Category Archives: Poems about Abingdon

Saving Merry Sue

The owner in waders jumps in beside Merry Sue –
a cruiser moored on Nags Head Island.

Muddy waters pour over her stern. It is too late
to stop her filling up, but Sue is not lost – entirely.

They tie ropes round trees to hold her from sinking – utterly
‘Why do you stop me?’ she cries ‘I want to go down.’

They return to adjust ropes until the water drops.
A crane tugs her out and empties her of almost every drop.

As the sun goes higher in April and May
leaves green the trees, and Sue is scrubbed white, rubbed bright.

A July breeze kisses Merry Sue, the cabin cruiser,
as she bumps her way through Abingdon Lock and on to Oxford.

‘I will try to work again’ she says, ’I am sorry!’

(P.S This account is as much fact as fiction.)

The Queen and Prince of Abingdon

England won the semi final against Denmark and are through to the final against Italy. Amazing times! Outside there is singing.

It was our Abingdon share a poem group earlier today and the theme was Kings and Queens. I tried to write another Abingdon poem on a subject of local concern – V&A have been kept apart too long.

The Queen and Prince of Abingdon stand,
faces clouded with lichen and moss –
he in a jerkin, tights, and cloak;
she in corset, and marble dress.

He died young. She died old.
His column – proof of the town’s loyal grief.
She was commissioned in her Jubilee year –
by a local vintner and civic chief.

A mile by road from Queen to Prince,
with houses and gardens and shops between.
No civic leader thought to unite
the illustrious Prince and imperial Queen.

Below them the people had freedom to wander.
The Queen and the Prince had no such choice,
until one night, she hitched up her dress
proclaiming ‘Enough!’ in imperious voice.

She dropped to the ground with stately aplomb,
stealing by Poundland in search of her prize,
like glacial rock as an ice age withdraws,
’til she gazed up at his wonderous thighs.

Nothing and no-one could stop the Queen now,
She, who had missed her Prince for so long,
hitched up her petticoats and monkey-climbed up,
up his high plinth – a royal King-Kong.

Next day the crowd were more than offended
to see the Royals’ unending embrace.
Next day on Twitter #V&A trended –
backs to the world, each face to face.

The Bridge Builders

The patron said ‘Use my own features for both
Jefforye Barbur and John Howchion –
my rugged chin and chiselled cheek.
Have them dressed as merchants in gowns,
passing a bag of gold, tenderly, so all is done
as God commanded for the advancement of Abingdon.

Master Painter, with your art, show how their munificence
transformed the muddy treacherous River Thames,
bringing masons and skilled artisans from afar
to cut rocks, mix mortar, and fix stones
to create the many arches from the Causeway
to uphold the Burford and the Abingdon Bridge.

Show St Helens and St Nicolas Church, where we worship.
Show the Long Alley Almshouses, recently transformed,
with the bright cupola that our gold has wrought,
bringing light upon the panelled meeting room
where this painting will hang in perpetuity,
beside Sir John Mason, Thomas Tesdale, and Edward the King.’

Note: Abingdon Bridge was built around 1416-17. The Bridge Builders painting is from about 1607. The print above is taken from Christ’s  Hospital Abingdon by Arthur E. Preston. All Right Reserved. A colour image, without the historic frame, can be seen on the Town Council Website.

Poem made of snippets from the 1994 Trinity Toddler Group diary

(This is another possible poem for the proposed book – Ten Poems about Abingdon – to be published in October 2021.)

We will make a weather book with snow on the front,
frost and rain inside, sunshine on the back.
We will make a cotton wool and toilet roll snowman,
Sing Incy Wincy Spider in January.

We will make toilet roll birds with flappy wings.
Teddy bears’ pancake day, Biscuits with sprinkles.
NO CRAFT on the day that it snows.
Sing the wheels on the bus in February.

We will make paper cup faces with cress hair,
Mothering Sunday cards with doilies and daffs,
yoghurt pots with chickens and straws.
Sing two little birds in March.

We will make paper blossom on branches with eggs,
Easter Cards with fluffy chicks,
a house and garden from catalogue cut-outs.
Sing Hickory Dickory Dock in April

We will make butterflies out of all-coloured scraps,
rainbow streamers for ABINGDON ALIVE,
smiley face plates saying LETS BE FRIENDS.
Sing What a friend we have in May.

We will make round and round the garden on a plate
with Teddy Bears on split pins,
fishes from gold and silver milk bottle tops.
Sing two little rabbits in June.

We will make a clock face with moving hands,
sandcastle, spade, bucket, boat with sails.
At Teatime Praise on the lawn
sing the wise man built his house in July

We will make Mr Men shapes: round – happy, noisy, and clever;
oval – nosey and bumpy; square – strong and grumpy.
We will put felt vegetables in a basket for harvest.
Sing Old McDonald had a farm in September.

We will make roundabouts with horses on card,
squirrels with a big pile of nuts in October.
We will make a night sky – black paper, shiny stars,
fireworks and rockets that whoosh in November.

We will make a doily angel and baby Jesus
and Mary and Joseph from playdough.
Everybody will have a part this year.
Sing The Calypso Carol in December.