The BB Society - Denys Watkins-Pitchford


It is sometimes not realised that amidst the host of BB’s writings there is often a good deal of excellent poetry waiting to be discovered in the pages. He used a lot of verse, often in quite different circumstances, at times using other poet’s work to compliment his own writing. Indeed sometimes it is difficult to determine which is actually his poetry, and which should be credited elsewhere. That said, there is no doubt that BB himself was a very fine poet and his work deserves proper recognition.

Perhaps just two illustrations give an example of his talent in this field. One reflects his love of the countryside and his exquisite observation of nature, and the other is used to wonderful effect to evoke the world of wildfowling.

‘Meeting Hill’

          The spring has come to Meeting Hill
          And slow cloud shadows pass,
          To cross the pattern of the plain
          And climb the springing grass;
          The tuneful sheep are scattered wide,
          White pebbles on the down,
          Now surely must I meet you there
          Beneath the beechen crown.

          The summer comes to Meeting Hill
          Where pillared beech boles stand,
          Lifting their rounded canopies
          Above the smiling land,
          A joyous cuckoo shouts again
          And shakes the hawthorn snow,
          Pied wheatears flit the thymy slopes,
          You must be there, I know.

          Red autumn comes to Meeting Hill
          And yet we never meet,
          The bramble finches quit the mast
          Before my eager feet,
          But though I seek you through the trees
          Or on the windy steep,
          I ever walk alone my dear, my dear,
          That hill of singing sheep.

                                      ‘The Sportsman’s Bedside Book’ ( 1937)

‘Tide’s Ending’

          See where those leaning poplars stand
          Along the far sea wall?
          That is the outpost of the land,
          There is the end of all,
          Geese in skein, and the sound again
          Of their clanging bugles blending,
          Samphire scent, and a great content
          In the place I call Tide’s Ending.

          Follow the sheep tracks’ winding thread,
          Drawn deep the dawn wind blowing,
          All the world is grey and dead,
          Only the tide is flowing,
          Curlews call from the dim sea wall,
          We’ll take what the gods are sending,
          The first gulls come, the flight’s begun
          In the place I call Tide’s Ending.

          Mark yon wheel of the Bar Point light
          Uneasy in the gloaming,
          Timid spark in the womb of night,
          Guide for a curlew’s homing,
          Whistle of wings and ghostly things
          Beyond all comprehending,
          Tang of the sea, and a soul set free
          In the place I call Tide’s Ending.

Tide’s Ending’ ( 1950)

If these two poems have whetted the appetite of BB enthusiasts, the following booklet is highly recommended:

‘BB - Denys Watkins- Pitchford.  Songs Rhymes and Spells’ (2007).

This excellent booklet, compiled by Wendy Beyer, a BB Society member, contains all his poems culled from his books and writings.  It is available from the BB Merchandise collection within the BB Society.

Right Col

Illustration by Denys Watkins-Pitchford (BB)