towers
Gone the fields and leafy lane
You and you alone remain
Remnant of an age of grace
Out of context, out of place
Ancient house in busy street
Thatch and latch and old porch seat
Oh! What changes you have seen
Since they built you on the green
Once you saw the haycarts go
Rumble, tumble to and fro’
Watched the children dance and sing
Round the maypole in the Spring
Making chains of daisy flowers
Where the supermarket towers
Gone the fields and leafy lane
You and you alone remain
Remnant of an age of grace
Out of context, out of place

Toll House

Little white house at the foot of the hill
On wintery nights, do you hear the call still?
“Ho, Tally Ho! Ho, Tally Ho!
Ho! Tally Ho! Make way for the Mail.”
When silvery moonbeams slide over your roof
Do you stir to the sound of a galloping hoof?
The clang of a gate, and a traveller’s hat?
“Ho! Tally Ho! Make way for the Mail.”
When traffic roars by, do you dream of that time?
Of ‘Keepers’ and ‘Lanthornes’ and you in your prime?
“Ho! Tally Ho! Ho, Tally Ho!
Ho! Tally Ho! Make way for the Mail.”
Of coaches approaching, with horses a’ steam
A’ top the old coachman controlling his team
The ‘Guard’ with his pistol and horn at the tail?
“Ho, Tally Ho! Make way for the Mail.”
Now gone are the old days, the colour, the rest
The ‘Keepers’ the ‘Coachmen’ the ‘Guard’ and the rest
“Ho! Tally Ho! Ho, Tally Ho!
Ho! Tally Ho! Make way for the Mail.”
But little white houses like you linger on
As if to remind us of days that are gone
And men who once blazed a magnificent trail
To carry the news and deliver the Mail

Sentimental Journey

When I went down to my old hometown
The only face I knew
Was the friendly face of the station clock
As it smiled at ten-to-two
A tower block stood where a leafy wood
Had flourished in days gone by
And the old horse through by the Cenotaph
Was dully and dirty and dry
No one remembered the village school
Or Barney the baker’s shed
How I signed for the knell of the old school bell
And the smell of new-baked bread
And as children played in the new ‘Arcade’
I watched, and wondered if they
In years to come, would be journeying home
With their memories of today

Sweet Shop

Yes, I remember that old shop well
The two steps down and the jangling bell
The ‘too high’ counter and peppermint smell
And tall glass jars in a row
Bullseyes and pear drops and sugar mice
Honeycombs, sherbert and liquorice
Aniseed balls at a modest price
“How far will a ha’penny go?”
Oh! with what agony choice was made!
Oh! with what care was each purchase weighted
A three cornered bag, and a ha’penny paid
In our childhood, long ago

Seasons

There was a time when my greatest joy
Was sweet warm milk and a cuddly toy
A teething ring and a bright balloon
A gentle rock, and a mother’s croon
Later I found my joy in play
To tumble in snow, or new mown hay
To swim and dive, to skip and run
Joyous days, just having fun
Then came the time for a different joy
A special date, with a special boy
Secret meetings, a lover’s kiss
Wedding plans, and married bliss
Now my joy is an easy chair
A pot of tea, and a friend to share
Time to ponder, and time to pray
And thank the Lord for each new day

Flowers

As a child, I’d play for hours
Mid meadow flowers
Daisy, clover, celandine
All were mine
In my teens, exotic blooms
Filled my rooms
Orchids for my wedding day
A rich bouquet
Flowery tokens through the years
Sunshine and tears
Christmas, birthday, or some other
Flowers for mother
Now my grandchildren abound
The wheels full round
Celandine and daisy chain
Are mine again

Summer Evening

Cool with scent of flowers
Midges on the pool.  Whirring mowers
Blackbird perching on the wattle gate
Singing evening ballads to his mate
Red sun sinking slowly, to retire
Reaching out with fingertips of fire
And I a’ leaning on the garden wall
Wondering at the beauty of it all

Paradise Past

Oh! joy to be a child again
To wander down a country lane
Where hawthorne with sweet briar grows
And there to reach on sandalled toes
To pluck a rose
To see again through childish eyes
The poetry of butterflies
The majesty of hollyhocks
And ladysmocks
To be enchanted by the gleam
Of stickleback in woodland stream
By old folk tales and country lore
To ‘Hide and Seek’ and to explore
A child once more

Pets

I’ve never yet acquired a pet
That started off as mine
But always they became that way
Somewhere along the line
I’ve tended rabbits, rats and cats
Tadpoles, newts and frogs
Had endless talks with budgerigars
And endless walks with dogs
I’ve often taken pets to Vets
Or paid for them to come
I think I’m quite a pet myself
Or maybe I’m just dumb

