Rodborough Fields in Space and Time I like the way the hidden springs gather force, A wild winter rush down the meadow side, The wind singing in the saplings’ rigging On the water’s voyage to the treasured Frome, Thence on to the Severn and the ocean. One glance is enou read more
And thudding and cold fear possessed me all,
On the grey slopes there, where Winter in sullen brooding
Hung between height and depth of the ugly fall
Of Heaven to earth; and the thudding was illness own.
But still a hope I kept that were we there going over
I, in the line, I should not fail, but take recover
From others courage, and not as coward be known.
No flame we saw, the noise and the dread alone
Was battle to us; men were enduring there such
And such things, in wire tangled, to shatters blown.
Courage kept, but ready to vanish at first touch.
Fear, but just held. Poets were luckier once
In the hot fray swallowed and some magnificence.”
I came under the pines of the sheer steep
And saw the stars like steady candles gleam
Above and through; Brimscombe wrapped (past life) in sleep!
Such body weariness and ugliness
Had gone before, such tiredness to come on me —
This perfect moment had such pure clemency
That it my memory has all coloured since,
Forgetting the blackness and pain so driven hence.
And the naked uplands even from bramble free.
That ringed-in hour of pines, stars, and dark eminence.
(The thing we looked for in our fear of France).”
Upon a ledge that shows my kingdoms three,
The lovely visible earth and sky and sea
Where what the curlew needs not, the farmer tills:
Well-hedged, and honoured by a few ash trees
That linnets, greenfinches, and goldfinches
Shall often visit and make love in and flit:
Broken but neat, whose sunflowers every one
Are fit to be the sign of the Rising Sun:
A spring, a brook’s bend, or at least a pond:
Nor yet too early, for what men call content,
And also that something may be sent
To be contented with, I ask of Fate.
I sat down on the bench in front of the church, remembered giving mum a framed
copy of the poem for her birthday one year, ate my cheese and chutney sandwich,
then penned a few lines on the back of my walking guide. The excellent Friends
of the Dymock Poets’ website has these walking guides for free.
W.H. Davies, later to live at Nailsworth, and earlier befriended by Thomas, wrote an elegy for him. Here is the last stanza:
Haiku for Nympsfield War Memorial
As I write these lines,
The young men of the village
Arrive for the match.
High-up on the wolds.
And at the cross-roads,
Honouring the dead.
This cross, once shattered,
Lying in some forlorn hope,
Out in No Man’s Land.
Brought here from the Somme,
Repaired and resurrected,
Life and Death conjoined.
Last gasp on a fag,
Then it’s out over the top,
Ref blows the whistle.
The laughter of youth,
Innocent carefree minutes –
Who would think of war?
Just as once before,
Those memorialised names
Played, too, in the sun.
THRUPP: 31 UPLANDS: 25 WHITESHILL: 36 WOODCHESTER: 25.
Chas writes: “In a town that is divided
by values and visions of war and peace;
where the wearing of a poppy (for
some red for some white) is seen by some
not as an act of Charity and Love
but as acts of personal controversy,
something needs to be done to build
bridges…Couldn’t we all at least unite at
Percy Dearmer’s Water Fountain to
remember those who laid down
their lives in our service?”
THESE OAKRIDGE MEN
ALSO GAVE THEIR LIVES
E. Blackwell M. Blackwell A. Curtis W.M. Curtis A. Fern W. Fern P. Gardiner S. Gardiner
P. Hill W. Hunt W.G. Hunt R.T. Gardiner A. Robbins A. Rowles A. Smith T. White H. White A. Young E. Young F. Young E. Weare
In GRATEFUL MEMORY OF
George Edward Ivor Fry PTE. RAMC
James Frederick Fry SGT. NAV. RAF
Albert Hunt PTE. RAOC
Stanley Henry Morgan GNR. R.A.
R.C.Baker Stallard-Penoyre LT. R.N. (A)
Arthur Phipps GNR. R.A.
James Edward Young PTE. R. NORF. REG.
WHO FELL IN THE WAR OF 1939-45
INTO THY HAND O LORD
A Remembrance Walk to Oakridge and back to Stroud October 17th 2012
I caught the number 54 Cotswold Green bus,
On a russet-warm, apple-autumn day,
To Frampton Mansell Church,
In the 1920s footsteps of my dad,
Who lived here in a Great War Nissan hut;
His de-mob dad, seeking work,
My dad, playing conkers on his way toschool,
Or watching the trains on the viaduct,
Justas I do today in his memory.
Iwalked on down past the giant retaining wall,
Underthe railway and across the canal,
To climb the hill past streams, brooks, rills and springs,
To reach Oakridge Lynch War Memorial:
Thereare so many corners of foreign fields,
That are for ever England,
In word, dust, deed, blood, ash and bone,
But here, on Oakridge village green,
Is a cruciform water- trough,
Fed by a spring that is for ever England,
That roams through wild flowers,
Breathing English air,
Bless’d by the sun on its way to the Severn,
A heart of peace, under an English heaven,
Giving back thoughts of England given.
I read the inscriptions and then sat back on the green,
Chatting to a woman gathering flowers,
Who told me that during the Tewkesbury floods,
When piped water became polluted,
Oakridge village used the springs once more;
Another woman told me of the war graves in the churchyard,
Recently and lovingly cleaned and pristine-restored;
She pointed out my footpath to Eastcombe:
“Go past the old toll house.”
I walked past more springs,
Then the site of a Roman villa,
Thenmore springs and some tumuli,
Beforerain made me dispense with map and specs,
Tofollow my nose and ask for directions instead:
“Aimfor the waterfall”,
“Contour Mackhouse woods and aim south for Stroud”.
I walked past black-spot sycamore leaves,
Blood-red rowan and spiked-steel hawthorn,
Thunder crackling above like guns across the Channel,
Hailstones ricocheting like shrapnel;
My path was blocked by fallen trees,
Prickled barbed wire stars of holly,
Puddles like forlorn foxholes,
And a succession of map-marked Spouts,
Until I left No-Man’s Land.
I ambled along spring-line Thrupp Lane,
Then down the canal to the Lock-Keeper’s,
Where on an opposite wall,
A new piece of graffiti has appeared,
A Banksy-like badger’s face,
With a bullet in its blood-red eye.
“Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.”
Well, we all need Wikipedia, sometimes, I suppose, when we move out of our comfort zones, as I do today when I begin to muse upon our spring-quest and its depiction by map. The font of all knowledge says that “A map is a visual representation of an area—a symbolic depic read more
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So what is psychogeography? I first came across the term when reading Ian Sinclair some years ago, but the Writing Britain exhibition at the British Library gave the term some further temporal contextualisation, in terms of British traditions of landscape writing, rural read more
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I started writing A Guide to the Radical History of Stroud and the Five Valleys a year ago, with a narrative history occasionally touched by a comedic Mark Steele/ Mark Thomas style of analysis. After a year, I have reached the mid-nineteenth century, in terms of conten read more