Posted in General Interest

These Stones

I recently found inspiration from a story told to me by a local woman, about her father. After his application to join the forces, at the outset of World War Two, was rejected for reasons of invalidity, he and his wife ended up living a life of subsistence on the edge of the moors a short way up the road from here, near a place, which is one of our favourite local walks. She told me that her father had laid claim to an MOD Nissen hut, abandoned after the First World War, which provided a base for them to scratch a living. Some of the stories she told us of her father, revealed an unusual perspective of wartime life. He told her of the need for the long time tenants to vacate the old farm, the ruins of which lie just below the horizon in the photograph, which was then used as target practice for tanks sitting on the reservoir’s damn. This farm is named ‘North America’, seemingly because its last tenants emigrated to North America.

Her father told of watching the surreal images of the glow of fires burning from bombing raids on Sheffield, ten miles to the South West and of the German bombers circling above to take another run at the city, as well as the occasional bomber crashing on the moors. One such crash produced a surprising result, when her father went up onto the moors to investigate, he returned with a German officer, who claimed he never wanted to be a part of the war and pleaded with her parents to allow him to stay and work for them, incognito. They did this for him, until the authorities found out and came to take the reluctant German officer away. The stones that lie amidst the ruins of what was once a healthy moorland farming community, if they could speak to us now, would tell one hell of a tale of human history.

© 2013 John Anstie
© 2013 John Anstie

These Stones

What life there was around these stones when they
relate their story; most of it to tell
of shallow graves that churned to deafen men,
that scoured their souls and took them off to hell.

A far-off high command, then turned to those,
whose livelihood lay barren on the moors,
who toiled their flesh to bone, and on their clothes
the mud that turned to blood beyond these shores.

And if you wake to sounds that beat your drums
with shock and awe, expunging breath like skeet,
recalling tales your father told, the thrums
of flying ordnance, far off orange heat.

That piercing distant flaming glow that looks
so harmless in the stillness of the night;
that gave him time to listen, as he brooks
a merlin’s prey befalling nature’s plight.

His art, tattooed upon his weathered face,
like scars upon the Langsett landscape, where
your story lies beneath; but save this place;
these stones have memories, and tears to spare.

Across the water, calm reflects the shapes
in space that stretches to infinity;
a universe that sees these human apes
pass through in a micro-blink. Sublimity.

Poem and Photo © 2014, John Anstie, All rights reserved

John_in_Pose_Half_Face3JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British poet and writer, a contributing editor here at Bardo, and multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer. John participates in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011. John is also an active member of The Poetry Society (UK).


product_thumbnail-3.php51w-rH34dTL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_John has been involved in the recent publication of two anthologies that are the result of online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group, for which he produced and edited their anthology, “Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.


“Life is short and art long, the crisis fleeting, experience penniless and decision difficult” ~ Hippocrates. As a young man, John enjoyed being fit and sporting. It was then as much his recreational therapy as a cappella harmony singing, music, walking in the hills and writing is now. Playing Rugby Union for over twenty years, encouraged in the early days by a school that was run on the same lines as Gordonstoun, giving shape and discipline to a sometimes precarious early life. This fitness was enhanced by working part time jobs in farming, as a leather factory packer and security guard, but probably not helped, for a short time, by selling ice cream! His professional working life was spent as a Metallurgical Engineer, Marketing Manager, Export Sales Manager, Implementation Manager and Managing Director of his own company. Thirty five years spent, apparently in a creative desert, raising a family, pursuing a career and helping to pay the bills, probably enriched his experience, because his renaissance, on retirement, realised a hidden creative talent as a writer of prose and poetry. He also enjoys music, with a piano and a forty-nine year old Yamaha FG140 acoustic guitar. He sings bass in three a cappella harmony groups: as a founding member of a mixed voice chamber choir, Fox Valley Voices and a mixed barbershop quartet. He is also a member of one of the top barbershop choruses in the UK, Hallmark of Harmony (the Sheffield Barbershop Harmony Club), who, for the eighth time in 40 years, became UK Champions in 2019. He is also a would be (once upon a time or 'has been') photographer with drawers full of his own history, and an occasional, but lapsed 'film' maker. In his other life, he doubles as a Husband, Father, Grandfather, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Friend and Family man. What he writes is sometimes autobiographical, often political, sometimes dark and frequently pins his colours to the mast of climate change and how humans are trashing the Earth. In 2013, he published an anthology of the poetry (including his own) of an international group of poets, who met on Twitter in 2011. He produced, edited and steered the product of this work, "Petrichor Rising", to publication by Aquillrelle. His sort of strapline sort of reads: “ iWrite iSing iDance iVolunteer ”

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