Friday, October 07, 2011

Homage to Swanage

Homage to Swanage by Elvis McGonagall

A poem written to celebrate the re-opening of Swanage Library in July 2011

If you're sick and tired of the big city smoke
If you need to escape and be a refugee —
Come and swan around Swanage
Old London by the sea

"Come unto these yellow sands"
To a landscape that'll steal your heart
Come sit by the shore with Augustus John
Come to Swanage, a surreal work of art

Framed by ancient cliffs and downland
Sitting snug in a horseshoe bay
Bathed in gentle Dorset sunshine
Sculpted from limestone, chalk and clay

One time Swanawic, sprung from a mill pond
Fishing village and seaside port
Turned elegant, swellegant watering place
Come to Swanage, a Victorian resort

Where the past is cloaked in mason's stone dust
Where the sea-spray air is fresh 'n salty
Where memories of childhood holidays are made
Swanage — the birthplace of Basil Fawlty

Come and perambulate along the Pier
Promenade on the Parade
Laugh at the Punch and Judy man
Grab your bucket and spade

Eat fish 'n chips, play crazy golf
Have a Chococo sundae Purbeck ice cream
Then pedal a pedalo beyond the Isle of Wight
Or do nothing in a deckchair but dream

Sit on top of the world at Durlston
Look out across the Globe to the earth's farthest corner
read the words written in "great nature's open book"
Wonder at the glory of her flora and fauna

Where golden samphire, tamarisk and spider orchids grow
Where gulls, guillemots and gannets criss-cross
Watch yellowhammers and Adonis Blue butterflies
Behold The Lesser Spotted Jonathan Ross

Stand beneath a Hyde Park Corner Archway
Step across the House of Commons floor
Lean on balustrades of Billingsgate
Clock the clock-less clock tower and more

See sights that say "St Anne's of Soho"
"St George's, Hanover Square"
Never mind the bollards — you're not lost
There's a load of cast-irn bollards everywhere

Spot half of London's fixtures and fittings
marvel at monumental relic rescue
Thanks to Mowlem 'n Burt — recycling kings
The top-hatted Steptoe and Nephew

Toil with the ghosts of the quarrymen
Cut the paving slabs for streets unknown
Listen to the echoes of hammer and chisel
The chipping and the shipping of the stone

Go Jurassic, get palaeontological
Become an apostle of the fossil
Walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs
Dig down and discover the colossal

Turn back time two hundred million years
Touch the immemorial, sense evolution's reach
There's crocodile teeth those whaleback hills
There's bones in them stones on the beach

Come to Thomas Hardy's Knollsea
Feel the pages of a novel come alive
Come to Enid Blyton's Toy Town
Fall into an adventure with the Famous Five

Steam through history on the railway line
Take a day-trip to where royalty fell
Climb the ramparts of a ruined castle
Go loco on the "Wessex Belle"

Fly with the bats into Tilly Whim Caves
Smuggle rum 'n brandy in a bootlegger's box
Dive deep among the wrecks of the wild waves
Hear the bells ring beneath Old Harry Rocks

Fancy dress up to the nines on New Year's Eve
Have a night 'n day Hogmanay rumpus
Set off on a pilgrimage along Priest's Way
Drink a pint in the shrine that is the Square and Compass

Join windswept cows on the coastal path
Paddle at the water's edge
Set sail and swim with the dolphins
Dance on a marble ballroom ledge

Enter the gates of Tony Hancock's alma mater
Come and get a bit of Swanage knowledge
Find all the facts that you need — in the library
Use it — it's your free college

Come to jazz — blues — folk — film festival
Where life is a carnival - regatta old chum
Be disarmed by old-fashioned charm
Relax and let yourself succumb

Yes come and swan around Swanage
Be seduced by its siren call
Come and see Old London by the sea
And you might just never leave at all

Elvis McGonagall


Anonymous said...

Don't give up the day job, please!

The Postman said...

Ah, come on. I thought it was pretty good, and well-researched.

David Furmage. said...

That was beautiful and well written , full of joy and laughter

Studland lad said...

Yeah. Great.

And there is a nudie beach at Studland.

Augustus John would have liked it. As did Lawrence of Arabia. Let's face facts. That's what half our our visitors come for.

Anonymous said...

all beaches are in fact nudist beaches unless there is a bylaw requiring people to remain dressed.

Anonymous said...

I agree with David Furmage. A wonderful poem - took me back to child hood days at Swanage at the County Modern, Herston and roaming free around the Isle of Purbeck, (with of course a few updates for 'newcomers' like Jonathon Ross....)

Perehaps the Tourist Department could use it - if there still is one.