Image by the ‘incomparably wonderful’ Joan Eardley as requested by John Foggin. Permission kindly granted © the Eardley Estate.

where the masons went …

John Foggin lives in Ossett, West Yorkshire. He has been a teacher, lecturer and LEA Adviser for Drama and English. He has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Leeds, but says he learns much more from The Poetry Business and all the poets he has met there.

His poems have appeared in ‘The North’, ‘The New Writer’,and ‘The Interpreter’s House’, among others. He was First Prize winner in the Lumen/Camden Poetry Competition (2014) and of The Plough Prize (2013 and 2014). These were followed by others, including The McLellan (2015) and the Poetry Business International Pamphlet Prize (2016). His poems have been picked as prize winners by four poets laureate: Andrew Motion (twice), Liz Lochhead, Billy Collins and Simon Armitage.

Where the Masons Went ...

John Foggin has chosen what is perhaps our most intriguing theme so far! Here is what he says about it:

The theme was intended as the title of my new collection, which will be out in April. It is now entitled Pressed for Time. The phrase “where the masons went” is taken from an essay that Harold Rosen (yes, Michael’s dad) wrote in the 70s when we thought we were shaping the future of English teaching forever.

Harold was particularly interested at that time in the importance of narrative in culture and education. The full title of his essay was “Out there … or Where the Masons went”.

I’ve always read it as having two layers of interest. One is the anonymity of the voiceless and unrecorded workers and craftsmen who created all the great buildings and structures. Not just Cathedrals, but bridges, railways, docks like the Albert, chapels, libraries and on and on. Like the great myths and folk tales, they endure while their creators moved on – who knows where.

Similarly, I’m interested in the characters who are essential to narratives but drop out before the ‘end’. Of course, there are no such things ‘Out There’ as beginnings and endings. We invent them to keep ourselves sane. I’m thinking of the woodcutters and cottagers who send their three children out into the world and then are heard of no more. Anyway, that’s the nub of it.

John was also invited to choose a piece of music.

As for music, I’d love the Jimmy Guiffre trio playing ‘The train and the River’, from the soundtrack of Jazz on a Summer’s Day. Mainly because it starts as background to the opening credits!  This link is to my favourite version. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMZ6lTDbAs0

The Seated Man

“Stories are real” 

Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor

When the seated man of steel and resin
lived between the big sky and the brown moor
on the watershed of Westerdale and Rosedale
he had been there forever and always would be,

and when he went there was only wind;
he had never been there and never could be.
Places are like the oldest stories; the past
is done with and there is no place for ghosts.

Stories say that once upon a time there was
a farmer/ a poor widow/ a fisherman
a woodcutter/ a merchant/
a man who took a new wife for himself;

stories say they wanted, or needed, every one,
to get their children off their hands,
and send them off into the world
of woods and wishes, gifts and crossroads, choices, trials.

That’s how it begins, and for the twice-married man,
the merchant, the woodcutter, fisherman,
the poor widow, and the farmer –
the lost ghosts in the machine – that’s where it stops.

And on the story goes without them, and we’re not told
if they find out what happens next or how it ends.
Deep down, though, we know the truth.
The oldest stories never lie.

by John Foggin, from Pressed for time, Calder Valley Poetry, 2022


Is sixteen.

‘Is sixteen. Is bound as a putter, but unable yet to put. A year ago the horse ran away; knocked him off; trailed with the wagons.Off 10 months.Is lame now, and will always be lame His leg was set wrong at first.One leg is shorter than the other. The pit makes him sick.The fumes make his head work.’

[ Evidence of a Monkwearmouth collier to the Children’s Employment Commission 1842.]

From Seghill, Silver Lonnen, Ledston Luck,
From Hartley’s single shaft and broken crank,
They brought the stories of the colliers to book,

those grave and watchchained, whiskered men.
Listening, frowning, to the foreign tongue
of nervous pitmen, capless, ushered in;

like this one. Kay-legged. Broken by the pit;
sick with the sulphur rising in the shaft,
reeling, blind and dry mouthed. Cannot spit

the firedamp cobwebs closing up his mouth.
Wound up within the limits of the light
to shuffle in, and wet his lips, and tell the truth.

