Petrified Forest, Shells and ‘Refugee Blues’

20 Jan

A Petrified Forest has been uncovered on Portreath beach, exposed by the wild winds. It can only be seen at low tide so we went down before breakfast this morning and saw some of the trees that are said to be between 4000 and 6000 years old! At one point, they made up a coastal woods–but after the seas began to rise, the trees became submerged by mud and muck. Eventually, they compressed and became petrified. Similar beach forests exist in Wales and Oregon.  We met someone, who swims there every single day of the year – no wetsuit – and she showed us where the wood was, much more than just the tree trunk which we had spotted easily.Click on any photo to see more detail.

There were lots of pretty shells on the shingly part of the beach.

Little shells on the beach

Little shells on the beach

I heard the following poem by W H Auden  Radio 4’s ‘Poetry Please’ on Sunday and though it was written for another age, it is all too apt for today.

Refugee Blues by W H Auden

Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no place for us.

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you’ll find it there:
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

In the village churchyard there grows an old yew,
Every spring it blossoms anew;
Old passports can’t do that, my dear, old passports can’t do that.

The consul banged the table and said:
‘If you’ve got no passport, you’re officially dead’;
But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive.

Went to a committee; they offered me a chair;
Asked me politely to return next year:
But where shall we go today, my dear, but where shall we go today?

Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said:
‘If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread’;
He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you and me.

Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;
It was Hitler over Europe, saying: ‘They must die’;
We were in his mind, my dear, we were in his mind.

Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened with a pin,
Saw a door opened and a cat let in:
But they weren’t German Jews, my dear, but they weren’t German Jews.

Went down the harbour and stood upon the quay,
Saw the fish swimming as if they were free:
Only ten feet away, my dear, only ten feet away.

Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees;
They had no politicians and sang at their ease:
They weren’t the human race, my dear, they weren’t the human race.

Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,
A thousand windows and a thousand doors;
Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.

Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;
Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:
Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me.


Tags: , ,

9 responses to “Petrified Forest, Shells and ‘Refugee Blues’

  1. Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    January 21, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    I live close enough to the Oregon petrified forest to put it on my list for an outing this summer. Thanks for the wonderful photos and information.

    • mybeautfulthings

      January 21, 2016 at 7:34 pm

      That’s brilliant! Are the Oregon ones always visible? Ours only come into view every 20-50 years depending on the storms! They were last seen in 1979!

  2. babyjill7...Marilyn Griffin

    January 21, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    the poem is beautiful…yet so sad…as “saymber” said… a thoughtful piece for sure…
    we have fossil beds here in KY by the Ohio River which date back LOTS of years…What a world we live in!

  3. saymber

    January 21, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    I’m so relieved the pictures were of petrified wood….it looked like dolphins to me! The poem is beautiful and sad….everyone has forgotten we’ve all been refugees and if not us directly, most of our ancestors were!

  4. Cecilia Mary Gunther

    January 21, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    wow – I would love to see that forest – and that poem was a treat for me with my morning coffee – thank you.. c

  5. childtasticbooks

    January 21, 2016 at 9:04 am

    I love these pictures. How amazing to have found the wood and to think how old it must be. And that brave soul swimming without a wet suit every day! Brrrr… It’s been so long since I have visited Cornwall, I really must do so soon.

    • mybeautfulthings

      January 21, 2016 at 11:31 am

      It was brilliant – so hard to try to imagine the forest and just how long ago it was there. Thank you for calling in. 🙂

  6. grandfathersky

    January 20, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    The first photo looks too much like a body in the water – two legs and a torso … Nature is amazing. Have you ever heard of the vitrified castles in Scotland – some stone walls are melted and there is no explanation as to how …

    • mybeautfulthings

      January 20, 2016 at 8:16 pm

      I thought just that about the tree trunk and captioned it thus to start with but changed my mind! I haven’t heard of the vitrified castles but will go and look them up now – sounds fascinating – and yes! Nature is amazing indeed! 🙂


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: