Sunday, March 31, 2013

The stones are great
And magic power they have
Men that are sick
Fare to that stone
And they wash that stone
And with that water bathe away their sickness


Indeed the stones are great, and certainly have had the power to capture the imagination of poets and artists down through the centuries. When I first started collecting poems on the megalithic theme, a colleague warned that I'd be hard pressed to find even half a dozen on the structures and prehistoric sites of Britain, Ireland and the European continent. Since then Megalithic Poems has grown out of all expectations, and there are now several hundred poems here, and an equal number of drawings, paintings, prints or photographs to accompany them - perhaps the largest anthology of its kind anywhere.

The poems stretch over a period of some eight hundred years; from Laymon's poem Brut (above) of 1215 describing Stonehenge, to poems written only a few months ago. What does this tell us? Well, perhaps that not only have these structures inspired poets like Blake and Wordsworth (as well as artists such as Constable and Turner) down through the ages but also that this marvellous, mysterious megalithic heritage of ours continues to inspire us even today.

At a time when so much of our heritage is at risk through development and mismanagement (Tara in Ireland for example, even Stonehenge and Avebury) perhaps these poems, and the images that accompany them, will continue to inspire those who would take time out from busy lives to visit and ponder upon this often overlooked aspect of our heritage. Not only that, hopefully this anthology will also act as a warning that these places, built by our forefathers millennia ago, are in constant need of our care and attention lest, after thousands of years having, "...brav'd the continual assaults of weather..." (William Stukeley) they are finally lost for all time through the greed, ignorance and insensitivity of the 21st century.

I hope that the poems and images on the megalithic theme found on these pages will become a useful resource for those interested in the poetry, art and the history of our megalithic past - none of which would appear here without the remarkable efforts and creativity of those who have written about megaliths or portrayed them in their work - not forgetting of course those who originally conceived and built these amazing structures! To everyone, a very big thank you. I hope you'll find as much pleasure browsing through the anthology as I've taken in compiling it.


Index of poems, poets, pictures and places.

The Megalithic Poems internal search engine is on the right of the page under Links. Once you've keyed in a search word the relevant information will appear under the Gideon Fidler Stonehenge image above.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Standing Stone in Dyfed (detail) by John Piper

In their lichened, faceted faces

In their lichened,

faceted faces we see our lineaments; in their

solitariness, our loneliness, or our need to be

alone; in their gregariousness, our

congregational temper; in their alignment,

our deviousness; in their poised mass, our

fragility; in their rootedness, our

deracination; in their age, our ephemerality;

and in their naked outfacing of time and the

elements, a valuable lesson in patient dissent.

Jan Morris

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mount Silbury by Richard Colt Hoare (1758-1838)

Silbury Hill

O Thou, to whom in the olden times was raised
Yon ample Mound, not fashion'd to display
An artful structure, but with better skill
Piled massive, to endure through many an age,
How simple, how majestic is thy tomb!
When temples and when palaces shall fall,
And mighty cities moulder into dust,
When to their deep foundations Time shall shake
The strong-based pyramids, shall thine remain
Amid the general ruin unsubdued,
Uninjured as the everlasting hills,
And mock the feeble power of storms and Time.

William Crowe (1745-1829)

Monday, April 02, 2012

Punkri Burwadih megaliths in the monsoon. Image credit Subhashis Das


Fly bird fly, through the timeless skies
transcending distances,
flipping back the illegible pages of history
fly bird fly.

Beyond the peripheries of the East India Company,
surpassing the magnanimous Mughal palaces,
the ruins of the Slave Dynasty,
the graceful Chola temples
fly bird fly. Pass over
the time of the establishment of the sacred Dhamas
of the revered Shankracharya,
beyond the theorems and the doctrines of
Varahamihira and Aryabhatta.
Fly over the deserted forts of the Munda kings and
through the courts of Vikramaditya, Ashoka and Ajatshatru.
Bird o bird
Touch respectfully the lotus feet of the
Sakya Muni and Vardhamana
and seek their blessings for me.

Fly bird fly
Crossing Magadha, Vaishali and Sasanbeda
onto the much beyond Harappa and Mehergarh.
Be a part of the great Santhal migration.
Little bird
fly past carefully protecting yourself
from the rising flames
of the iron smelting Asuras
and then plunge into the great unknown, when
the world was for the Great Mother and She for the world.
Arrive face to face with their
astronomy, mathematics and spiritualism.

When they raise their tall monuments,
Sit atop a nearby tree in Punkri Burwadih
and witness the timeless megalith in its making.

Fly back to me little bird, the enormous distances
fluttering your untiring tiny wings.
Bring me
your acquired wisdom of life.
I await, dear bird
your arrival.

Subhashis Das

Subhashis Das has written extensively on the megaliths of India – his website on the subject is here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Avebury, north-east quadrant


A cold New Year’s Eve seeps in,
Walking along an unknown path,
Confronted suddenly by giant arcs of ditch and bank
Which draw the eye towards processions of stones.
Rings within rings,
Gauntly chiselled jewels bound by bracelets of mossy grass,
Their ancient faces careworn from witnessing millennia -
Sad, yet proud and wise, these forty ton leviathans.
Echoes of long-forgotten rituals
Intangible yet close, a sense of collective aim.
Slowly we traverse the great circle,
Latter-day invaders, unsure of their purpose.
How much have we forgotten?
Over two hundred generations - what is remembered?

Geoff Butts

Friday, September 17, 2010

So proud to hint

Pile of Stone-henge! So proud to hint yet keep
Thy secrets, thou lov'st to stand and hear
The plain resounding to the whirlwind's sweep
Inmate of lonesome Nature's endless year.

William Wordsworth

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Adam's Grave, Wiltshire. Image credit Gordon Kingston

Their presence

‘Neath Adam’s Grave I push “large chips”
down through my teeth and grasping lips...

Didn’t Strabo state that ancients ate
Their fathers’ bodies on a plate;
And drank the fluid that now gets hid
In a silver cup, under a silver lid?
Somehow their presence is up here still;
Watching me watching, on the hill.

Gordon Kingston