He cannot think. His head works so
in this rare air they seem to breathe.
His head works. Neither he, nor they would know

he speaks the tongue that Malory’s Arthur spoke.
When Lucan wished to bring the king to town,
to leave the field to Mordred slain, his army broke,

and to the carrion men, the pillers, creeping to and fro
he lay there helpless, dazed with wounds.
‘I cannot stand,’ he said. ‘My head works so.’

Hic iacet rex quondam rex que futurus.

This pitman tells his tale by rote, his dialect so shaly, cracked
it must be screened and panned and trimmed
like gravel, for nuggets of hard Fact.

On history’s spoilheaps  the shale of ideolect is tipped
by their Blue Book’s terse compendium.
Voices crying: rex quondam rex que futurus sum.

On his true tongue, his dialect, his self
the door of documentary’s locked fast shut.
Is sixteen. Is bound a putter. Cannot put.

by John Foggin, from Advice to a traveller, Indigo Dreams, 2018


For the true naming of the world

For the true naming of the world
you need one who will recognise
a fish that swallowed a star
that fell through the vaults of the air;
you need one who wears a helmet
or bears a sword forged in the heart of mountains,
from metals whose names no man ever knew,
to bear a name that cannot be forgot,
a name to fit in a verse to be sung at a feast;

you need one to be sent on a quest
through silent forests, stony wastes,
to a bony church and a hillside that opens
to a way that he’ll walk through all the ages,
to come dumb and dazzled to the seashore
under huge lucid skies, into the wind,
to build monasteries, to illuminate gospels;
to speak to otters, spear the sea like a gannet,
to be one with wind and with seals.

Then stones and flowers might come
to know themselves. Day’s-eye, comfrey,
coltsfoot, mallow, vetch, stonecrop, feverfew.
Hornblende, granite, wolfram, flint and gneiss;
valleys might come know their depths,
and becks and burns to know the purposes of rain,
and the ways of the clough and the gorge
under blood moons, hare moons, the moon
when horns are broken. Then.

by John Foggin, from Much Possessed,  smith|doorstop, 2016

John Foggin

Poet and prose writer

Chosen by John ...

Three poems by David Constantine; UA Fanthorpe and Tony Harrison.

Soldiering on by David Constantine

We need another monument. Everywhere
Has Tommy Atkins with his head bowed down
For all his pals, the alphabetical dead,
And that is sweet and right and every year
We freshen the whited cenotaph with red

But no one seems to have thought of standing her
In all the parishes in bronze or stone
With bags, with heavy bags, with bags of spuds
And flour and tins of peas and clinging kids
Lending the bags their bit of extra weight –

Flat-chested little woman in a hat,
Thin as a rake, tough as old boots, with feet
That ache, ache, ache. I’ve read
He staggered into battle carrying sixty pounds
Of things for killing with. She looked after the pence,

She made ends meet, she had her ports of call
For things that keep body and soul together
Like sugar, tea, a loaf, spare ribs and lard,
And things the big ship brings that light the ends
Of years, like oranges. On maps of France

I’ve trailed him down the chalky roads to where
They end and her on the oldest A to Z
Down streets, thin as a wraith, year in, year out
Bidding the youngest put her best foot forward,
Lugging the rations past the war memorial.

from The Pelt of Wasps, Bloodaxe, 1998, and Collected Poems, Bloodaxe, 2020. Thank you, David, for kind permission to include your poem. You can read more about David’s poetry collections with Bloodaxe ~ here

National Trust by Tony Harrison can be read ~ here.

