Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Giant's Staircase


From its singularity, and the mystery attending its origin and appropriation, it has excited more surprise and curiosity than any other relic of antiquity in Great Britain. It is situated about two miles directly west of Amesbury, and seven north of Salisbury, in Wiltshire. When viewed at a distance it appears but a small and trifling object, for its bulk and character are lost in the extensive space which surrounds it; and even on a near examination it fails to fulfil the expectations of the stranger who visits it with exaggerated prepossessions. To behold this "wonder of Britain" it should be viewed with an artist's eye, and contemplated by an intellect stored with antiquarian and historical knowledge. Stonehenge, notwithstanding much that has been said to the contrary, is utterly unlike any monument now remaining in Europe.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

This is the Gate

Orb within orb

Mysterious rows
Of rude enormous obelisks, that rise
Orb within orb, stupendous monuments
Of artless architecture, such as now
Oft-times amaze the wandering traveller,
By the pale moon discerned on Sarum's plain.

Gilbert West (1703-1756)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Richard Jefferies (1848-1887)

Alfred Williams (1877-1930)

Richard Jefferies and Alfred Williams

Richard Jefferies (1848-1887) and Alfred Williams (1877-1930) were two Swindon poets and writers who, still today, remain relatively unknown outside their home county of Wiltshire. They were men who shared a love of the local countryside and especially a love of the Downs close to their home town. There are commemorative plaques to both men on the Wiltshire section of the Ridgeway and their poems and prose ring with a love of the area.

Examples of Richard Jefferies and Alfred Williams' writings can be found on the following pages, or follow the link to the Richard Jefferies Society at http://richardjefferiessociety.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Avebury: south-west quadrant

In the afternoon come to Abebury

In the afternoon come to Abebury, where, seeing great stones like those of Stonage standing up, I stopped, and took a countryman of that town, and he carried me and shewed me a place trenched in, like Old Sarum almost, with great stones pitched in it, some bigger than those at Stonage in figure, to my great admiration: and he told me that most people of learning, coming by, do come and view them, and that the King did so: and that the Mount cast hard by is called Selbury, from one King Seall buried there, as tradition says. I did give this man 1s. So took coach again, seeing one place with great high stones pitched round, which, I believe, was once some particular building, in some measure like that of Stonage. But, about a mile off, it was prodigious to see how full the Downes are of great stones; and all along the vallies, stones of considerable bigness, most of them growing certainly out of the ground so thick as to cover the ground, which makes me think the less of the wonder of Stonage, for hence they might undoubtedly supply themselves with stones, as well as those at Abebury.

Samuel Pepys (1633-1703)

Monday, February 19, 2007

On sorrow's pillow tossed

Peer into the past

Of times on Liddington's bare peak I love to think and lie,
And muse upon the former day and ancient things gone by,
To pace the old castellum walls and peer into the past,
To learn the secret of the hills, and know myself at last,
To woo Dick Jefferies from his dreams on sorrow's pillow tossed,
And walk with him upon the ridge, and pacify his ghost.

Alfred Williams (1877-1930)

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Cove, Avebury

Like a frozen drop of transience

There's a silence here
a silence that lifts and suppresses
all at once.

Lures life into a comfort
then leaves it limp
like a frozen drop of transience
on a quiet winter branch
that might

or might not
spring back to life again.


Silbury from the Winterbourne


Has time stood still?
I wondered
As I gazed upon that hollow hill
Exposed to howling wind and rain
Yet silent, still unmoved

Do spirits sleep within its heart?
I wondered
Looking back into the dark
Where bone is old as stone
And legend first drew breath

This Moon upon the Earth
Once shining bright
Now dulled by soil and turf
With beliefs so long forgotten
Those treasures hidden deep within.

This is a place
Of wonder
Of a celestial embrace
Where the Gods touch the Earth
And the Earth meets the Sky


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Returning from Stonehenge


Six centuries, twice told, are now complete,
Since Merlin liv'd on this terrestrial seat.
Knowledge appear'd but dawning to my sight;
She blazed on Newton with meridian light.
Yet the faint glimm'rings which my genius taught,
Beyond the ken of human thought.
What I by mere mechanic pow'rs achiev'd,
Th'effects of magic, then most believ'd.
To Stonehenge let the sons of art repair,
and view the wonders I erected there;
Try, if their skill improv'd, mine e'er can foil;
Restore the giant's dance t'Hiberian soil.
Nor in geometry excell'd alone;
But other sciences to me were known.
I study'd Nature through her various ways;
And chaunted to this harp prophetic lays.
To Cader Ydris oft I took my ways;
Rose with the sun, toil'd up th'ascent all day;
But scarce could reach the mountain's tow'ring height,
E're radiant Vesper usher'd in the night.
The summit gain'd, I sought with naked eye,
To penetrate the wonders of the sky.
No telescopic glass known in that age,
To assist the optics of the curious sage.
Though lov'd astronomy oft charm'd my mind,
I now erroneous all my notions find.
I thought the bright sol around our globe had run,
Nor knew earth's motion, nor the central sun,
And had I known, cou'd I believe have gain'd,
When Ignorance and Superstition reign'd?
Unseen my me, attraction's might force,
And how fierce comets run their stated course;
Surprising scenes! by Heav'n reserv'd in store,
For its own fav'rite, Newton, to explore.
With faculties enlarg'd, he's gone to prove,
The laws and motions of yon worlds above;
And the vast circuits of th'expanse survey;
View solar systems in the Milky Way
My spirit too through ether wings its flight,
Discovering Truths deny'd by mortal sight;
Transported, hovers o'er my native isle,
Where arts improve, and Peace and Plenty smile.

Ann Finch (1661–1720)