Seasonal

The Pilgrim’s True Path

It started with a glance out of the bus,
A blood red disc of a sandstorm sun,
It was ten past ten.

The light numinous rather than luminous,
As we opened the door to leave Bisley church,
Emigrant-ghosts waiting for the Bristol cart,
And a six week voyage to New South Wales.
It was twenty to eleven.

We walked through deep, shadowed holloways,
Walking the Bisley Path,
High above the valley marshlands,
Through woodland shrouded in the strange glow
Of another world’s grey-green light,
The harbinger of Hurricane Ophelia,
The wind now shrieking through the creaking trees,
Leaves falling like some autumn snowstorm.

Read More

Edward Thomas and the Snake’s Head Fritillary

The local Swindon paper’s obituary for Edward Thomas
Commented on his love for the country around the town –
And William Cobbett’s hated rotten borough,
‘The place by the river’, was just six miles or so
From his grandmother’s house near the railway works;
Did he, I wonder, ever make an Easter visit
To the Lammas Meadows at Cricklade,
From Swindon’s Old Town station,
After talking with Alfred Williams,
‘The hammer man poet’,
Glimpsing the ‘Other man’ in the Anglo-Saxon fields,
Or near where a vengeful King Canute crossed the Thames,
And did those memories flit through his mind
On that fateful Easter Monday in 1917,
Recalling some of the ‘Other names’
Of the snake’s head fritillary,
Such as bloody warrior or widow’s wall.

read more

Songs of Christmas Past

One damp, December afternoon, I biked out through Stroud’s featureless streets, Out along the Slad Valley to Bull’s Cross: Past pollarded willow trees all along the road, Past well wrapped farmers stacking logs in a dripping coppice, Past chapels turned to...

read more

Christmas 1914

Christmas 1914 There was, of course, more than one football match In the long line of unofficial truces That stretched all along the front in Flanders; Indeed, the matches themselves were a sort of climax, Punctuating the peace that started before Christmas With...

read more

The Rodborough Doggy Tree

The Rodborough Doggy Tree When the sun descends beyond yon hill, And gilds the golden cumulus, Thou shalt find me in the winter chill, Cantering past some tumulus, Or ancient circle, sarsen-girt, Then on to fairest RODBOROUGH Fort, For feral football in the dirt,...

read more

Christmas 1914

Christmas 1914 There was, of course, more than one football match In the long line of unofficial truces That stretched all along the front in Flanders; Indeed, the matches themselves were a sort of climax, Punctuating the peace that started before Christmas With...

read more