Woman Ironing by UA Fanthorpe 

I thought I knew what was coming when he said,
He wanted to do my likeness at the ironing.
I live in the city, people tell you things. Me looking at him,
It would be, across the ironing board, my hair and my eyes
In a good light, and something a bit off the shoulder

But it wasn’t. He rushed around drawing curtains
Made it hard to iron. O yes, I had to keep ironing.
He need to see the strength, he said. Kept on
About my dynamic right shoulder, then left it out
Though you can see where he ought to have put it.

Come on, what’s-your-name, he kept saying,
Show us that muscle power! That’s what I’m after.
I might’ve been an engine, not a person
No, I didn’t take to him, I’m used to rudeness,
But he was making such a sketch of me.

If someone’s paying you, it isn’t easy
To speak your mind. Still, Sir, I said,
I really don’t want to see my hair like that,
all scraped back, like a hot person’s hair,
And anyone can tell that under my arms I’m sweating.

Hair? Sweat? That’s how it is when you iron,
Says he. You’re not here to tell me what to do.
I’ll make you permanent, the way you look
When you’re ironing. O yes, he says, I’ll show you
The way you look when no one’s watching.

from Safe as Houses, Peterloo Poets, 1995.  Permission to include this poem was kindly given by RV Bailey.

Our readers' choices

This monthly anthology ~ our Poetry Breakfast ~ is very much a joint effort: it wouldn’t happen without you sending in your chosen poems on the given theme. All suggestions very welcome!

At Staunton Harold

[He] founded this church
Whose singular praise it is,
to have done the best in ye worst times,
and
hoped them in the most callamitous

(over the west door at Staunton Harold church)

Many churches speak,
But this, in its despair, more eloquent than most.

The craftsmen who built it were looked after:
Shepheard artifex, the mason, who remembered
The tricks of the old trade; Smith the joiner;
Sam and Zachary, brothers, who created
Their own cloudy Creation overhead.

I’ll see you safe, lads, he must have said,
No paperwork, no names, no pack drill.
I’ll pay in cash. Money can’t talk.

The church was unlawful, built doggedly
In the old proscribed fashion. But the founder’s name
Runs clear as an indictment inside and out.
He didn’t trouble to protect himself. Cromwell
Had him six times in the Tower, for weeks,
For months, suddenly for ever. He was twenty-seven,
And he died.

the best things

ye worst times

callamitous

hope.


by UA Fanthorpe, from 
U A Fanthorpe, New and Collected Poems, Enitharmon  Press, 2010.  Now available in UA Fanthorpe, New and Collected Poems, Enitharmon Press, 2010. (This edition includes a preface by Carol Ann Duffy.) Grateful thanks to RV Bailey for permission to include this poem.

Maureen Cooper

Reader's Retreat

Staunton Harold Chapel: the nave ceiling

A rare survival of a church roof painted on boards. Signed by Samuel and Zachary Kyrk in 1655, the turbulent cloudscapes are usually understood to represent creation out of chaos.

 

  © Copyright Chris Brown

I’d like to suggest The Pitchfork by Seamus Heaney, from Seeing Things, Faber, 1991. It can’t be included here for copyright reasons.

Also, Words of the Glassblowers by Les Murray, which can be read ~ here 

Two poems that can be included though are these, both by Alison Brackenbury (our guest poet in June).

Dealer

They had to push the stretcher through the window.
He had filled the house with books, and jugs,
Decanters; teapots. At the end
He would choke his car with catalogues
In the auctions’ dusk. ‘R. Summerfield,
Dealer’, peeled the paint above his door.
Pale as the paint he stood, jingled thin change,
Blocked the low doorway, daring you to buy.
Yet I bought two lots from him, both jugs,
One brought back from his house, before he closed.
Tawny on blue, they burn. He had the eye.

No one saw — for what was there to see? —
At the grand launch of the refurbished house,
The luxury apartments builders made
After Ron’s messy end. Why did she sag
Out of the lineup? Only a woman, faint.
By blank, pale walls, the ruffled curtains’ fall,
She whispered to the builder, ‘Something pushed me.’
His tan went white. ‘That’s where we bricked the door.’

