Kicking the Stone

A song version of the poem 'Kicking the Stone', co-written with Brian Briggs, can be heard on 'Stornoway's' new album 'Dig The Mountain!' released October 2023. The original poem appears in Paul's collection 'Boy Running'.

Songs from 'The Glass Aisle'

'The Glass Aisle' is a long poem set on a stretch of the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal. It was conceived with the support of an Arts Council of Wales 'Creative Wales Award.'

This page features extracts from a performance version of the poem and its songs, co-written with acclaimed singer-songwriter Brian Briggs, frontman of the band Stornoway. Hear Paul & Brian's @GreenManradio 2018 choices here.

An elegy to Victorian workhouse 'inmates', the work crosses borders between poem and song lyric.

Fragments from 'The Glass Aisle'

The dandelion hours drift like snow.
The canal is inside me now.
Its arches rig my spine.

Who is it peers into me?

John Moonlight, Poacher, Crickhowell ...

whose name fades from its tree,
whose laughter was writ in air,

who loved to know well
the sun in the water,
the bridge that likes butter,

the kingfisher in summer
flying with its twin in the pane ...

Mary's Bridge:

words and music by Brian Briggs & Paul Henry
vocals and guitars - Brian & Paul
produced by Jon Ouin

Each leaf must fall,
crazy paving the canal's cellar

while inside his branches
the engineer curses
the workhouse wire,

his red beard longer,
his eyes on fire,
his skull a medium's hall -

Becca James, Servant, Llangattock
Richard Warr, Tailor, Dymock ...

Each Leaf Must Fall:

words and music by Brian Briggs & Paul Henry
vocals and guitars - Brian & Paul
produced by Jon Ouin

A gale's sledge hammer
shocks the tallest firs.
Picks, chisels, crow bars ...

the inmates have turned -
skin-peelers, rope-pickers,
prayer-darners, rock-breakers

on the bank, in the steep lanes,
under bridges where they peer
through crumbling limestone ...

Bridget Skeyne, Pauper, Ireland
Jane Thomas, Unknown, St Clears
Jane Williams, Unknown, Unknown ...

A late boat moors, its farrier's ghost
hammering steel into the night.

Mary, some nights I see you:

words and music by Brian Briggs & Paul Henry
vocal, hammer, trowel and crowbar - Brian
produced by Jon Ouin