Friday, July 3, 2015

I Wish I'd Written This

A Sea-change
By Paul Mortimer

from Ariel’s song in The Tempest

Newspapers roared ‘sunbed slaughter’
but it was also the death of
a particular innocence.
Those seaside holidays
with their buckets and spades,
sandcastles, ice creams,
brightly coloured deck chairs,
children darting in and out
of ankle deep water.
The black world of terror
broke through to a level we
thought was cocooned.

It tainted every photo album
all the way back to 1953.
Mum riding a donkey on Rhyl
beach. Everything was
so black and white then.

This was written very recently — so much so that readers at Paul's blog, Welshstream, didn't need to be told it was written in response to the terrorist attack on holiday-makers on a beach in Tunisia. 

I'm sure it doesn't need much commentary from me, except to remark how well he hit the nail on the head with his focus on that 'particular innocence'. How many of us had those carefree seaside holidays as children? I certainly did!

When I asked him about himself, Paul told me:

'Much of my poetry is inspired by nature and urban landscapes. I am a member of the 8-strong performing poets group Juncture 25 based in Taunton and we have featured at a number of events and literary festivals in the past 12 months. We have recently had an anthology of our work published. Born in St Asaph, Denbighshire, I am something of a nomad having lived in over 40 different places. Now happily settled in Devon.'

(As you might guess from the name of his blog, his birthplace, Denbighshire, is in Wales.)

The photo I have used is from his facebook writer's page.

His book, Fault Linepublished by Lapwing, is available here.

Personally, I'll be following his blog from now on!

Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).


  1. Whew! Contrast now to the 50s, too, and really, taken all in all, the poem leaves me speechless.

  2. A powerful contrast underlying the horror of the recent attack, for certain. Wow! Back in the 60's when we thought we would change the world, we did not expect our dream world would turn into a nightmare. This poem captures that lost innocence to perfection. Thank you, Paul and Rosemary, for this poem.

  3. Yes, what a strong poem this is. And I think oftentimes we are all "innocent " in our own ways until something like happens. We have had so many examples in recent weeks that our sense of safety can be taken away at any time. He paints this awful scene so strongly.

  4. Great choice of poem! I think I was lucky enough to have many carefree seaside and mountain holidays. And this is as it should be. These terror attacks remind us that for some people there is no such thing as a sacred place, time or person. We grieve more than just people.

  5. Absolutely right.. I do wish I had written this. Great poem Paul and great choice Rosemary. Thank you both.

  6. yes a sea-change indeed from that time of innocence to these times of nightmarish experiences...Thank you Rosemary for this post...

  7. You're so right Rosemary - his poem hits the nail on the head. What a smooth way of depicting something so horrible. Excellent poem!

  8. It was a horrendous attack - extremely, and I take away two things - one the wonderful bravery of many holiday makers determined to stay on, after the slaughter, to quote one, ''in sympathy with the local people'' - what a wonderful woman, and two, the chain that about thirty Tunisian men quickly made against the gunman, shouting to him that to ''get to the other tourists, her had to shoot them first,'' this was bravery and solidarity of the highest order, as usual missing from many news reports, and undoubtfully saved many lives. The horrible tragedy showed also those sides, and those quick to allocate blame on philosophies and religions as a whole can take that with them to ponder.

    1. Thank you for this thoughtful and informative comment!


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