Beyond the canapés, beyond the noise,
First dusts glinted; fell quieter than a mouse.
Ron, stacked with unread books, three perfect jugs,
Pushed through the ghosts to fill his empty house.

by Alison Brackenbury, from Bricks and Ballads, Carcanet, 2004

and

Architect 

John Middleton, architect, wrote on these plans
The first month of frost; the name of this town
Where his sharp pen sliced immaculate joists
For the high hall roof cranes may wrench down.

Were his quick hands thin, or veined with blue?
Were they weighed by rings, which chilled the cheek?
He came to retire, as the journalists knew.
His Clarence Street office opened that week.

I gaze at his churches; street after street
Sheer, shadowed walls rise; his striped arches try
Clouded blues, Forest stone. But where are the spires?
The town’s cash was meagre. He wanted the sky.

High Church or Low Church, he worked for them all,
Then to fever wards! His pen never stopped.
By the Ladies’ College, I squint through haze
At the tall unnecessary tower he topped

With sunned red tiles. Carved tangles of leaf
Turn a grate to riot. My warmed thoughts feel
Another summer — Italy?
A woman’s laughter. Not Miss Beale.

I could have shown you John Middleton’s dreams,
The high stone cave of a house where he spent
Short evenings with gargoyles, gilt’s glint, tiles
Whose plasterers sailed from the Continent.

His son loved the Gothic, then sold on the firm.
What drugs feed a dead dream? Close to his time
John Middleton sketched out a small, church school
Without a fee, or one smudged line.

He drew red roof-tiles, pierced to sky.
He set stout brick in herringbone.
He gave each gable one black flower
And for its sill, blue Forest stone.

But the school may fall. For his own house crashed,
Gilt to plain dust, lost to pension one man’s
Old age. Can our work save anything good?
We drain our coffee. We pick up his plans.

by Alison Brackenbury, from Bricks and Ballads, Carcanet, 2004

Andrew James

 

I’ve found two poems that may be suitable for April’s theme of ‘Where the Mason’s Went . . .’

Restoring the Chateau of the Marquis de Sade by Laurie Henry, which you can read ~ here

and

The Old Stone Mason by Robinson Jeffers ~ here

Janet Reece

Writer: Twitter: @JReecewriter Instagram: jreecewriter

This poem by John Ormond immediately came to mind for the theme of ‘Where the Masons went.’

Cathedral Builders

They climbed on sketchy ladders towards God,
With winch and pulley hoisted hewn rock into heaven,
Inhabited sky with hammers, defied gravity,
Deified stone, took up God’s house to meet Him, 

And came down to their suppers and small beer;
Every night slept, lay with their smelly wives,
Quarrelled and cuffed the children, lied,
Spat, sang, were happy or unhappy, 

And every day took to the ladders again;
Impeded the rights of way of another summer’s
Swallows, grew greyer, shakier, became less inclined
To fix a neighbour’s roof of a fine evening, 

Saw naves sprout arches, clerestories soar,
Cursed the loud fancy glaziers for their luck,
Somehow escaped the plague, got rheumatism,
Decided it was time to give it up, 

To leave the spire to others; stood in the crowd
Well back from the vestments at the consecration,
Envied the fat bishop his warm boots,
Cocked up a squint eye and said, ‘I bloody did that.’

by John Ormond, from John Ormond: Collected Poems, Seren, 2015. You can buy the collection ~ here. Thank you to Rian Evans for kind permission to include this poem.