Tim

Our cat Tim
Is black and slim
Sleek of coat
And loose of limb
Keen of eye
And sharp of claw
A streamlined
Feline warrior
There are times
I wish that he
Would show more
Domesticity
And curl up on
The chairs and mats
Contentedly
Like other cats
But fireside naps
Are not his thing
He’d rather go adventuring
And though it’s hard
To love our Tim
I just can’t help
Respecting him

In the Library

Sometimes I find sanctuary
In the local Library
There, where noise is not allowed
I shelter from the madding crowd
How I love to sit at ease
‘Neath the sign of ‘Quiet Please’
Watching others at the shelves
Keeping strictly to themselves
Silently I reminisce
Think on that, and ponder this
For a moment giving wings
To thoughts that dwell on deeper things
In this age of rush and tear
Quiet places are so rare
I enjoy the luxury
Of sitting in the Library

Suburban Tea Shop

Clatter, clatter
Chatter, chatter
Happy meetings
Friendly greetings
Invitations
Conversations
“Shall I pour dear?”
“Have some more dear”
Time ignoring
Drinking, pouring
News imparting
Heart to hearting
With a will
Until the bill
Waitress tripping
Subtle tipping
Crumbs a’ dusted
Hats adjusted
Well goodbye dear
I must fly dear

Coffee Morning

Cups a’ rattle, tittle-tattle
“Hello” Kate dear, you’ve lost weight dear!
Tell me, did it take you long?
(White for me please, not too strong.)
Mrs Parker’s had her twins
I’ve just bought some non-stick tins
Really they are such a boon
(Daphne may I share your spoon?)
So the Colonel passed away
Drank himself to death they say
(Cherry cake, how very nice
Just a teeny, weeny slice.)
Have you heard the latest scandal?
Oh I’m not surprised a bit
Wonder what Mama will say?
(Half a cup dear, if I may.)
Then I’ll really have to run
Aren’t these coffee mornings fun?

Over the Fence

What could be more pleasant than a chat over the fence
A very simple pleasure to be had at no expense
When pegging out the washing, or picking a few flowers
A friendly conversation helps to cheer the working hours
A chat about the weather, or the price of daily fare
Television programmes.  These are things we all can share
And the worries that loom large, seem less important after all
When we share them with a neighbour, as we chat across the wall

Outpatients

Phone bells ringing
Swing doors swinging
Constant flowing
Coming, going
For appointments
Treatments, ointments
X-rays, plasters
All disasters
Doctor passes
(Horn rimmed glasses)
Nurses scurrying
Patients worrying
Watching, waiting
Contemplating
Troubles sharing
Pains comparing
Melancholy
“What’s that trolley?”
Clatter! Clatter!
What’s the matter?
Praises be!
It’s cups of tea

Friendship

When Uncle Jamie comes to tea
It’s lots of fun for him and me
It is the only chance he gets
To play with cars and railway sets
He’s very good with Lego too
And making paper things with glue
And modelling with Plasticine
A spaceship or a submarine
And sometimes when we’ve had our play
And all the toys are put away
We’ll have a sort of friendly ‘chat’
Just talking about this and that
When I’m with my Uncle Jim
I feel I am a man like him
And he says, when he comes to tea
He feels a boy again, like me

Hospitality

When we heard Aunt Emma was coming to tea
Well you never saw such a ‘fiddle-de-de’
The whole house was polished, above and below
Even the places we knew wouldn’t show
We even put flowers in the WC
The day old Aunt Emma was coming to tea
When we knew Aunt Emma was coming to call
We hung the old photographs up on the wall
The family silver was put on display
And all the best china laid out on a tray
The two aspidistras were put in the hall
Because old Aunt Emma was coming to call
We laughed at our wild preparations that day
And staged it just like a Victorian play
Alas from the moment the old lady came
Life in our home was never the same
She liked it so much she decided to stay
She just wouldn’t leave
AND SHE’S HERE TO THIS DAY!

Mother’s Tea Break

Meet me at the tea shop
Where the china is so nice
And the cakes are so delicious
That you don’t begrudge the price
We’ll find a corner table
And we’ll chat merrily
While someone else gets busy
With the kettle, cups and tea
We’ll talk about the weather
And exchange our bits of news
Discuss the latest fashions
And air our female views
Then, when we pay the bill
We’ll slip a coin beneath the cup
Thankful that for just this once
We won’t be washing up

Truce

There’s a jailhouse in my garden
A cowboy hat or two
A gun thrown down
A belt of brown
And a scarf of navy blue
There’s a sad, abandoned family
In the doll’s pram by the shed
And silence reigns
As the daylight wanes
For the villains are in bed

