Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Merry Maidens: circa 1905

The Merry Maidens

Near St. Buryan can be found
Nineteen stones. Two pillars
Of granite flank them on the ground
Like a pair of gaolers.

One sabbath eve nineteen young maids
Instead of going to pray
Strayed into a field's furtive shades
Hearing two pipers play.

Despite the day the maids did dance
Faster and faster still
And whirled into a senseless trance
Caused by those men of ill.

Lightning out of the cloudless air
Unfleshed their tender bones
And turned them and the evil pair
Into a group of stones.

Ronald Bottrall (1906-1989)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Druid Grove by Charles Knight: circa 1845

On Death's tree

Yet they were made of earth and fire as we,
The selfsame forces set us in our mould;
To life we woke from all that makes the past.
We grow on Death's tree as ephemeral flowers.

Thoger Larsen (1805-1837)

Avebury in 1723 by William Stukeley

This stupendous fabric

And this stupendous fabric, which for some thousands of years, had brav'd the continual assaults of weather, and by the nature of it, when left to itself, like the pyramids of Egypt, would have lasted as long as the globe, hath fallen a sacrifice to the wretched ignorance and avarice of a little village unluckily plac'd within it.

William Stukeley

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Kilmarth Rocks by Charles Knight: circa 1845

The Leech Gatherer

As a huge Stone is sometimes seen to lie
Couched on the bald top of an eminence;
Wonder to all who do the same espy,
By what means it could thither come, and whence;
So that it seems a thing endued with sense:
Like a Sea-beast crawled forth, that on a shelf
Of rock or sand reposeth, there to sun itself.

William Wordsworth

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Dun Ruadh Ring Cairn: Image credit Ken Williams/


Stamped with lichen, bound by bracken root,
Sunk in acid soil,
Each heap of stone affects disguise.
Death's ritual leaves slight signs.
Slanting sunlight, morning, evening,
Shadows each circumference. Betrays.
Many gouged by curiosity and greed.
First in rank and ostentation—first to fall;
The unpretentious huddle humbly in the soil, survive.

They are the scanty evidence of another life.
A smear upon the soil,
Burnt bone, a piece of flint, a pot, a bead,
Sealed once, but not invulnerable.
We focus on these tiny scraps of time
With force that hurls jet fighters overhead
And simulates the power of sun.
We are our Age, we bring technology
To bear upon a past where writing played no part,
But symbolism loomed large.

Gods lived and were placated;
Man and woman not enough.
Force drove through grass blades, crackled in the skies,
Hurled rainbows, hid the face of moon and sun.
Awesome. Kept us in our place.
We are the piece of broken bone, the pile of dust.
A piece of flint is our technology,
A bead or two our power or vanity.

We are the hands that placed the pot inside the grave,
Love that mourns a while.
The cairn above our heads cuts out the sky
As we move on.

Stan Beckensall