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Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Call


This poem is about my love for the Island I call home. It takes the listener through the four seasons of what I believe is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

The final verse is inspired by a line from the musical ‘Bard in the Hand’ by Ken Fletcher. It tells the story of a young Sarnian* who left the Island in search of fame and fortune in Shakespeare’s Globe. Ken wrote the lyric;

“Wherever we may roam; Sarnia always calls us home.”

Guernsey’s population is only around 67,000, despite this I have met Sarnians in Hong Kong, the USA, Australia and within the Arctic Circle, not to mention a good few in between. We are truly a nation of wanderers.

Given the opportunities the rest of the world has to offer it is perhaps surprising that so many of us return to the Island to settle down.

Perhaps, given our connection with the sea Guernsey has its own Sirens calling its wondering mariners back onto the rock.

*For those of you that are wondering; ‘Sarnia’ is the Roman name for Guernsey and Guernsey people are called Sarnians.

The Call

Ragged granite sentinels tear at the hearts of the huge Atlantic rollers driven in by the gale.
White horses charge towards the shore, spume flying from their manes.
A thunderous roar heralds their approach, and then, the deep muffled thump as the foaming mass explodes against the stone wall.
Spray is hurled into the churning grey sky before falling back in a sheet which covers the road and the wall, again and again.

The mournful sound of the fog horn breaks through the shroud of fog which lingers on the morn.
Water chuckles gleefully in the douit which runs beside the narrow lane as it flows to the sea.
The Fog burns off, Primrose, Bluebell and Buttercup bejewel the hedgerow and ducklings paddle in the shallow water.
Birdsong fills the quiet valley as migrant and resident alike celebrate new life in harmony.

Narrow paths thread through the undergrowth, clinging to the rugged cliffs.
Campion, Thrift and Gorse abound, their colours, a riot amongst the myriad of greens which clothe the steep slopes.
Here and there outcrops of granite adorned with splashes of Lichen erupt from the Bracken to bask in the warm sun.
Heady scents, vibrant colours, the sound and taste of the sea and the touch of the warm sun assail the senses.

The Jewels of the hedgerows and cliffs have faded as the bracken and trees rust.
Now they bear treasures of a different kind as Blackberry, Rosehip and Sloe are picked by beak and hand alike.
Fallen leaves litter the paths and lanes and smoke from the bonfires drifts on the cool air.
Hedgehog, Field Mouse and the distant church bell celebrate the festival of harvest as the nights close in.

There I stand in the busy airport, eyes closed, listening.
From far away, across the ocean, I hear a call,
A call I once was told would come;
For no matter where I roam, Sarnia always calls me home.

John Carré Buchanan
06 June 2010


  1. Like this - voice, poem and visual - love it.
    Have to say you have a great narrators voice.

  2. That's a wonderful poem and gorgeous pictures, all so evocative of Guernsey.
    I'm Ken Fletcher's daughter and am sure he would have been thrilled to see his words included in this beautiful piece.

  3. Naomi, Thank you for your comment. Knowing that my writing touched someone today has helped me through a very dark patch this evening. I hope some of my other poems can remind you of Sarnia too.

  4. Hi - Ken Fletcher's other daughter, Sarah!
    (You know me from "Open Mic" poetry evenings.) My sister emailed me to tell me about this just hours after I had discovered it!!
    I was listening to a tape of "Bard in the Hand" yesterday and I found the song "Sarnia, Sarnia" evocative and moving: just like your beautiful poem. That you quoted Dad: thrilling!

  5. Sarah,Thank you for your kind comments. I would love to hear the tape; as I suspect it has my brother and me singing the parts of Juliet and Lady Macbeth. (no laughing please, I still remember the words) I am pleased that I have managed to write something which has bought good memories to you both.


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