A doughty champion of his local culture.(Poet Tom Hubbard)Your performance at the city hall was soooooooooo good! Christoph thought it was excellent! (Carolyn)




In your precious art you are raised
delicate species fresh, alive
with every searching niche of blade, 
on metalled tints of bone
in flesh, conceived.

Today, our clear eye can review
that aggregate of animals
and spreading plants which grew;
now your thoughts to Cherryburn
are our adoption.

Through sludge of field flung back
from my drag of parting feet,
crossing matted rural lands
you swept in light and shade,
a lock of trees
inside a border to engrave.

Gordon Phillips   


Time, eater of men and stones and landscapes, 
Scarcely turns in some places.  The wheel’s silence
Is held, palpable, among darkened hills.
Trees etched in black against held dusk:
No birds. No sounds; as once and now are one,
Identical, as here at Cherryburn.

We reach the house slated and washed by change.
The stench of dung and fodder under the oak beams
That rib the darkness, echo what we mean:

There is a point where time, itself extinguished,
Remembers, being darkened, what it is.
There is a point where man stops the Dark Wheel
Fixes, outside of time, a detail seem;
And this being done, years past, at Cherryburn
Figures a frail persistency in Man.

We question it, we call in question much 
Eaten by fire, unscorched; the hidden hand
That makes a wall of waters where we pass.
As men have always done, against a sky of brass,
We cry aloud, and doubt it even as we touch
Beyond the real, Impalpable Reality.
Time, eater of stones and men, and all built
Up, is broken on a silence here.  It rests.
Perhaps there are such places, given us
That we may see, over dark piled-up cloud
An earlier moment:  candlelight of dusk;
Man’s lucid mind under astonished glass.

Alan C. Brown


The hare cried
when I took it in my arms…
before the farmer
broke its leg
and flung it back
to face his dogs again…….

And so this hare’s
engraved in memory
preserved forever running
and forever running free.

Eleanor Makepeace 


Shielded from the world
In a shrine of foliage,
The angler knots his concentration.
Intruders sense their trespass,
Retreat unseen in silent awe.
While Nature breathes in sympathy
Entirely at one with this bowed figure
Whose inward, intent thoughts
Only a Son of hers
Could so skilfully display
In fulsome, rounded lines
That draw us in to his furrowed brow
And feel the pain of this intensity.

Helen M. Pickles


Staring proudly back
with as fine an eye
As cast you there;
Caught, but not snared;
Imprisoned, but unbridled;
Your vibrancy channelled
In delicate lines,
A fleeting stance
So carelessly struck – 
As forgotten by you
As the morning’s scent – 
Now timelessly etched;
A life preserved 
Though long since lost.

Helen M. Pickles


The random rush of nature posed
for your delicate instruments to compose
symphonies of rooks and owls and blackbirds;
a choral work as soft as still words
over which the Mute Swan glides,
floating into place, ruffled only by 
the last deft cut that froze – 
sharp image of an eagle’s savage claws.

Subtle hands plucked a feather
and drew its weight
exactly across a plate,
impressing down upon a page forever:
Thomas Bewick, crakes or crowns,
complex nature, simply posed.

Dave Alton

(Thomas Bewick’s last work)

This last   almost immortal now

his weak eyes   plucked from time

four iron hooves   almost afloat

the ribs’   thin cry   what else?

A boxwood landscape   cut with rain
Steeple and farm stones   the blemished oak
- traces and leather trappings peel the skin
- only a horse?   What is, what might have been?

With brown silk cap and scalded skull he leans
over a world turned out become the pain
each of us feels under dark threat, or worse.

Lastly   a grim unyielding poise   breaks through

His knife opens a mystery   and stilled
the balance of his mind   takes all men in.

Alan C. Brown

FIVE POEMS by Keith Armstrong             


(in memory of Thomas Bewick, wood engraver)

The starlings en masse
roost here now.
They blend with the dark trees
in the twilight
by Bewick's shadowy workshop.
Under the Cathedral spire,

they shriek and gossip
in the chill;
chit-chat of more weather.

I think that Thomas
you could speak to birds,
knew them as you drew their words
in woodblocks.
You coaxed them from their very eggs,
uncaged them -
let them sing on the page.


Depressed you
with its ‘blackguard places’,
its streetwalking ways.
They called you ‘Scotchman’
and you itched for home,
reading the Geordie papers
at the Hole-in-the-Wall. 
And your heart trilled like a blackbird’s
when you rejoined your Whig mates,
putting a world to rights
in the Lion Lounge.

You were back
herding sheep in your roots,
smiling down to your boots
in that Brotherly Society
of Northumbrian cronies:
the wild fields
of Tyne.


clear of the city,
you carved your name  
in dogs barks
and birds cries.  
Your infant eyes
kept seeing
the devils in bushes
and the gods
in thrushes.
You loved
to scratch a living.

Avoiding the faces
of strange places,
You dreamed of always
Being a boy,
A bird or a fish,
Awash in the light
Of a dark wood:
A cherry burn.

Footprints home
To remember.  


You spent your life
perfecting it,
crafty as a fox
forging a frantic path
across the fields.

To the sound of the Pipes,
you worked your way
to a quiet glade,
died contentedly

a tuneful ending
to a drawn-in-day.


Stride Circus Lane
and chip your signature
on the pavement of scrapes and kisses.
pass the Forth
and skirt
its pleasure gardens;
throw your darts in the archery field.
skim the bowling green
and walk on water,
doff your hat to Mrs Waldie;
cut along
old scars of lanes
to the bloody gush of Westgate street;
whistle with birds
in a vicar’s garden,
let warm thoughts fly in Tyneside sun
to bless this Geordie day.
And greet
the morning hours,
Aunt Blackett and Gilbert Gray,
sing to free the world,
the Black Boy;
harmonise your mind
in a churchyard of melancholy.
Dance over the Lort Burn,
in the sun in your eyes,
flooding your workshop
with a light fantastic.
Your shoulders so proud
rub with the building girls
and lady barbers
along Sandhill;
the boats of your dreams
bridge the aching Tyne,
ships groaning
in the tender daylight,
longing for the healing moon;
a keelman’s fantasies
of quayside flesh
and the seething sea.
You trip along
searching for electricity and magnetism
in the inns,
winging it
with the bird catchers and canary breeders,
the dirty colliers and the harping whalers.
Walk on Tom,
a portrait
of a hanging man;
let your strong heart
swell with the complex passion
of common folk.

the jingling geordie

My photo
whitley bay, tyne and wear, United Kingdom
poet and raconteur