Friday, November 25, 2005

In Monkton Field by William Stukeley

Story of My Heart

Two thousand times! Two thousand times the woods grew green, and ring-doves built their nests. Day and night for two thousand years--light and shadow sweeping over the mound--two thousand years of labour by day and slumber by night. Mystery gleaming in the stars, pouring down in the sunshine, speaking in the night, the wonder of the sun and of far space, for twenty centuries round about this low and green-grown dome. Yet all that mystery and wonder is as nothing to the Thought that lies therein, to the spirit that I feel so close.

Realising that spirit, recognising my own inner consciousness, the psyche, so clearly, I cannot understand time. It is eternity now. I am in the midst of it. It is about me in the sunshine; I am in it, as the butterfly floats in the light-laden air. Nothing has to come; it is now. Now is eternity; now is the immortal life. Here this moment, by this tumulus, on earth, now; I exist in it. The years, the centuries, the cycles are absolutely nothing; it is only a moment since this tumulus was raised; in a thousand years it will still be only a moment. To the soul there is no past and no future; all is and will be ever, in now...

Richard Jefferies (1848-1887)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Stonehenge: circa 1923

Written at Stonehenge

Thou noblest monument of Albion's isle,
Whether by Merlin's aid, from Scythia's shore
To Amber's fatal plain, Pendragon bore,
Huge frame of giant hands the mighty pile,
T'entomb his Britons, slain by Hengist's guile:
Or Druid priests, sprinkled with human gore,
Taught 'mid thy massy maze their mystic lore:
Or Danish chiefs, enrich'd with savage spoil,
To Victory's idol vast, an unhewn shrine
Rear'd the rude heap; or, in thy hallow'd round
Repose the kings of Brutus' genuine line;
Or here those kings in solemn state were crown'd:
Studious to trace thy pond'rous origin,
We muse on many an ancient tale renown'd.

Thomas Warton the younger (1728-1790)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Before me on the downy plain: Image credit Littlebear

Prelude by William Wordsworth

Three summer days I roam'd, when 'twas my chance
To have before me on the downy Plain
Lines, circles, mounts, a mystery of shapes
Such as in many quarters yet survive,
With intricate profusion figuring o'er
The untill'd ground, the work, as some divine,
Of infant science, imitative forms
By which the Druids covertly express'd
Their knowledge of the heavens ...
I saw the bearded Teachers with white wands
Uplifted, pointing to the starry sky
Alternately, and Plain below, while breath
Of music seemed to guide them, and the Waste
Was chear'd with stillness and a pleasant sound.

West Kennet Long Barrow by William Stukeley

As good as it gets

Wind icy sharp down Waden Hill on winter's eve
blowing east towards stones long lost.
Faulkner's Circle the signpost said
but nothing there now other than a single standing stone
and a twisted pine and more shattered stones
slaughtered and strewn along the way.

We trekked glumly up to the round barrows there above
but such a degree of sadness hung upon every broken fragment
that we stopped halfway and turned
and plodded quietly back to road and waiting car.

Then laughing and gasping up Waden Hill
pausing at a badger's hole where we'd slipped and smiled once before.
And on past a flock of curious sheep (too timid really to be too curious)
into the wind at the top and the welcoming kiss of the long winter sun.

And there below
tucked safely away in its valley and dale.

We stood there a while and smiled
and wondered why Silbury was placed where it was
when it could have been set so much higher up.
But down there is the perfect place for a mystery
(though we don't really know why).

standing atop West Kennet on the shortest day
when a fingertips' embrace closed the circle of our destinies.
When life's shadows were as long as they were ever going to get
(this time around) and our chance at immortality
was just about as good as it gets.
Smiling... read a Jack Nicholson grin just here.

Then do you know that breathing in the low winter sunlight at that ancient place
that soul-set womb of our ancestors
wrapped all around by the comforting Downlands of Wiltshire.
Hand-in-hand again with one lost so long ago now found again
is where it's at and what it ever was all about.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Avebury by William Stukeley

Stone Circle

Alone in the circle, in touch with the night,
With old stones and cold stones by oak tree and thorn.
Soft shadows and silence - Moon magic 'till dawn,
Softly stirring shadows, tremble, slip and slide.
Shadowed ones assemble; stone man, faery, wight.
Sacred space encircled - candle burning bright.

Call the silent Watchers, knowing they will come.
Sweet scented night shade air, turning stars aflame,
Water flowing softly, calls Earth by her name.
Comes the speckled roe deer, comes the fallow buck,
Badger, fox and rabbit, squirrel from her hoard,
Waiting for the Lady, waiting for the Lord.

All at once it happens - tingles down my spine!
Shadows grow yet darker, air grows yet more thick.
Time stands still and hovers, flickering candle wick.
Out of time, out of space - the Old Ones are here!
Living, breathing, knowing - this is the feeling.
Contact is certain! Starlight is reeling!

Much later - or sooner (time has no meaning)
Our old land is wak’ning, grey light at dawning.
Soul singing and splendid, Sun lights the morning.

Peter Herring

Stonehenge by William Turner (1775-1851)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

To Stonehenge

To Stonehenge... Came thither and find them as prodigious as any tales I ever heard of them and worth this journey to see. God knows what their use was.

Samuel Pepys (1633 -1703)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Stonehenge by Byrne and Medland: circa 1786

What is Stonehenge?

What is Stonehenge? It is the roofless past;
Man's ruinous myth; his uninterred adoring
Of the unknown in sunrise cold and red;
His quest of stars that arch his doomed exploring.
And what is Time but shadows that were cast
By these storm-sculptured stones while centuries fled?
The stones remain; their stillness can outlast
The skies of history hurrying overhead.

Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)