Rian also sent this for our interest:

Cathedral Builders 

Poetry Wales, 2/2, Summer 1966 (first publication)
The poem owed its prime inspiration to the Italian town of Arezzo, though not its cathedral but the church of Santa Maria della Pieve, noted for its massive, mullion-windowed bell-tower. When Ormond was in Arezzo on location in 1963, making his film A Town in Tuscany, he heard workmen singing high above him on their scaffolding and it was this memory that in due course triggered the poem. But it also had an association with the restoration of Llandaff Cathedral, damaged when Cardiff was bombed during the second world war. Just before its re-inauguration in 1956, the then Dean of Llandaff, the Very Rev. Eryl S. Thomas, climbed the tall steeple to bless the new golden cockerel weathervane. Ormond, in an early assignment for BBC television news, climbed the same “sketchy” ladder to interview the Dean at the top. The poem’s gestation seems to have been almost subconscious so that, when it emerged in 1965, it came in a single brief sitting. In his Letter from Tuscany, (op.cit.) Ormond described the process: “it just seemed to come down my arm without my thought”. Only a few poems would come into being quite so quickly; a similarly small number represent the opposite process, namely revision after revision over a long period; most fell between the two extremes. A typed copy has the title ‘Mediaeval Triptych’ above the title ‘Cathedral Builders’. ‘Design for a Tomb’ was probably envisaged as another of the three and, though any such grouping seems to have been abandoned, by the time of Requiem and Celebration these two are the first of a sequence of seven poems whose context is mediaeval. Over the years, it sometimes vexed Ormond that ‘Cathedral Builders’ should have become better-known than any other single poem of his (it still features most in anthologies, on radio and now online) but, by the time of planning his Gregynog collection, he had come to accept the fact with equanimity and made it the title poem of the volume. 

Addendum

There was an extraordinary flurry of airings of Cathedral Builders in the wake of the fire in Notre Dame cathedral (April 15, 2019). Excerpts were tweeted and the actor Samuel West – who I’m pretty certain had originally read it on Radio 4’s Poetry Please – tweeted the whole poem on his exitthelemming twitter account. And by the end of the week, it also featured in a Financial Times column by a writer who knew Paris. Given my last sentence in the above note, it makes a nice postscript, and I think J.O. would have been satisfied that it came to be more properly appreciated than ever before, albeit in the saddest of contexts.

Philip Browning

Poetry Breakfast, Much Wenlock

Ironing with Sue Lawley

The actress chooses Romeo and Juliet.
Prokofiev’s music smoothes my sheets
until his dancing knights clash in alarm.
Who ironed Juliet’s sheets, the ones they stained
before they spoke of nightingales and larks?

Does Shakespeare mention ironing at all?
It never plays a central role, just off stage left perhaps
a glimpse of servants pressing folds into their masters’ ruffs.
Cinderella did her fair share for those ugly sisters
and I expect the dwarfs kept Snow White, white.

White is what I’m ironing just now,
a cotton duvet cover stitched with daisies.
Folded in half the edges never come together,
one side is always wider than the other,
It takes at least three records without creases.

I like it when the guest’s someone I know,
well feel as if I know, if you know what I mean:
actors, artists, writers, even politicians.
I hate it if they choose all rock or pop,
love classical or something very modern.

Just nosing round the buttons on his shirt
when Barber’s adagio for strings begins.
She chose it to remind her of her mother.
I have to set the iron down to stare,
the longing and the darkness and my own.

Then I remember Alison of course,
whose ironing board was centre stage,
who pressed her anger into shirts all through Act 1.
Did Jimmy feel the anger when he put them on?
Will sadness seep from mine?

If she can take only one, she’s taking Barber
And for her luxury she chooses a vibrator
with a special solar powered battery.
I’d take knickers and a crate of bottled water
but Sue would say that doesn’t count as luxury.

I’ll need somewhere to lie and read the Bible:
a comfortable, soft embracing place,
a queen size bed, white duvet
stitched with daisies, freshly pressed
by someone off stage left.

by Pauline Prior Pitt, from Ironing with Sue Lawley and other poems, published by Spike Press, 2005

You can buy Pauline’s books ~ here

Pauline Prior-Pitt

Poet, Artist

I’d like to suggest ‘Inheritance’ from the wonderful Skirrid Hill by Owen Sheers, published by Seren in 2005. Also ‘The Farrier’ (not sure if that hits the theme exactly but fantastic nonetheless) and ‘The Steelworks’ which is marvellous.