New Term

School bell ringing
Satchels swinging
Pitter, patter
Chitter, chatter
Friends excited
Reunited
Tongues a’ wagging
Giggling, bragging
Mothers bringing
Children clinging
Nervous tension
Apprehension
Noise abating
Teacher waiting
Beckons smiling
Children filing
Uniformal
Back to normal

Teenage Daughter

From the window watch her go
Head held high, and hair a’ blow
Shoulder bag and swinging hips
Down the garden path she trips
Confidence in every stride
Eager for the world outside
How she’d laugh if she could see
Silly, sentimental me
Standing here, all dewey eyes
Watching her with love and pride
Thanking God, who did afford
A mother such a rich reward

Family Holiday

Get down the cases
Let’s go for a spree
A family holiday
Down by the sea
Find all the swimming trunks
Beach balls and wraps
Get Father busy
With road books and maps
Don’t forget cameras
Sunglasses, pills
Cancel newspapers
Settle all bills
Fix in appointment
For shampoo and set
Give key to neighbour
Board out the pet
Load up the car
Until Father despairs
Saying “Why leave behind
All the tables and chairs?”
Sometimes I think
It would cause far less fuss
To dig up the seaside
And bring it to us

Mother’s Christmas

Sing a song of Christmas
Such a lot to do
Cooking, posting, shopping
When will be through
Don’t forget the robin
For the Christmas cake
If I post this parcel
How long will it take?
Have we got a corkscrew
What’s Aunt Maud’s address?
Better take that suit in
For a sponge and press
Must remember crackers
Mincemeat for the pies
Cooking foil for turkey
Get the largest size
So much to remember
So much to be done
Sing a song of Christmas
Isn’t Christmas fun?

Mother’s Matinee

I have come down to the school today
To see my son in the Christmas Play
Most of his playmates are taking part
So I practically know every word by heart
Mary, the mother is Anne next door
(I’ve never seen her sit so still before.)
My son is Joseph; he looks so weird
I’d never have known him behind that beard
I must say the shepherds look rather fine
Dressed in those old faded curtains of mine
And I know who the Kings from the Orient are!
They spend every Saturday cleaning our car
Slowly each King lays his precious gift down
Then Barry trips up over Jonathan’s gown
And while Jon is sternly rebuking his chum
One of the Angels is waving to Mum
Now Mary’s singing a soft lullaby
And I have a feeling I’m going to cry
Joseph joins in, and I see through my tears
That somehow, his halo’s slipped over his ears
Proudly, sincerely, each one plays his part
Quite unpretentious, and straight from the heart
Simple and human, just as it was then
The story of Christmas and God’s love for men
And so the performance has come to an end
And with the young voices our voices we blend
To sing the last carol that tells us we are
Not far from Bethlehem? “NOT VERY FAR.”

Christmas Camels

“This journey seems to have no end?” said camel number One
“How very true” said camel Two “I wish that it were done”
“I quite agree” said camel Three “My master weighs a ton”
“Tis lunacy” continued Three. “To chase a moving star”
“I wonder if they knew” said Two “that it would come so far”
Said One, “It makes you wonder just how ‘WISE’ these ‘WISE MEN’ are”
“I have heard say they seek a King who will be born this night
According to some ancient who was blessed with second sight”
“A King!” That means, a Palace! Well, the food should be all right
And after this long journey we deserve a bit of cheer”
“Oh look! We’re coming to a town.  It’s rather small and drear
I doubt my friends if we shall find a King or palace here”
“But see, our Star is hovering a little way ahead
And there is some activity in that old cattle shed
This can’t be right.  It looks as though our Masters were misled”
“But no.  They are alighting, and we are being tied
And now they all unwrap their gifts, and carry them inside
I’d like to know what’s going on, and what WAS prophesied.”
“But we are humble creatures, and have not been designed
To understand the mysteries of the human mind
Nor know the unseen Master, who guides and prompts mankind”
“How well our Masters serve Him! Leaving homes in lands afar
To follow, without question, a single shining star
To bring rare gifts to this old shed.  It all seems so BIZAARE!”
“And though we are exhausted, and look a sorry sight
WE too, have served our Masters well, and that is only right
But I would give my HUMP to know what happened here tonight.”

Christmas

Christmas Greetings
Happy meetings
Nuts and holly
Folks all jolly
Carol singing
Bells a’ ringing
Turkey roasting
Wine and toasting
Pudding steaming
Children beaming
Trees and glitter
Gifts and litter
Crackers banging
Festoons hanging
Cake with icing
Ham for slicing
Young eyes glowing
Mistletoeing
So much giving
Loving. Living
Heaven’s plan
Goodwill to man

Poems by Dorothy Gray
of Torcross Chapel Congregation
aged 93

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