I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Speed. O jest unseen

By manufacturers' agreement, production motorbikes are limited to 300 kpm (186 mph). My licence allows me to ride one.

I last rode a bike in 1974. A Velocette similar to that shown though dirtier, the surface was a tarmac footpath less than 1 m wide and it had just rained.

At 20 mph I arrived at a gentle curve, knew I wouldn't make it, trundled on to the adjacent grass, re-assumed the path and rode on.

I didn't know then this would be my last ride; now I do. It's pathetic but I'd like one more go. On a winding Hereford road then a motorway, latterly 80 - 90 mph. Silly old fool, you say.

Motorbikes are unique. You've more power than you need, you're among the elements, you change gear in milliseconds, you incline yourself and the bike to get round corners. It feels safer than it looks. It's noisy and anti-social and it helps explain why some people behave noisily and anti-socially.

I wrote a sonnet. Rubbish except, possibly, for the last line:

Seeing the corner’s coming trajectory.

I saw the sunlit vale, and the pastoral fairy-tale;
The sweet and bitter scent of the may drifted by;
And never have I seen such a bright bewildering green,
But it looked like a lie,
Like a kindly meant lie.

Reasons why:
Not much verbal beauty here. Both “sunlit” and “vale” tend to exist mainly in verses. Can you see a fairy-tale? The contradiction of “sweet and bitter” is an improvement and I like “bewildering”. But poems needn’t be beautiful if they grab you. And I for one need a resolution for those last two lines.
NOTE: Last line had typo: "line" instead of "lie". Now corrected.

Edmund Blunden (b. 1896)


  1. We were three teenage girls on a bicycle tour the day I crashed down a steep hill because I inclined my body at the curve but not the bicycle.
    And, about those last two lines, who knows from where he saw all this beauty but knew not to grab the line that could pull him over.

  2. At the bottom of the cul-de-sac where I was brought up was a small tarmac circus, bordered by the brick wall and fence of fellow cul-de-sac dwellers. As a nine year old newly balanced bike rider I was not allowed on the main road. Turning gleefully then in this safe haven, when I came to the circus I under-steered enough to scrape my knuckles along he side of the wall.
    Thank you for the Edmund Blunden. I agree with your analysis and assume that the narrator no longer trusts the evidence or associations of his senses which tell him a lie, feed him a line: a countryside whose peace he once believed in and through which he cannot forget the harsh realities that lie beyond or underneath it.
    But now I am worried I am reading things into the poem which is always a danger.

  3. I hate motorbikes because they scare me but I think you should have your one more go Robbie. But come to Ischgl and take the alpine road. Here you can hire a bike and have a go, it leaves me wondering whether they would allow just anyone to zoom of round the bends!

  4. Occasional Speeder10 August 2014 at 21:10

    Good grief - where to get a days motorbike hire in Hereford? For an older gentleman? You test me father...

  5. Some time ago you admonished me for using a quote in a post title that you suspected I had researched for the purpose rather than being familiar with it beforehand. An honest answer now - did you know that quote or did you research it for the purpose?

  6. Ellena: So what did you learn from this event? Did you emerge a better if battered person? Hey, why not devise a heraldic shield for your letterhead. Carrying the slogan: Better If Battered. Given your linguistic skills, translate it into Latin.

    This is only first verse of the poem. But it's one of the rules of Joe's Nudge that I don't cheat, don't read the subsequent verses. If you'd like to know why not Google the first line

    Lucas. A light slap on your wrist. No person I know has a gentler, more sympathetic, more experienced attitude towards poetry. If anyone is entitled to read things into a poem, it's you. To hell with the danger. I'm flattered about your use of "analysis" but I'm really not on that level. Perhaps "reaction" would be more truthful.

    Blonde Two: It's the sensation I'm after not the view. In any case Ischgl is a ski-resort and once I was forced to give up ski-ing I couldn't bring myself to return to the mountains merely to glom.

    OS: Don't even think of it. I'd need to acquire a crash helmet (say £400) and a tight set of leathers (£hundreds). But the thought is kind.

    Sir Hugh: How cruel I am to you and to others. Quite true of course but the quote does come with value-added. It's actually much longer and by chopping it off where I did I think I achieved an unexpected poetic effect. Don't you think so? Thus I escape half the charge of being a Google conduit

  7. Looking at the road, I think it would be an experience and you probably wouldn't be safe looking at the view. Ischgl in summer suits me fine, lots of facilities but no looking at the snow and wishing you could.

  8. Looking at the road, I think it would be an experience and you probably wouldn't be safe looking at the view. Ischgl in summer suits me fine, lots of facilities but no looking at the snow and wishing you could.

  9. Good to know that you still remember motorcycling with affection, RR.

    Mine is somewhat reduced these days, but I still manage 100 mile days (it used to be 400 miles on my beloved BMW).

    You may remember John Masterman who occasionally wrote in "The Motorcycle" in the '50s. A quote of his in old age:
    "Cut your miles down from 300 to 200, and 200 to 100 or even less. Ride and rest - and ride again. Never give it up. Never say die. Never part from an interest and love that is life itself."