 

Inheritance 

After RS Thomas

From my father a stammer
like a stick in the spokes of my speech.
A tired blink,
a need to have my bones
near the hill’s bare stone.
An affection for the order of maps
and the chaos of bad weather.

From my mother
a sensitivity to the pain in the pleasure.
The eye’s blue ore,
quiet moments beside a wet horse
drying in a rain-loud stable.
A joiner’s lathe
turning fact into fable.

And from them both – – –
a desire for what they forged
in their shared lives;
Testing it under the year’s hard hammer,
red hot at its core,
cooled dark at its sides

by Owen Sheers from Skirrid Hill, Seren, 2005. This poem is included by kind permission of Owen Sheers, and Seren. 

You can buy Skirrid Hill ~ here 

Hilary Tilley

Poetry Breakfast, Much Wenlock

Bridge 

It bears a date
but no name,
its shape an arc between two worlds,
a sudden brief flight into space
and down again, an eyebrow raised.

Two stout roots that fuse in No-Man’s land,
it’s frozen in the leap that it’s begun.

Admire its daring leap between two points.

Place your hands on its naked bones,
touch its loneliness,

but you cannot touch,
nor shape the loneliness of those who built it.

by Gill McEvoy

Gill McEvoy

Poet

 

I love this poem by Gillian Clarke, we’ve used it before, but it seems to fit so well here, too.

 

Women’s Work

Their books come with me, women writers,
their verses borne through the rooms
out between the plum trees and the field,
as an animal will gather things,
a brush, a bone, a shoe,
for comfort against darkness.

August Sunday morning,
and I’m casting for words,
wandering the garden sipping their poems,
leaving cups of them here and there in the grass
where the washing steams in the silence
after the hay-days and the birdsong months.

I am sixteen again, and it’s summer,
and the sisters are singing, their habits gathered,
sleeves rolled for kitchen work,
rosy hands hoisting cauldrons of greens.
The laundry hisses with steam irons
glossing the collars of our summer blouses.

Then quietly they go along white gravel,
telling their beads in the walled garden
where Albertine’s heady rosaries spill
religious and erotic over the hot stones.
And there’s restlessness in the summer air,
like this desire for poems,

our daily offices.

by Gillian Clarke from Selected Poems, Picador, 2016. Thank you to Gillian for kind permission to include this poem.

Anna Dreda

Wenlock Books Events

Examining reasons for rural depopulation

My grandma taught me how to carry trays.
How to position all the spouts
– teapot, coffeepot, cream jug – pointing
away on the leading edge of the tray.
How to open a heavy door while carrying a tray.
How to gather spent glasses in the careful dance
that never allowed his lordship
between me and the door.
How to avoid the footmen, house-guests, the stable hands, his lordship’s sons,
the butler, the delivery boys.
How to starch my cap so I could see
clear to edges of Lincolnshire.
How to never end up in the winter fields,
give birth to a rape baby in the hedge,
go straight back to digging beets.

by Char March

Char March

writer ~ tutor ~ mentor ~ editor

Stones of St Mary’s 

Just because it’s forgotten doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
A man lost the end of his little finger under that stone,
a lad his virginity behind that.  We laughed.
Mr Telford, walking round the site twice a day,
his drawings under his arm, doesn’t know the half of it.
And why he insisted on having it this way round I’m sure
I don’t know, all god-backwards, facing south.
Here it is up to first lift and round as a muffin tin.
The men put all they had into it anyway,
not just heart and soul. They come from as far away
as Hereford and Durham and one, a fixer mason,
from Normandy. Arrogant sod, but I wouldn’t have wished
the death of an infant son on him. The Clerk caught him
sitting on a piece of dressed ashlar – this one here
with its tears and mason’s marks – weeping. The Clerk
cursed and never mentioned the Glory of God.
There’s little enough in that stone anyhow.
They say you have to put the roof on
before you get to see the Glory, lid it tight inside
and the sweat takes thirty years to evaporate.
I thank my God by then I’ll be somewhere else
and will rarely think of this place on the hill,
its views of the river winding down the valley
and the church, stones remembering us slowly.

