Cobourg Poetry Workshop
feature poet

Jim Dove


Many of you will remember Warkworth poet Jim Dove from our 3rd Thursday Readings of the last three years, when he was one of the featured readers as well as a regular member of the audience. Tragically, after resolutely fighting brain cancer for almost a year, Jim died on January 17, 2011 at his home. A renaissance man, he was fluent in many languages, a musician, actor, poet. He taught school in Camborne and Cobourg, as well as in Newcastle-on-Tyne in England as part of an exchange program. Following is a selection of his poems.


The wind blew out of the north last night
and changed the rain to snow
Covering the side of the trees around town
erasing that first little hint of Spring
that the sleeping green grass tried to show
"Is it snowing again?" a neigbour remarked.
No, just a few flakes from the top of the shop
Disturbed from their rest
By a mischievous breeze
with energy left to blow.

Jim was a premier actor with Warkworth's Seven Hills Theatre.

"I remember the very first meeting on a cold January night in 1980 wondering if anyone would show up. But, as in the field of dreams, they came - to an under-heated town hall, a bunch of strangers making awkward introductions, the unease broken by a man striding through the double doors like the new sheriff in town, wrapped in an old
buffalo coat, a dramatic entrance for the ages. "Hello, I'm Jim Dove. I'm an actor."
( Northumberland Today Jan.27 2011


I thought I'd said farewell to sleep
as half the night, one could surmise
I'd toss and turn and then arise
and round the soundless rooms I'd creep.
No. The crack of house
punctuated by claw of mouse
deep inside a wall.
I thought I'd said farewell to light
for a while at least
as the shortening days and clouds hid the sun
and her gladdening rays
in the end of year's lengthening night;
yet walking across a field at noon
the clouds parted blue, drifted eastwards and soon
I was wishing I'd worn my lighter work suit.

I thought I'd said farewell to you
for friends often go, depart much like the sun
and friendships, like seasons, each have their run
only friendship of love is eternally true
Eternal, no, but I saw the other night
when I looked over there
You, as before, in the customary chair
Friends, as though never away.

One special aspect of Jim's life was his love of all things German. He was, and still is, the president of Klub Treff, the German Canadian social club in Northumberland County. He was proud of his ability to speak German - not an easy language to master. He enjoyed German food, history, German music and, of course, German beer. ( Walter Luedtke )

She came from a place you never heard of
nor could be found on a map
where a few rustic cottages clung to the shore
where waves on the rocks, on the quietest days
contentedly, languidly lap.
Carts pulled by horses, named for that land
nets drying down by the bay
fishermen mending, laughing and chatting of a
far removed land and the odd folk that dwell there
a place commonly known as 'away'.
Yet she left that far home
yes, she moved from the Rock
and came to that place called 'away'
enriching that corner of Canada's quilt
where we live in this valley today.

Jim always arrived at an event of ours with a poem. At one time we were considered the duelling Poet Laureates of Warkworth - all in good fun. Jim had a flare for the theatrical and his life might be described, in the kindest of ways, as romantic and eccentric. He had a dry wit and a sharp mind. All of this was focussed on his deep love for his wife, Carole, his daughters, dogs and farm.
( Fellow Warkworth poet Paul Rapsey )


Here we stand on Windy Hill
though some say it's a knoll
Gathered round a roaring fire
To mark the season's roll
Tradition says we'll have a feast
Tradition, that's the goal!

The ancient Druids, painted blue
The Incas and the Aztecs too
The glory of Greece
The powers of Rome
Celebrated much the same
As we tonight shall do.

They feared the parting of the sun
As it marched its southern course
They watched as dawn and dusk combined
And darkness was the force
That they feared most
A foe that moved relentlessly
That never showed remorse.

Now here we stand on Windy Hill
And tell me, have you fears?
Thoughts that cloud your mind at dawn
Have you been brought to tears?
An ancient grief, a modern woe
The same despite the years

And now inside for warmth and cheer
Away from all this chill
The sun will flee no more today
A knowledge sure to thrill
Let's be thankful for our loves and lives
As we stand on Windy Hill.

All club members recall with special pride, on the occasion of the Canada Day Parade, Carole and Jim carrying the flag of the German Coburg, with which our Cobourg is twinned, and every once in a while, they would forsake formality and waltz and polka, as only they could, stepping and dipping and twirling in close embrace, smiling into each other's eyes, dancing, dancing, dancing away into the distance. Auf Wiedersehen, Jim Dove, wir werden Deinessgleichen nicht wiederfinden und wir werden Dich sehr vermissen ! ( Walter Luedtke )

Of course, I know her by her step
But then, what of that
Her little dog, Emma, could state the same,
(and from much further off)
Putting me to shame.

Many know her for her style
Her charm, her wit around the table
At ease with all who cross her path
Or with a curry comb in the stable.

But I, and only I, entirely know
The secret places of her heart
The scores of subtle intimacies
We each other impart.

And the curve of her lips
where a smile likes to grow
And the curve of her hips
In those moments of passion's glow
Are a sight to both calm me
and quickly arouse me
And these too, I alone know.

With Jim Dove's death, Warkworth and the community lost a fine person. On January 17, 2011, one of its bright lights went dark.
( Northumberland Today January 27, 2011 )
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