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Appleby History > Memories > Memories in Poetry

Memories in Poetry

We asked for contributions to the web site, and received two poems about the village, both evoking memories of the past in different ways.

The Changing Face, by Steve Burton

Appleby Magna, author unknown, sent by the grandaughter of the Wileman's who ran the village shop

The Changing Face, by Steve Burton

Steve was a well known figure in Appleby, often in his later years to be seen sitting on the bench outside his house in Top Street, watching the world go by. Sadly, Steve passed away in 2008. Duncan Saunders kept this poem and has provided it for the web site.

I once saw an old tree cry
And from rustling leaves, heard a deep sigh.
When again I passed that way
No old tree stood in a sea of clay.

An old lady stood at her cottage door
Tear stained cheeks, bewildered and unsure.
A few days later I passed that way
And saw a ghostly figure lost in a sea of clay.

Nearby grew a spinney, where I spent many hours,
A haven for wildlife, a garden for flowers.
The next time I passed that way
Only memories I saw, in a sea of clay.

Unhurried in pace, a stream trickled by,
In its clear waters, mirrors of a blue sky.
Later on, when I passed that way
Only stagnant pools rested in a sea of clay.

A country byway, a leafy lane
Never more to be seen again.
No longer will I ever pass that way
For no-one can walk on a sea of clay.

To a distant place I ventured to roam,
But feelings so strong brought me back home.
And when I chanced to pass that way
Through misty eyes, saw an ugly concrete motor-way.

Steve Burton, Appleby Magna 1986: Memories of the motorway

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Appleby Magna

Kathryn Sampson writes: This is a poem which my mother and her parents kept for many years.  I don't know who wrote it, but it is very old.  My mother was Peggy Wileman who was born in the village.  She was the daughter of Rose and Edgar Wileman who ran the village shop and post office from before the second world war until 1966.

In days of yore when Alfred ruled,
The Danes they came to plunder.
When down the Mease they brought their craft
Their eyes they ope'd in wonder.

Here stood a mound the best they'd found
A fortress sure and strong,
The appleberries flourished here
And hence my little song.

'Tis here we'll stay and build our homes,
No farther will we go,
And so this village here was born
In days of long ago.

Then William came this land to rule,
And to his friends gave ground.
The Lord and Lady came to view
The village now their mound.

A home was built of sandstone grey,
This new chief man to house,
And thus the Moat house came to stay,
Now, round it cattle browse.

Once more the craftsman's hammers rang
On blocks of sandstone grey.
A Church was built with tower tall,
Which stands here to this day.

Then England felt another blow,
She killed her reigning King,
But Cromwell bold did not last long,
And back a King they bring.

A village son of Appleby
Came forward in that day.
He found the gold so gleaming bright,
For debts the king must pay.

Twice London's Mayor this village lad,
Still told in verses good,
An M.P, too this grocer boy
He helped where e'er he could.

He later came to Appleby
Accompanied by Wren,
He left a school free to the lads
Who wished to sum and pen.

The village grew farmsteads were built,
Its lands untouched by War,
De Applebies they came and went
Then Squire was a Moore.

No Squire now these acres own,
For Squires they are gone.
To yeomen fine these farms so prime
In these days do belong.

We use their Church and Moat house grey,
Their farms and School so grand,
They're ours to use, but for the good
Of all men in our land

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