by Jeff Phelps, 

Jeff Phelps

Poet

I have a couple of poems to suggest. The first is a translation by Lady Gregory of an 8th century Irish poem, called Donal Og by Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory. It featured as a Guardian poem of the week, way back in 2010. You can read the article, and the poem ~ here

The other is The Unknown Citizen, by WH Auden, which you can read ~ here

(I was stumped for a while with this theme but then these two showed up!)

Carol Caffrey

Actor, poet

I wrote something years ago contrasting a visit to the Tower of London with one to Hexham Abbey.  It is making quite a different, and non-architectural point.  I have remembered a heartbreaking lament for the ruins of Walsingham, post Reformation, which I once heard James Fenton (then Professor of Poetry in Oxford), read during a fundraising occasion for the Bodlean Library.   It is a ballad by Anon, written c. 1600, and quite long so I have pruned it a bit! (You can read the whole poem ~ here)

Crown Jewels

In the White Tower we pay
to see a dazzling display – emblems of majesty and power.
We admire the bright array on velvet shelves,
glowing and sparkling in the brilliant light.
We shuffle past  – security is tight.
But there’s another country with another king
whose thorny crown’s a very different thing.
At Hexham Abbey there’s no entrance fee,
No spotlights and no guards – no stress.
There is no queue to see
a Saxon chalice in a small recess:
it’s slightly dented, dull and small;
it does not glitter, is not gold,
but, like a manger, it can hold
The mystery of the incarnate Lord.      

by Morar Lucas, from Retrospective, Cairns Press,  2017.  (Out of print)

and


A Lament for Our Lady’s Shrine at Walsingham

In the wracks of Walsingham
Whom should I choose
But the Queen of Walsingham
To be my guide and muse.

Then, thou Prince of Walsingham
Grant me to frame
Bitter plants to rue thy wrong,
Bitter woe for thy name.
Bitter was it to see
The steely sheep
Murdered by the ravenous wolves
While the shepherds did sleep.

Bitter was it, O to view
The sacred vine.
While the gardeners played all close,
Rooted up by the swine.
Bitter, bitter, O to behold
The grass to grow
Where the walls of Walsingham
So stately did show.

Level, level with the ground
The towers do lie,
Which, with their golden glittering tops,
Pierced once the sky.

Weep, weep O Walsingham
Whose days are turned to nights.
Blessings turned to blasphemies –
Holy deeds to despites.

Sin is where Our Lady sat,
Heaven is turned to hell.
Satan sits where the Lord did sway.
Walsingham, O farewell.                         

by Anon c 1600 (which fits very well with our theme of lost and invisible workers!)

P.S.  Walsingham was restored as a place of pilgrimage, in  the nineteenth century, I think, and still flourishes!    

Morar Lucas

Thank you, as ever, to everyone who has contributed to this Poetry Breakfast anthology ~ what an intriguing and thought-provoking theme it was ~ many thanks to John Foggin for getting us working! As always, the result has been an absolute feast of poetry.

Our next guest is the fiction writer; poet; playwright and musician  Michael W. Thomas ~ we are delighted to be hosting him! Michael has chosen another somewhat enigmatic theme ~ ‘The Gust of Time’: let that take you where it will!

There is no charge for these poetry blogs but they do take a huge amount of time. If you would like to show your appreciation by chipping in to my ‘coffee and paperback book fund’ you can do so here. If you don’t use Paypal you can email me for other ways to do this.

Thank you everyone, till next time …

Anna Dreda

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