Thursday, 30 May 2013


Saltmarshe Delph

Sometimes, deep in hidden corners
We discover whole new worlds.
Like here, where the horseshoe river-course
Bends its oozing flow from south to east,
And in its curving grasp the land is flat and wet.
This place exists in quiet insignificance
To all except the myriad of life
That thrives within its few small acres.
But what a life! Nestled here,
Between the railway
And the sprawling, golden fields,
Is a colony that makes its own sufficiency;
On the edge, and yet a world away,
From the cruder works of men
Who pass it, scarcely noticing,
(Except, perhaps, to wryly smile
At the family of swans that walks,
With proprietorial disdain,
Along the centre of the road),
And in quiet co-existence
Maintains a natural diversity
Whose model we could never recreate. 

And yet, by curious paradox, it was born
Where once men tore the earth with brutal might.
Then subtle nature softly healed the scars,
Creating, over time, her own cathedral
From arching willows, bent
To make a glorious vaulted roof,
And, for a floor, the shining mirror-levels
Where miraculous pond striders
Can walk upon the water.

Here blackbirds, dragonflies and warblers
Delight in curling ferns and wild geraniums,
Whilst grebes and cormorants find rest
And food amongst the bordering reeds.
With their very lives they praise
The deity that we have long denied,
For, today, our gods no longer live in trees
Or call us to the stillness of the glades,
But occupy, instead, the sterile spaces
Deep within the gloom of our own minds.

Here’s proof (if proof were needed)
That even the most restless spirit
Doesn’t always have to yearn
For wilder vistas on a grander scale,
But can sometimes be content
With nature in a gentler guise;
A modest Utopia, perhaps, but nonetheless,
Once we have the luck to find them,
It’s these small worlds that often form
The greatest landmarks of our lives.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013




Along a wrongly-taken road, unexpectedly we found ourselves at Givendale.
Here, in a setting that would make the most obdurate heathen turn to God,
Or, perhaps, recall the long-forgotten whisperings of other, older deities,
A simple, ancient church stands in a corner at the valley head,
Clasped deep within the arms of overhanging trees
And gazing out with narrowed window-eyes across the stretching water
That mirrors clouds onto the valley floor and feeds a trickling beck,
Joined, along its way, by sudden springs from deep within the hills.
No grand Cathedral Close or Minster Yard could ever have such power
To impress the eye and, with its beauty, lift the soul to unimagined heights.
Here I was lulled by charm of sun and sense of place
To sit in silence and, perhaps, to wish I could remain forever
And simply feel that life and time had, in this quiet corner,
Slowed down below the speed that we alive can comprehend.

Inside the church the stillness deepened more,
As Green Men gazed out from an ancient arch
And a heady scent of hyacinths pervaded the whole air.
I felt that if I never left, I’d be at peace – and almost envied those who lay
Where wood anemones and celandines grow thickly
And blackbirds’ calls are not a dirge or sadly tolling elegy
But celebrate, instead, the living spirit that pervades this place.

Then later, as we walked by woodland paths and ate wild garlic with a greedy joy,
The pungent taste affirmed the all-pervading pleasure
That we, on such a day as this, were here and alive.


Thursday, 2 May 2013


May Day

Feel it.
The vital life-force bursting from the earth;
surging upwards into plants and beasts
and deep into the loins and breasts
of every man and woman -
unchained, at last, from the emasculating,
iron-binding grip of Winter.
Even the ill-omened blackthorn,
keeper of dark secrets,
has withdrawn her pins of slumber
to become the harbinger of Spring.
In celebration with her sister, May,
she bursts forth with the frothing, fervent,
effervescent foam of life.
From every sprouting tree,
the Green Man gazes down,
grizzled, gleeful, grinning,
with lascivious leer and lecherous laugh,
overseer of the ancient rites
of celebration, intoxication, copulation.
From voyeuristic vantage he surveyed
the happenings of ages long before
we became estranged from nature’s ways,
enacted always at this time
underneath the blanket
of oak and ash and thorn.
And he knows that the sap of life
still rises unconstrained and is, as ever,
celebrated on this day.